Engineering News

Kraton to Manufacture Latex Alternative at Ohio Plant
April 27, 2010

Kraton Performance Polymers announced plans to invest approximately $27 million in its Belpre, Ohio plant to enable production of Poly-Isoprene Rubber. This strategic decision will allow Kraton to manufacture this product in the U.S. to support increased customer demand and the projected long-term needs of the market.

The demand and popularity of Poly-Isoprene Rubber (PIR) products has grown significantly, especially in the medical industry, due to its ability to provide comfort and alternatives to natural rubber latex (NRL) products (which are often made with silicone or PVC-based devices). PIR is often substituted for NRL because it does not have natural impurities that can cause allergic reactions. Specific medical applications that benefit from the superior performance of Kraton Poly-Isoprene Rubber include catheters, surgical gloves, medical stoppers, medical tube connectors, dental dams, physiotherapy bands and personal care products.

"We are pleased to bring Poly-Isoprene Rubber manufacturing to our Belpre facility and believe that this location offers the best synergies between PIR and other existing SBC operations. It will allow Kraton to operate PIR production assets that are competitive and sustainable," said David Bradley, Chief Operating Officer. "Plant modifications and upgrades are scheduled to commence around the third quarter 2010 with the new PIR production capabilities expected by mid-2011."

"It is important to note," stated Bradley, "that Kraton has adequate PIR inventories on hand to satisfy its estimated customer demand throughout the scheduled Belpre modification phase. Customers, especially those in the medical segment, should be reassured that we foresee no interruption of supply as Kraton makes these capital improvements." Bradley added that "the U.S. location will, in fact, be better-suited to serve a region that increasingly seeks high quality alternatives to natural rubber for medical applications. The Belpre, Ohio plant should also offer a more reliable environment for future production of PIR to further serve existing and new customers. This investment further demonstrates our commitment to the industry." In December 2009, Kraton ceased production at its Pernis, the Netherlands PIR plant as part of the production relocation process.

Source: Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc.

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