PHOENIX - Mesa Industries Inc.'s Phoenix operation has completed the second phase of a three-part expansion by the producer of custom color concentrates and liquid colorants. Two new lines for producing color concentrates were added, bringing to four the number of lines Mesa operates. One new addition consists of a continuous mixing line that can compound a variety of materials and provides large production capacity.
The additional equipment more than doubles the firm's capacity, and allows Mesa to compound higher loadings of heavy-metal-free and multifunction pigments.
Mesa President Craig Degnaro said the company had continuous mixing capabilities, but the new machine replaces that and offers updated technology and expanded mixing capacity.
Mesa, which employs 35, can fill large and small orders, even as small as 25 pounds.
Degnaro acknowledges that color concentrates tend to be more popular than liquid, particularly among custom molders, who often envisioned a product that was messy and difficult to deliver into the molding process.
But Degnaro said attitudes are changing toward liquid colorants, which make up about 50 percent of Mesa's business and is its fastest-growing segment.
Two decades ago, the pumps used to get the liquid into the molding process were little diaphragms, much like water pumps. Changing colors was a nightmare, Degnaro said, because the color went throughout the pump's system.
Today's pumps are positive-displacement models with computerized measuring devices. The tubing snaps on and off easily, and the color stays only in the tubing. Nothing enters the pump itself, making color changes as easy as unsnapping the tubing from the pump and snapping new tubing on.
Mesa uses pumps produced by Maguire Products Inc. of Media, Pa., for liquid colorant systems it sells to its customers.
Liquid colorant saves customers 25-40 percent over concentrate, he said, and liquid can be mixed in one large, consistent batch. Concentrate often is made using several smaller batches.
Today, there also are many more blends available that offer greater compatibility with a variety of polymers and processes. Mesa recently developed a liquid color system to deliver colorant to rotational molding resins at roughly the same cost as that for powder systems.
Mesa developed the system in conjunction with a proprietary rotomolder, and under an agreement with that firm the system will not be available to other rotational molders for a year.
Degnaro acknowledged that liquid colorant may not be well-suited for small-lot part runs, where concentrate has the advantage.
Mesa's plans for the third phase of its expansion call for the company to build a plant in another part of the United States. It will determine a site this year.