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Thermwood

PlastiComp and GaMra Develop Pushtrusion Process

08 January 2004

PlastiComp and GaMra Composites have announced a business alliance to develop profile extrusions based on the patented Pushtrusion Direct In-Line thermoplastics compounding process.

PlastiComp is the exclusive global sales and marketing company for Pushtrusion technology. GaMra, a profile extrusion company, is focusing on the development of new applications and technologies based on thermoplastics composite materials. Through their application development alliance, PlastiComp will supply Pushtrusion technology and know-how, while GaMra will contribute extrusion manufacturing expertise, and market access to the extruded profile markets.

In forming the alliance, Steve Bowen, president of PlastiComp, and Greg Mitsch and Mike May, principals of GaMra, renew old acquaintances. Before striking out on their own with GaMra, Mitsch and May purchased thermoplastics materials from Bowen’s former employer, Polymer Composites, Inc. “Greg and Mike know the strengths and weaknesses of reinforced thermoplastics, how to process them, as well as potential markets. They share a vision of what can be achieved with this technology,” said Bowen. “We have always believed there is significant opportunity for reinforced thermoplastics in profile extrusion. We formed GaMra a little over three years ago to focus on new materials and technologies like these. This is just what we need to step ahead of the market,” said Mitsch.

“Pushtrusion should also allow the use of more amorphous resins, such as PVC,” explained PlastiComp’s Bowen. “In the past, it was difficult to wet out fiber with PVC, since the material can degrade in the traditional compounding process. With Pushtrusion, the polymer is melted and pushed through the process very quickly.”

The Pushtrusion process pulls glass fibers from a supply creel, combines the reinforcing fibers with the molten polymer under high pressure and pushes the compound through a patented strand cutter, and then on to the injection, or extrusion, screw in one continuous process. The polymer is maintained in the melt-phase throughout the process, eliminating material degradation and reducing wear on screws and barrels from re-melting pellets.

GaMra President Mitsch is impressed with the advantages that direct in-line compounding can bring to profile extrusion. “The Pushtrusion process is exactly what’s needed to bring the cost of reinforced thermoplastics in line with more traditional materials,” said Mitsch. “This technology has the opportunity to bring prices down in line with rigid PVC,” he continued. GaMra Vice President May adds that the increased structural properties are also a plus. “With 50 percent glass loading, we should see flexural modulus numbers about three times that of PVC, and 2 times the tensile strength. The CTE is less than 1 X 10-5 and with some resins the heat deflection temperatures will more than double,” May said.

“We think there are several markets with an immediate need for these types of cost/performance products, including construction, transportation, fluid handling and many more,” said Mitsch. “This technology could also be utilized to increase stiffness and other properties of some of the wood-filled polymers being marketed today at a very low cost. We all agree that growth of the market for these types of materials benefits all the participants, and we’re open to ways this can be best accomplished.”

“This is growth of plastics in the marketplace, rather than stealing share from someone else,” noted Bowen. “It’s just starting to get fun,” he concluded.






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