Newly Named Wellman Advanced Materials Expands into Auto TPOs

Parent company Shanghai PRET Composites has moved swiftly in reshaping its new North American acquisition.



Newly renamed and reshaped Wellman Advanced Materials will make its public debut at the upcoming SPE TPO Automotive Engineered Polyolefins conference, Oct. 4-7, 2015 at the Detroit/Troy Marriott. Technical presentations will be given by Dean Chundury, v.p. of R&D of Wellman Advanced Materials and Johnny Zhang, senior technical manager of parent company Shanghai PRET Composites. Moreover, plans for new North American TPO capacity for the automotive industry are well underway.


PRET, a leading automotive plastics compounder, acquired Wellman Plastics Recycling and its subsidiary DC Foam Recycling, Johnsonville, S.C. earlier this year. In addition to its well-known PET recycling division that supplies pellets for beverage packaging and straps, Wellman’s former engineering resins division has been a longtime leader in compounding nylon in North America, producing prime, post-industrial, and post-consumer recyclate nylon 6 and 66 grades as well as PP compounds for automotive and other industries.


Meanwhile, a major new 44-million/lb capacity expansion at the Johnsonville site is now underway in order to offer PRET’s well regarded TPO, long-glass reinforced polypropylene, and other engineered PP compounds to North American automakers and tier suppliers. The first compounding extruder will be installed before year’s end with a second to be installed in early 2016.


PRET’s products are known for their innovative technology, including compounds with seamless airbag deployment approvals, very-low odor and emissions, high scratch and mar resistance, minimal tackiness, and excellent color matching and color consistency—all key attributes for interior-trim components. These materials, which already carry global automotive approvals at Ford Motor, BMW Group, Daimler AG, Volkswagen Group, and others, will now be available for use on North American vehicles.


According to Larry Berkowski, v.p., sales and marketing at Wellman Advanced Materials, a broad range of PRET’s TPO and PP grades will be offered, including talc filled, custom color, long glass, and higher strength--modified with polyolefin elastomers. “PRET is very well known for its pre-colored material quality, and Wellman Advanced Materials will bring the expertise to North American customers who prefer to buy pre-colored products.”


In addition to the new capacity, Wellman Advanced Materials will also be expanding product development and application testing services at its R&D facility in Johnsonville with testing equipment that is identical to that used by PRET in China, with more in-house mechanical testing, material characterization, and color-matching resources.


Moreover, Wellman will now offer moldfilling and structural analysis support for its North American customers. Says Berkowski, “In China, PRET’s work with synchronized moldfilling and structural analyses to support lightweighting needs, gating optimization, warpage reduction, and improvements to final part performance such as head impact predictions is highly valued. We’re really excited to be able to provide such value-added services to our customers directly from our Detroit-area office.”