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Merck Restarts Operations at Onahama Production Site for Automotive Coatings

Published on 2011-05-11. Author : SpecialChem

DARMSTADT / TOKYO -- Merck KGaA announced that it resumed normal operations at the Onahama production site in Japan. Among other products, the Onahama site manufactures Xirallic effect pigments, which are widely used in high-quality automotive coatings owing to their impressive pearl-luster effects.

The damage to the production units and infrastructure caused by the catastrophic earth颅quake in northeastern Japan on March 11 resulted in the stoppage of pigment production in Onahama. The recovery and repair work, which began on April 4, has been completed ahead of schedule. At the same time, exceptional progress has been made in restoring the external infrastructure. Merck expects the plant will achieve its regular production output in June.

The Onahama site (southern part of Iwaki City) is located 57 km south of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and outside the evacuation zone. Merck is continually monitoring all public directives regarding radiation levels in order to ensure the safety of its employees. The company is also testing the products being shipped from Merck Japan to ensure that they comply fully with all regulations and safety standards.

Apart from Onahama, Merck will establish an alternative production site for Xirallic effect pigments. It is planned to have additional capacity for Xirallic pigments in Germany by the end of 2011. This will considerably boost future supply reliability of Xirallic products as of 2012.

Peter Halas, Head of the Pigments & Cosmetics business unit at Merck, commented on the positive development: "Our top priority is to ensure as soon as possible an uninterrupted supply of Xirallic pigments to our customers around the world. The resumption of production in Onahama is a major milestone toward this objective. I would like to thank our employees in Japan for their tremendous efforts and express my appreciation for their outstanding engagement." He added: "Xirallic products remain a pillar of our Pigments business. The measures and the progress that we have made in recent weeks underscore this commitment."

Xirallic® pigments are produced on the basis of a synthetic substrate, namely, aluminum oxide. Through the employment of a new crystallization process, it is possible to produce aluminum oxide platelets with a perfectly planar surface and a tight particle size distribution. The substrate is coated with highly refractive metal oxides. Xirallic® demonstrates a very strong glitter effect with a distinct shimmer behavior and distinguishes itself through strong and very pure interference colors. The effect is increased by directed light (for example sunlight).

About Merck

Merck is one of the world's leading suppliers of effect pigments for the coatings, plastics, printing, cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries. Effect pigments underscore the emotional impact of color and are an important design element when creating surfaces with special impressions or qualities. Application possibilities range from cars to packaging and high-tech products up to building facades. In addition to decorative effect pigments, Merck offers pigments that also have functional applications such as heat-reflecting or anti-counterfeiting pigments.

Source: Merck

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