KINGWOOD, Texas—Orion Engineered Carbons L.L.C. has launched a dedicated Innovation Team to work with its technical marketing teams to boost its offerings for both tire and non-tire materials.
The focus of the global Innovation Team is to ensure the carbon black supplier's efforts are aligned with its customers' needs, both now and in the future, according to Lin Bradley, Orion's technical market manager for rubber.
“We understand that our customers must meet ever-more stringent global specifications, and we are positioning to assist them in meeting those requirements in every region with products designed and engineered to fulfill expectations,” he said.
Bradley has been in the rubber industry for more than 20 years but was seven years removed from carbon black—he previously worked at Columbian Chemicals Co.—when he joined Orion in mid-2014.
“I was pleasantly surprised by our willingness to invest in the process,” he said.
Bradley specifically mentioned upgrades to Orion's Border, Texas, facility and its work in developing clean technology. “We're able to meet some specification levels that just a few years ago were not possible and not available in the marketplace,” he said.
Orion's commitment to innovation has extended its product lines based both on its proprietary technologies and its knowledge of the market, the executive said.
The Innovation Team is based at an Orion Applied Technology Laboratory in Germany.
“They are tasked with not only coming up with the new technologies to advance the carbon black manufacturing process, but implementing the market knowledge that our sales and marketing staff generates,” Bradley said. “They use the combination of the two to determine what our product needs are four to five years down the road.”
He credited the team with spurring the development of a range of low-hysteresis grades for tire body components that minimize heat generation and rolling resistance to improve fuel economy. “As a result of these efforts, we offer narrow aggregate size distribution carbon blacks that significantly improve tire wear,” Bradley said.
Because of these developments, Orion has developed carbon blacks along the entire aggregate distribution spectrum to respond to varying market requirements.
“What we discovered is that by changing properties like aggregate size distribution, we can greatly influence the treadwear of a tire to improve durability,” he said. “Going in the opposite direction with aggregate size distribution, we can change rolling resistance. (We can do) whatever we need to accomplish.”