TOKYO, October 23, 2007 _ Ube Industries, Ltd. today announced that it has concluded a license agreement to use the water-borne polyurethane dispersion (PUD) technology of Industrial Copolymers Ltd. of the UK. With this license agreement, Ube Industries has entered in earnest the market for ecocoating materials*.
PUD is made of polymer particles sized from dozens to hundreds of nanometers dispersed in water. The market for PUD is growing by 5 to 10 percent every year, and PUD has diverse applications in products such as paints and coating materials, artificial leather, adhesives, and glass-fiber binder. Demand has been increasing rapidly in recent years, especially for automotive internal and external coating applications, since PUD is a strategic material for manufacturers striving to comply with regulations that limit emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Ube Industries decided to enter the license agreement in order to start up its own PUD business to respond to the growth of this market. Although it had been developing its own PUD since 2003, Ube Industries hopes to benefit from Industrial Copolymer's years of experience, mainly in Europe, as a manufacturer and marketer of PUD for coating applications.
Ube Industries has already started its own business in Polycarbonatediol (PCD), an intermediate material for PUD, in Japan and Spain. The company has increased production of Dimethylcarbonate (DMC), a raw material for PCD, at the Ube Chemical Factory, and is carrying out a feasibility study on the construction of a fourth production facility for 1,6-Hexanediol, which can also be used as a raw material for PCD, in Thailand, after increasing production at plants in Japan (Ube and Sakai) and Spain.
In April 2007, Ube Industries created a sales and marketing team, the Ecocoating Materials Group, within the Fine Chemicals Business Unit of its Specialty Products and Chemicals Company. The team has begun providing PUD samples to potential customers. The company strongly intends to develop a variety of custom-grade PUD products using its own manufactured materials to meet customers' individual requirements, and will also introduce certain existing products to the market.
Ube Industries will supply PUD to customers from its test-production facility through Industrial Copolymer toll manufacturing in the initial stage. A new plant with a production capacity of 2,000 tons per year of PUD is scheduled to go online in Japan by the middle of fiscal 2009.
Ecocoating materials are a great fit for the global and strategic businesses of Ube Industries' Specialty Chemicals and Products Company. Ube Industries will first focus on the Japanese and Asian markets, with the mid- to long-term goal of building up a global infrastructure for PUD production, sales and technical services, possibly through an extension of collaboration with Industrial Copolymer.
Industrial Copolymers is a manufacturer of high performance specialist polymers and resins for a hugely diverse range of industries and applications. Founded in 1986, the company has always been environmentally conscious and has grown to become a world-class organization serving customers across the globe. It boasts annual consolidated revenues of £30 million, employs 260 people, and has headquarters in Lancashire, England. For more information, see www.incorez.com.