Argotec opens new headquarters, manufacturing operation

September 16, 2009
COMMERCIAL, FABRICATION

Bruce Wilby, president and chief executive officer of Greenfield, Mass.-based Argotec Inc., a producer of thermoplastic polyurethane optical interlayer film for the glass lamination industry, today unveiled the company’s new 95,000-square-foot world headquarters and state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, according to a Sept. 16 release.

The addition of this new facility on Silvio O. Conte Drive increases the company’s total operation at the Greenfield Industrial Park to more than 150,000 square feet. “The new plant provides not only increased capacity and improved quality for existing customers, but also permits us additional flexibility to explore new markets and applications,” Wilby said in the release. “It will create greater efficiencies throughout our entire production process, letting us focus more of our resources on research and development.”

Argotec’s new plant will house 11 extrusion lines, two blown film and nine flat-die. Seven of the flat-die lines are used for aliphatic TPU film production and will be housed in an 8,000-square-foot hard walled clean room, with each individual extrusion line additionally enclosed in its own Class 10,000 soft-walled clean room environment, according to the release. While producing custom-engineered urethane film and sheet for the medical, textile lamination and graphics markets, much of the production from these extrusion lines will be used as optical interlayer films for bonding glass and polycarbonate into high-strength, impact-resistant, laminated glass composites, as well as for automotive paint protection films.

All seven extruders and the raw resin handling equipment are positioned outside the clean room, with only the final heated polymer passing through the wall to the flat die and winding apparatus. “Add to that the clean room operator certification program each of our personnel must complete, the separate changing rooms and gowning requirements we’ve instituted, and the interlocking entrance and exit doors to guarantee no one enters the clean room until the first of the two doors is securely shut behind them,” Wilby said in the release, “and the net result is exceptionally clean product.” Even finished rolls must first be wrapped inside the clean room on the extruder before they can be moved through a controlled containment exit system to finally be boxed for shipment to the customer.

The company also invested in cutting edge, digital, in-line gauge measuring systems that allow the operator to make real-time thickness adjustments to maintain exacting customer specifications. Another quality assurance advance was the purchase of computerized photographic inspection systems for each individual flat-die extrusion line. “These custom-designed cameras scan and analyze 100 percent of the film being extruded,” Wilby said in the release. “They are able to detect and document pin holes, voids, gels, wrinkles, streaks, and dark or light contaminants as small as three-tenths of a millimeter, again ensuring our customers receive the highest quality film & sheet possible. “

To support its new facility, the company will convert its Greenfield Street plant to raw material and finished goods storage. It also will rededicate its Adams Road operation as a stand-alone research and development center with its own, dedicated technical staff. The urethane film industry’s first-of-its-kind facility is named the Argotec Innovation Center. Its purpose will be to develop improved urethane films and processes, both for Argotec and its customers, according to the release.

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