Tailored TPEs Help Auto Supplier Meet Customer Needs
STAR, a leading producer of soft thermoplastic elastomers, helped a Colorado automotive parts supplier find the ideal TPE for their automobile customer.
Broadview, IL (I-Newswire) September 27, 2012 - STAR THERMOPLASTIC ALLOYS & RUBBERS, INC. STEPS IN TO PROVIDE TAILORED TPEs WHEN OTHER FIRMS DROP LINES OR COULDN’T MEET SPECS
Helps Altratek, a Colorado Custom Molder, Find Material Solutions
That Others Wouldn’t/Couldn’t Offer
LONGMONT, CO – The ongoing popularity of thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) has seen many TPE producers make moves that are, at least in part, detrimental to manufacturers or marketers whose products need more than off-the-shelf grades of TPEs.
These TPE users are adversely affected by actions and trends by TPE producers that include:
• company buyouts, mergers and consolidations where bigger isn’t necessarily better, desired or advantageous to manufacturers whose products need TPEs,
• moves by TPE producers to increase profits or trim overhead by dropping selected lines where margins, or smaller orders, are unprofitable, or
• cutting back on R & D/lab services, offering and hoping that off-the-shelf products will suffice.
As a result, TPE processors and marketers whose products need finely-tuned TPEs are becoming increasingly frustrated. However, at least one large, established TPE producer is bucking these trends, seeing these voids in the marketplace and using this as an opportunity to grow sales, and better serve the needs of their and other TPE customers.
Privately-owned Star Thermoplastic Alloys & Rubbers, Inc., founded in 1993, in Broadview, IL (a Chicago suburb) has not only increased their product lines (4100+ formulations in their portfolio), but has also recently bolstered their laboratory/custom TPE development services. As a result, they have seen sales grow over the past 12 months by 50%. Based on this, they forecast additional growth in 2012 by another 25% to 30%.
By way of background, several years ago, Altratek began producing small, strain relief, bellows-like grommets for door lock assemblies for the Big 3 U.S auto manufacturers. Installed in car doors and slipped over a mechanical cable/rod assembly, these parts from Altratek perform two functions: one, to eliminate rattles and two, enable the locking assembly to snap back after activation.
Market demands called for as many as 5 million of these small parts per year from this Colorado custom molder. A single-cavity prototype mold was designed and built by Altratek in their tool shop to make the parts out of a TPV (thermoplastic vulcanizate) to replace an existing EPDM (rubber) mold.
According to Bill Kalfas, Altratek’s Quality Manufacturing Engineer, the EPDM part processed too slowly, and with the process bringing on all the attendant other problems making parts out of rubber, too expensive. Altratek then looked at TPVs (thermoplastic vulcanizates) from a leading U.S. producer, but found the cost for the material too expensive. In addition, because of reductions in this supplier’s lab/technical support, they were unable to create or tweak a workable material for the Altratek products.
Look for Another Supplier
Kalfas and his team then looked at other options, and found a solution with another leading TPE supplier. However, this supplier and this resource was short- lived in that this leading company decided to reduce its product line, and literally pulled the plug on the material. One last very large material buy was negotiated to find time for a replacement.
At this time, through the local STAR representative in Denver who had previously sold Altratek a leading TPV, he turned to Star to develop a material that was both moldable and met the necessary price point and ASTM specs. According to Altratek officials, literally ‘teams’ from Star came to the molder’s Longmont, CO plant to determine their needs and find them an answer. After several prototype materials were developed and tried, one material provided the ideal solution.
But, soon after Altratek began running this material, an existing problem with cold weather functionality that had been a challenge with the past materials was coming to a head with the firm’s customer. This was a problem neither the old material nor a new one from STAR was able to meet. So again, STAR personnel worked to find a new material that could meet the cold weather functional test requirement to remain flexible at – 40 degrees F. After several tries and prototypes, STAR came through again, and their new TPE passed.
It should be noted, say Altratek officials, that STAR once again had to compete for this business, in that Altratek put out feelers, calling for samples from 6-7 TPE suppliers. According to the Altratek President, “Only STAR was able to tweak the TPE to make it work meet both our, and our customer’s, expectations. STAR President, Tom Dieschbourg, along with Prakash Sanjeevaiah, PhD., STAR’s Manager, R&D, came to our facility as many as four times to ensure the material ran properly.
With the new STAR material running on the firm’s 110 Toyo press and 8-cavity hot runner mold, the small parts benefitted from the various properties of the special Star TPE formulation which include:
• Lower cost than EPDM
• Lower cost per pound than TPE grades quoted by other producers
• Automated mold release in a lights out environment
• No drying of the TPE before molding
• The TPE flows well into the mold cavities
• Materials meet all ASTM specifications by the automotive industry
• The Star TPE remains flexible over a wide range of temperatures – from desert heat all the way down to -40 degrees F. This requirement wasn’t an original request, but was added later.
About the Molder and the TPE Provider
Altratek Plastics, Inc. is a privately held firm currently celebrating their 20th year in business. Their multiple production lines are comprised of 9 Toyo injection molding presses from 55 to 400 tons. This Colorado-based custom molder offers a unique selling proposition and earned reputation for a complete package that encompasses good design, mold building and quality final molding. Information on the molder can be obtained by contacting: Altratek Plastics, Inc., 105 Gay Street, Longmont, CO 80501. Tel: 303-776-9722. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web: www.altratek.com.
STAR Thermoplastic Alloys & Rubbers, Inc., founded in 1993, is a leading provider of thermoplastic elastomers with many production lines to fill both large and small orders, a full-service rheological and analytical instrumentation laboratory and trained sales and technical support personnel across the continent. Company products are sold under the trade names Starflex, StarMed, StarBond, StarClear, StarPrene, StarPet, StarLexar, StarTuff, StarXtrude and StarGrip-X. With its newly enhanced rheological and analytical instrumentation laboratories, Star offers innovative TPE or TPV technology with improved formulations, and at better prices.
For more information on company TPE products and services, contact Star Thermoplastic Alloys & Rubbers, Inc., 2121 W. 21st Street, Broadview, IL 60155. Tel: 708-343-1100. Fax: 708-343-1110. Email: email@example.com. Web: www.starthermoplastics.com.
About Star Thermoplastic Alloys & Rubbers, Inc. (STAR)
Leading supplier of thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs)Less..
Star Thermoplastic Alloys & Rubbers, Inc. (STAR)
Martin Pottle, for STAR at
2121 West 21st Street
Phone : 708-343-1100
Published On:September 27, 2012
Print Release:Print Release
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