PlastiComp opens long-fiber composite thermoplastic lab

In addition to development of new products, the lab will also provide contract research and development services for industry partners.

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PlastiComp Inc. (Winona, Minnesota) reports that it has completed a capital improvement project at its Winona manufacturing and corporate headquarters facility, which moved its research and development functions into a dedicated laboratory space.

Dubbed the Da Vinci R&D Lab by the company in honor of famed renaissance inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci, the project provides an isolated environment for the firms’ smaller long-fiber thermoplastic (LFT) composite pellet pultrusion line and auxiliary equipment for conducting evaluations of new raw material feedstocks and processing enhancements.

“PlastiComp is one of the few long fiber compounders actively engaged in advancing long fiber technology into new markets and applications instead of just producing commodity long glass fiber polypropylene products,” says Steve Bowen, president and CEO at PlastiComp. “Our new Da Vinci Lab provides the ideal environment for PlastiComp to evaluate different fiber and polymer combinations as well as try out new processing techniques to assess their effect on material performance.”

In addition to custom engineering, the performance of LFT materials to meet customer specific application requirements, PlastiComp also performs contract research and development work for industry suppliers and partners seeking to adapt LFT technology.

“Our many industry partners really like the plant-within-a-plant concept the new lab offers because it provides a secure environment for our Technical Development Center activities in which we can conduct confidential trials separate from our primary production operations,” says Eric Wollan, vice president of technology and business development at PlastiComp. “Plus, it has opened up valuable floor space for future expansion that will allow PlastiComp to quickly add more composite pellet pultrusion lines as our business continues to grow.”

PlastiComp’s portfolio of Complēt composite pellet products incorporate long glass, carbon, and specialty fibers into thermoplastic polymers ranging from polypropylene to PEEK. PlastiComp’s expertise is tailored development and manufacturing of LFTs using engineering resins, often in tandem with long carbon fiber reinforcement. Available globally, their LFT composite pellets are formed into finished components by customers via injection molding or profile extrusion processing methods.

LFTs are desirable for their high strength and toughness properties – qualities that cannot be obtained together using other methods of reinforcing plastics. They provide a lightweight, easier to manufacture alternative to metals and are widely used in transportation, aerospace, defense, sporting goods, industrial equipment, and consumer goods market segment applications.