POLYCON 2005 Highlights

ICPA's "last" cast polymer industry show its best.

POLYCON 2005, the trade show for the International Cast Polymer Assn. (ICPA) of the American Composites Manufacturers Assn. (ACMA) was held at the Nashville, Tenn. Convention Center, Feb. 16-18, 2005. New products were in abundance, and a New Product Review session allowed suppliers to showcase them for a large audience before the opening of the show floor.

AOC LLC (Collierville, Tenn.) introduced Vicast A540-SLC marble casting resin, featuring an adjustable gel time (10 to 40 minutes) and a low titanium pigment requirement.

Interplastic (St. Paul, Minn.) premiered Silmar SIL 94BA-2000, a dual-purpose "volume-enhanced resin" for marble/onyx casting, with a proprietary recipe that produces air bubbles when catalyzed, yielding a higher volume of resin with a lower total part weight.

Safas Corp. (Clifton, N.J.) introduced Safasil granite caulking compound and SafasBond acrylic bonding materials.

Gruber Systems Inc. (Valencia, Calif.) premiered a new automated casting machine, new chip colors for solid surface, and new molds for bath and kitchen applications.

R.J. Marshall (Southfield, Mich.) had new granite-effect colors and spray granite offerings on hand, while Kenrich Petrochemical (Bayonne, N.J.) presented Ken-React CP-03, a coupling agent that eliminates resin air bubbles, increases color stability and reduces exotherm, while controlling cure time. Roger Dilling of Marble Masters of Middle Georgia (Salem, Ga.) showed his software program for cast polymer management from order to final delivery, which interfaces with accounting software. TankSafe Inc. (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) described its bulk resin storage systems, with dual containment features. EFKA Additives (Newport, Del.) touted EFKA 8400, an additive for SMC and BMC systems that eliminates separation effects and yields better surface properties. And Ashland Composite Polymers (Columbus, Ohio) showcased a new Maxguard CG-SG-0010 clear gel coat for spray granite products, designed for very high clarity for maximum chip visibility.

Among the standouts on the exhibit floor were the following:

BYK-Chemie (Wesel, Germany) introduced BYK-W 909 wetting/dispersing agent, designed for cultured material (marble, onyx and granite), solid surface and polyester concrete applications. In high doses, the additive reportedly reduces resin viscosity, enabling better wet-out and, consequently, allowing users to increase the filler-to-resin ratio, reducing resin use. In lower doses, it improves filler wet-out, enhances flow and leveling and helps with de-aeration.

CRG Industries LLC (Dayton, Ohio) spotlighted Veriflex, a two-part, fully formable thermoset shape-memory polymer (SMP) resin system. Used to make molds for the cast polymer industry, it changes from a rigid polymer to a very elastic state when heated above its activation temperature. The material hardens and maintains its shape until heated above its activation temperature, a process that can be repeated without loss of the memory shape or material degradation.

Also on display were two new, automated washing systems designed to ease post-casting operation cleanup. MARBLECLEAN from CCP - Cook Composites and Polymers (Kansas City, Mo.) and Marble-Matic supplied by Superior Fiberglass & Resins (Indianapolis, Ind.) reportedly eliminate labor-intensive hand washing of resin mixing pots and other tools used to manufacture cultured marble and solid surface products. Each uses a safe, nonhazardous, nonflammable cleaner.

Caddo Paint (Shreveport, La.) manufactures liquid and dry pigments that enable custom fabricators of sinks, vanities and other bath fixtures to match colors of bath/kitchen fixtures made by leading manufacturers (American Standard, Eljer, Universal Rundell and Kohler).

The compact but well-attended show was the last standalone POLYCON event. Future ICPA gatherings will become part of ACMA's annual Composites trade show, beginning in 2006 — a move that most attendees and exhibitors viewed as positive.