Rochester, Ill.-based Elastocon debuted the large-part thermoplastic olefin grades in January. They're aimed at automotive or nonautomotive transportation uses, such as tractor fenders or parts for off-road vehicles, Elastocon owner David Barkus said in a telephone interview.
Barkus added that there's “no real limit” to the size of parts made with the materials, since their high-flow properties allow them to fill large molds easily.
Previously, Elastocon had focused more on consumer products, making materials based on thermoplastic vulcanizates and styrenic block copolymers.
“This is a whole new market for us,” said Barkus, who founded the firm in 1999 after stints at TPE maker GLS Corp. and blow molder Plastipak Packaging Inc. “Manufacturers asked us to work on this product, and it was 2½ years in development.”
The TPO materials are easily colored and have high gloss with scratch and mar resistance. They can be used with a number of processes, including in-mold decorating, pad printing, hot foils and stamping. Other potential uses include body panels, bumper fascias, deflective guards and mud or snow flaps.
Elastocon's new STK overmolding grades — which debuted in April — offer superior adhesion to nylon and other resins such as polycarbonate and ABS, officials said. Applications for overmolding grades include tools and hardware, housewares, utensil grips, safety face masks and toys.
According to Barkus, all of Elastocon's products are nontoxic, phthalate-free and latex-free, and do not require drying.
Elastocon employs 50 — including a three-person research and development staff — and operates seven production lines in a 50,000-square-foot plant in Carpentersville, Ill. The firm does not disclose sales, which Barkus said grew at a rate of 30 percent in 2007.