Kraton Polymers and SO.F.TER. Develop a Lighter-weight, Higher-performance, Lower-cost, and More Environmentally-sustainable Solution for Slush Molded Interior Soft Skins

Oct 06, 2010, 20:00 ET from Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc.

HOUSTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc. (NYSE: KRA), a leading global producer of styrenic block copolymers or "SBCs," and SO.F.TER. SPA, compounder specialized in the production of tailor-made thermoplastic elastomers and engineering solutions, in response to the demands of the automotive industry for lighter-weight, higher-performance, lower-cost, and more environmentally-sustainable solutions, announce the development of a new SBC-based alternative for slush molded interior soft skins.

Slush molding is a specialized processing operation traditionally designed for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) based compounds to produce the interior surface of automobiles such as instrument panel skins, door panels, airbags and consoles.    

"Kraton Polymers and SO.F.TER. formed a strategic alliance to leverage the leading innovation and scientific capabilities of both companies. This resulted in the development of a superior and more environmentally-friendly alternative to PVC and thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU)," said Michael Oberkirch, Vice President, Advanced Materials at Kraton Polymers.  

This development provides a major technology and performance leap for the automotive industry. Manufacturers can achieve significant improvements in low-temperature performance, fogging, and recyclability while still using existing slush molding equipment and standard processing conditions.  An additional benefit is lowered manufacturing costs due to reduced service temperatures and decreased processing time.

"Our new product provides a 30 to 40% reduction in material weight, better aging properties, and improved soft touch compared to existing materials. These benefits help automotive manufacturers reduce the weight of vehicle components, while still enhancing aesthetics and performance," added Oberkirch. "This is another example of innovation and collaborative customer relationships leading to a specialized product solution designed to meet ever-increasing market needs," he concluded.  

For more information about this superior alternative for slush molded interiors, please contact Christian Kafka, Global Market Development Manager, Kraton Polymers, at christian.kafka@kraton.com, or Riccardo Meucci, Sales Director of SO.F.TER. TECNOPOLIMERI, at riccardo.meucci@softerspa.com. To see, touch, and learn more about our new technology, please visit both companies at the 2010 KSHOW in Dusseldorf, Germany from October 27November 3, 2010. Visit Kraton Polymers in Hall 6, Booth C80, or SO.F.TER. in Hall 6, Booth A58.

About Kraton

Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc., through its operating subsidiary Kraton Polymers LLC and its subsidiaries, is a leading global producer of engineered polymers and, we believe, the world's largest producer of styrenic block copolymers ("SBC's"), a family of products whose chemistry was pioneered by us almost fifty years ago. SBC's are highly-engineered thermoplastic elastomers, which enhance the performance of numerous products by delivering a variety of attributes, including greater flexibility, resilience, strength, durability and processability. Our polymers are used in a wide range of applications, including adhesives, coatings, consumer and personal care products, sealants and lubricants, and medical, packaging, automotive, paving, roofing and footwear products. We currently offer approximately 800 products to more than 700 customers in over 60 countries worldwide, and are the only SBC producer with manufacturing and service capabilities on four continents. We manufacture products at five plants globally, including our flagship plant in Belpre, Ohio, as well as plants in Germany, France and Brazil, and a joint venture plant operated in Japan.

Kraton, the Kraton logo and design, and the "Giving Innovators their Edge" tagline are all trademarks of Kraton Polymers LLC.

About SO.F.TER.

SO.F.TER. SPA develops and produces polymeric compounds for the manufacturing industry and is among the few specialists whose range of business goes from thermoplastic elastomers, to thermoplastic vulcanizates, to engineering plastics. Thanks to its world-class technological know-how SO.F.TER. can offer customized and integrated solutions, with a strong focus on the automotive, home appliances, building, electrical/electronic, footwear and sport industries. The SO.F.TER. Group has its headquarters in Forli, Italy, with two production units in Mexico and Brazil. Products and Brands include Thermoplastic Elastomers: Forprene® (TPV), Forflex® (TPO), Laprene® (SEBS), Sofprene® (SBS), Sofpur® (TPU), Heraflex® P (TPO), Forgrin®, Terra® (TPE for turf infill), Pavprene® (bitumen modifier) and  Engineering Plastics: Polifor® (PP), Pibifor® (PBT), Nylfor® (PA6, PA66), Abistir® (ABS), Stirofor® (HI-PS), Cabofor® (PC), Blendfor® (PC/ABS), Norfor® (PPO), Sanfor® (SAN). For more information about SO.F.TER. visit www.softerspa.com.

Forward Looking Statements

This press release includes "forward-looking statements," which are statements other than statements of historical fact and are often characterized by the use of words such as "believes," "expects," "estimates," "projects," "may," "will," "intends," "plans" or "anticipates," or by discussions of strategy, plans or intentions. All forward-looking statements in this press release are made based on management's current expectations and estimates, which involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in forward-looking statements.  These risks and uncertainties are more fully described in "Part I. Item 1A. Risk Factors" contained in our Annual Report on 10-K, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and as subsequently updated in our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, and include risks related to: conditions in the global economy and capital markets; our reliance on LyondellBasell Industries for the provision of significant operating and other services; the failure of our raw materials suppliers to perform their obligations under long-term supply agreements, or our inability to replace or renew these agreements when they expire; limitations in the availability of raw materials we need to produce our products in the amounts or at the prices necessary for us to effectively and profitably operate our business; competition in our end-use markets, by other producers of SBCs and by producers of products that can be substituted for our products; our ability to produce and commercialize technological innovations; our ability to protect our intellectual property, on which our business is substantially dependent; infringement of our products on the intellectual property rights of others; seasonality in our Paving and Roofing business; financial and operating constraints related to our substantial level of indebtedness; product liability claims and other lawsuits arising from environmental damage or personal injuries associated with chemical manufacturing; political and economic risks in the various countries in which we operate; the inherently hazardous nature of chemical manufacturing; health, safety and environmental laws, including laws that govern our employees' exposure to chemicals deemed harmful to humans; regulation of our customers, which could affect the demand for our products or result in increased compliance costs; international trade, export control, antitrust, zoning and occupancy and labor and employment laws that could require us to modify our current business practices and incur increased costs; our relationship with our employees; loss of key personnel or our inability to attract and retain new qualified personnel; fluctuations in currency exchange rates ; the fact that we do not enter into long-term contracts with our customers; a decrease in the fair value of our pension assets, which could require us to materially increase future funding of the pension plan; and concentration of ownership among our principal stockholder, which may prevent new investors from influencing significant corporate decisions.  Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. We assume no obligation to update such information.

For Further Information:

Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc.

Media: Marcie Coronado +1-281-504-4975

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SOURCE Kraton Performance Polymers, Inc.



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