Prime Colorants Inc., a color concentrates maker in Franklin, Tenn., is modernizing its technology by purchasing new twin-screw compounding extruders from NFM/Welding Engineers - including finalizing a deal at NPE 2006 in Chicago.
Prime Colorants, a 31-year-old company, makes colors in both liquid and pellet forms.
The company has purchased two twin-screw compounding lines from NFM, both from the TEM series of high-speed, high-torque, co-rotating twins. At NPE it signed orders for another twin-screw, a 55-millimeter model, and a 75mm single-screw extruder. During an interview at NFM's booth, officials said they also are negotiating to buy a 58mm twin-screw in the TEM series.
NFM builds the machines at its headquarters plant in Massillon, Ohio, under an exclusive manufacturing and licensing agreement with Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, for sale in North and South America and Europe.
Michael Sullivan, vice president of operations, said Prime Colorants will add four of the twin-screw compounding extruders, all from NFM. It eventually will replace all five of its older extruders, three twins and two single-screw machines. ``We intend to pull those out of operation,'' he said.
Sullivan said the new technology will help the color maker get more business in key markets such as building and construction, packaging, housewares and a specialty area, decorative ribbons.
``At one time, single-screws were the mainstay of the color concentrates industry, but as screw designs were developed in twin-screw to achieve better working of the pigments, you could achieve higher loadings with twin-screw machines. That allows you to provide a lower letdown, or a more cost-effective color system,'' Sullivan said.
Customers can use less color and save money. Color concentrates are made by suspending pigments or dyes into a resin carrier. Loading more of the colorant into the carrier means customers can use less concentrate to achieve the desired color in the final resin, he said.
NFM is providing the turnkey system - not just the extruders, but the auxiliary equipment, feeders and all downstream devices. Everything is tied through a central controller.
NFM already has delivered two twin-screw extruders. A TEM-41SS, with a 41mm screw diameter, was to begin production by the end of June.
The other machine, a 26mm TEM-26SS, already is operating in Prime Colorants' research and development laboratory.
Sullivan said at NPE that Prime Colorants has two twin-screw and two single-screw extruders in its laboratory to speed up product development, which is key to supporting its emphasis on customized production.
Both systems are identical, Sullivan said, so customers can duplicate their process in the lab and in the factory.
The investment in machinery is coming after a change in ownership, Sullivan said. As of Jan. 1, Endre Zongor bought out his partner, Ed Honicker. Both men had owned Prime Colorants since it was founded.
``The new, single owner has made decisions to invest in newer equipment and newer technology,'' Sullivan said.
Zongor is helping the company solidify partnerships with suppliers like NFM to parallel partnerships the company creates with its customers.
Prime Colorants is investing more than $1 million in the expansion and upgrade at its 30,000-square-foot production plant.
NFM builds TEM extruders in seven millimeter sizes: 41, 48, 58, 75, 93, 104 and 136. Paul Roberson, NFM vice president of business development, said his firm's sales have grown about 50 percent in the past year.
Plastics News correspondent Michael Lauzon contributed to this story.