Entec Engineered Resins, a Maitland, Fla.-based distributor and compounder, has partnered with Aptec Corp. of Ormond Beach, Fla., to help customers with product design and material selection.
John Chuplis, Entec's vice president of sales and marketing, claims molders can cut their time to market in half by using OneSpace, a software program Aptec licenses from CoCreate of Fort Collins, Colo.
OneSpace lets different computer-aided-design programs communicate with one another in virtual product design. For example, Entec, Aptec and a client each could access and alter designs simultaneously with a OneSpace hookup.
"OneSpace is CAD-neutral," Chuplis said by telephone. "You can solve a problem in half an hour instead of having people flying back and forth to different parts of the country."
Tom Morris, Aptec chief intelligence officer, said the technology poses little risk to plastics processors: "They don't have to invest in the software or the technology or the people."
Morris said too often materials suppliers like Entec are left out of the design process.
"Then if there's a problem with a part, a customer shifts to a more expensive material just to solve the problem. But if they had consulted with their supplier, they could have avoided the problem in the first place," he said.
For instance, Entec was able to show a customer stresses in glass-filled PET being used for a structural part, avoiding a potential flaw in the finished product, Morris said.
"This is a way for [Aptec and Entec] to add value instead of haggling over pennies a pound for material," he said.
Aptec is working on about a half-dozen Entec-referred projects, including parts for marine and farm equipment.
More than half of Aptec's work is in plastics. The 15-employee firm posted sales of $1.3 million in 2000 and expects to approach the $3 million mark this year.
Entec's sales were about $100 million last year. It distributes engineering resins, including nylon and polycarbonate, and recently expanded its Manchester, Tenn., compounding unit. Entec doubled capacity there last year and now can produce up to 60 million pounds of engineering resin-based compounds a year on five twin-screw lines.
Entec has no additional compounding expansion plans for this year, but Chuplis said there is room for three or four more lines at Manchester's 125,000-square-foot plant.