TOPAS Advanced Polymers is celebrating its 10th anniversary under current ownership as the leading global supplier of cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) under the TOPAS® brand. A company-wide celebration January 19 at its plant in Oberhausen marked the occasion, attended by dozens of current and former employees and stakeholders from around the world, including the chief executives of Daicel Corporation and Polyplastics Co., Ltd., joint owners of the TOPAS business.
“TOPAS Advanced Polymers has become one of the most important companies among our affiliates,” said Noboru Goto, Polyplastics president. “This is an important milestone for our company and we’re proud of the accomplishments we’ve made including the establishment of a strong global position in applications such as packaging, healthcare, optics, and electronics,” said Gregor Bommel, Managing Director of TOPAS Advanced Polymers.
Since its commercial development by Hoechst in the 1990’s, TOPAS COC has secured strong global positions in demanding applications such as shrink films, protective packaging, microplates, healthcare blister packs, drug delivery devices, and microfluidics. “TOPAS COC has an outstanding track record in terms of purity, barrier, and outstanding clarity, enabling it to become the industry standard in a growing range of applications,” said Bommel.
Daicel Corporation and Polyplastics Co., Ltd., two leading Japan-based chemicals and plastics firms, acquired the TOPAS Advanced Polymers business in 2006. The goal of these firms was to build new markets for TOPAS COC in Asia, while investing in manufacturing and quality improvements to enable continued growth and success in European and North American markets such as packaging and healthcare. A related goal was to broaden the market and customer base of the parent companies. The vision of the new owners has paid off over the past decade, as new TOPAS COC markets including optics and electronics have become more significant, while sales growth has continued in all regions. The application of Kaizen techniques to the manufacturing operation, including cleanroom packaging and various efficiency and debottlenecking investments, has created a strong worldwide TOPAS enterprise with bright prospects for the coming decade.
While TOPAS COC resins are a chemical relative of polyethylene and other polyolefin plastics, they offer greater function and performance than those commodity materials. TOPAS COCs are ultra-pure, crystal-clear plastics with a wide range of unique properties that enable TOPAS customers to surpass the competition. Key properties include purity for direct drug contact and food packaging films; high clarity for lightweight optics, sparkling films, glass-like healthcare containers; and UV transparency for high-performance diagnostics.
TOPAS COC’s amorphous structure provides heat resistance in PCR plates, packaging, sterilizable devices, and more. TOPAS can be blended with polyethylene to provide high- performance products with improved reclaim and recycle characteristics for sustainability. The materials also deliver barrier resistance to moisture, alcohols, and acids for product protection in foods, medicine, and electronics. Easy thermoforming, twist properties, and easy-opening packages all rely on the unique properties delivered by this amorphous plastic.
Global demand for TOPAS COC has steadily risen over the last decade. The company has expanded capacity at Oberhausen on multiple occasions and targeted the development of new materials that meet strict customer requirements. Continued investments in the global supply chain are planned to support further growth in applications around the world.