Pultrusion compounder MTI Thermoplastic Composites of Matthews, N.C., completed a fourth processing line and was issued its fifth domestic patent in July.
``We go against [business] cycles,'' said Larry Montsinger, president of parent firm Montsinger Technologies Inc., based in Charlotte, N.C. ``We are buying equipment now and getting better prices and better delivery'' than in robust economic times. That is ``the beauty of being a small, independently owned company.''
The MTI division's latest in-house-assembled line can compound 2 million pounds annually.
``We use a variety of extruders, pullers, pelletizers, screeners, hoppers, dryers and creels,'' Montsinger said.
Other equipment includes a 1989 line with a capacity of 500,000 pounds, a 1991 installation for up to 2 million pounds and a 1997 line for 500,000 pounds for research and development and prepreg production.
MTI purchased extruders for lines five and six but lacks operating space in its current 8,000-square-foot operation.
On July 10, the U.S. Patent Office issued further process and product protection for MTI's manufacturing of long-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic compounds. Worldwide patent coverage is pending.
Using a counter-flow technique, a rotational die shear lowers polymer viscosity, improves wet-out of continuous fiber rovings and boosts productivity, Montsinger said.
MTI began developing the process in 1989 and has evolved into a maker of ThermoStran long-fiber compounds, mainly using polypropylene and polyamide resins with glass, aramid, carbon and stainless-steel fibers.
Compound applications include components for a pressurized vessel in a CEM Corp. microwave digestion system and a filament-wound prototype hydrogen storage tank for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's next-generation Mars probes.
MTI toll-compounds for a major supplier and is having success with high-modulus and static-dissipation applications for the textiles industry.
MTI's long-glass PP structural composite application for CEM was runner-up in the industrial and process category of the JEC 2001 awards competition in March in Paris. CEM makes microwave-based laboratory instrumentation in Matthews.
Montsinger Technologies' 11 employees handle technology licensing and production for MTI and a prepreg and profile division.