CHICAGO (July 14, 2:40 p.m. EDT) — For Engineered Plastics Corp. of Akron, Ohio, the production of two proprietary compounds marks a major change in the company's direction.
The company is producing a durable, colorfast copolyester for use in the automotive industry and a durable, elastic resin with rubberlike qualities for medical and food packaging.
“In the reprocessing business, we were an also-ran to people making prime materials. We were used as a bargaining chip to the GEs and Bayers … to drive down the price,” said President James T. Rauh.
The company, founded in 1998 by James and his brother Joseph M. Rauh, operates out of a 100,000-square-foot facililty in Akron. It has 20 employees and is certified under ISO 9001-2000. The Rauhs formerly were in the rubber business, owning Rauh Rubber Inc. for 25 years, but sold the company to a major customer to concentrate on engineering-grade compounds.
EPC has sales of about $8 million, according to James Rauh, and part of the reason is the switch from reprocessing. The company compounds polycarbonate, ABS and alloys. He said EPC is off to a good start this year, and sales could climb rapidly with the new resins.
The colorfast copolyester goes by the trade name Optimum and uses colorants including metallic flakes to maintain color in scratch-resistant material while maintaining impact properties. The attributes position the product for molded automotive body parts, where the labor-intensive painting process adds cost to the manufacturing process. The material is highly chemical- and stain-resistant, the company said.
EPC used a bumper fascia made for a DaimlerChrysler Corp. experiment as part of its booth. However, Rauh said the material can be used for countertops, wallcoverings and as a replacement for fiber-reinforced plastic.
The resin also is available in clear formulations for lens and lighting applications and can be extruded, blow molded, thermoformed or injection molded.
The second product, trademarked as Permaflex, is made of Food and Drug Administration-approved materials. It combines the elastic properties of rubber with the abrasion resistance of plastic. The material is electrically insulative and can be formulated to be fire-retardant, fluorescent, luminous or glass-filled.
The Permaflex resin exhibits a gradual viscosity change according to temperature and can be used instead of rubber without the forming and curing costs of rubber, the firm said. The material can be extruded, blow molded, thermoformed or injection molded.
Rauth said that Permaflex can be used for under-the-hood tubing and other high-temperature applications. He pointed to it as a replacement for nylon 12 in fuel lines.
EPC began in business by purchasing off-grade or transitional materials in the forms of powders, flakes, pellets and purgings from major companies and satellite recyclers.
Rauh said one of its first recycling jobs was to take 80 million pounds of ABS dust that was headed for the landfill and turn it into pellets, which were used to make pads for trailers in trailer parks.
He said EPC went on to recycle polycarbonate and two years ago got approval from Chrysler to use it for automotive interior parts.
Since then, Rauh said, the company is experimenting to develop proprietary compounds.