Urethane International L.L.C. has launched a program to create a nationwide network of about 500 dealers to handle its recently patented polyurethane foam flatproof material and machines.
The company also added machinery at its Rome plant to increase its production capability, allowing it to handle new business created with the introduction of the foam, which is used in tires. In addition, the firm is marketing its flatproofed tire/wheel assemblies under the trade name Flatproof Tires.
Urethane International now is equipped to fill large quantities of tires-up to 1 million per year-at the plant for makers of off-the-road wheeled equipment, President and CEO Joseph P. Danules said.
Interest has been high in the foam-filled tires, he said, and once dealers are set up with the firm's recently developed portable machines-called Flatproofing Stations-he expects it to grow significantly.
Flatproofing Stations inject tires with polyurethane Superlite Safety Foam Fill, which prevents them from going flat, Danules said. The proprietary foam is formulated for Urethane International by Textile Rubber & Chemical Co. of Dalton, Ga., under license from Amerityre Corp. of Boulder City, Nev.
If the nationwide program is successful-and based on the interest demonstrated so far, Danules said he believes it will be-the firm will expand the project globally.
Urethane International's machines are aimed primarily at tires used on vehicles that don't exceed 25 miles per hour. That includes lawn mowers and tractors, wheelchairs, bicycles, wheelbarrows, construction vehicles and similar machines, according to Danules.
The urethane foam is about a third of the weight of other tire fillings, such as those used in construction equipment, he said, making it possible to use the fill in smaller tires.
Danules decided to develop and produce the machines when the owner of another Rome-based company suggested a lightweight foam fill was needed. That firm makes wheel-tire mounts for off-the-road vehicles and fills tires with traditional heavy filling to prevent flats-a method that can't be used in numerous applications.
The heavy fill consists of polyurethane and oil that's mixed and cured for 24 hours. It weighs about 65 pounds per cubic foot.
``We developed a lightweight pure polyurethane fill with no oil,'' Danules said. ``It's great for the environment and weighs only 18 pounds per cubic foot. It's poured in as a liquid and foams up.''
With the newly acquired machinery in place, the company is equipped to fill a large number of tires at its Rome plant.
The executive said that by supplying and setting up dealers nationwide with the firm's portable equipment, the technology will become readily available to all users. He expects to hit the 500-dealer mark in three years.
Urethane International has contracts with lift and construction equipment manufacturers, Danules said. It also has an agreement to fill tires for all equipment produced for Home Depot Inc.'s tool rental division in the U.S.