Custom compounder TP Composites Inc. has broadened its product line to include concentrates for close and noncritical color matches in a move that expands on an internal capability. ``Customers have been asking for color concentrates,'' said John Theberge, director of research and development, ``and we are dedicated to providing technical solutions to our customers' material and application problems.'' TP hired a laboratory technician to support the efforts of colorist Ron Kratfel.
Meanwhile, dust is flying in the firm's 13,000-square-foot Aston, Pa., plant as workers reposition a single-screw compounding extru-der with 10 million pounds of annual capacity and other 1 million-and 2 million-pound extruders. An additional machine will nearly double the firm's capacity to produce filled and reinforced thermoplastic resins and specialty advanced formulations.
TP Composites has ordered the rebuilding to its specifications of another 10 million-pound extruder.
``We expect the new capacity will be fully operational by Sept. 1,'' said Ronald Taylor, president.
The 2-year-old entrepreneurial firm combines thermoplastic resins with fillers, reinforcements or other additives to improve impact strength, shrinkage control, flow, wear resistance and flame-retardant characteristics.
``Our sales strategy is to form partnerships with our customers in order to provide technologically advanced materials in a just-in-time inventory structure at price advantages,'' said Linda Marlin, director of sales and marketing.
She coordinates the efforts of 13 manufacturers' representatives who are located east of the Rocky Mountains. The absence of an inside sales force helps TP keep costs down for its major automotive, electrical, business machine and appliance customers in the industrial belt from Pennsylvania through Illinois. TP Composites employs 18 including a manufacturing force of 12.
Most applications use nylon 6/6, polybutylene terephthalate, nylon 6, polycarbonate or ABS as the base resin, glass fiber as reinforcement and clay, polytetrafluoroethylene, graphite or silicone fluid as additives.
``We are the only U.S. commercial manufacturer of injection moldable magnetic compounds'' using strontium ferrite or neodymium iron boron as the filler. The company is competing principally with Japanese suppliers, Theberge said.
``We produce color concentrates, and sell them either `as is' or as a mechanical blend of color concentrate and base resin,'' he said.
TP Composites used closed-loop recycling to get the business of a large manufacturer of personal appliances and pursues the recycling niche as an entre to other potential customers.
``Processors send their regrind for repelletizing,'' Marlin said, and the blended material can be brought back to meet original specifications for a specified virgin resin or compound.
To secure automotive, appliance and construction business, TP developed short-glass fiber nylon 6 and 6/6 composites with 50 percent or 60 percent glass reinforcement and most of the tensile and flexural properties of long-glass fiber.
``We have done a lot of work replacing long fiber with short fiber,'' Marlin said ``It offers greater value.''
TP Composites, one of the newer compounders, draws extensively on the combined 80 years' experience of Taylor, Theberge and Marlin in thermoplastics. Taylor incorporated TP Com-posites in 1991 and launched the business in specialty thermoplastic injection molding compounds in early 1994.
In 1976, on the basis of his technical experience with LNP Engineering Plastics Inc., Taylor had founded Custom Compound-ing Inc. in Eddystone, Pa. He moved the firm to Aston in 1982.
He sold Custom Compounding and its PTFE lubricant and compounding business, equipment and list of compression molding customers to Hoechst Celanese Corp. in 1991, remaining as president until 1994. Taylor kept the building for TP Composites, and Hoechst Celanese moved Custom Compounding three miles to another Aston plant.