ATLANTA — French industrial minerals giant Imerys SA is targeting the U.S. sheet and thermoforming markets with its new lightweight, low-density sheet.
Imerys officials debuted the sheet, and also talked about the company's recycled polyolefin technology, at the company's first-ever booth at the Society of Plastics Engineers Thermoforming Conference in Atlanta.
“Just recently we've developed a patented technology to make lightweight sheet,” said Dan Moldovan, technical service manager for Imerys' North American business of performance minerals and talc, based at the Imerys Filtration Minerals in San Jose, Calif.
The density of the sheet is between 20 to 30 percent less than traditional sheet, depending on the material, according to Imerys. That gives it an advantage in “lightweighting for automotive, trucks, anywhere in transportation,” Moldovan said.
Imerys worked with the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa., to validate the low-density sheet, he said.
Moldovan said the technology produces a non-directional sheet, an improvement over typical sheet that gets built-up stress from flow which can result in shrinkage and warping.
Moldovan said Imerys makes the sheet in the Midwestern United States, but he declined to give details.
Imerys had a booth at the Thermoforming Conference to attract sheet extruders and thermoformers.
The company's other innovation for plastics is called ImerPlast — 100 percent recycled polyolefins in pellet form. ImerPlast uses chemistry developed by Imerys.
“Our product is different than most other recycled plastics, because we reformulate our product,” Moldovan said. “In a recycled stream, there's usually, for the polyolefins, both polypropylene and polyethylene. You can't get a 100-percent pure stream,” he said. “So we have a patented compatibilizer, which helps to compatibilize the PP and the PE. We sort-of upgrade the recycled stream to make it similar to a virgin stream.”
Imerys markets ImerPlast pellets to extruded sheet and thermoforming applications such as plastic planting trays, totes, dunnage containers, cargo liners, truck bedliners and stormwater management products. The company also markets the recycled plastic to injection molding, blow molding and corrugated PE pipe.
In the United States, Imerys has targeted thermoform sheet for its recycled material, which the company makes in Europe.
“We want to sell pellets to the sheet guys, and they can use it at 100 percent, or blend it into their current polyethylene,” Moldovan said.