A giant new, 4,000-ton compression molding press is helping Dayton, Ohio-based Composite Technologies Co. reach what an executive calls the Holy Grail of plastic pallets - a pallet that weighs 15 pounds or less, priced under $10.
CTC began molding pallets on the big press Feb. 1. The machine can mold two pallets set up side-by-side, or four pallets arranged in a stack mold, said Clark Howland, vice president of sales and marketing for industrial products.
``In theory, we could do four pallets in two minutes,'' he said.
Composite Technologies specializes in molding low-cost parts on fast cycle times using scrap. CTC also uses wide-spec virgin resin in some products, to meet customer requirements. The company uses long-glass-fiber-reinforced plastic technologies to make composite parts.
Low-priced plastic pallets are in demand for so-called export pallets, as international agencies overseeing trade and shipping impose strict rules on wood pallets. Many exhibitors at the NA 2006 material-handling and logistics show, held March 27-30 at Cleveland's I-X Center, promoted new export pallets.
``CTC recognizes the opportunity in pallets, particularly low-cost pallets. And we have also geared up to produce the Holy Grail with our new, 4,000-ton press,'' Howland said in an interview during the show. The company custom molds pallets for seven major suppliers of material-handling products, and Howland was at the I-X Center to meet with them.
The International Plant Protection Convention, a global treaty to prevent the spread of pests and invasive plants, has created guidelines for wood packaging materials that go into full enforcement in the United States on July 5. Under the new rules, shippers must prove the wood is heat-treated or fumigated with methyl bromide.
K.R. Wilson Inc. of Arcade, N.Y., supplied the compression molding press. An extrusion system, big enough to produce 65-pound shots, turns out a billet of material that is transferred to the mold.
``We've taken compression molding and are using recyclates to make a variety of products,'' Howland said. The company uses high density polyethylene and polypropylene resins. An average mixture includes 80 percent recycled material and 20 percent virgin or wide-spec resin. That helps cut material prices.
Production speed is another advantage for Composite Technologies.
``Our cycle times are significantly faster than thermoforming, and our cycle times compare favorably to structural foam,'' Howland said. With structural foam, it can take five to 10 minutes to make a pallet, but CTC can make the same size pallet in a minute or two, he said.
Beyond pallets, CTC compression molds a range of consumer products such as skateboard ramps, basketball backboards, snowboards, footlockers and lawn carts.