Plastics Color Corp. has established a plant in Sun Valley, Calif., and created a SoluPLAs line of modifying polylactic acid for packaging.
PCC decided in early 2010 to dedicate 30,000 square feet within an existing structure for a clean high-technology compounding facility and began running product there in January, said Joseph Byrne, vice president of sales and marketing for Calumet City, Ill.-based PCC. He withheld the investment amount.
PCC's diversified parent, PMC Global Inc. in Sun Valley, owns the structure where PCC installed its plant-within-a-plant. Over several months, PCC is ramping up production of plastics-industry-related color concentrates, pre-colored resins and additive masterbatches in Sun Valley.
Byrne said PCC is hiring 14 workers there and using two new twin-screw 35-millimeter extrusion lines with side-feed capability.
In early 2010, PCC went through a learning curve in setting up its Asheboro, N.C., operation. PCC used the findings and customer inputs it gained in Asheboro to create the Sun Valley site, Byrne said. Elements include a contained water system, advanced water and air-filtration equipment and a sophisticated material-handling system. That system minimizes human intervention and reduces risk by confining materials to the same vessel during various processes.
In an earlier West Coast presence, PCC followed a customer and set up a plant in Chula Vista, Calif., beginning in 1999. When the customer decided to take production offshore, PCC discontinued the operation.
For its SoluPLAs effort, PCC began developing a modified line of additives and toner packages for food and beverage PLA packaging during mid-2010. The firm conducted trials at three customer locations starting in November and moved into the commercial market in December. Several customers are using the material. PCC exhibited the product line at the UBM Canon trade show, held Feb. 8-10 in Anaheim.
Corn-based PLA has been limited to a certain degree, said business development director Timothy Workman. But now the material can be modified to meet specific production needs, he said. He noted that SoluPLAs offers impact resistance and clarity benefits compared with competing products for injection molding and extrusion applications.
The research that we have done suggests that there are no [PLA] products out there that have taken information and product developments from a variety of sources and combined them as we have done, Workman said. PCC incorporates a wide range of products and end-user priorities to offer the SoluPLAs line.
PCC says contract testing in university laboratories found SoluPLAs performed better than virgin PLA compounds in impact-modifier, mold-release and denesting functions.
In addition to three domestic locations that will employ 130, including the Sun Valley hires, PCC has a facility in Nanjing, China. Eventually, all sites will produce the SoluPLAs line, Workman said.