Arlanxeo strengthens its market position in synthetic rubber through investment.

At a glance

ARLANXEO is investing in modernizing its production sites in Brazil and France to strengthen its position as a leading manufacturer of synthetic rubber. The investment will focus on high-performance rubber grades to support customer development in key regions. The upgrades will be financed by the company's own cash flow.

Maastricht – ARLANXEO is strengthening its position as the world’s leading manufacturer of synthetic rubber. Over the next three years, ARLANXEO will invest EUR mid double-digit million to modernize its production sites in Triunfo, Brazil and La Wantzenau, France.

“With this investment program, we are laying a foundation for the company’s further profitable growth,” said Jorge Nogueira, ARLANXEO CEO. “In this context, we are systematically implementing advanced technologies for growing high performance rubber grades in order to support the development  of our customers in important regions over the long term,” he explained further. The program will be financed by ARLANXEO’s own cash flow.

Investment in La Wantzenau, France

In addition to the regular maintenance investments, ARLANXEO is modernizing its production site in La Wantzenau, France, the world’s largest nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) facility.

“This investment lays the foundation for further targeted growth of our NBR specialty rubber grades as an important part of our rubber portfolio,” says Christian Widdershoven, member of the Managing Board at ARLANXEO and Head of the High Performance Elastomers business unit. “This enables us to strengthen and secure our position as a leading global supplier of NBR rubbers for the long term,” Widdershoven adds.

ARLANXEO expects global demand for high-quality NBR rubbers to increase in the coming years. The focus here is on growth in traditional business areas and new applications, some of which have been developed with customers, but also the use of NBR as a raw material for the production of the company’s Therban® (HNBR) specialty products.

The NBR synthetic rubber produced by ARLANXEO in La Wantzenau is sold under the Perbunan®, Krynac®, and Baymod® N brands. It is used in the production of cables, seals, hoses, blankets, and soles for safety and athletic shoes, among other uses. The most important markets are the automotive industry, the construction sector, as well as oil and gas production and processing.

ARLANXEO in La Wantzenau, France

The La Wantzenau facility is the world’s largest production site for the NBR (nitrile butadiene rubber) grade of synthetic rubber. In addition the research and development activities for NBR are located in La Wantzenau. ARLANXEO produces around 50 high-quality standard and specialty products in La Wantzenau that are supplied to about 500 customers in over 60 countries worldwide. In addition to the production facility in La Wantzenau, ARLANXEO also produces NBR rubber in a joint venture with TSRC in Nantong, China.

Upgrading of the Triunfo Facility in Brazil

In Brazil ARLANXEO is investing in its facility in Triunfo, Rio Grande do Sul, to make the production of polybutadiene rubber (PBR) more flexible. Currently emulsion styrene-butadiene rubber (E-SBR), which is mainly used in car and truck tires, is produced there. As a result of the upgrade, the company will also be able to produce the more advanced PBR types Nd-BR (neodymium butadiene rubber) and lithium butadiene rubber (Li-BR) for tire and non-tire applications in Triunfo in the second half of 2020. This follows the growing need of the local tire manufacturers for high performance tires.

At the same time, ARLANXEO is relocating part of its existing E-SBR production in Triunfo to its facility in Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro, where E-SBR is already produced. This should allow for better economics going forward.

“This investment highlights our commitment to Brazil and the long-term importance of the Brazilian market for our high-performance rubbers, especially in the tire segment,” said Matthias Gotta, Head of ARLANXEO’s Tire & Specialty Rubbers business unit (BU TSR). “We want to support our local customers with the innovative technologies that will make tires, and as a result, transportation safer, more environmentally friendly, and thus more sustainable,” he added.

Demand in Brazil for high-performance rubbers for tires continues to grow, supported by the tire labeling regulation, similar to laws that are already in place in the European Union, Japan, and South Korea, for example. All new tires produced in Brazil must be rated with respect to their rolling resistance, grip on wet track, and external noise. The use of Nd-BR in tires significantly improves tire performance, resulting in lower fuel consumption and better wet grip, among other benefits.

Polybutadiene rubbers under the ARLANXEO brand name Buna® are primarily used in the tread and sidewalls of tires. In addition to tires, they are also used to modify plastics in the production of HIPS (high impact polystyrene) for injection molding applications. Other areas of application include golf balls, running shoes, and conveyor belts.