CHICAGO (Aug. 1, 3 p.m. EDT) — Fledgling thermoplastic composite maker Polystrand Inc. more than doubled its capacity in July, only a year after it launched production of its proprietary glass-reinforced material.
The Montrose, Colo.-based firm will begin its third production line, capable of turning out more than 7 million pounds of the thermoplastic, said President Edward Pilpel during a June 19 interview at NPE 2006 in Chicago. Its two current lines make a combined 5 million pounds.
The new line also will be able to produce the material in a tape form with a continuous, unidirectional glass fiber at 25 inches in width — twice as wide as the current line.
Polystrand also makes sheets as wide as 72 inches.
The firm makes unidirectional and bidirectional glass-reinforced thermoplastic for thermoforming, binding them with either polypropylene or polyethylene.
It launched with the intention of taking composites beyond the thermoset resin blends that have been used in structural applications for more than 50 years, Pilpel said, but still taking advantage of everything the plastics industry has learned from fiberglass and other composites.
“None of what we're doing now would have been possible without building on that [history],” he said.
Miles Fiberglass & Composites of Portland, Ore., switched production of a refrigerator rail-car wall to a Polystrand sheet from thermoset, combining the sheet with foam insulation in a process that is easier to manufacture, with lower heat and pressure requirements in the mold.
The material's resin component makes it easy to work with, but Pilpel noted that Polystrand is looking at nylon and PBT to widen its portfolio. At the same time, Polystrand is considering other structural fibers it could offer, he said.
So far the company has focused on introducing its material to thermoset molders. During NPE, the company reached out to thermoplastic specialists that are looking for new ways to produce parts with less resin.