Celstran long-fiber manufacturer Polymer Composites Inc. is supplying a 40 percent carbon-fiber-filled nylon 6 thermoplastic for the molding of a new laptop computer housing with a wall thickness of 0.8 millimeter. ``The extremely thin wall highlights one of the attributes of long carbon fiber,'' President Stephen Bowen said. ``The material flows to fill intricate molds and was specified over a competitor's short fiber.''
The customer, a major computer firm, began molding the housings in May, is expected to introduce the product within a few weeks and may describe it as the ``lightest'' laptop.
``With long fiber, they are able to put some of the regrind back into the system without losing the shielding,'' Bowen said.
The housing provides electrostatic dissipation and electromagnetic-interference shielding.
Polymer Composites is experiencing annual sales growth of more than 30 percent and, in January, added pneumatic handling equipment allowing bulk shipments of the sensitive materials. The unit of Hoechst Celanese Corp. employs 75 in Winona, Minn.
``We have more than 60 percent of the long-fiber market,'' Bowen said.
Polaris Industries Inc. is growing as an end-user.
``Volume [of Celstran long carbon fiber] has increased four-fold for Polaris all-terrain vehicles,'' said Patrick Johnson, Polymer Composite vice president of sales.
Polaris made the transition slowly to gauge market reaction.
``The material exceeded our expectations, and the customer feedback has been way better than we expected,'' said Mitchell Johnson, general manager of Polaris' ATV Division in Roseau, Minn.
Polaris has 31.6 pounds of Celstran on its 4x4 Xplorer 300 and 400 and Sportsman 500 models and 25.2 pounds on the 2x4 Xpress 300 and 400 models, which have a smaller bumper and use polypropylene rather than nylon in the footwells.
``Our intent is to have the material on a majority of our 14 models in a year or two,'' Johnson said.
KenTech Plastics Inc. of Hopkinsville, Ky., molds front and rear racks, floorboards and bumpers.