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In China, Solvay targets high-end, along with pickle water


Anyone who still believes that China is mainly a low-cost manufacturer of commodity toys and trinkets would be rapidly convinced otherwise by Solvay S.A.'s Chinaplas presence.

"Asia is our most important market," said Specialty Polymers director and Executive Vice President Luke Du, in an interview at the show. "China is our biggest and fastest-growing market in Asia."

"We don't focus on commodity products but specialty products," said Qiang Zhou, general manager of the unit. "We are more focused on very special, small and high-functioning parts."

One unusual need is taking place in southwest China, where huge amounts of wastewater from pickling plants is creating "an environmental nightmare," Zhou said.

Researchers at Solvay's Shanghai technology park are working with regional governments to develop equipment to protect the water supply, Zhou said.

The executives highlighted three new filaments for additive manufacturing.

Two filaments are based on the unit's KetaSpire polyetheretherketone (PEEK) polymer. One is pure PEEK and the other is 10 percent carbon-fiber reinforced. The third filament is based on Solvay's Radel polyphenylsulfone (PPSU).

The unit is targeting aerospace and medical applications by developing an additive-manufacturing powder based on its NovaSpire polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) polymer. No release date was announced.

Solvay's KetaSpire will be the first PEEK filament included in Luxembourg-based e-Xstream Engineering SAID's Digimat simulation software, slated for launch in June.

Digimat will allow engineers and designers to model and predict warpage and stress of additive-manufactured products.

Solvay also announced an additive manufacturing e-commerce website, www.solvayamshop.

At its booth, Solvay's Additive Technologies unit showcased its portfolio of Cyasorb-brand UV stabilizers. The Cyasorb Cynergy Solutions A series is used in agricultural film and B series is used in construction, while another targets the automotive industry.

Meanwhile, Solvay Performance Polyamides targeted automotive applications with its Technyl polyamide (PA) portfolio.

"With China at the forefront of e-mobility, we are actively ramping up our service and support targeting light-weighting," said Hill Gu, Asia auto market head for Solvay Performance Polyamides.

Other automotive solutions showcased include Amodel PPA in electrification components and Solef PVDF to boost battery performance.

Highlighted healthcare applications include a knee implant developed by China's Okani Medical Technology, using Solvay's Zeniva PEEK.

ORGKnee is less expensive and quicker and safer to manufacture than conventional metal knee implants and lasts longer, said Okani Chief Technology Officer Zhonglin Zhu.

Testing of ORGKnee by China's Food and Drug Administration begins in September. Okani plans to launch the product in 2020.

Solvay also showcased housings made from its fiberglass-reinforced Ryton R-4-230BL polyphenylene sulfide (PPS). The housings protect industrial sensors made by Orange, Calif.-based Advanced Sensor Technologies Inc.

"We are committed to helping our Chinese customers capture opportunities for sustainable growth and innovation as they stride into the future," Du said.

Brussels-based Solvay S.A. posted 10.1 billion euros ($12.1 billion) in sales in 2017. It has about 24,500 employees in 61 countries.


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