ORLANDO, Fla.—Lubrizol Corp. is taking a more market-focused approach to its engineered polymers business.
"We're changing how we work," said Julie Shlepr, engineered polymers business development director, in an interview at NPE2018 in Orlando. "We're not just looking at the product, but at markets and applications."
At the show, Wickliffe, Ohio-based Lubrizol debuted "Advancing Materials. Elevating Performance." as its brand statement. The firm is a major producer of thermoplastic polyurethanes, which it sells under Estane and other brand names.
"This is a chance for us to switch to a market-driven strategy vs. a technology push," added Arnau Pano, engineered materials vice president and general manager. "We can offer a full solution and combine in a collaborative way with our customers and the final users of our materials."
Surface protection in the form of painted protective films has been a top market for Lubrizol's TPU materials, according to Shlepr. The firm also is seeing solid demand from consumer electronics, sports and recreation and transportation, she added.
In consumer products, Lubrizol TPU will be used in "self-healing" molded parts for eyeglass frames by the end of the year. Aliphatic-type TPUs also remain "a strong base of business," Shlepr said, and the firm "is working to get the right alliances" in performance textiles.
For the footwear market, Lubrizol's BounCell-X TPU microcellular foam continues to challenge rubber applications. The material can reduce the number of parts needed in athletic shoes, officials said.
In transportation, sustainability is "one of the drivers in existing applications," Pano said. The business recently added a chief sustainability officer to its management ranks.
In March, Lubrizol announced plans to invest $80 million in TPU capacity expansions at sites in North America, Europe and Asia.
"Our wave of investment in expanding capacity and capabilities will help our customers to grow their business when they need it," Pano said at NPE.
In addition to its work in plastics, Lubrizol is a global leader in lubricant additives. The firm—a unit of investment company Berkshire Hathaway—employs 8,300 worldwide and posted sales of $6.5 billion in 2016.