DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY (Dec. 11, 1:20 p.m. EST) — Compounding extruder supplier Coperion Corp. is filling up production capacity left spare in the United States due to the economic slowdown, with work shifted from a busier plant in Stuttgart, Germany.
With U.S. sales down this year by about 25 percent, the firm is manufacturing screw elements for Europe at the Ramsey, N.J., plant, according to Asmut Kahns, sales and marketing vice president for Coperion Compounding Systems.
“Basically, it has been ongoing for most of this year," Kahns explained.
One area of the U.S. compounding market where Coperion is determined to press forward with its own distinctive technology is the wood-flour sector. It has its sights set on breaking into the huge U.S. market for decking boards in a bigger way, according to Kahns.
Coperion hopes to take advantage of its technology that allows the extruder to remove moisture automatically from the sawdust filler before compounding it with PVC or polyolefins.
The technology is different from the twin-screw, counter-rotating systems that currently dominate the market and require separate pre-drying before compounding, Kahns said.
“We think we have a great advantage and we know it works. We've sold eight [MegaCompounder] systems into that market. But the market is much, much bigger.
“It is tough to break in, frankly, and we had higher expectations to break in with the newer technology than has panned out," he said.
However, Coperion is reinforcing its effort with the aid of its newly developed, high-speed MegaVolume system, launched at K 2001 in Dusseldorf. The equipment is targeted specifically at highly filled compound production, where volume rather than torque limitation restricts output.
At present, the company employs a MegaCompounder system on a line dedicated to wood composite development in the lab at its Ramsey plant. That system will be replaced by a MegaVolume line by February, Kahns said.
Coperion developed the MegaCompounder six years ago to give more torque and, at a screw speed of 1,200 revolutions per minute, higher speed, and that still is the best solution for most engineering resin compounding, Kahns said. But the MegaVolume, with its ultrahigh screw speed of 1,800 rpm, offers up to five times higher throughput for large-volume products with low bulk densities, he said.