DUSSELDORF, GERMANY - The recycled plastic lumber industry now has off-the-shelf machines to make a one-piece pallet, but turmoil between European suppliers could prompt confusion in the market. Two competitors have the same name - A.R.T. - and almost exactly the same logo. One of the two is headed by Philippe Julien of Belgium, who founded the original A.R.T. and made the ET-1 a household word among plastics lumber makers.
Plastics News interviewed officials of both A.R.T. companies exhibiting at K'95, and, after the show, talked with Julien's U.S. sales representative. Here is how the situation evolved:
In 1992 and 1993, Julien's company, Advanced Recycling Technology Ltd. of Brakel, Belgium, moved part of its operations to Germany after receiving a major order there. The German operation was run by Erwin Doerr, a former sales executive at German injection press makers Krauss-Maffei Kunststofftechnik GmbH and Battenfeld GmbH who had joined A.R.T. as salesman in 1991.
Meanwhile, about a year-and-a-half ago, Julien sold his company to Antonio Gregorini, an Italian who owns a company that makes concrete forming machinery. Gregorini, interviewed at K'95, said that financial problems forced A.R.T. into bankruptcy about six months after he acquired the company. The reorganized company, now named A.R.T. International SA, is based in Peruwelz, Belgium.
Gregorini said he acquired patents and the A.R.T. name from Julien.
In mid-1994 Doerr broke away and formed his own company in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, called A.R.T. Recycling Technik GmbH.
The Belgian A.R.T. has severed all relations with Doerr.
``The German research and development company was created by us. We broke up with our son,'' said Paul Lenssen, an official of International A.R.T.
The Belgian company is represented by Tex AmericaInc. of Charlotte, N.C.
Beyond that comment, however, officials of the two A.R.T.s interviewed at K'95 avoided openly bad-mouthing each other.
In the meantime, Julien hasformed his own company, Ju-lien Environmental Technology Ltd. in Brussels, represented in the United States by Mid-Atlantic Recycling Systems Inc. of Roselle, N.J.
John Maczko, Mid-Atlantic president, said the Julien machines are being manufactured in Florence, Italy, by Longinotti Meccanica srl, a manufacturer of equipment to make ceramic tile.
Meanwhile, as exhibits by both A.R.T.s showed, plastic lumber machinery continues to evolve, with higher output:
The Belgian A.R.T. continues to make the ET-1 and a new, higher-output model called ET-2 for making poles, posts, planks and other solid profiles from mixed plastics waste. The ET-2, which costs about $500,000, can process 550 pounds an hour. Two new machines are aimed at the pallet market. Priced at about $1 million, MT 24 can product 10-12 pallets an hour, or 660 pounds of waste plastic. The $1.5 million MT 30 has about twice the output of the MT 24 -25 pallets an hour, or 1,400 pounds. Both are carousel machines fitted with several molds. While one mold is filling, others are cooling or being unloaded.
A.R.T. Recycling Technik, the German company, calls its pallet molding machinery E160/SP6. The machine has a capacity of 1,300-1,400 pounds an hour. A large single-screw extruder with a screw diameter of 160 millimeters, boosted by an accumulator sends the melt into water-cooled molds. A complete system can be set up to make small and large pallets, flat sheets and profiles, all driven off one extruder.