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Finite Fiber's Varamix finding niche with customers

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Varamix is used to reinforce rubber compounds

Finite Fiber L.L.C.'s Varamix, which reinforces rubber compounds with fiber, is gaining acceptance in the market, company officials said at the International Elastomer Conference in Cleveland.

"Feedback has been excellent," said Todd Johnson, vice president of sales for the Akron-based company, which showcased the material at the firm's booth. "There is a lot of interest in our product. There are some commercial applications now, but we expect the growth of the product to be very good."

The rubber industry is the primary market for Varamix, but Johnson said any polymer-bound product potentially could have an application for the material.

The company said the dry, aramid-based blend of fiber has superior strength, abrasion and thermal properties. Partitioning agents and a unique blending technology reduce the tendency of the aramid to clump, allowing fibers to disperse evenly.

Johnson said the company has designed a system that allows it to dial in certain properties, preserve others, and optimize and minimize negative effects for the use of proportioning different types of aramid-based fibers.

Finite Fiber applied for a patent in June, and has been developing the product the last three years. President Keith Kleve said patents usually take a couple of years.

The concept was designed originally to save money from the factory footprint all the way through to the finished product, said Johnson.

The speed at which the material pro-cesses is faster than typical aramids, according to the executive, which takes place in the manufacturing process and ultimately translates into the finished product.

Johnson said the materials that have been purchased have delivered the same kinds of properties in most cases, and improved properties in others. He said customers get approximately twice as much material for the same amount of money.

"Our initial concept was built around not trying to go into competition with anyone," he said.

"We wanted to utilize what technologies were already out there and improve them," the executive said.

"We have partnerships with existing aramid suppliers that support our effort in developing products that will ultimately increase their sales as well. We're not looking to try to technically replace anyone; we're just trying to create new dollars with new technology," he said

Kleve said the company has no physical plant expansions planned, but is installing new processing equipment at its facility in Akron.