Lehigh Technologies LLC, an engineered rubber powder producer, is boosting its research and development with the purchase of Microtec GmbH for an undisclosed price.
At the same time, Naples, Fla.-based Lehigh is taking steps to increase its offerings for compounders, injection molders and extruders.
Lehigh announced Oct. 16 that it had acquired Microtec, a Bobingen, Germany-based company that makes fine-particle grinding and classifications systems.
Microtec founder Jozef Fischer will continue to operate the development company, which has about 25 employees in Germany. He also will become chief technical officer at Lehigh.
``It was a company that we've worked with since we started. Microtec designed and holds the patents for the cryogenic mill that we use,'' said Pat George, Lehigh's chief financial officer, in an Oct. 16 telephone interview.
Fischer will concentrate on the design and development of next-generation milling and screening machines. George added that Fischer will lead the effort to make rubber particle sizes even finer, and has filed for new patents. The acquisition includes Microtec's intellectual property.
The finer the particle, the more surface area can be covered, said Jim Gray, Lehigh vice president of sales and marketing.
Lehigh's trademarked PolyDyne line is re-engineered from scrap tires and other waste rubber. It retains many of the rubber's properties such as elasticity, flexibility and energy absorption, Lehigh said.
The company in September introduced a new concentrate designed to be easier for plastics processors to use.
``Our first customers were compounders,'' Gray said. ``We found in pursuing the end processor that he didn't have the facility to use for flow powder. So we went to development and developed a concentrate that can be used as a pellet.''
Lehigh, founded in 2003, opened a plant in Tucker, Ga., this year and it is operating with about 20 employees. George said the facility should reach full capacity in early 2007 of 100 million pounds of fine polymeric powders annually. By that time, he said, he expects the number of employees to have jumped to about 70.
The company is planning a second facility, also probably in the Southeast. George said that plant is targeted for late 2007 or early 2008.