Industry consultant Michael Gehrig is making the jump into commercial compound production.
Aardvark Polymers began commercial production of compounds based on acetal and nylon 6 in April at a 2,500-square-foot site in Lambertville, N.J. Gehrig has operated Aardvark as a research lab since founding consulting firm Gehrig & Associates in 1983.
The move into commercial work was spurred by what Gehrig saw as a need for higher-performance material in the rotational molding market.
``Polyethylene is a great workhorse material [for rotomolding], but it won't take elevated heat,'' Gehrig said in a recent phone interview. ``You need more protection for fuel tanks and other uses, especially with new regulations on permeability.''
Gehrig has small-scale extrusion equipment in place capable of making 50,000 pounds of material annually. He also has pulverizing grinders and other rotomolding equipment that can be installed to ramp up annual production to 2 million pounds.
That expansion would occur as part of a pilot plant operation and would require Aardvark to move to a 25,000-square-foot space, Gehrig said. Aardvark, which employs four, would need to add six employees for the expansion.
Aardvark's acetal compounds use material from Ticona and sell for about $3 per pound. The firm's nylon 6 offerings are based on material supplied by BASF Corp. and sell for about $4.50 per pound. Gehrig has done consulting work for both suppliers for more than 20 years.
If the first products prove successful, he said Aardvark could commercialize compounds based on high-temperature nylons, polyphenylene sulfide and liquid crystal polymers by year's end.