The suppliers’ showcase allowed many of the equipment, materials and services companies present at the PMA meeting to show their wares to attendees. Sarah Houlton reports
Many of suppliers showcasing their products were also keen to point out that business is going well, including Kent Grove, sales manager for hot cast in the eastern region for Polycoat.
His company supplies hot cast pre-polymers as well as cold cast room-temperature castables, plus sprayable polyurea for applications such as truck bed linings and the mining industry. ‘Business isn’t bad, and the processors out there seem to be a little more optimistic about 2017 compared to previous years,’ he said. ‘Business has picked up.’
Business is also good at machinery manufacturer Trico Poly Systems, having picked up a lot in the past year or so. ‘We are pretty busy,’ said engineer Joe Matos. ‘We have had a couple of upgrades to some of our machines for cast elastomers. It is modular, so customers can buy just what they need’ and a lot of clients still make up batches by hand, he added.’ Upgrades include pressure sensors and flowmeters on some of the equipment, as well as better temperature control.
Listen and modify
‘The metering pumps still work so we won’t change it just for the sake of it!’ he added. ‘We listen to customers about their problems and make modifications – customer feedback is very important. Some have old machines from the 1970s and we are still trying to support them.’
Charlie Neff, president of Friction Coating, which makes grinding products, explained that polyurethane is a relatively new material for his company, having added it to their offerings five years ago. ‘We grind the urethane after it is cast to achieve the right surface finish and dimensions,’ he said. ‘Our coatings are very aggressive, and they can remove material quickly, while achieving a smooth finish.’
The alternative, he said, is slower processing and a compromised surface finish. ‘Typically this is first done with an aggressive material followed by a fine coating to achieve the finish,’ he said. ‘Our patent-pending variable texture starts aggressive and as you move across the grinding wheel you get a fine texture, so the whole finish is achieved in one grind.’ The company had its best year yet in 2016, and 2017 is shaping up to be better, he said.
No shocks please
Isotec R&D chemist Olivia Cline described a new antistatic additive with altered resistivity that she is working on. ‘It’s still a work in progress,’ she said. ‘It could be applied to forklift tyres, rollers, casters, belts or anything else that spins where you don’t want to cause sparks.’
Business is also going well at colorant supplier Chromaflo, according to its thermoset business director Liz Campbell. ‘We are seeing new applications in urethane being developed to replace other materials such as steel and wood and, of course, rubber,’ she said. ‘It’s such an enabling technology, as you can make it as soft or as rigid as you want.’
A great selling point of cast polyurethane over rubber, she says, is that you can make it any colour you want. ‘Although we still sell a lot of black!’ she says. ‘I don’t know whether that’s just what people expect to see, but think how fun colourful tyres and door seals could be.’ After black, she says, blue is particularly popular, as are the other primary colours.
Another company where business is going well is additives manufacturer Velsicol, as senior vice president Sherman Friedman explained. ‘The urethanes market is very good,’ he said. ‘Demand is primarily for Velsiflex 342S, a lower hydroxyl and lower moisture benzoate plasticiser. Urethane technology is one of the fastest growing markets for us, and we are seeing both new customers and more demand.’