Solvay Engineered Polymers Inc. has added a triextrusion profile line at its automotive applications center in Auburn Hills, Mich., to help its thermoplastic vulcanizate materials penetrate the weather-sealing market.
While the subsidiary of Solvay America Inc. has done a lot of development work on its customers' lines, the new equipment gives it machinery to work with all its customers, said Craig Abernathy, engineering manager for Solvay Engineered Polymers. He discussed the project at TPE Topcon 2003, held Sept. 23-24 in Akron.
``It's a place customers can come and do development work, get support and see if they want to go into production without shutting down manufacturing lines to do development work,'' Abernathy said.
Previously, Solvay had equipped the Auburn Hills location with a 4,000-ton injection molding press, but this is the first extruder.
The Davis-Standard line features extruders with diameters of 31/2, 21/2 and 11/2 inches that feed into multimaterial dies, whose output is directed through a vacuum-calibration environment to the final cooling, cutting and spooling operations.
Solvay said the extruder will allow manufacturers of automotive weather seals to produce the structural backbone, the sealing function and appearance surface in a single process, saving time and money over traditional thermoset rubber operations.
``This new installation will give us the capability to develop the best materials for the next generation of seals, and to discern the most cost-effective ways of putting them together to get the job done,'' said Derrek Greenberg, leader of Solvay's TPE weather-seal market development team.
Though dedicated to development work, the extrusion line will be production-scale and able to run at line rates, using actual production dies or prototypes.
``Because of this, we will be able to predict accurately the investment and process costs of converting sealing applications from thermoset [ethylene propylene diene monomer] to TPV and [thermoplastic polyolefin] multiextrusions, Greenberg said.
Abernathy said the full line will be operating by Oct. 1. He called the investment ``substantial'' without giving exact figures.
``We decided a system solution was the way for us to target this market, and having our own tooling is a way we'll be able to do it,'' he said.
No new employees will be needed because of the addition, as Solvay will refocus its existing workforce, Abernathy said.