When it comes to building and construction, one material that leaps to mind is vinyl, for more than 20 years now a staple of homes, buildings, and construction. Although vinyl is predominantly extruded in the form of siding and other long profiles, injection molding opportunities are growing for it and several other materials.
For a perspective on the market, IMM called upon David Honeycutt, marketing communications manager at Geon Co. (Cleveland), a resin manufacturer that cares deeply about vinyl's success.
Honeycutt says molders looking for opportunities in this market should keep an eye open for applications for ancillary parts and components, such as endcaps, top pieces, and corners, particularly on fences, decks, windows, and doors. Molding such applications, he contends, is in its infancy and is available for the alert molder. "If anything," he says, "we're just getting into the nontraditional pushes."
He's also noticed increased customer- and building-code driven demand for energy efficient materials and designs. He notes that the coefficient of thermal expansion for many reinforced resins now, vinyl in particular, is comparable with aluminum. Many plastics also hold dimensions much better; this makes the metal a prime target, along with wood, for replacement. "Basically," Honeycutt says, "vinyl has grown at the expense of aluminum." Like most injection molding markets, he says, manufacturers want to save, save, save. "Everybody is looking for a way to take labor out in raw material savings," he says. For an example of this concept, see "Molded door parts hit the patio" on p. 68.
For molders reluctant to process historically easy-to-overheat, hard-to-push, unstable vinyl, have no fear. Honeycutt says that vinyl's made great strides since its infancy, and with a little education you could be one of the few molders on your block injecting the material. Honeycutt admits that molders will always contend with the potential corrosive characteristics of vinyl, but newer versions of the material flow much better; and with a lesson in temperature control and proper tool maintenance, corrosion can be avoided.
If you have access to a PC with a CD-ROM drive, Geon has a disk it would like to send you--for free. The disk is entitled "School of Performing Plastics," and it's packed with all the information you need to know about how to mold vinyl. For a copy, call Geon at (800) 438-4366.
|Molding Materials||Share of Market|
While extrusion may dominate building and construction applications, many types of products are injection molded. This table shows the usage of various materials by molders serving this market. Data is courtesy of the Plastic Buyer Profiles, compiled by Phillip Townsend and Associates (Houston).