History of SEKISUI Voltek and Volara® Foam

History of SEKISUI Voltek and Volara® Foam

front entrance of office building
SEKISUI Voltek Corporate Office and Manufacturing Plant located in Coldwater, MI

SEKISUI Voltek’s closed cell, cross-linked polyolefin Volara® foam has grown to become a widely recognized brand of foam. Volara is found in many everyday applications for the transportation, medical and general industrial markets.  As one can imagine, becoming the leader in the closed-cell, cross-linked polyolefin foam market did not happen overnight. This blog covers the history of SEKISUI Voltek and the start of making our Volara foam.

In 1969, SEKISUI Chemical in Japan, and High Voltage Engineering Corporation (HVEC) of Burlington, Massachusetts began a joint venture and founded the “Foam Corporation of America”. SEKISUI Chemical, brought the foam making technology to the partnership, while HVEC brought the critical technology of high-voltage radiation equipment to the process. A short time later, the name changed to SEKISUI Voltek to attract attention in the marketplace. “Volt” came from High VOLTage Engineering and “ek” from SEKisui. The “tek” ending was to convey a “high-technology” product.

The Beginning of Volara® Foam

squares of blue and black Volara foam
Volara® closed-cell cross-linked foam

In January 1970, Voltek moved to a new location in Lawrence, MA. The first sales of “Volara®” began by importing Softlon from Japan, which is the Japanese equivalent of Volara foam. In June 1970, shortly after installing the first foaming oven, production of Volara foam began using an extruded sheet from the sister plant in Japan. Later that year, a complete line of equipment, which consisted of an extruder, vault and oven began running the first production of Volara® foam in the US.

Eventually, increasing demand for Volara led to the decision to build another plant in Coldwater, Michigan. The City of Coldwater was ideal because of its centralized location and close proximity to the Big Three in Detroit. This allowed the company to focus on the development and expansion of Volara used for automotive interior trim and components. In 1975, HVEC sold its equity interest and SEKISUI Voltek became a wholly-owned subsidiary of SEKISUI Chemical. 

A Variety of Foam Solutions

SEKISUI Voltek did not stop with just Volara. Eventually Volextra®, an extruded coating melt-bonded to Volara foam to give an extra design element, and VolaraBLOCK®, block foam for use in high-end packaging, dunnage, construction and transportation, were introduced to the market. Voltek also offers a variety of import products to round out the diverse mix of solutions we provide. 

In 2020, the decision was made to close the Lawrence, MA facility and consolidate all operations to the Coldwater, MI location.

Continued Focus on Innovation

Our dedicated R&D Department continues to develop new solutions for the most demanding applications. Additionally, we can customize solutions such as non-halogenated FR, sustainable alternatives using calcium-carbonate filled foam, stearate-free options, and translucent foam to name a few. The possibilities are endless.

SEKISUI Voltek recently received Board approval for a $39M expansion to build a new plant. The new plant subsequently will increase production capabilities, allow for additional automation and ultimately reduce lead times. With over 50 years of innovation, the history of our Volara foam is rich, and we look forward to the next 50 years of innovation.

For more information about our innovative foam solutions, email us at prodinfo@sekisuivoltek.com.