Capacity expansion, solving customer challenges top Sabic's agenda

Investing in competitiveness and solving industry's toughest challenges should not be an either/or proposition, says engineering thermoplastics supplier Sabic (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia). "It's both—and, not or," said Keith Smith, Executive Vice President, Sabic, Innovation Plastics, at a press conference on March 23 at NPE2015. To show his company's commitment to growing its business while meeting a diverse set of customer needs, Smith announced a series of investments to ensure that its global facilities are competitive and sustainable.

sabicCapacity expansion was the headline topic during the press conference. Notably, Sabic announced that it would add a total of 338 kilotons of capacity across its entire global portfolio. Smith also announced that the company’s Petrokemya facility will increase Innovative Plastics’ annual ABS production by nearly 80% when it comes on line later this year and that it would initiate a 30% phased increase in its global Ultem resin capacity over the next five years to stem the shortage. Additional opportunities for further Ultem resin expansion will be evaluated.

As an example of how Sabic is taking the "long view," Smith cited polycarbonate (PC) production. Whereas 600 kilotons of new PC capacity has come on line over the last four years, squeezing margins, Sabic plans to bring on line nearly 35% of the world’s publicly announced capacity expansions for PC as part of a joint venture with Sinopec in Tianjin, China. Other suppliers won't be in a position to meet industry's evolving needs, he added. "Companies without the competitive assets have announced shutdowns. Not Sabic," he stressed.

At its booth, Sabic is highlighting various applications that illustrate its materials science and chemistry expertise allied with its focus on technology solutions. Featured products include a 3D-printed airline seat (pictured) that looks stunning but makes one wonder about the comfort factor, and the ubiquitous 3D-printed car from Local Motors. Using one of Sabic's carbon-fiber filled compounds, the company printed the car live at last year's International Manufacturing Technology show.