A positive market outlook has led AT Plastics Inc. to more than double capacity for its cross-linked high density polyethylene product while preparing to launch production for similar low density PE compounds in the United States later this year.
The Brampton, Ontario, company installed a new, $3 million extrusion line in October at an Illinois compounding facility that produces AT's Flexet-brand cross-linked HDPE compounds on a contract basis.
But the line, which can crank out almost 19 million pounds of Flexet annually, will not be there for long. It is expected to be moved in early 2000 to AT's Peachtree, Ga., site, which is under construction.
``The business is growing so much that we couldn't wait for the new building,'' said Wayne Bryce, AT's business development manager for performance compounds.
Flexet is used in pipe for household plumbing, radiant heating and snow-melting systems. The material, based on moisture-cure silane copolymer technology, produces pipe that can bend around corners and obstacles with a minimum number of fittings, AT officials said.
Flexet compounds have been sold in the wire and cable market for about nine years, but were not used in pipe until 1996.
The material also will battle copper and chlorinated PVC in the plumbing market, where Bryce said its flexibility and installation speed will mean lower institutional costs.
The Peachtree facility, which will be AT's first U.S. site, will open in August with an extrusion line producing more than 21 million pounds of AT's PowerGuard cross-linked LDPE compounds. The $18 million plant is expected to employ 20-25.
PowerGuard, currently produced at AT's Edmonton, Alberta, facility, is aimed at the wire and cable market and is in its fourth year of production.
All of AT's Flexet production eventually will shift to Peachtree, but Bryce said the company will continue to work with the Illinois compounder on other projects. Bryce declined to name the compounder.
AT should have no problem meeting short-term demand, though, since the Flexet line that will move to Peachtree can increase its capacity by 50 percent through debottlenecking, if necessary.
``Ideally, we'd have the business to justify putting two lines in Peachtree,'' Bryce said. ``But if we take on too much, it could hurt the company.''
In accelerated cable life tests, AT's PowerGuard cross-linked LDPE has lasted twice as long as similar materials made by Union Carbide Corp., according to PowerGuard marketing manager Roger Partington.
AT's product line includes olefin-based copolymers, specialty resins and compounds, agricultural and horticultural films, industrial packaging and performance films.
The company ranked 66th in Plastics News' 1997 ranking of North American film and sheet manufacturers, with sales of $59.9 million.
AT's overall 1996 sales were $211 million.