Mold In Graphic Systems of Clarkdale, Ariz., is nearing production of PE Compound-brand soft and hard polyethylene derivatives and aiming to expand rotational molding possibilities.
A rotomolder will pack the soft material or place a preformed component at a critical point in an open mold, add the usual powder and fire up. The process is said to overcome rotomolding's traditional tight radius, crevice fill and high-impact limitations.
The privately held firm in mid-March expects to begin distributing sample quantities, initially of the soft, pliable version, said Scott Saxman, senior vice president of sales.
``We want to enable part designers to work with mold makers to engineer features into hollow parts made with rotational molding,'' Saxman said in a telephone interview.
The firm will customize ingredients to create a soft or hard material compatible with low, linear low or high density PE in an end product.
``We will work with each project'' and, as needed, manufacture variations of preformed or prefabricated materials, including rolled or extruded versions, he said.
Possibilities include solid components such as a handle, mounting tab or flange, or seating arrangement, each designed to complement an otherwise hollow part.
PE Compound may open rotomolding markets well beyond kayaks, playground equipment, water tanks and other big, durable outdoor products, Saxman said.
``We can take this concept and waive the established rules of rotational molding,'' he said.
The firm may set up a separate division for the new product line.
PE Compound may have some synergy with the mechanical transfer rotational injection process, or TRIP, technology that SLF Industries Inc. of Tuckerton, N.J., began licensing last year. Both try to expand rotomolding's market and new product potential.
``There might be some features that can be tripped in the same molds,'' Saxman said.
Formed in 1983, Mold In Graphic Systems employs 85, occupies 80,000 square feet and primarily produces permanent, preprinted graphics. A rotomolder embeds the graphics several millimeters beneath a product's finished surface and overcomes the process's aversion to external decoration. A processor transfers a thin-polymer image layer and discards the carrier.
``Everything we do is based on our understanding of materials,'' Saxman said. ``PE has tremendous features in strength per pound, resiliency and color, but you cannot decorate it.''
In early 2001, the company doubled its R&D staff in hiring three additional people and completed a nearly $3 million project constructing a 20,000-square-foot research and development facility.
In addition to the patent-pending PE Compound work, projects include permanent coatings, anti-skid materials, conductive graphics and tank-gauge-monitor materials.