The Royalite Division of Uniroyal Technology Corp. is expanding into resin compounding with a proprietary line of products for injection molding. Royalite, based in Mishawaka, Ind., makes calendered and extruded sheet. Now, company executives are taking advantage of the company's 50 years of experience in resin compounding for its captive sheet operations by entering the merchant market for injection molding compounds.
``Thermoforming is a process used for products with low-volume demands. We see 10-15 percent of our business eroding to injection molding processes each year, because injection molding is a process that applies to products with high-volume demands,'' John Zappala, Royalite vice president and general manager, said in a Jan. 23 telephone interview from his office in Mishawaka.
Zappala said the company's focus is shifting only slightly, that it now will offer raw materials and services for what he calls the full life cycle of finished products. His concept of life-cycle sourcing includes the birth, two stages of growth, and maturity of manufactured products.
To meet the demands for those stages, Zappala has developed a sweeping strategic plan for Royalite. His plan entails:
Developing applications and engineering for new products. While Royalite has done this before - the company has 21 employees in its engineering department - this area will have a new focus as the company shifts its emphasis to encompass larger portions of products' life cycles.
Helping manufacturers launch and increase production through thermoforming applications. Zappala said thermoforming will continue to be a sta-ple of the company's business.
Helping manufacturers move to high-volume production using new compounds for injection molding.
And, helping to maintain mature products in the market by supplying products to the aftermarket. This area is linked to the success of the other three areas, Zappala said.
Royalite invested more than $10 million in the past three years in its compounding operations, and the firm began to produce its first injection molding compounds in November, Zappala said. However, it just now is entering the market for injection molding compounds.
While Royalite makes more than 100 grades of compounds for thermoforming applications at its Warsaw, Ind., facility, it is offering 10 grades of injection molding compounds.
In thermoforming, Royalite specializes in ABS, ABS/PVC and ABS/polyethylene blends, acrylic/PVC blends, polyolefins and thermoplastic polyolefins. In injection molding, the company is offering several grades of ABS, including static-dissipative, weather-resistant and flame-retardant grades, acrylic/PVC and ABS/PVC blends.
Bowie Grant, Royalite marketing director, said the firm eventually will offer injection grades for each grade of thermoforming sheet products it now offers.
While the company is expanding compounding operations at its facility in Warsaw, Zappala said it has available capacity to make the products for injection molding applications.
Zappala said his objective is to have injection molding compounds contribute 20 percent to Royalite's sales, which the company would not reveal.
He said his intention is not to change Royalite to make it a competitor with large compounders like M.A. Hanna Co. of Cleveland or A. Schulman Inc. of Akron, Ohio, but to make it a supplier of specialty compounds in the markets it now serves.
The company operates sheet manufacturing lines at plants in Rome, Ga., and Redlands, Calif., as well as Warsaw, where it also has profile extrusion lines and compounding operations.