The company Optinova Group on Åland was founded in 1971 and is one of the world’s oldest extrusion companies. The company is in an intensive growth phase and has more than 600 employees and extrusion plants in three countries. Investments in expanded production areas are combined with innovative material investments. One such is the utilization of the thermoplastic PEEK’s unique properties.
“Mape Plastics is an important knowledge bank for us. We are not experts in PEEK. It is Mape Plastics and it is both a security and a driving force in our investment in new areas of application”.
– Oliver Komp, Vice President Business Line Industrial
A successful win-win relationship
The Åland company Optinova Group was founded in 1971 and is thus one of the world’s oldest extrusion companies. From being a small manufacturer, in just over fifty years, Optinova has grown to be a highly respected member of the global extrusion industry. The company has two business areas, Medical Tubing & Industrial Tubing. The rate of expansion and investment is high. Optinova today has more than 600 employees, four certified extrusion plants in three countries, six sales offices and a global network of sales partners and distributors.
When Optinova started, the company had a small extrusion plant on Åland. Since then, a lot has happened. In 2015, the company Scantube was acquired and the original Medical Tubing business area was supplemented with a new one, Industrial Tubing. Since then, Optinova has expanded greatly and the company has no plans to slow down. For 2024, the plans are to further expand the production areas both on Åland and in Thailand.
Sees a large market potential
For several years, Optinova has had strong development within the Medical Tubing business area. The medical hoses are used in a variety of applications in healthcare. It is about high-tech components that are manufactured with very high demands on quality, precision and hygiene.
For the Industrial Tubing business area, the focus is on combining unique fluoropolymer properties with advanced production processes and manufacturing high-quality, adaptable hose and pipe solutions for a variety of industrial applications. Just as in Medical, customer requirements are tough when it comes to quality and precision. The products must be able to handle liquid and gas in very demanding environments, and examples of application areas are in the energy sector, the food and chemical industry, and in many different electronics applications.
Oliver Komp is vice president at Optinova Group and responsible for the Industrial business area. He does not hesitate when it comes to the future goals that have been set.
“Optinova’s strength is that we have two legs. Our breadth is unique and for a few years we have had a very strong development within Medical. Today, we are counted here as one of the leading companies in the world. We also see a very large market potential for Industrial. Our customers are major global industrial groups with whom we build close and long-term relationships. The goal is to grow together with these customers and give them the opportunity to grow together with us. We do that by having rewarding win-win relationships,” says Oliver Komp.
Wanted to utilize PEEK's unique properties
Industrial’s role is often to help customers find new and better solutions. It requires an innovative utilization of the properties of various thermoplastics. An example is when some customers asked Optinova to start manufacturing pipes from the thermoplastic PEEK (Polyetheretherketone).
“PEEK has unique properties and when we started developing PEEK pipes a few years ago, it was important for us to find a distributor of PEEK with competence and resources to support us in our venture. Our focus is to maintain high quality in all stages of production, product and service. This also includes our suppliers. That’s how the collaboration with Mape Plastics began,” continues Oliver Komp.
Per Waldenström is Technical Director at Mape Plastics. It can be easy to think that PEEK is a young material, but Per gives a different picture.
“It was actually with PEEK that we started the business about twenty years ago. We therefore have both broad and deep knowledge of materials and it is exciting to be a close partner to Optinova and Industrial in the investment they are now making. PEEK is a cool material with properties that make it increasingly widely used. It is at the same time the most exclusive thermoplastic and the only one that can achieve mechanical properties at temperatures above 300 C. PEEK is already used in, for example, the aviation and automotive industries, the energy sector and the electronics industry. Industrial has really struggled to achieve a good concept based on PEEK and I am convinced that it will build a strong market position internationally”, says Per.
Mape Plastics an important knowledge bank
Oliver Komp has a very positive view of the future. Both for Optinova Group as a company and PEEK as a material. After a couple of years of intensive development work and collaboration with Mape Plastics, the launch of the first PEEK tubes took place at a trade fair in 2022. The reaction was very positive, not least from the healthcare sector where PEEK can replace titanium as a material. Optinova has continued the development work and today can produce PEEK pipes with an inner diameter as small as 0.10 mm for applications with high pressures and temperatures.
“Our challenge today is mostly to find ways to allocate our resources in an optimal way. There are so many exciting application areas for PEEK. As an example, I can take the aviation industry. In a couple of years, I think we’ll break into that segment as aircraft manufacturers strive to reduce aircraft weight to optimize fuel economy. Here we want to help the industry find good solutions, and to succeed we need help from Mape Plastics. The collaboration is a win-win relationship that works very well. The employees at the company are an important knowledge bank for us. The new material knowledge we have gained through Mape Plastics has become something of a key that unlocks new markets”, concludes Oliver Komp.
Did you know that Optinova is one of the world’s oldest extrusion companies? Since their inception in 1971, they have made an impressive journey. Read more at Optinova.com
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