Feature story

40th anniversary of Expancel in Sundsvall

40 years ago, manufacturing started of a revolutionary product – Expancel Microspheres in Sundsvall, Sweden.

September 2020

Expancel microspheres consist of a polymer shell that encapsulates a gas: when heated, the gas expands; allowing them to be use a lightweight filler and blowing agent to make customers’ end products lighter and obtain different surface effects. They also reduce costs and environmental impacts by requiring less raw material.

You’ll find them in a huge array of products around the world – from the paint on your walls to the car you drive, the shoes you walk in and the packaging that protects your food.

Composite maker Lantor has a relationship with Expancel that stretches back over 30 years. Two key factors for composite parts design are sustainability and energy saving. Lantor is using Expancel in its products to achieve cost-effective increases in stiffness, weight reduction, flexibility and compression resistance. Lantor’s composites containing microspheres are used in wind turbines and a wide range of vessels from small sailing boats to huge motor yachts.

Another example is one of the world's biggest wine cork maker, DIAM, which was able to turn wine corks from being a commodity into a winemaking solution. By offering wine cork solutions using microspheres, wines are kept safe year after year, locking in the character as it ages.

Right from the start, Expancel was a great success that quickly spread around the world. And even after 40 years in the market, there is no slowdown in demand. Several major investments have been made in the factory in Sundsvall over the years, with the latest expansion inaugurated in 2019.

“Today, we also have production facilities in the USA, China and Brazil, which complement our production in Sweden and ensure that our customers worldwide can rely on us to support the growth of their business,” says Sylvia Winkel Pettersson, Vice President of Expancel at Nouryon.

“Research and development have been an important part of Nouryon’s operations since its inception and we constantly strive to find new products and solutions for our customers,” she said. “The latest investment is microspheres made from bio-based materials, which is an important step in our commitment to sustainability. A prototype has been developed and we expect to be able to launch a commercial product within a few years.

“With 40 years of experience behind us and a burning interest in environmentally conscious innovation, we look forward to continuing to grow together with current and future customers with microspheres,” says Sylvia.

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