Manufacturing at SABIC’s Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, manufacturing site.
Manufacturing at SABIC’s Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, manufacturing site.

The new SABIC PP operation is designed to answer accelerating demand from automotive OEMs and tiers for local supply of globally-consistent PP materials in North America, supporting production of both regional and global vehicle platforms.

“In today’s fast-paced automotive industry, we continually strive to help our customers respond to new challenges and demands,” says Gregory A. Adams, vice president, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Automotive.

“One of those challenges is the movement of many OEMs towards global vehicle platforms, with the resulting demand for high-quality, consistent materials that meet specifications across multiple regions. With this investment in Bay St. Louis, we have significantly boosted our capability to meet that demand and deliver even more responsiveness to our global customers, their engineering teams, and suppliers.”

SABIC Innovative Plastics installed the new PP capacity in Bay St. Louis by drawing upon the design and technology of the company’s plant in Genk, Belgium, which SABIC says is the largest greenfield PP compounding plant ever built in Europe. This facility supplies PP compounds to Europe and SABIC STAMAX long glass fibre PP composites to Europe and Asia Pacific.

Growing use of PP in automotive

According to SABIC, PP materials in the automotive sector have shown steady growth over several decades – at about 3-5% per year, on average – and have replaced metals and other polymers in various parts.

Today, PP compounds are used in parts such as bumper fascias, instrument panels (IPs), door panels, and interior trim.

OEMs in Europe first used SABIC STAMAX composites in the early 2000s, primarily for large moulded parts such as front-end modules, door modules, IP carriers, tailgates and seat structures.

“New doors are opening for polypropylene and the broader category of thermoplastic materials,” says Leon Jacobs, polypropylene global leader SABIC Innovative Plastics, Automotive.

“In components for hybrid and electric vehicles; in the under-hood area where heat is not a critical factor; and in semi-structural applications where polypropylene can allow for the creation of highly integrated parts to further reduce mass and cost.”