CHICAGO (July 17, 9:40 a.m. EDT) — Bulk Molding Compounds Inc. is gaining visibility for its materials and delving into new markets.
From a bottom-line perspective, Larry E. Nunnery Jr. promotes his thermosets as the most cost-effective plastic products on the market today. BMCI's president emphasizes the cost per cubic inch vs. the material's property performance profile.
BMCI has developed conductive thermoset molding compounds aiming at the future market for fuel-cell proton exchange membranes for residential and automotive applications.
The BMC 940 series of compounds is suitable for molding highly detailed bipolar plates with characteristics for long-term performance in fuel-cell applications. Each plate must be extremely flat and mildly corrosive.
The country's space shuttle program uses such plates at a cost of $150 each. BMCI's target price is $2 per plate.
An automobile maker may use such fuel cells in a 2003 model vehicle, initially abroad, Nunnery said. The full impact of the technology may take a decade, but it could be an important market for the company. A cell stack for one car would use 190 pounds of molding compounds.
In addition, the firm has been developing static-dissipative-grade BMC 945 in carbon black or carbon fiber for semiconductor chip trays and circuit board handling racks, Wilbert Conner, manager of automotive market development in the Southfield, Mich., office, said at an NPE 2000 news conference.
A new material, unsaturated polyester BMC 324, has a high gloss level and avoids the need for coatings. The characteristics make 324 ideal for lighting applications, said Chris Vaisvil, vice president and director of sales.
Recently, BMCI completed a land restoration project in Illinois.
BMCI relocated in 1996 from St. Charles to 32 acres it acquired in nearby West Chicago for a thermoset manufacturing facility.
Owens-Illinois Inc. of Toledo, Ohio, had a glass-bottle plant on the site from 1950-85. Polychlorinated biphenyl waste contaminated the soil. BMCI's purchase was contingent on an agreement that Owens-Illinois share a portion of the cleanup costs with BMCI.
The $2.5 million restoration was completed May 1 in accordance with standards of the Illinois brownfield program and without use of federal or state funds, Nunnery said.
BMCI employs about 350 in its three locations in Illinois; Perrysburg, Ohio; and Mexico City, Mexico. BMCI acquired the Perrysburg site, "our biggest plant productionwise," from Cytec Industries Inc. for $17 million in November 1998. Adding the Perrysburg volume gave a major boost to BMCI.
Last year, BMCI established a capability in Mexico, forming joint venture BMC Mexico SA de CV with thermoset molder Productos Plasco SA de CV.
"We are producing about 12 million pounds down there, and we started eight months ago," Nunnery said.
He projects sales for 2000 of about $83 million. Automotive is 60 percent of the business and will probably go to 70 percent next year.
"When I purchased the company in 1989, we were about an $8 million business," he said. "We were geared to packaging" for Campbell Soup Co. and others. "The automotive growth has been built on the headlamp first and now the engine cover," he said.
"The business is growing tremendously" for products requiring high heat and temperature stability, Nunnery said.
Other market niches include small and major appliances and circuit breakers.
Competitors include Industrial Dielectrics Inc. of Noblesville, Ind., also an NPE 2000 exhibitor; Premix Inc. of North Kingsville, Ohio, which molds of compounds; and Rodgers Engineering Corp. of Addison, Ill.
BMCI customizes for processing temperature, impact, modulus and any other requirements.
"I think the customizing has been our big advantage," Nunnery said.