Thornton Cleveleys (UK) – Victrex has successfully commissioned the first production stream of its £90 million third Polyaryletherketone (PAEK) manufacturing plant as it focuses on offering even greater security of supply to customers, as well as delivering complete solutions. The capacity increase is also a further foundation to progress Victrex’s pipeline of future opportunities, including seven mega programmes, which will help grow the company over the coming years.
Recent investments increase Victrex´s production capacity by 70 per cent to over 7,000 tonnes per year. Alongside its PAEK resin capacity, the worldwide leading PAEK producer has also continued its downstream investment in APTIV™ film, pipe, tape and now medical components, enabling the company to differentiate from competitors by supplying complete solutions to customers rather than simply manufacturing materials.
The new PAEK plant serves as the backbone to develop core growth and future opportunities. With long term megatrends being supportive across Victrex’s markets of automotive, aerospace, energy, electronics and medical, the company has focused its pipeline on a smaller number of larger opportunities. These include for example aerospace brackets, applications for mobile devices, orthopaedic knees and oil & gas pipes through its partnership with Magma. Victrex recently identified the overall market potential for the high-performing thermoplastic PAEK as being over 80,000 tonnes.
State-of-the-art facilities: High quality and security of supply
David Hummel, Chief Executive of Victrex, said: “We are continuing to move from being simply a materials manufacturer to a solutions provider. Our investment, not only in PAEK manufacturing, but in downstream capability, in know-how in technical excellence and research & development, helps to further differentiate our company. Already today we are able to fill gaps in the market by delivering semi-finished and finished components such as APTIV films or medical applications. With the third production facility we are in a position to offer sustained security of supply, which is, along with rigorous quality, critical to our customers.”
The new facility for the manufacture of PAEK went into operation in the north-west of the UK during April. Over 1,000 tonnes of structural steel, more than 2,250 cubic metres of concrete and almost almost 30,000 metres of piping were used in the plant’s construction. Both in the construction phase and now during ongoing production, top priority has been given to safety and protection of the environment. This is ensured by the relevant defined processes and regulatory approvals as well as the successful completion of the necessary audits. In addition, a new control room ensures the centralised management and monitoring of all three production plants.
Expansion of technical leadership
Victrex continues to evolve and has further differentiated itself from competitors through investment in targeted research and development. The company operates Technology Centres at its headquarters in the UK, in Japan and in Shanghai, the aim being to offer customers an even better service both globally and regionally. Victrex also plans to continue expanding its technological leadership. Earlier this year, the company announced a proposed Polymer Innovation Centre in the UK, which will help to prototype and scale up future developments, enabling customers to test applications before full commercialization.