Pennsylvania College of Technology's Plastics Innovation & Resource Center is working with Highwood USA, of Tamaqua, to develop a stronger, more heat-resistant synthetic wood resin material.
Highwood USA manufactures and markets a line of extruded synthetic wood products. The company is interested in modifying the physical properties of specific plastic resin to increase its heat and impact resistance.
Supported by $29,094 in funding from Highwood and Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania, the Plastics Innovation & Resource Center at Penn College will identify additives and compounding methods to accomplish this goal.
The center will produce, test and evaluate lab-scale samples of several formulations to confirm the new materials meet Highwood's requirements. A quantity of 200 pounds of one or two of the materials will then be produced in PIRC's lab for use in a production trial at Highwood.
The synthetic-wood products markets are growing, with a number of structural and aesthetic applications in the construction, furniture, blinds and spa market sectors. Highwood anticipates that, as a result of the project, new and improved products will be developed that will exhibit higher heat distortion temperature, as well as impact resistance.
These product improvements are expected to help Highwood address a greater portion of the marketplace and increase sales volume by 18 percent.
Penn College's Plastics Innovation & Resource Center is one of the top plastics-technology centers in the country, offering industry access to extensive material-testing laboratories, industrial-scale process equipment, world-class training facilities and highly skilled consulting staff.
The PIRC includes the Thermoforming Center of Excellence and Rotational Molding Center of Excellence and provides opportunities for students in Penn College's plastics and polymer technology degree programs to gain hands-on experience and interact with industry.