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Solvay Advanced Polymers' TORLON(R) Polyamide-imide Helps Innovative Sewing Machine Parts Manufacturer Pursue the Perfect Stitch.

ALPHARETTA, Ga., Oct. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- If you ask most people to identify the man who invented the modern-day sewing machine, they'll tell you it was Elias Howe. However, the critical component in today's lockstitch sewing machines is the rotary hook and bobbin. That was developed in the 1850s by American inventor A.B. Wilson -- and his little invention remained essentially the same until an innovative company in Buffalo Grove, Ill. set out to apply 21st century technology, using a new material from Solvay Advanced Polymers.

Bakron Corp., a manufacturer of hooks, bobbins, and bobbin baskets, has been experimenting since the early 1990s with ways to overcome the shortcomings of traditional stainless steel hooks and bobbin baskets, which require constant lubrication and stitch tension adjustments. Both can play havoc with operator productivity and stitch consistency, particularly with lighter weight or delicate fabrics.

After trying out air-cooled hooks and Teflon-coated bobbin baskets with mixed results, Bakron discovered TORLON(R) Polyamide-imide, a high-performance polymer. Hooks and bobbin baskets made from new TORLON 4435 provide the heat resistance and material flexibility that allows sewing machines to run at high speeds (4,000 switches per minute, for example) without bobbin lubrication. It's no small matter, according to Bakron President Ron Kronenberger.

"The embroidery industry is a good example. Think about one operator running one machine that has 15 heads, 12 needles per head, 3 knobs per needle, and they're all dependent on 15 rotary hooks. Let's say you're supposed to oil the hooks every four hours. If you don't stop to do this -- which is a big productivity drain -- the surfaces will slip, stick, or seize and you'll have major thread breakage. When just ONE hook gets out of adjustment, that operator is looking at manually readjusting dozens of knobs. And that happens dozens, maybe even hundreds of times a day," said Kronenberger.

By contrast, hooks made from TORLON 4435 don't stick or slip, and they need minimal adjustment. Unlike stainless steel components, which have no flexibility, parts made from TORLON 4435 have enough "give" to allow slight variances between upper and lower thread tensions, allowing the machines to be set at the lightest possible tension without losing stitch integrity. Lightweight fabrics need consistent, light-tension stitching: too much tension causes puckering and a real quality control nightmare.

TORLON 4435 has also helped put Bakron ahead of the coming revolution in sewing machine technology, says Kronenberger.

"There's a new wave of sewing equipment-called 'dry head' machines because they use sealed bearings instead of lubricated gears. Hooks and baskets that don't require lubrication are a huge breakthrough, and it wouldn't have been possible without using TORLON 4435," he added.

Kronenberger expects TORLON 4435 to have an even greater impact on Bakron's business success by allowing the company to enter markets that were previously unattainable-notably, high-speed industrial sewing machine manufacturers.

In the past, polymer hooks and bobbins couldn't handle the extremely high- speed stitching requirements (12,000 RPM, or 6,000 stitches per minute) required by many industrial sewing and embroidery machine manufacturers. Hooks and bobbins made from TORLON 4435 can withstand speeds of nearly 9,000 RPM (4,500 stitches per minute), enabling Bakron to sell to an entirely new market segment.

"Between the higher speeds and the fact that our hooks and bobbins are an integral part of the new "dry head" technology, we expect our customer base to jump by at least 20%, and our market share to grow from 1% to more than 25% in the next few years," Ron Kronenberger says. "TORLON 4435 is the reason."

About Solvay Advanced Polymers

Solvay Advanced Polymers, L.L.C., is an indirect subsidiary of Solvay America, Inc., the U.S. holding company of Solvay S.A. The company produces high-performance polymers that are used in a wide range of demanding applications in the automotive, aerospace, industrial, food service, medical and electronics industries worldwide.

Solvay Advanced Polymers products include IXEF(R) polyarylamide and PRIMEF(R) polyphenylene sulfide product lines of Solvay S.A. combined with a portfolio of materials that had comprised BP Amoco's engineering resins business. For more information about this and other Solvay Advanced Polymers products and services, please visit our website at http://www.solvayadvancedpolymers.com/ .

Solvay S.A. is an international pharmaceuticals and chemicals group with headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, employing about 30,000 people in 50 countries. In 2002, its consolidated sales amounted to EUR 7.9 billion generated by its four activity sectors: Pharmaceuticals, Chemicals, Plastics, and Plastics Processing. Solvay S.A. is listed in the Euronext 100 index of top European companies. Details are available at http://www.solvay.com/ .

About Bakron Corp.

Bakron Corp. is a manufacturer of innovative sewing machine components, including its patented polymer hooks and bobbins, bobbin cases, and tip hooks. Based in Buffalo Grove, Ill., the company was formed by Ron Kronenberger and Paul Badillo, whose fathers were heavily involved in the sewing industry. Combining their industry knowledge with an eye for technology, the pair began experimenting in the early 1990s with alternate materials for manufacturing sewing machine parts, and have been actively utilizing Solvay Advanced Polymers' TORLON product since 1992, beginning with TORLON 4275 and upgrading to TORLON 4435 when it became available. After producing components in various locations, Bakron is preparing to launch a major production initiative in Asia.

NOTE TO EDITORS: to obtain a high-resolution digital image of Bakron's rotary hooks and bobbin baskets, produced from TORLON polyamide-imide, please contact Kelly Pinkerton at Solvay Advanced Polymers, L.L.C.

CONTACT: Kelly Pinkerton of Solvay Advanced Polymers, L.L.C., +1-770-772-8495, fax, +1-770-772-8730, or kelly.pinkerton@solvay.com

Web site: http://www.solvay.com/ http://www.solvayadvancedpolymers.com/
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Date:Oct 22, 2003
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