Compounder RheTech Inc. is finding success with its RheVision brand of bio-based compounds, and may add a new extrusion line at its plant in Whitmore Lake, Mich.
RheVision can use biowaste materials like pine and maple wood, rice hulls, coconut, flax and agave fibers, said strategic growth Vice President James Preston, at NPE in Orlando. Biowaste content can be as high as 50 percent, depending on the application, he said.
To date, RheVision has been centered on consumer applications such as dog-food dishes, bird feeders and fencing. Whitmore Lake-based RheTech is working to get the material into automotive applications as well.
The new line in Whitmore Lake would replace an older line that would be shut down, Preston said.
RheTech's plant in Blacksburg, S.C., is running well a year after opening its doors, he added. The plant specializes in compounding nylon, acetal and other engineering resins used in automotive under-hood parts, as well as in parts used in all-terrain vehicles and Sea-Doo water vehicles.
RheTech still does about 85 percent of its work in compounds based on polypropylene. The extreme price volatility of that material has been a challenge, Preston said. “It's an industrywide problem. You can't get a yearlong [pricing] contract — it's hard to even get one for a quarter,” he said.
Overall, RheTech saw sales growth of 20 percent in 2011 and should match that rate this year, he said. RheTech employs 150 and has sales of about $100 million. About 65 percent of its business is from automotive.