AKRON, OHIO — GLS Corp. is working to commercialize new nylon-overmolding grades of its Versaflex-brand thermoplastic elastomer alloys, which first hit the market in February. The McHenry, Ill.-based materials firm also may open its first location outside the United States.
“There have been some TPE products made for overmolding onto nylon, but they were very limited in their processing window, as far as what types of process and types of material could be used,” GLS sales and marketing director Walt Ripple said in a recent interview at Plastics News' Akron office.
The new Versaflex grades are aimed at insert molding and injection molding and offer faster cooling times than competing materials, according to Ripple. In soft-touch applications, the grades offer noise reduction and vibration dampening. They currently are aimed at power tools, sporting goods, kitchen utensils, safety glasses and similar uses.
The nylon-overmolding effort was launched with four grades, each with a selling price of around $2.50 per pound. The grades can be based on thermoplastic vulcanizates, thermoplastic polyurethanes and styrenic block copolymers. Ripple declined to say which material was used in the first commercial applications.
Meanwhile, Ripple said GLS is “evaluating options” outside of the United States. All of the company's production is in McHenry, but it has done a growing amount of business in other parts of the world in recent years.
GLS opened a sales office in Singapore in 1998 and added a second in the Netherlands in 2001. The Singapore office relocated to Hong Kong earlier this year. GLS has tolling agreements in place with compounders in Europe and Asia that allow its products to be produced and sold in those regions.
The firm's TPE-related sales were estimated at $150 million last year. Ripple declined to comment on sales numbers, but said GLS enjoyed double-digit growth in 2003. In the past year, GLS also has added about 10 jobs in McHenry, where it now employs 120.
TPEs generate about 25 percent of total sales for GLS, which has been a licensed compounder of Kraton-brand styrenic block copolymers since 1979. The firm also operates the Composites One distribution business as well as a transportation unit that includes barge terminals, bulk trucking terminals and a trucking fleet.