COLUMBUS, OHIO — Geon Co. officials are hitting the road this year to drum up interest in rigid PVC in the injection molding community.
The Avon Lake, Ohio-based resin and compound maker held a July 16 seminar in Columbus that was attended by 45 injection molding experts. The Geon entourage had made previous stops in Chicago in January and in Louisville, Ky., July 15, where they addressed a group of employees and suppliers from GE Appliance Park.
Geon officials said the seminar, which also may make stops in Texas and California later this year, is intended to clear up any misconceptions injection molders may have about using PVC, officials said.
``We've come a long way on the processing side,'' said global marketing manager James Gray. ``But I know there are concerns from people who want to know where vinyl is today.''
Gray estimated fewer than 1,000 U.S. injection molders—out of a total of roughly 6,000-10,000 companies — currently use rigid PVC. Geon officials hope molding-friendly compounds and the firm's educational barnstorming will improve on that number.
Previous PVC grades used in injection molding were pipe grades that were hard to process, said Roger Steller, Geon's senior technical service specialist. These grades sometimes burned while going through machinery nozzles, causing streaking and material degradation.
Geon's M-Series of rigid PVC compounds, introduced in 1995, contain extra lubricants to combat flow problems, officials said. The firm's HTX flame-retardant PVC alloys and Fiberloc glass-reinforced PVC compounds also are aimed at injection molders. Geon produces about 100 million pounds of M-Series compounds at a plant in Terre Haute, Ind.
Steller said some adjustments injection molders need to make when using rigid PVC include:
Using larger gates, runners and nozzle tips.
Allowing plenty of venting to prevent streaking or discoloration.
Using larger cooling channels that are closer to the mold surface.
Molders also have to pay close attention to operating temperatures when processing rigid PVC, because its processing and degradation temperatures are closer together than other plastics, the Geon officials said.
Injection molders definitely were looking for answers at the seminar. Chris Weiland, a project engineer at Whirlpool Corp.'s technology center in Dayton, Ohio, was there to find out what limitations rigid PVC might have in cooking applications, such as ranges and microwave ovens.
Whirlpool already uses rigid PVC in dishwashers and washing machines, but a flame-retardant vinyl, such as Geon's HTX flame-retardant alloys, might interest the firm if its properties check out, he said.
Tom Smith, a sales engineer with molder Par Industries of Medina, Ohio, is thinking about using PVC in appliances and telecommunications products, but first the company must address safety issues surrounding the use of acetal and rigid PVC in the same machine.
Par Industries uses acetal to produce hardware and automotive products. The two materials can become corrosive when they come in contact with each other at processing temperatures. Geon maintains that both materials can be used as long as machinery is cleaned thoroughly before switching from one to the other.
Geon environmental solutions manager D'Lane Wisner also took time to address criticism PVC has received from environmental groups, including Greenpeace.
``PVC is the second-largest thermoplastic [used] in the world and it wouldn't be there unless it had been scrutinized and studied by scientists,'' Wisner said.
Though most attendees probably did not believe all of the criticism leveled at PVC, he said Geon still wanted to educate molders about a product they might not have worked with before.
``If you're switching and using something you're not used to, you might be thinking, `What about the things I've heard?''' Wisner said.
Dick Coyne, chief executive officer of Jaco Products, a Middlefield, Ohio-based molder, said he thinks PVC's reputation has improved somewhat with the public.
``It's taken years to get over the misconceptions,'' said Coyne, whose firm has used PVC for 10 years. ``It seemed like every time there was a safety issue or a fire, people were always picking on PVC.''