DETROIT — Automotive parts makers were seeing red when they stopped by the Bay Resins Inc. booth at SAE '98, where the custom compounder's use of hard-to-achieve, cadmium-free red colors in nylon were on display.
``Red press-button colors are hard to do,'' said Paul Blanchard, Bay's sales and marketing director. ``You can't use cadmiums in the original pigment because there's not a lot of stability.''
The colored nylons, whose primary automotive use has been in seat belt components, have been commercialized for about four years and were drawing the most customer inquiries of products displayed at the Feb. 23-26 show in Detroit, Blanchard said.
Millington, Md.-based Bay has undergone quite a bit of change in the past couple of years. The company, founded by John Bunting in 1982, was acquired in 1996 by colorant industry giant Clariant Group of Muttenz, Switzerland. Clariant then incorporated a second company — Plastic Materials Co. of Milford, Del. — under Bay management last year. PMC still does business under its own name.
Overall, Bay/PMC operates 10 production lines in Millington and six lines in Milford while employing a total of about 145. Bay also operates five development lines in Millington. About half of the firm's production is in nylon, with ABS-based products coming in second.
Bay's growth has been the result of what Blanchard described as ``a secret accident'' that began when General Motors Corp. was looking for colors in the mid-1980s. Bunting, who no longer is with the company, gained some approvals from GM and proceeded to develop resins to do color matches for GM vehicles. The auto market now makes up about 40 percent of Bay's business.
``It just shows that with some plastics know-how, some extruders and a roomful of employees, you can do about anything,'' Blanchard said.
Some of Bay's more prominent automotive products include dome light housings for the Chevrolet Lumina and column-mounted controllers for the Pontiac Grand Am.
Blanchard added that Bay has focused on ``classic stuff larger companies don't want to do.''
``Larger companies would refer to us as a small-lot specialty house because our average lot size is under 4,000 pounds,'' Blanchard said. ``Investment economics will tell you that larger companies don't want to build a compounding plant with 50 little machines in it and then have to handle that schedule.''