Arkema Inc. has successfully started up a Kepstan poly-ether-ketone-ketone (PEKK) plant at its site near Mobile, Alabama. This investment strengthens Arkema’s offerings of advanced materials in demanding markets such as aeronautics, oil and gas, electronics, and automotive, and the company’s commitment to lightweight materials, one of its six innovation platforms for sustainable development.
Kepstan PEKK materials feature excellent mechanical, chemical, fire, and abrasion resistance. These resins also accommodate a wide range of processing technologies, particularly in the field of 3D printing where they are suited for powder sintering and filament extrusion.
Parts made of Kepstan reinforced carbon fiber PEKK, replacing metal for structural parts of future generations of aircraft, will provide lightweight materials including faster production cycles in the aeronautics and defense sectors.
“This new capacity, which has been brought on line on schedule, will enable our customers and their customers to better meet the future demand for ever more efficient materials,” said Christophe André, executive vice president, Advanced Materials for Arkema.
The Mobile plant also manufactures plastics additives. Approximately 23 new jobs were created with the addition of the Kepstan PEKK unit. The plant now employs 110 people and contributes to the local economy through several million dollars each year in payroll, utilities, and property tax payments.
The Kepstan PEKK facility is a new phase in Arkema’s ambitious growth strategy in high-performance polymers and advanced materials, the development of which is supported by the company’s advanced technologies in search of solutions for sustainable development. This investment, which complements the doubling of Kepstan PEKK resin capacities in France in 2017, supports the strong demand for carbon fiber reinforced composites and 3D printing.
Arkema and Hexcel officials separately announced that they will open a joint research and development laboratory in Les Avenières (Isère), France, in April, to develop thermoplastic composite solutions for aerospace, combining the expertise of Hexcel in carbon fiber and Arkema in PEKK. The companies expect to start supplying carbon/thermoplastic UD tapes from this pilot line to customers for evaluation beginning in Q3 2019.