Linkflex HF – Part of Benvic’s New Material Diversity

After a four-year Covid 19-induced break the world’s number one exhibition for the wire and cable industry – Wire 2022 – was once again open last week at the Düsseldorf Trade Messe.

At the same time, Europe’s leading polymer compounder, Benvic, has just launched two new Halogen Free Linkflex HF grades that provide superior performance for data cable communication uses – mainly in the fiber optic field.

Of itself, this latter piece of news might pass as a relatively ordinary expansion of an existing product line – except for the fact that Benvic Linkflex HF is a polyolefin-based material compound, that the Linkflex range itself is barely two years old and that Benvic exhibited at Wire 2022 show for the first time.

These recent moves are testimony to the targeted product marketing that Benvic is now deploying in a number of high value polymer processing markets. For over fifty years, and since its inception, the name Benvic was synonymous with one thing only; vinyl technology. The original Benvic polymer compounding business was originally spun off from Belgian PVC giant, Solvay, in the late 1960s.

Fast forward however to the company’s acquisition by InvestIndustrial in 2018 and everything then changed: Benvic has now expanded, diversified and transformed itself almost beyond recognition:

Benvic’s PVC based lines have been reborn and rechristened under the ProVinyl banner; the company’s commitment to the circular economy and to the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) charter has been strongly affirmed and new polymer compounds and associated markets have all combined to radically change the face of the business. Thermoplastic Elastomers (TPEs), Biopolymers and a range of polyolefin compounds are all now part of the picture.

According to Benvic Product Marketing Manager, Eric Grange, all of these changes have been driven by a need to anticipate customer needs and to find and provide new niches of value in the polymer compounding world.

For sure Benvic is now a multi material company,’ notes Grange, ‘but not just because it makes good theoretical sense. The fact is that we are using our core polymer compounding expertise to create and build a number of new businesses, customer-by-customer and from the ground up.

Benvic’s Linkflex HF cabling compounds are a textbook case in point: Intended to complement Benvic’s PVC strengths in the building and construction markets, Linkflex HF is the outcome of developing an adjacent marketplace in the building sector with a new material in a new way.

Benvic set about the cabling market in a very pragmatic fashion, firstly by creating a dedicated cable product development team that is staffed with engineers from the customer base in the cable industry.

Based on decades of experience, the Benvic cable team was therefore able to imagine and develop new product solutions for the market and also optimise the material content for existing applications and make it bespoke for new and custom applications.

Benvic also saw an opportunity to review and revisit the way its customers typically processed polymer compounds in order to make the finished product. Grange says that ‘there will always be commercial opportunity in improving and fine-tuning the business of plastics processing for our customers. From the beginning our Linkflex team saw that we could make and supply a compound that made for a superior product – and created under easier and less costly conditions.

After a extensive programme of development and trials Benvic launched its Linkflex Low-Smoke Zero Halogen polymer compounds in 2020. The success with the first customers has meant that Linkflex HF production volumes will be increased in the coming months.

Visitors to Wire 2022 saw that the Linkflex HF product family is mainly designed to comply with new European Construction Products Regulation (CPR) requirements. Initial applications mainly targeted low voltage requirements in the building market.

However, this month’s expansion into new grades, such as Linkflex HFS606 and HFS607 are proof of the original concept; the market need for the basic range has quickly been established and further niches and customised grades are already being produced. In this case, excellent sheathing and fire-resistant properties of compounds are being supplied to the fiber optic and data comms markets.

Grange says that ‘the bedrock of our success is always established with our customers. The formula is something a proven ease of material processability goes on to make a product that contains superior performance in useage and all stages are produced and delivered at optimum cost.’

Benvic’s Factory in Spain

Linkflex HF has been developed and produced at Benvic’s Spanish factory and the contribution of Benvic’s Spanish team has been key to the success of these materials through Europe. Benvic Spain also played a key role at Wire 2022; joining company executives from Benvic HQ in Chevigny, France to promote and market all the company’s polymer compounds in the cable and wire sectors.

Even after a four-year hiatus, the footfall for the Wire show was high. Over one thousand exhibitors, occupying 53,210 square metres of space in Halls 9-14.

See videos and information about the Wire 2022 show here.

Read more news from Benvic here.

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