LEOMINSTER, MASS. — A Noryl polyphenylene oxide roof will put the National Plastics Center and Museum on the cutting edge of plastic roofing technology, but also help it retain some of its schoolhouse charm.
``It replaces a 100-year-old slate roof,'' said Valerie A. Wilcox, NPCM executive director.
GE Plastics of Pittsfield, Mass, donated the resin. The slate-replica panels were crafted by American Sheet Extrusion Corp. of Evansville, Ind.
``We've been working with GE for four years in developing this product,'' said Ken Hedges, president of American Sheet Extrusion. He explained that the museum roof is Texas-style slate replica, and is about three-quarters of an inch thick.
Hedges estimated the cost of the project at $20,000-$25,000.
``It is a large job, probably 9,000 square feet,'' he said. ``The hardest job is taking off the old roof.''
Andres Pugi, GE Plastics market development manager for roofing, said contractors for the project are being trained in Evansville.
American Sheet Extrusion already markets a Noryl roof that takes on the look of cedar shake. The firm started selling that product on the West Coast about two years ago. The slate version is a new offering.
American Sheet Extrusion also supplies plastic sheet and thermoformed products, including shutters.
``We're looking for the roofing business to represent about 25 percent of our business,'' Hedges said. ``It is a very exciting market.''
Pugi said there are plenty of advantages to the plastic roof. The material maintains strength and durability, can minimize the spread of flame, and meets Class A fire codes. It also meets codes for wind-driven rain and wind uplift.
The panels use an interlocking system and are light, averaging 65-90 pounds per 100 square feet.
The roof is just one of the improvements the museum plans. NPCM has added an elevator, and work on the second floor and basement is progressing.
Wilcox said major exhibit space and offices are planned for the second floor. Space for events and a library resource room will be on the third floor. Exhibit, classroom, storage and workshop space will be in the basement.
She said the renovation project is ``on schedule and on budget.'' Contributors have pledged $650,000 in the National Board of Governors' $1 million fund drive. Campaign organizers hope to reach that goal by July 1.
NPCM's outreach program still is growing, as PlastiVan No. 3 was bought and put into operation. The van program offers teachers and students in grades three through 12 programs about the chemistry, history, processing and environmental issues of plastics.