A recent trip to Eastman's new facility yielded insights beyond a new product release
USUALLY THE Law of Unintended Consequences is not our friend, and the best way to deal with it has been to shrug your shoulders and try and make lemonade from the lemons life has given you.
But what happens when life gives you lemonade? It is a situation Eastman Chemical seems to have found itself in.
Originally developed in the late-1950s as a polyethylene terephthalate (PET) fiber modifier, Tritan - unnamed at the time - was shelved until 2003, when Eastman chemists were looking for a resin that could withstand higher temperatures in both the manufacturing process and later as a finished molded product: "Polymers that can deal with boiling water," explained Mark Costa, Eastman's executive vice president of specialty plastics, at the opening of the new 60,000 tonnes/year facility.
Running 24-seven, the plant is currently utilizing more than half of its capacity, but the company expects it to be running at full capacity by 2011, with, if demand remains strong, more capacity coming on afterwards. Construction took place from December 2008 to August 2009, and production of Tritan started in December 2009.
THE PUBLIC SPEAKS
From 2003, when the original formula was dusted off, until its launch at the 2007 K-show, Tritan was considered a drop-in higher heat resistant replacement for most polycarbonate applications, especially for housewares and appliances.
But during that time, public sentiment against bisphenol-A (BPA) had grown very strong.
Here's where the Law of Unintended Consequences comes in: Tritan has always been free of BPA.
Whether warranted or not, the anti-BPA concerns have been a strong driver, Eastman executives concede.
Photos courtesy of Eastman Chemical