Having learned its lessons at past NPEs, Expancel Inc. was back this year licensing a patented foaming agent for wood-filled composites and looking to grow its plastics business.
The Duluth, Ga.-based company announced June 14 that it had gained an exclusive license with patent holders Hughes Processing Inc. of Costa Mesa, Calif., and Jet Plastics Inc. of Los Angeles to use expandable thermoplastic microspheres for wood-plastic composite products such as plastic lumber. Sales to the spa industry are excluded.
The microspheres reduce the density of the WPC material for easier handling and lower transportation costs. They also make plastic lumber that allows easier insertion of standard fasteners, improved nail holding and easier cutting, drilling and sanding.
``Our first NPE was 2000 and that was a very good learning experience. We learned a lot we didn't know about plastics. We had microspheres as a free-flowing powder, but we learned that most processors are unable or unwilling to handle powders. So, we went back and made it as pellets,'' said Chris Rosenbusch, Expancel marketing manager.
He also said the company has learned that thermoformers need microspheres that work at higher temperatures and it has expanded the grades to accommodate them.
Rosenbusch said that Expancel, an American division of Akzo Nobel NV of Arnhem, the Netherlands, started by focusing on the ink, paint and coating needs, but has found that the product also is useful for thermosets or fiber-reinforced plastics.
The microspheres expand under heat and lighten the product.
He noted that the firm has worked with WPC products in the past and now with the licensing agreement can do so again with many of the same customers.
Expancel has a 100,000-square-foot facility in Duluth, used primarily for the expansion process, packaging, warehousing and distribution. It has 25 employees.
Tel. 770-813-9126, fax 770-813-8639.