Fombell, PA- New die and downstream sizing technology has enabled Veka Holdings Inc. to double its top rate window extrusion to 1,000 pounds an hour. Such a higher production rate is more common in Europe, especially in Germany, where the preferred vinyl windows are thick and heavy. But vinyl windows are much slimmer in the United States, making it more difficult to extrude such a high pound rate.
The U.S. industry average is less than 200 pounds an hour, according to window industry officials.
Dubbed Super High Output, Veka's technology can extrude at 27 feet per minute, using dual-strand tooling that produces two identical profiles from a single extruder.
Veka on June 27 hosted about 125 suppliers and other extrusion companies at a demonstration at its headquaters in Fombell.
Veka credited die and calibration technology from Actual Maschinenbau AG as key to the high output rate. Dual-strand tooling is not new; several U.S. window makers use it. But no other U.S. firm has come close to the 1,000-pound landmark, according Veka.
Although Veka restricted plant tours to an area containing extruder and vacuum calibration/water colling equipment, followed by a brief shuttle-tram trip through an extrusion room, the company is not keeping the process a secret.
More than 20 competitors- other window and profile extruders- attended the event last week.
C. Lawrence Irwin, president of Veka Holdings, predicted that, as demand for vinyl windows continues to grow, other North American extruders will adopt the commercially available technology.
"If they're smart, they're going to get into it," he said.
However, to justify the capital investment, a processor first needs a customer big enough to consume the quantities of profile churned out by SHO, according to Irwin.
In windows, the die and calibration systems must be matched for each profile.
Kurt Wimmer, president of Philadelphia-based Actual America Inc., said the dual-strand tooling with high output capabilities costs about $180,000 to extrude a window frame and $140,000 to make a sash. By comparison, single-strand, high output tooling costs $100,000 for a frame and $80,000 for a sash. Single-strand tooling with a standard output costs $80,000 and $65,000.
Veka is running the profiles on a Cincinnati Milacron 92-HP conical, counter-rotating, twin-screw extruder- the first 92-HP ever used to make windows.
Normally, the large extruder makes pipe and siding at volumes well above 1,000 pounds an hour, according to Tom Brown, a Milacron sales engineer. Even before SHO, Veka claimed to have one of the highest outputs of any U.S. window extruder.
Depending on the profile, Veka is running 250-500 pounds an hour, said Walter Stucky, executive vice president. Stucky, who spearheaded the SHO project, said Veka developed its own dual-strand tooling in-house several years ago.
Veka said the following companies are supplying the project: Shintech Inc. of Freeport, Texas, provides the PVC resin; Rohm and Haas Co. of Philadelphia supplies Paraloid-brand impact modifiers and processing aids; DuPont Co. of Wilmington, Del., supplies titanium dioxide, used to provide whiteness and protection from ultrviolet light; and Baerlocher U.S.A. supplies heat stabilizers based on calcium zinc.
Thomas Kaseler, Baerlocher's technical manager for north America, said his firm plans to build a U.S. plant within the next two or three years to make solid calcium zinc stabilizers. The German company already makes liquid calcium zinc stabilizers in Dover, Ohio.
German-owned Veka has plants in Fombell and Reno, Nev. With $50 million in 1994 sales, Veka tied for third place in Plastics News' recent ranking of North America's biggest window extruders.