Plant Expansions: Toray to up capacity for OPP in Japan; Polymax TPE expands medical lines

Toray to up capacity for OPP in Japan

Toray Industries is boosting production capacity for Torayfan oriented polypropylene (OPP) film for automotive capacitors by 60% at its Tsuchiura Plant in Ibaraki Prefecture by 2022. The goal is to capitalise on an expanding market for electric vehicles (EVs).

Torayfan is a lighter plastic film compared with among other plastic films such as biaxially oriented PET (BOPET). The Japanese materials maker says it is a tough material with mechanical and electrical properties. Its broad application extends from industrial to film capacitors and packaging.

Film capacitors, a prime application of Torayfan, are commonly used in electric circuits of consumer electronics, IT equipment and inverter circuits for the power control units of electric vehicle motors.

Since film capacitors are relatively large components in EV power control units (PCUs), automakers are calling for thinner gage capacitor films to deliver PCU lightweighting and downsizing to improve driving performance and efficiency while enhancing interior spaces and design flexibility. The issue thinner films, however, is normally reduced voltage resistance. Torayfan dominates the automotive capacitor film market because of its unique technologically in maintaining thinness and voltage resistance.

“Recent years have seen automotive emissions regulations tighten around the world amid a growing awareness of environmental issues. It is become difficult for vehicles employing internal combustion engines to clear regulatory requirements,” Toray says. It is against this backdrop that the demand for electric vehicles is set to grow 20% annually. The geographical growth drivers are Europe and China, where stricter environmental legislation is being introduced. The increased capacity at Toray’s Tsuchiura Plant will cater to increased demand for automotive capacitors.

Polymax TPE expands medical lines

In other news, US custom compounder Polymax TPE has expanded output of its medical-grade P-Series and A-Series thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) to meet increased demand from customers. The materials are used to manufacture personal protection equipment (PPE) and air-purifying respirators in high demand because of Covid-19. The company also shifted some of the production from its Nantong, China, facility to Waukegan, IL, to support customers that are reshoring operations.

Polymax TPE started to ramp up production of its medical-grade TPEs in February, starting with its P-Series product line. One of these, medical-grade P3838, is moulded into a diaphragm that is a critical component of a sputum aspirator. With rapidly spiking demand for medical-grade TPEs, the company says it has increased its focus on producing TPEs suitable for face-mask applications.

TPEs have been identified as a possible replacement material for silicone and latex to make face masks. As needs have changed, Polymax TPE and similar-minded companies have shifted their focus, helping to provide solutions to meet the growing demand for reshoring of PPE products to North American production.

“There are multiple design criteria that need to be considered when creating TPE materials for PPE applications, and our wide range of medical-grade P-Series has allowed us to provide solutions to molders for years,” said Tom Castile, Vice President, Sales. “The Covid-19 crisis has quickly created an urgency to source TPE products domestically.”

Polymax TPE also announced an expansion of the A-Series medical-grade TPE that adheres to engineered resins. It features the widest hardness range of its kind in the industry, according to Polymax. Some speciality production will be moved from its Nantong facility to Waukegan to assist customers that are now reshoring production. This move will result in a quicker response to all domestic PPE production, allowing for faster deployment of this high-in-demand equipment, said Polymax TPE.

“As a global leader of TPE solutions and the brand owner of Maxelast, Polymax TPE technologies can meet the demanding needs of many air-purifying respirator and PPE applications, essential in the battle against Covid-19,” said Castile.


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