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German LFT pultrusion equipment supplier acquired

ProTec Polymer Processing has taken over PolymersNet GmbH (Lampertheim, Germany), a specialized manufacturer of systems for production of long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics (LFT) using the pultrusion technology.

ProTec, a company that previously distributed these systems exclusively as a sales partner, has acquired PolymersNet assets including patents, technology experts and the supply chain. Also included is an LFT production line that had been used up until now for process and material developments and for specific customer trials in Lampertheim. This facility will now be relocated to a specially designed technical center at the ProTec headquarters in Bensheim, Germany, where it will also be upgraded and extended.

LFT system technology from ProTec produces high-grade long-fiber reinforced pellets with varied polymer matrices and types of fiber reinforcement by using pultrusion Technology. Picture: ProTec Polymer Processing

"The takeover of PolymersNet allows us to integrate the entire LFT process chain and know-how at a single location. We can provide customized solutions flexibility and the ability to make quick decisions, while the time required to bring product and process developments to market maturity will be reduced. This will benefit both current and future customers, to whom we can supply high-performance technology at a competitive price," explains ProTec's Managing Director Peter Theobald. In parallel to the further development of processes and products, the LFT system at the Bensheim technical center will also be made available for customer-specific trials.

"To ensure an ideal infrastructure for this purpose, the new system will be equipped with a twin-screw extruder of the latest design. The control system will also feature fully automated operation of all process steps," adds Theobald. The modernized LFT production line in Bensheim will start operation by mid-August.

LFT pultrusion lines are customized for the cost-effective production of thermoplastic compounds in which the reinforcing fibers retain the same length as the pellet dimension itself. Long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics with fiber lengths (pellet lengths) of 7 mm to 25 mm are the conventional industry standard.

The fiber strands - made of either glass or carbon fibers - are isolated to create filaments that are then uniformly coated (impregnated) with the polymer melt in the impregnation die. After the melt solidication (cooling) process, the fiber-polymer strands are then pelletized. Fiber content of up to 60 percent by weight and plant sizes with throughputs of up to 1,200 kg/hour can presently be realized.

Long-fiber reinforced thermoplastic parts produced on injection molding machines exhibit high-strength, are lightweight, and also offer excellent surface appearance. ProTec system technology is designed for the production of a broad range of materials with different types of fiber reinforcement and very diverse polymer matrices. The technology has now developed to the stage where it can also be used to produce LFTs based on carbon-fiber-reinforced PP in a stable manner. This material combination was previously considered extremely difficult or impossible to produce.

ProTec Polymer Processing GmbH based in Bensheim, Germany, has been a partner to plastics processing and manufacturing companies for many years. The company's portfolio encompasses systems for efficient handling of plastics, turn-key systems for solid-state-post-condensation of plastics, recycling plants as well as complete systems for producing long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics (LFT pultrusion lines). As a member of the Schoeller Group, ProTec Polymer Processing has access to a global sales and service network.

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