SABIC Innovative Plastics Acquire Automotive Composites Manufacturer

As part of an ongoing effort to reaffirm and further strengthen its long-term commitment to the North American auto industry, SABIC Innovative Plastics today announced its agreement to acquire the RheMax product line from RheTech, Inc., of Whitmore Lake, Mich. Under the terms of agreement, RheTech will be the toll manufacturer of SABIC Innovative Plastics' STAMAX* LGFPP (long glass fiber-filled polypropylene) resins, which were launched in North America in September 2008. This acquisition enables SABIC Innovative Plastics to immediately fulfill North American automotive OEM and tier product needs from local production.

"We believe the American automotive industry plays a pivotal role in the design and development of automobiles on a global basis. The expansion of STAMAX composite production in North America and the RheMax acquisition are key aspects of SABIC Innovative Plastics' growth strategy to further strengthen our position as a leading supplier and to meet the global specification needs of customers with local production," said Greg Adams, vice president, Automotive for SABIC Innovative Plastics. "Even during the current down cycle, SABIC Innovative Plastics continues to invest in products and services to ensure that our business is helping to increase the future global competitiveness of our customers. With the addition of STAMAX LGFPP composites to our already comprehensive product portfolio, our customers can benefit from an even greater array of materials to reduce costs, provide innovation and differentiate their vehicles from the competition."

"This is a win-win situation for both sides and customers," said John Levinson, president and COO of RheTech. "SABIC Innovative Plastics gains immediate North American product and production capability, the customers gain a global product and supply base, and RheTech will reinvest and redirect its resources to develop new products and technology for the customers of its core polyolefins compounding business."

As a part of this agreement, existing RheMax products will be integrated under the STAMAX resin product line and brand name. Product formulations will be kept the same to ensure that STAMAX resin material properties and performance are maintained. The transaction includes only the RheMax product line. RheTech will continue to provide its other outstanding compounded polyolefin products and services to its customers.

STAMAX LGFPP resins offer a great balance of properties such as 10-25 percent lower density than traditional materials and hence lighter weight parts, better surface finish than short glass fiber products enabling molded-in-color, and processability.

Exceptional Benefits for Automotive Structural Applications

STAMAX LGFPP composites are made by combining a polypropylene (PP) base resin with long glass fibers. They offer excellent strength and dimensional stability, as well as high flow for thin-wall parts. These materials enable the design of applications that combine light weight with functional integration, including front-end modules (FEM), door modules, instrument panels, center consoles, underbody shields, seating systems, liftgates and tailgates.

These composites have been used extensively by European automakers to replace steel in key structural components. The majority of European cars incorporate on average five pounds of STAMAX LGFPP composite. Now these materials are available to North American automakers, offering lighter weight for fuel efficiency and emissions reduction, as well as system cost savings through design optimization and more-efficient production cycles.

For specific applications, STAMAX LGFPP composites offer the following advantages:

  • Front-end modules: By replacing steel, STAMAX LGFPP composites have the potential to reduce part weight significantly (from 13-15 lb/6-7 kg for steel to just 5-6 lb/2-3kg). They also open the possibility to develop a full composite FEM without metal reinforcement.
  • Instrument panels (IPs): STAMAX composites can reduce the overall thickness of IP carriers to 1.8 mm vs. 2.2 mm with traditional materials, resulting in weight reductions of 2-5 lbs (1-2 kg) per car. Another critical advantage is part integration. Targets include the integration of the airbag deployment chute in the IP carrier, or the center console with the IP structure, or to partially integrate the cross car beam in the IP structure.
  • Tailgates and liftgates: Using STAMAX composites may reduce weight by nine to thirteen pounds (4-6 kg) v.s.steel and enable integration with Lexan* polycarbonate glazing to produce a lightweight and durable assembly.
  • Door structures: Compared to steel, STAMAX composites have the potential to reduce weight by up to nine pounds (4 kg).

STAMAX LGFPP composites are currently available through SABIC Innovative Plastics' Automotive commercial team across the globe.

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