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Huntsman Unveils New Footwear Tech, Equipment Investments Ahead of SIMAC

Huntsman Corporation, one of world’s leading developers of footwear polyurethane, revealed this week that it has finalized a series of investments in new footwear manufacturing equipment, along with introducing five new footwear technologies, just ahead of its appearance at the footwear manufacturing trade show, SIMAC Tanning Tech, in Milan.

Huntsman will add to its network of footwear innovation hubs polyurethane casting equipment that will assist with direct-on production, multi-section injection molding and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) production.

The company said its investment in footwear production equipment is designed to improve the its position throughout the footwear value chain in the Americas, Asia and Europe—all in an effort to create “fully equipped testing and prototyping environments” in each region.

“Many of the footwear companies we work with are big global brands. These companies want their material suppliers to have a similar geographic footprint—not just in terms of people, production and supply, but also for the delivery of innovation services and technical support,” Jim McCloud, footwear sales manager for the Americas at Huntsman said. “Our recent investments have been made with the needs of these customers in mind. Standardizing the equipment we have in place, across all three regions, gives our customers—large and small—peace of mind that we can replicate their manufacturing set up anywhere in the world and get new collaborative projects up and running, quickly and efficiently.”

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Huntsman also said this week that it’s adding five new footwear technologies to its manufacturing portfolio. The company is expanding on its DALTOPED AquaPUR technology, a method of creating complex, “water-blown” polyurethane Huntsman released four months prior, with the addition of “GRIP,” “Lite” and “Lite ENERGY” variations.

AquaPUR GRIP will be similar to the standard material but composed of a softer compound to enhance a sole’s gripping abilities—while the Lite and Lite ENERGY variations will enable Huntsman to create a polyurethane material that is 35 percent lighter than standard, with the ENERGY variant providing up to 40 percent more bounce.

Each of these technologies, including the original DALTOPED AquaPUR technology, according to Huntsman, provide footwear manufacturers with good cold flex properties that are water and slip-resistant along with the added benefit of its water-blown production, which allows for better flow characteristics and complex soling designs while reducing energy consumption and production cycle times.

Additionally, Huntsman has developed both harder and softer variations to its Avalon AHT line that boasts exceptional UV resistance and “high mechanical properties.”

The news comes a week ahead of its appearance at the SIMAC, which starts on Feb. 20 and lasts until Feb. 22. The company invites interested parties to stop by its booth for an exhibition of its footwear machinery and materials.

Huntsman also released its Q4 and full-year financial results this week, calling 2018 “successful” and touting its robust cash flow and record earnings of $3.34 EBIDTA, compared to $2.48 in the prior year. The company also recorded revenue of $9.379 billion in 2018, compared to $8.358 billion in 2017.

The company credited its success to higher average selling prices for performance products, advanced materials and textile effects. However, revenue was down for polyurethanes compared to the same period in 2017 as a result of lower Methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) selling prices in China and Europe.

“In spite of strong customer destocking brought about by seasonal slowness, falling crude prices and economic uncertainties, our results reflect one of our strongest fourth quarters in our history,” Peter R. Huntsman, chairman, president and CEO of Huntsman Corporation explained. “We will continue to globalize recent investments, focus on our higher growth markets, and expand on our downstream businesses. We will also continue to make key investments to support our core long-term growth, such as building a new MDI splitter at our Geismar, Louisiana facility to support differentiated downstream growth, make additional bolt-on acquisitions as appropriate, and continue a balanced opportunistic approach to share buy-backs. 2019 will be another year of strong free cash flow generation and growth in our downstream businesses.”