New thermoplastics facility opens in Colorado

Thermoplastic composites specialist Polystrand will begin production on Sept. 1 at its new 120,000-sq-ft manufacturing facility near Denver, Colo., USA.

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Thermoplastic composites specialist Polystrand Inc. (Denver, Colo.) has started production at its new state-of-the-art facility south of Denver in Douglas County, Colo. In June last year, the company announced plans to build a new 120,000-ft2 (11,148m2) facility and expand its manufacturing operations from Montrose, Colo., to be closer to a major transportation hub. Mike Gordon, Polystrand CEO, says the move will support growth. “We need room to expand and the new facility is more than double the size of our existing plants in Montrose,” says Gordon. “Easy access to a major rail line and transcontinental highways will facilitate shipments of raw materials and finished products. Being close to Denver International Airport will also make it easier for customers to visit Polystrand as we work on development projects.” Gordon Holdings Inc., the parent company of Polystrand, will relocate its corporate headquarters to the Douglas County facility while maintaining operations in Montrose for its subsidiary Gordon Composites Inc. and its InnoVoc Solutions division.

Ed Pilpel, Polystrand president, says the new plant is “the largest facility of its kind in the world. It is the most technologically advanced, state-of-the-art production facility for continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites.”

Polystrand produces continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites in the form of tapes, rolls, sheets, laminates and preformed inserts. Its standard 12.5-inch and 25-inch (317.5-mm and 635-mm) wide tapes can be laminated to form sheets and panels up to 10.5 ft/3.2m wide. The new facility reportedly will enable Polystrand to produce, eventually, up to 100 million lb/45.36 million kg of reinforced thermoplastic sheet material annually.

Polystrand reinforcing tape is made in a proprietary process that impregnates continuous fiber with a thermoplastic resin. The reinforcement has been made with a variety of polymer materials, including recycled content. Polystrand tapes generally range from 60 to 80 percent continuous fibers by weight and 20 to 40 percent thermoplastic resin, a high fiber-to-resin ratio that is very difficult to achieve with traditional thermoplastic composite fabrication processes. Fabricators using the material avoid problems with styrene and volatile organic compounds, and they can grow their businesses under existing environmental permits while minimizing waste, increasing productivity and competing with steel and aluminum for strength and recyclability, says Pilpel. He adds that the operation in Douglas County will be a zero-waste facility.

The company’s products provide structural reinforcement to the transportation, aerospace, automotive, military/ballistic and other industries. End-use applications include transportation liners, aerodynamic components, threat-resistant armor and structural composite panels. CT has followed the new facility’s build out since groundbreaking; see “Taking the gamble: Betting on material markets.”