PlastiComp Inc. has expanded its Pushtrusion-brand technology into the profile extrusion market through a deal with GaMra Composites Inc.
The technology, which provides in-line compounding of glass-fiber-reinforced materials, will provide GaMra with cost savings of 50 percent on polypropylene-based profiles, according to Greg Mitsch, president of Baldwin, Wis.-based GaMra.
``Our previous efforts to use highly loaded glass fillings in profile extrusion had only limited success because of the cost involved,'' Mitsch said in a Jan. 12 phone interview. ``Pushtrusion is giving us a real benefit in the savings we get from doing the compounding right on the extrusion line.''
GaMra, which posted sales of $1 million in 2003, expects to produce commercial products using the Pushtrusion system in the second quarter of this year. Mitsch said his firm will use Pushtrusion to make products such as window components and railing systems for the building and construction market.
Pushtrusion had been focused on injection molding uses since Winona, Minn.-based PlastiComp began marketing the technology for Woodshed Technologies and inventor Ronald Hawley in 2003. Hawley in 2001 had patented the Pushtrusion process, which can pull glass fiber from supply creels at rates as high as 600 feet per minute.
Initially, Pushtrusion has been used with PP, ABS and nylon resins, but PlastiComp President Steve Bowen said work is under way to adapt it to PVC and higher-end engineering resins.
Bowen said the process now is drawing extrusion interest not only because of cost savings, but also because of its ability to reduce the thermal expansion rates of products such as lineals by as much as 90 percent.
Bowen, who has almost 20 years of experience in the long-fiber-plastics market, said adjusting Pushtrusion from injection molding to profile extrusion requires only ``a little modification.''
``Technically, [profile extrusion] is an easier process for Pushtrusion because it's a continuous process, unlike molding, which is a sequential process,'' Bowen said.
In 2003, PlastiComp struck Pushtrusion-related licensing and supply agreements with Milacron Inc., Owens Corning and Dow Chemical Co.'s automotive unit.
``This is growth of plastics in the marketplace, rather than stealing share from someone else,'' Bowen said. ``It's just starting to get fun.''