R.D. Abbott touts itself as a full-service supplier to the rubber industry, marketing and selling a variety of goods to the sector, including synthetic rubber, silicone elastomers, adhesives, chemicals, additives, release agents, thermal carbon blacks, lab and testing equipment, and a variety of other goods.
A partial list of the companies it represents are Lord Corp., Dow Corning Corp., Lanxess A.G. and its Rhein Chemie unit, 3M, Hallstar Corp., Franklynn Industries and Alpha Technologies.
“All we do is related to rubber,” said Scott Kearns, vice president of sales and commercial development. “No paints and coatings. No personal care. If it's a thermoset or you're sticking that thermoset to something, that's in our tool box. Or if you want to release it from something, we sell release agents.”
R.D. Abbott originally put in the lab because as the rubber industry enters a new phase, the technical resources that customers and their suppliers have aren't as strong as they used to be, Ziebell said. “To obtain the technical resources, we decided that we should build that up in-house. We have the know-how. We just needed the mechanism in order to test and take invention to data and reporting.”
The lab is a resource for the firm's chemists, chemical engineers and other technical staff to utilize to work on specific projects to support customer needs.
“It's only R&D, so we develop formulations in the rubber polymers to meet specification requirements, applications requirements and processability requirements,” Ziebell said. “Then we feed that information back to our suppliers and offer the support of acquiring those products as necessary.”
Kearns stressed that the intention is to provide a service to its customers, not to supply the materials itself. “We do not compete with our customers,” he said, “because we have customers who are custom mixers as well as fabricators. Our intention is to help develop a compound for the requirements, but then to deploy that to a mixer.”
R.D. Abbott—founded in 1948—will produce materials in special circumstances, Kearns said, if the available firms don't want to do it, such as when the volume is too small, it's difficult to mix or is a very high-end type of elastomer.
The company has a good idea what its supplier partners are interested in re-sourcing or receiving support on. “If a supplier partner wants to sell a product, but may not have the resources that they can put toward that particular product, then we will take that on and do the development work and write the formulation, and Rick's team will do the testing,” Kearns said.
The lab expansion was needed because it has been so busy since opening, Ziebell said. It is working on more than 100 projects a year for customers. Current equipment before the expansion includes two mixers, two mills, a lab prototype extruder, a press, ovens, heat aging and immersion capability, and a full rheometric lab.
The expansion also will add a dispersometer to look at the dispersions of the firm's formulations. “We sell a lot of dispersion-grade additives,” Ziebell said. “We're interested to check and help custom mixers reach better quality dispersions and use that material to demonstrate how our products and services can help improve the mixing capability.”