Materials maker Teknor Apex Co. is heading to NPE 2015 with one of the biggest slates of new products seen in the firm's 91-year history.
Pawtucket, R.I.-based Teknor has launched eight new products based on bioplastics, colorants, thermoplastic elastomers and PVC since October and will have three more ready for NPE 2015. This year's company exhibit will be organized around key market sectors rather than specific divisions or product lines, officials said.
This format reflects the company's growing emphasis on being able to supply multiple compounds for a given application sector, and on serving as a single source for compounds based on diverse polymers, they added. According to officials, the phrase “polymer neutral approach” describes how the company's product line diversity and custom compounding expertise enables it to help customers find the right compound for the job.
New capstock compounds for fencing and decking are available after Teknor's early 2014 acquisition of compounder Viking Polymers of Jamestown, N.C. These capstocks can be based on PVC or polyolefins and are offered in colors ranging from basic outdoor white to very dark colors. New additives called “streakers” give a realistic wood-grain effect to the materials.
“The aesthetics of new decking has improved greatly,” building and construction industry manager John Macaluso said in a recent phone interview. “They don't look plasticky anymore.”
He added that polyolefin-based capstocks in particular are seeing strong growth in the current market. A lot of interest is coming from the renovation sector, according to Macaluso.
“There are some new homes being built with non-wood decks,” he said. “But there's more activity in home improvement, where a home owner would install a wood-plastic composite deck as an upgrade because of better performance and aesthetics.”
Capstocks also represent a new market opportunity for Teknor, since the firm didn't have much presence there and didn't compete with Viking very much in general. Macaluso said that adding Viking staff also has benefited Teknor. The firm is making the capstocks at Viking's plant in North Carolina as well as at Teknor locations.
Teknor also has made strides in improving its TekTuff-brand color concentrates. New grades of those materials have provided dart-impact performance two-thirds higher than previous versions, technical service associate Joe Allbritton said in a recent phone interview.
“We can do just about any color now,” he added. “And we can use them anywhere that impact strength needs to be improved.”
Loadings of colorants and additives for the new TekTuff materials can vary based on color and applicaton, according to Allbritton. Potential uses include molded products such as pails, trash cans and chairs.
Other new materials from Teknor include:
• New grades of Terraloy-brand bioplastic made using Pebax-brand thermoplastic elastomers from Arkema Inc. The two firms announced their collaboration in January. The new materials are expected to be used in breathable films for the housewrap market.
• Versions of Sarlink-brand thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) that offer higher flow and weight savings in automotive window encapsulations and other injection-molded auto sealing applications. The low-density Sarlink grades are based on styrenic block copolymers and, officials said, offer better performance vs. thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs).
• Improved Monprene-brand TPEs for consumer electronics provide enhanced functionality, vivid color and durability. They're being targeted at in-ear headphones, computer mice, fitness trackers, smart watches and similar products.
• Flexalloy-brand PVC compounds for cable jacketing in mining, oild drilling and other harsh environments. The new compounds provide the elasticity and low-temperature toughness of TPEs along with PVC benefits like flame retardancy.
• Medical-grade Apex SCR-brand PVC compounds that can compete with polycarbonate in clear medical components such as connectors and check valves. Officials said these grades have comparable strength and excellent clarity, while reducing or eliminating the stress cracking that often occurs in clear plastics at the interface with flexible PVC components such as tubing.
• New Apex-brand PVC compounds for auto exterior moldings and trim. These materials can be extruded into smooth, textured surfaces that stay blemish-free after prolonged outdoor exposure.
Teknor, founded in 1924, operates 13 plants worldwide and has annual sales of more than $600 million.