New PMMA plant of Degussa and Forhouse goes onstream in Taiwan

Growth market PMMA molding compounds for flat-panel displays


RAG subsidiary Degussa GmbH has started up a new production facility for PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) molding compounds in Taichung, Taiwan, together with its joint venture partner Forhouse Corporation. Degussa holds a 51 percent share and Forhouse a 49 percent share in the joint venture Degussa Forhouse Optical Polymers Corporation, launched in January 2006. The construction project for the new plant, which manufactures high-quality PMMA for optical applications in flat-panel displays was implemented quickly after a short planning phase.

"The Asian market for PMMA molding compounds is very attractive. Through our strategic partnership with Forhouse and by starting up the new facility, we have done a lot to strengthen our position with PMMA molding compounds in Asia and are expanding our global position as a leading supplier of PMMA," Dr. Klaus Engel, Chairman of the Managing Board of Degussa GmbH, said at the inauguration.

"Global demand for our high-quality PMMA molding compounds is set to rise significantly in the next few years," added Gregor Hetzke, President of the Methacrylates Business Unit. "The market for liquid-crystal flat-panel displays is currently expanding at an annual rate of more than 10 percent. The new production facility enables us to serve this growing market from our local site."

The plant will have an initial annual capacity of some 40,000 metric tonnes and is designed for "over the fence" production. Apart from PMMA manufacture, the further processing of lighting modules (backlight units) for flat-panel displays will also be located at this site. The integrated supply chain ensures the continuous supply of the ultra high purity optical-grade material to customers. The PLEXIGLAS® molding compound used to manufacture optical light guides in TFT-LCD (Thin-Film-Transistor Liquid-Crystal Display) flat-panel displays has to meet the most stringent quality requirements to enable perfect illumination of the displays.

"The start-up of the PMMA plant marks a huge advance in our backward integration strategy and the related goal of securing the PMMA supply for our further growth," adds Francis Pan, President of Forhouse. "The plant also helps us achieve our objective of improving our cost position."

The joint venture unites the core competencies of both partners. Degussa's comprehensive know-how along the entire process chain of methacrylate chemistry enables Forhouse to position itself favorably in the technology-driven markets for optoelectronic devices, through the joint development of innovative products.

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