Why TPX?- Episode 1 -

  • Creating an unprecedented product
    TPX has made this dream come true

    LEC, Inc.
    General Manager
    New Material Development Div.
    Hideiti Kitamura

    LEC, Inc.

Product Outline

This groundbreaking manaita sheet (a sheet used as a cutting board) was created by taking advantage of high releasability, a feature of TPX. In addition to its color transfer resistance from foodstuffs, it ensures that stains can be removed easily with a small amount of water and detergent, remaining clean and white for a long time. This product is also reliable in terms of hygiene, because it is compatible with dishwashers (resistant up to 100˚C) and contains an antimicrobial agent.


Customer’s Problem

We learned about the material called TPX when our previous manaita sheet, which we had commercialized for the first time in Japan, was facing discontinuation due to the loss in price competition with newer products from competitors. In those days, we were too busy with our daily operation to find a good scheme to save this product, to which we had become emotionally attached.

How to Learn about TPX from Mitsui Chemicals

We came across TPX by chance. An engineer I know said, “There’s a resin called TPX.” I searched for it immediately and learned that it is a special material featuring not only high resistance to color transfer, a property that I was looking for, but also a number of properties that permit the expansion of its application, such as superior heat resistance, releasability (the second lowest surface tension following fluorine resin) and transparency with high light permeability.
Later, the engineer who told me about TPX said, “I’ll introduce you to Mitsui Chemicals, which conducted the research and development of TPX.” So I decided to ask Mitsui Chemicals about the details.


Decisive Reason why to Choose TPX

“Let’s make an unprecedented product that no other company has created. Therefore we’ll need to have a division specialized in the development of the necessary materials” -- this was the top reason why we established the New Material Development Division. It is a very flexible division in a way, with no routine work. However, it has the heavy responsibility of creating a good product.
When Mitsui Chemicals told me the details about TPX, I felt that this material was the one to fulfill our mission. I told them, then and there, “We want to create something from TPX.” In the discussions between the two companies, we decided to proceed with a plan to make TPX into a sheet, taking advantage of its features -- highly releasable, heat resistant, resistant to color transfer and hygienic.
At our company, we create hundreds of new products every year, which makes it necessary to proceed quickly with product development. But it takes time to create a good product. We tried to create a satisfactory sheet again and again, saying, “Let’s try to use TPX only for the surface layer and combine it with one or two other PP layers. This could enable cost reduction,” “Let’s try a different thickness” and “Mix the surface-layer TPX with PP. This might make it more flexible.” We faced various issues in our discussions, but the sales person from Mitsui Chemicals never said, “It’s impossible.” We trusted them and thought, “It’s really worth trying because no other company can do it.” We continued our plan to make a sheet, gaining knowledge by consulting with other companies, including a film processing company with whom we did business.
As a matter of fact, initially we did not plan to create a sheet to be used as a cutting board, but another product entirely using TPX. We succeeded in creating the TPX manaita sheet by taking advantage of our expertise cultivated through sheet manufacturing.


Effects (Evaluation) of the Introduction of TPX

The TPX manaita sheet has features that are unavailable in previous PP sheets. The previous products were light green to make the colors transferred from carrots and other foodstuffs less noticeable. For the TPX sheet, we changed the color to a simple white because the material is resistant to color transfer. If you actually use it, you will see that it is resistant to stains and remains clean and white because of the superior releasability of TPX. We also changed the three-layered structure to two materials, with TPX used for the surface layers and PP for the middle layer. This enabled us to overcome the cost issue and improved its usability, making it heat-resistant and dishwasher safe. This is how we delivered the innovative manaita sheet to consumers, which was made using TPX.
Since the launch, it has enjoyed a good reputation. We see positive user reviews online, such as “It’s a good product” and “I’m happy I bought it.” I feel that we can contribute a little to people worldwide through our manaita sheet. I am very pleased and satisfied.
We are already envisioning the next product that will use TPX. Don’t miss out!


Expect of Mitsui Chemicals and TPX in the Future

After working with Mitsui Chemicals, I was very impressed with its wonderful staff members. They are very reliable and highly capable, not to mention quick to respond to everything. I am really happy to have had the opportunity to work with them. I learned about TPX from my acquaintance. This time, I would like Mitsui Chemicals to actively suggest new materials to us. Actually, our experience with TPX has introduced us to a new material from Mitsui Chemicals. Soon a new product made from it will launch. I will look for future developments from Mitsui Chemicals and TPX™.