WINONA, MINN., USA — PlastiComp, Inc. has successfully compounded long- and short-carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics using their Pushtrusion® direct in-line compounding technology. Early developments have focused on levels of 15-25% by weight reinforcement of PBT and thermoplastic Urethane with planned experiments continuing with PPS, PA, and other engineering thermoplastics. Both structural and conductive, PBT compounds with 20 weight% carbon fiber exhibit tensile strengths of 25,000 psi and surface conductivity ranges comparable to parts molded with pre-compounded pellets.
With direct compounding, the new price and performance advantages inherent with these materials may create new opportunities where market pricing previously discouraged their application. Converters are already practicing direct compounding of glass fibers which enables sophisticated molders an opportunity to reduce their material costs by as much as 30% compared to pre-compounded long fiber reinforced pellets. Now, with the advancement of the technology to include carbon fiber, the effect on material costs may be significant since these pre-compounded long fiber pellets may cost as much as $5 to $25 per pound. When converters are saving 30% on these costs, the return on a technology investment is very attractive.
Two commercial platforms for Pushtrusion Direct In-Line Compounding technology were unveiled at NPE 2006; as an original equipment option on new molding machines and as a portable unit that can easily be retrofit to an existing molding machine.
Engel Machinery (Guelph, Ontario Canada) will make Pushtrusion technology available as an option on their “Combi” series injection molding machines. These introductory machines are based upon the 300 ton press and may include the added advantage of injection compression. The Engel “plug and play” integration of Pushtrusion technology enables molders with flexibility to choose between pre-compounded pellets and direct in-line compounding on the same machine.
MGS Mfg. Group (Germantown, Wisconsin) has developed portable Pushtrusion units that can easily connect to an installed injection machine for added versatility of an existing asset. These portable, self contained Pushtrusion compounding units may be designed to include a range of shot sizes from 3 – 160 ounces. Pushtrusion equipment is suitable for retrofit to injection molding machines, profile extrusion processes, and as a material delivery device for compression molding.
“We project a very large market potential for Pushtrusion, and we are confident that our customers will appreciate the flexibility to choose between either of these platforms to best suit their circumstances and business practices” says Steve Bowen, President and CEO of PlastiComp. Pushtrusion is a simple and affordable technology to compound fibers with polymers. During the part forming process this new approach substantially reduces the barriers that historically may have excluded processors from adopting in–line compounding systems due to high capital expense and process complexity.
Pushtrusion is capable of producing either long or short fiber reinforced compounds and is certain to disrupt the traditional supply chain of pre-compounded pellet sales to processors. Aided by technology and reduced material costs, processors are in a unique position to compete for new business with a new set of tools. “Giving processors an opportunity to leverage technology to change how they compete and profit in their markets provides great satisfaction to our team” says Eric Wollan, Pushtrusion Product Manager.
PlastiComp, Inc. focuses on developing and providing long fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite technologies to partners worldwide. These include ready-to-process reinforced long fiber thermoplastic (LFT) pelletized compounds, along with process development and manufacturing equipment licensing for LFT pultrusion, in-line direct long fiber thermoplastic (D-LFT) Pushtrusion®, and in-line direct glass mat thermoplastic (D-GMT®) technologies. PlastiComp’s injection moldable Complēt® LFT composite compounds are available as standard and custom formulations that combine long glass, carbon, and other specialty fiber reinforcement with thermoplastic polymers from polypropylene to PEEK.