UNIONTOWN, Ohio—Momentum Technologies Laboratories Inc. expanded both its facility and capabilities to handle natural rubber and natural latex requests.
The additions, which included new equipment, took about a $1 million investment, said Rodney Armstrong, director of laboratory services at Momentum.
The company also added a natural rubber and natural latex testing lab of about 1,200 square feet within its Uniontown facility, which totals about 7,000 square feet. The balance of the space is used for construction product testing, including polymer modified asphalt, roofing materials and coatings and below-grade coatings, Armstrong said.
Among the new rubber equipment in the NR/NL lab are a new rubber process analyzer, a Mooney viscometer, a Wallace plastimeter, a tensile machine, a compounding mixer and a mill.
For latex, there's also a centrifuge, a mechanical stability tester, a viscometer, and an atomic absorption metals tester. The third-party testing laboratory is A2LA/ISO 17025 accredited, and tests more than 90 different ASTM methods. It is also accredited to perform Miami-Dade County and Energy Star testing for roofing materials.
Momentum hired two new technicians for the expansion, bringing the NR/NL lab employee count to four, and a total of eight for the labs, Armstrong said. The company is in contact with the University of Akron to bring in interns later this spring.
Momentum, which has been at its Uniontown location since 1996, was originally a part of Momentum Technologies International, a distributor and laboratory service provider that's built to support synthetic polymer customers.
Last year, Halcyon Agri Corp. Ltd., a natural rubber supply group, purchased Momentum Technologies International and split the laboratory off into a legally separate company, Armstrong said.
"That was part of the plan, to completely divide us as a third party testing laboratory so customers didn't feel like there would be any prejudiced results, which there never would've been anyway because we're ISO certified," Armstrong said.
The company works with customers from around the world, including places like Turkey and Israel, he said.
After purchasing the company in January 2018, construction on the new lab began around March and continued through about September, Armstrong said. Momentum held its official launch of the new space in November with an open house.
Part of the plan behind the project also is to find ways to integrate NR/NL into the paving and roofing materials industry and branch out into different markets, he said.
"We're doing some research with that, and we're seeing some results," Armstrong said. "Natural rubber compared to synthetic is cheaper, and it might be more appealing. If we get good or better results in asphalt, that's a great sale for our customers."
The new lab provides an opportunity for Halcyon to prove its natural rubber products to customers, Armstrong said. It also allows some efficiency for sister companies such as Halcyon-owned Centrotrade Minerals and Metals Inc., a global merchandiser. Centrotrade used to outsource natural latex testing to a Malaysian laboratory, but is able to bring it all under one roof through Momentum.
Armstrong said there are further plans to add more Momentum laboratory locations globally, with some processes already moving. One is planned for Holland, and another two in Cameroon, local to rubber tree plantations. No timeline or details were disclosed. Momentum also is looking to add more equipment going forward.
"We want to be able to technically support what we sell, as well as support our customers," Armstrong said. "Whether they're customers that purchased the raw material from Halcyon or customers that have other materials with products that need tested and certified through a third party, that's the goal."