SAN ANTONIO — AOC LLC is ahead of schedule on adding capacity to its unsaturated polyester resin plant and incorporating new capabilities.
Company officials discussed the developments at an Oct. 22 news conference during Composites '98 in San Antonio.
``We are investing heavily in the business,'' including ``a huge amount of capital spending,'' said Gerald Griffith, president and chief operating officer of parent Alpha Corp. of Collierville, Tenn.
Alpha became AOC's sole owner April 1 following termination of a 1994 joint venture between Alpha and Owens Corning of Toledo, Ohio.
AOC has continuing relations with Owens Corning in research and development and resin sales, Griffith said.
AOC takes control in January of the ``largest in the world'' unsaturated polyester plant in Collierville and anticipates customer shipments in March, said Jack Roesle, AOC vice president of global sales and marketing.
A new reactor will add 100 million pounds to the facility's annual capacity for production of unsaturated polyester resin. The site will have total capacity of 240 million pounds, including a boost of 10 million pounds from streamlining.
AOC is investing about $15 million in the reactor, hardware and Provox software related to proprietary process-control technology for batch consistency.
The company is establishing a pultrusion laboratory at its Valparaiso, Ind., facility using a production-size Pulstar pultruder from Strongwell of Bristol, Va. The lab aims to reduce resin development time and assist customers with problem solving.
The lab will help AOC expand the pultrusion market for future applications including sea walls, marine piers, bridges and walkways, said Mike Dettre, closed-mold business manager.
In his remarks, Roesle also said AOC is ``working on several acquisitions,'' but he declined to elaborate.
Pat Burns, business manager for Alpha's Chroma-Tek color dispersions business, said AOC is taking responsibility for the sales, marketing and technical aspects of that business. Alpha set up the unit a decade ago to supply materials to its Glasteel panel firm, which was sold to the Stabilit America Inc. unit of Mexico's Grupo Imsa SA de CV in 1997.
AOC is pursuing research to improve molded-in-color capabilities of thermoset composites, Burns said.
Separately, AOC and New Systems America Inc. of Grand Ledge, Mich., are offering a proprietary ultraviolet-light curing process in North America, said Reagan Stephens, AOC open-mold business manager. AOC made the business arrangement with a Belgian patent holder who is connected with New Systems.
Using proprietary glass-fiber mat, vacuum pumps and a plastic film cover, the process can reduce styrene emissions by 50 percent and may lower composite fabrication costs.
AOC will supply RayCure resins, which cost more than standard materials, as do other UV products.
In Europe, DSM-BASF Structural Resins has marketed the open-mold process for three years, according to Freidrich Seitz, marketing director in Zwolle, the Netherlands, with the joint venture. The process technology originated in Europe.