Extruder maker NFM/Welding Engineers Inc. has invested $1 million to upgrade its laboratory, as officials promote the company's experience in nanotechnology playing off NFM's strengths in compounding extruders and resin manufacturing systems.
In recent months, NFM has sold three compounding lines for making nanomaterials, according to Butch Noll, national sales manager. One machine, a TEM 26 SS, will be shipped in December to a technology incubator in Monterrey, Mexico. The incubator was created by the Center for Engineering and Industrial Development (Centro para la Integracón y Desarrollo del Invidente), or Cidesi.
NFM officials discussed the laboratory and nanotechnology during an interview at company headquarters in Massillon.
Querétaro, Mexico-based Cidesi is part of the National Council of Science and Industry, which helps develop Mexico's industrial sector. Noll said Cidesi will use the TEM co-rotating twin-screw extruder for research and development of nanomaterials, as well as to compound highly filled materials.
Workers are finishing up the extruder in Massillon. How the Ohio company got linked up with an incubator in Mexico demonstrates the global economy at work. People from Cidesi attended Exhibition NanoTech in Tokyo, where they visited the booth of Tokyo extruder maker Toshiba Machine Co. Ltd.
NFM manufactures the TEM series of high-torque, high-speed compounding extruders under a longtime license with Toshiba that covers North America. Noll said Toshiba officials directed Cidesi to NFM, which handled the entire project.
The Cidesi incubator is part of the Monterrey Research and Technology Innovation Park, which will focus on innovations in biotechnology, nanotechnology, mechatronics, information and communications technology and health care.
NFM has been actively pushing nanotechnology for the past year. We always look at new markets, but we understand the importance of nano and the opportunities it's going to present in the future, Noll said.
Nanotechnology blends extremely tiny materials such as nanoclays and carbon nanotubes into plastic resins to give the material improved properties, such barrier layers or greater strength.
We just want to put the word out that we have a very comprehensive approach, with various technologies that we can work with, said Christopher Tucker, process engineering director. We have a lot of different tools to use.
Tucker said NFM/Welding Engineers is in a good position to offer everything from compounding lines to resin manufacturing systems for devolatizing, dewater- ing and emulsion coagulation. That specialized poly- mer-finishing equipment is used to disperse nanomaterials fully a major challenge, he said.
Many filler polymer systems will not mix easily on conventional twin-screw extruders, Tucker said. The fillers can be damaged by excessive shear during extrusion. Nanoclay is a good example.
NFM leaders tout two laboratories the main compounding lab that received the $1 million investment and a second lab that can handle flammable liquids.
We invested over $1 million to basically show our customers in North America that we're here to stay and that we're supporting our equipment locally, Noll said as he led a tour of the 10,000-square-foot compounding lab. The lab features a newly poured floor, new wiring to machine control panels and offices customers can use while running trials.
Process engineer Charles Park II said NFM is putting in a complete testing area.
The centerpiece of the facility is a TEM 58 SS compounding line with screw diameters of 58 inches. The lab also houses a range of new auxiliary equipment including feeders, underwater and strand pelletizers, classifiers, gear pumps and screen changers. A control panel runs the extruder and all auxiliary equipment.
Noll said the company will add a smaller, TEM 26 SS line to the lab in Massillon.
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