Compounder Chroma Corp. has more than doubled the size of its color lab at its headquarters in McHenry, Ill., and soon will add six production lines for small-lot work.
The projects will allow Chroma to hire 10 new production workers and three new lab employees by the end of the year, said sales and marketing director Stu Swain in an Aug. 19 phone interview.
The lab expansion included the addition of six injection molding machines, three extrusion lines and a meeting area for customers, officials said in an Aug. 19 news release.
Earlier this month, Chroma's expanded and renovated technology center was dedicated to Robert Swain, the firm's founder and Stu's father. Robert Swain was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame in 2009.
The upgrades will allow for application development, testing, formulating, processing optimization and color work, they added. The equipment can do precise statistical process control and is geared toward Chroma's strategic focus in engineering resins, as well as its core work in polyolefins.
The new twin-screw extrusion lines will be able to handle orders of 1,000 pounds or less, Stu Swain said. Once the lines are installed next month — and two older lines are taken out — Chroma will have a total of 24 production lines.
“Chroma was built on supporting all facets of the packaging industry, and we will never forget that,” Stu Swain said in the release. “But we've been adding capabilities to better serve the consumer durables market over the last few years.
“This lab expansion and new equipment is the best investment to support our growth and activity in this market segment.”
The lab already had included a blown film line and a cast sheet line to support the flexible packaging market. Eight injection molding machines and a twin-screw extrusion line also were in place there. Recent new products for Chroma include biodegradable masterbatch concentrates, photoluminescent products and antimicrobials.
“We've seen a lot of interest in these new products because of our innovation and our approach to the market,” Swain said. Chroma, solely owned by the Swain family, does not disclose annual sales totals, but Swain said the firm expects double-digit sales growth for full-year 2011.
The company did not provide a cost estimate for the lab expansion and new production lines. The lab expansion took four months to complete and called for Chroma to reconfigure its 120,000-square-foot main building by knocking down a wall and removing a pair of offices.
The 44-year-old firm employs 115 and also operates a 30,000-square-foot warehouse on the same property. Swain said future expansions may call for Chroma to expand in McHenry.