Westville, Va. — Blue Star NBR, an American manufacturer of nitrile rubber, has broken ground on a major rubber and glove production plant in Westville, which will start production next year.
The project also involves Blue Star-AGI-a joint venture between Blue Star NBR and American Glove Innovations-including an investment of USD 700 million (EUR 620 million) over the next five years.
Bill Mosher, vice president of operations at Blue Star, stated in a written statement to ERJ that these investments include the construction of "an NBR production facility that will produce medical-grade nitrile rubber for the production of examination gloves."
Bluestar senior management added that the vertically integrated campus covers more than 200 acres and will also include several glove manufacturing facilities.
In the first year, the nitrile rubber plant will have the capacity to produce 90 thousand tons of nitrile rubber per year, and it is possible to expand production in the next few years.
The first glove factory will produce 500 to 8 billion gloves each year, and plans to add several similar facilities on site in the next 3 to 5 years.
Mosher said that in the end, the plan is to reach 60 billion gloves per year "as soon as possible."
He added that the company expects to start producing nitrile rubber in the second half of 2022 and produce the first batch of gloves by the end of 2022.
Regarding the technology used on site, Mosher stated that the glove manufacturing facility will use "a highly automated, state-of-the-art high-speed dipping line that can produce up to 50,000 gloves per hour."
The plant will be equipped with predictive monitoring, automatic peeling and automatic packaging machines to improve operational efficiency.
Mosher said that vertical integration will also enable the company to optimize product performance and design.
The manufactured gloves will initially be sold to customers in the United States and North America, but as the project progresses, the company may explore expansion into other markets.
"Over the years, we have seen strong growth in the nitrile glove industry, even before Covid," Mosher explained.
He went on to say that "Made in America" gloves will provide customers with "reliability and shorter delivery times."
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