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MISSION VIEJO, CALIF. — At age 95, Jim Kemerer, a World War II veteran who led U.S. Steel into injection and blow molding in the 1960s, is still active in plastics technology as he promotes his Kemcast process for continuously pressure forming profiles into highly detailed crown molding, siding, imitation cedar-shake roofing and other products.
An extruder, equipped with a simple die, feeds the general shape of the finished product — for example, sheet, tubular shape, triangle or square — and the extrudate is placed between two rollers that are fitted with belt molds made of silicone. The squeezing pressure embosses the design on the end product. The profile goes through a water cooling bath and is cut by a saw into lengths. The rolls themselves do not perform a cooling function.
Kemerer said you can change the belts in 15 to 20 minutes to make a new product.
Kemcast can make larger products than injection or compression molding he said, and the process is more versatile than thermoforming. The fully electric machine just needs to be plugged in.
The ever-active Kemerer, who lives in Mission Viejo, Calif., received U.S. patent No. 7,833,449 in 2010. An extruder that can pump through 900 to 1,000 pounds of plastic an hour can mold turn out about 40 feet per minute of formed profile.
Kemerer served in the infantry in Europe during World War II. He was among the first group of soldiers to enter the Dachau concentration camp. After the war, he was stationed in Bavaria and put in charge of coal allocations for the German state.
He was a longtime employee of U.S. Steel, when the steelmaker developed a way to use coke oven gas to make ethylene and benzene, ingredients in polystyrene.
Kemerer said U.S. Steel him in charge of an acquisition team that bought a company called Gaytex and several smaller injection and blow molding molding companies in the mid-1960s. It became U.S. Chemicals Molded Plastics Products, part of U.S. Steel's Chemicals Division, he said.
In the mid-1970s, he was assigned to sell off the plastics processing holdings. He retired in 1977 and formed his own company.
U.S. Steel agreed to sell back his original patents on what would become the Kemcast process, which he developed at the steel company, for $250,000, he said.
He wants to sell the technology or license it, taking royalties as a percent of sales.
Kemerer has a CD showing the process, and detailed engineering drawings are available for a fee.
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