How Polykemi effectively blends craftsmanship with technology to create innovative solutions 

On a mission to produce the best custom-designed plastic compounds in the world, Polykemi is a family-owned plastic fabrication company headquartered in Ystad, Sweden. Although Scandinavia was its original core market, the business has grown to occupy production facilities on three continents and is active in most European countries. 

Despite being an ambitious and innovative knowledge company, Polykemi’s goal is not to become one of the largest multinational plastic compound manufacturers. Instead, it remains ahead of the curve by offering a customized product line with unique and creative solutions. Founded in 1968 by Hugo Jönsson, the business boasts over 55 years of experience, with specific expertise in color matching, multiple reinforcements, and fibers in a wide variety of base polymers. POlykemi staff taking dogs for a walk

Polykemi’s strategy is to work closely with customers, guided by principles of reliability, excellence, superior problem-solving, and long-term customer relationships. As demand for sustainable products and alternatives continues to rise, the business has launched a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) simulation tool to help customers make material-smart decisions that are optimized for climate performance, costs, and customer requirements. 

The production process, known as compounding, means preparing plastic formulations by blending polymers, additives, and strengthening components in a molten state, which results in quality-specific and homogeneous pellets of plastic. To enable such high efficiency and quality, Polykemi continually invests in machinery to ensure it has modern, reliable, and well-maintained equipment, such as state-of-the-art extruders with twin screw technology. 

The process is a unique blend of technology and human knowledge. While there are elements of craftsmanship involved in production, a major part of the material handling is done using robots, advanced scale technology, and sophisticated systems for material transportation. In fact, Polykemi has coined the phrase ‘70 percent of our development potential is associated with people, and 30 percent with technology’ to reflect its unique approach. 

Turning to its project portfolio, Polykemi’s extensive selection offers optimal customized compounds based on specified technical and economical requirements. Although the range includes thermoplastic-based compounds, it has developed almost 20 material families ranging from crystalline thermoplastics like PP, PBT, and PA6, to amorphous thermoplastics such as ABS, ASA SAN PC, and PMMA. PC-blends/alloys are also included, such as PC/ABS, PC/PBT and PC/ASA. 

When it comes to customized compounds, Polykemi works closely with the customer to consider a spectrum of mechanical and thermal requirements. Depending on the end use, the business leverages its knowledge of minerals to help with selecting suitable base polymers or raw materials, which include talcum, calcium carbonate, kaolin, or glass beads. 

Once established, the chemical requirement profile gives Polykemi an indication of which additives should be used to improve the materials’ properties, such as resistance to sunlight, permanent antistatic, or resistance to long term heat. Finally, color requirements are agreed, and the customer is presented with a unique, customized, and ready-to-use compound. 

Polykemi employee checking orange plastic compound pellets coming out of a machineTo achieve optimal customization, Polykemi also operates a well-equipped laboratory where it tests the material properties of all products to ensure they are produced in accordance with the customer’s specifications. The laboratory not only boasts a wide range of test equipment, but also has an experienced team of experts to oversee operations. 

As one of the key differentiators between Polykemi and its competitors, color matching is a core part of the overall operation. Having a wide range of color and gloss options is therefore a high priority in the laboratory, with the team preparing unique pigment recipes according to customers’ specific requests. 

Similarly, to keep up with evolving demands on analysis and specialized compounds, the laboratory is responsible for improving material testing procedures. The team can already perform over 60 different tests for a variety of material characteristics, with the most common tested properties being melt flow index, viscosity, impact strength, tensile strength, bending strength, filler content, color, and flammability. However, the testing process can dive deeper into analysis using tests like DSC, FTIR, GC, HDT, VICAT, and scratch resistance, for instance, which ensures that all products meet pre-agreed specifications. 

Working closely with the laboratory, Polykemi also has a dedicated technical support team to deliver assistance to customers across the globe. From material selection to product design, the team helps customers make sense of the world of plastic and ultimately deliver the best possible product, performance, and cost through customized compounds. 

Consequently, the business remains a flexible alternative to its larger competitors. Without the inertia of a large organization, Polykemi’s development team can quickly initiate projects regardless of whether the compound is aimed for extrusion or injection molding. As the latter is the most popular option among customers, the business maintains expertise on how to optimize materials for this purpose, alongside its long tradition of tailoring products for extruded goods. 

With sustainability in mind, Polykemi, and its Rondo Plast brand that is used in Nordic/ Scandinavian countries, are on a journey to help customers further increase their recycling ratio. Rondo Plast has invested nearly one million euros in a new cutting machine and a plastic compactor to compress production waste, which has the capacity to process more than 4000 tons of material per year. The new machine is the first of its kind to be acquired by Polykemi, and can process good quality industrial waste like fiber, ropes, non-woven, plastic film, labels, dust, and shavings. 

In a recent press release, Rondo Plast’s strategic buyer, Patrik Lindqvist, commented: “It is a totally new production technology for us that allows us to handle a significantly wider range of materials, which we were previously unable to process due to their shape or low density. It not only gives us access to more sources and increases the number of suppliers, but it is also an even more sustainable way to work. This is a machine and technology we only have in Sweden; we don’t have these capabilities world-wide yet.” 

With such innovations constantly on the horizon across the business, it’s clear to see that Polykemi’s approach to product development is driven by a natural curiosity, as well as an awareness that those challenges that appear impossible, rarely are. Using a quote from Hugo Jönsson as a mantra for success, everyone at Polylemi works to the belief that ‘if you stop getting better, you stop being good.’ By exploring sustainable solutions, world-class performance processes, and cost-saving methods, Polykemi will continue to deliver unique solutions that meet customers’ ever-evolving demands.