Ultratech Plastics Inc. is spending $2.5 million to boost blown film and bag capacity and expand product lines at Mansfield, Ohio. Metallocene-catalyzed resins will play a major role in new-product development. Ultratech is installing a new, three-layer coextrusion line able to make more than 1,000 pounds of film per hour, the firm announced May 22. President Andrew Frecka said in a telephone interview that the line will cost about $1.5 million. Alpine American Corp. of Natick, Mass., supplied the line, which should be running by mid-June.
Frecka said the new film line required raising the ceiling to 55 feet, from 38 feet, at one of its two plants in Mansfield.
Ultratech will need the height because the film line will have a long cooling stage to allow additives to bloom to the surface of the bubble. He said his firm will use metallocene-catalyzed resins in new films and some of the materials need special processing for desired clarity.
The Alpine line has a 65-millimeter and two 50mm extruders. It features Alpine's new AES4 electronic control system with a touch screen integrated with an automatic gravimetric blending system. The AES4 controls real-time take-off speed and extruder output. The line includes a dual-station, back-to-back winder.
Ultratech will use the new capacity to develop custom, large-width film products and bags, primarily for industrial markets, Frecka said. The Mansfield operation also is retrofitting several existing coextrusion lines to run new metallocene and other resins. The firm also is adding new bag-making machinery.
He said Ultratech has been ``using metallocene resins for a while,'' but he would not disclose its main supplier. Such resins have a lot of potential ``in the long haul,'' though processors often need special techniques for them.
High prices for the resins also may be a hurdle, but Frecka said he thinks prices for metallocene materials will erode as they are forced into what he termed ``commodity applications.'' Suppliers have touted metallocenes mainly for high-end applications.
Ultratech's two Mansfield plants on a 12-acre site make a range of institutional and commercial can liners, and custom flexible film sold throughout the United States. A year and a half ago it began producing a three-layer trash liner with two inside layers of high-molecular-weight, high density polyethylene and an outside layer of low density liner PE. It spent three years developing the construction, which clings well to trash containers.
The private firm had sales of $23 million last year. Frecka said 1996 sales should be higher because of the expansion.