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Chinaplas report: Milacron, partners expand China WPC presence

Guangzhou — Milacron’s (Cincinnati, OH) extrusion unit will accelerate plans to expand its wood-polymer composite (WPC) presence in China, opening a Shanghai demonstration facility in cooperation with partners Conair (Pittsburgh), O.A. Newton (Bridgeville, DE), and Rapid (Rockford, IL) and launching a “plug-and-play” WPC turnkey line, which features upstream bulk material mixing, agglomeration, and drying machinery, as well as downstream haul off, cutting, and packaging. “In China there’s a lot of interest in building materials,” Herb Hutchison, director international business development for Milacron, explained at his company’s Chinaplas stand. “Lumber is costly here if it’s not bamboo.”
The 55-mm TC 86 conical twin-screw extruder at Milacron’s show stand was destined for its 500-sq-m showroom space at the new facility, but sold before it could be installed. Milacron will install another extrusion demo line by June, with plans for a September open house. In addition to Milacron, the new plant will have space for size-reduction supplier, Rapid, as well as Conair, which is partnering with Milacron on the plug-and-play for downstream extrusion and material drying. O.A. Newton will bring weighing and mixing equipment to the alliance. The system is available with throughputs ranging from 1 to 2 tonnes/hr and six listed configurations, applying Milacron’s TC86, -80, and -96 twin-screw conical extruders. The extruders can save multiple material formulations and offer a material residence time of 2 hours, with one or two lines reaching the economy of scale of a six-line system, according to Hutchison, allowing medium-sized or startup processors to enter the expanding market, with lower initial capital investment.
Milacron, which has aggressively gone after international sales following cessation of a non-compete agreement with Cincinnati Extrusion of Vienna, established a sales/service office in Shanghai in January 2006, managed by Werner Liu. Hutchison said the company plans to add aftermarket screw and barrel sales there, with the possibility for some extruder manufacture and assembly in China by 2008, with a “skeleton” sourced in China and higher tech items brought in from abroad. Hutchison says Milacron has 300 WPC lines installed globally, with high interest generated in China.
Auxiliary supplier Conair began manufacturing in China in March at the 2500-sq-m shared plant, with plans for an August grand opening of its own. Right now the business has 80 employees focused on the company’s four “core” material-handling products, emphasizing sales in China, Southeast Asia, Korea, and India, according to Richard Shaffer, Conair’s director of engineering and technology, and Jack Chen, operational manager for Conair Shanghai Manufacturing Co. in the Songjiang Industrial park. Conair’s presence in the region goes back some time, with three existing offices in China, a Singapore branch that opened in 1985, and a Taiwan office that started up in 1998.—[email protected]
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