REP International S.A.S. has made an acquisition in the last month that gives it the resources and ability to devulcanize rubber scraps to reintroduce them into the production chain.
The Lyon-Corbas, France-headquartered rubber injection and compression molding machine maker purchased the devulcanization center Watson Brown HSM Berlin. It also acquired patented HSM devulcanization technology on an exclusive rights basis to expand its capabilities, according to Tim Graham, president of REP Corp., the U.S. subsidiary of REP, based in Bartlett, Ill.
Equipped with an operational devulcanization line and a test laboratory operated by a crew of six, the center "allows us to diversify with new business," said Stephane Demin, market development director for the parent company.
Graham said the acquired operation will become REP's seventh subsidiary globally.
REP had built up a technical and commercial partnership with Watson Brown HSM to devulcanize rubber scraps and reintroduce them into the production chain. After testing, it was determined the process worked, the two officials said at the ACS Rubber Division's International Elastomer Conference Oct. 7-10 in Cleveland.
The company has developed HSM machines for compounders and rubber processors that will tie in with the devulcanization service, Graham said.
He said Watson Brown developed a patent for devulcanizing cured rubber. Controlling the strain applied to the compound by an HSM machine causes the rubber scrap to be devulcanized by preserving properties that are very close to the initial compound, he said.
The acquired patented HSM devulcanization process applies to any kind of uncontaminated rubber production waste, according to Graham and Demin. Once the compound is devulcanized, it is reintegrated into a basic compound.
Basically, they said, REP takes the scrap, slices it up into small pieces, puts the scrap in a two-liter HSM machine or a 20-liter industrial-sized machine—both made by REP—completes the process cycle and puts the material through a mill to turn the scrap into sheets.
It's a green process, and no chemical additives or modification of the recipe content are involved, they said. "We control the heat of the compound so we don't damage it," Demin said
He said the laboratory at the newly acquired facility can run rests on samples of compounds from customers to validate the process before running industrial HSM tests. The center can serve all customers who want to reintegrate their scraps back into production and eliminate disposal costs, the officials said.
REP can work with virtually any compound, including rubber, butyl, EPDM and a number of others, Graham said.
REP has been diversifying, Graham said, "adding technology for molds for any customers, not just REP customers, that have a need." And that has helped the company grow, he said.
The firm also has come out with the G10, the 10th generation of the firm's injection molding machines. It combines a new design and improved injection technology for optimum efficiency and productivity, Demin said.
He said it offers easy maintenance, high reliability, high opening stroke and high speed, along with optimized stiffness for mold closing and sealing quality. It requires reduced floor space, has an extruder inlet accessible from the ground level, and has side and rear windows for better visibility, he said.