Monday, November 24, 2014

Giving Thanks

At this time of year and always, Americhem has a tremendous amount of things to be thankful for. We know that you do, too. It’s been said that the only obstacle to being thankful is simply not observing with attention. We grow used to our blessings and we start taking them for granted, without realizing that they truly are blessings.

Well, in 2014, it has been an easy for me to notice the things that make me happy to be part of the Americhem family. In no particular order, they are:

-  I’m thankful for our company founders, Richard H. Juve, Harvey Cooper and Sylvester Caldwell, all of whom had vision for what a great company could become.

-  I’m thankful for the more than 500 Americhem employees and their families. It is a wonderful team to be a part of.

-  I’m thankful for our customers who continue to rely on us for high-quality products and services. I’m thankful for those who view our relationship as a partnership, since this is how we view our customers.

-  I’m thankful for our suppliers, another group with whom we form partnerships. I’m thankful for those who provide consistent quality and service that in turn makes our own products better.

-  I’m thankful for the communities that we do business in. They are eight wonderful communities around the world. I’m thankful for our employees in each of these locations that participate in community service organizations and that contribute to worthwhile charities to help make their communities even better.

-  I’m thankful for the favorable business climate Americhem has experienced in 2014. While no years are without their challenges, Americhem has thrived and made a profit, as it has every year since we've been in business in 1941.

-  I’m thankful that we’re a global organization and that we can learn from our employees around the world. I’m thankful for the different cultural traditions that, while different from my own, are nonetheless fascinating to observe and learn about.

-  I’m thankful to work for a company that has such a rich history. I’m glad that this history has been passed down from generations of employees and that the company is still rooted in its founding principles all these years later. I’m also thankful for the generations of employees who have, with their strong work ethic, set an example for us to follow.

-  And finally, I’m thankful for our company’s holiday policy, which allows those of us in the U.S. to enjoy a day off from work to be mindful of our blessings and to celebrate them with our families.

See, it’s easy if you try – try to observe with attention and be thankful. I wish all of our employees, communities, suppliers, customers and everyone else a very Happy Thanksgiving 2014.

Scott Blanchard
Senior Corporate Marketing Specialist, Americhem Inc. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Material Breakthroughs Lead to Best Performing Turf

The history of synthetic turf dates back to the 1960’s when Monsanto developed what later became known as Astroturf for the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, home of major league baseball's Houston Astros. The advent of domed, indoor stadiums and their inability to support a natural turf playing field soon caused the use of synthetic turf to spread throughout the major leagues and other professional and collegiate athletics. Back then, the turf fields were made from Nylon 6,6, and the filament was unforgiving and rough to players, causing frictional burns from falling and sliding on the surface.

This early turf soon gave way to the second generation of synthetic fields in the 1970s. This time, the material of choice was polypropylene (PP) and it was European companies that brought it to market in 1976. This shift saw the industry going to a longer, tufted filament plus the addition of sand infills, making the material more forgiving to the players.

In the 1990’s and through the present day, most turf fields around the world are made with linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE). The use of this material was a breakthrough, and for more reasons than one. The LLDPE material was much softer and it “gave” better. It also featured greater traction than the previous generations of turf, which was supplemented by the inclusion of infills made of sand and recycled rubber. Most stadiums and fields in the world today use this third generation turf system. (Source)

The move to LLDPE fields was driven by safety of the players. These were not the “rugburn” inducing fields of previous generations, and players groups from all over professional sports supported these third generation fields. Instead of fighting against artificial surfaces, many of today’s players prefer synthetic turf for safety, aesthetics and duration of play on one field.

But what came along with the switch to LLDPE fields was quite surprising, and further supports the use of the material. When subjected to weathering testing, the LLDPE fields were able to hold their color longer - much longer - than the previous two materials (Nylon 6,6 and PP).

FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, recommends 3,000 hours of accelerated weathering testing on turf in a QUV device to determine color hold. At Americhem, we’ve found the LLDPE fields can sustain 6,000, 9,000 and even up to 12,000 hours of xenon arc weathering testing and still retain their desired colors. Certain colors are better than others (reds are notoriously less colorfast, for example) and not all colors can hold up to the 12,000 hours of testing, but Americhem’s weathering studies go far beyond what FIFA recommends because we want to be able to make sound recommendations to our customers.

Americhem has released a synthetic turf color selector guide which contains cardwrapped samples of various colors of turf yarn, including greens and a number of popular logo colors. All of the colors recommended in the book can stand up to at least twice the FIFA mandated accelerated tests of 3,000 hours. It’s also in these longer tests that you can see the difference in failure mechanism between the LLDPE and the previous materials. So the material was developed to make life better for the players and, in the end, it also proved to be the superior material from a standpoint of longevity and reduced color fade.

Americhem has written a white paper on the subject of today’s turf fields and weathering. Please contact Scott Blanchard at to receive a copy of the white paper or to receive a copy of our turf color selector guide.

Larry Campbell
Americhem’s resident synthetic turf expert

Friday, November 14, 2014

We're Always Learning When it Comes to Weathering

One of Americhem’s core competencies has always been weathering. We help customers understand how their products are going to stand up to the elements, whether they’re used outdoors, like wood composite deck boards, or indoors, like commercial or residential carpeting. We’ve been at the forefront of weathering testing technology for polymeric products for decades, and we’re proud that we’ve helped establish some of the standard weathering tests that are used in various polymeric product industries.

When it comes to weathering, Americhem has a deep knowledge base, and we’re always learning. That’s why the results of a recent long-term outdoor weathering study were very interesting to us. We believe the results urge some caution on the part of building products manufacturers when using accelerated testing as a predictor of real world weathering.

Our researchers tested several polymeric compounds used in building products, including PVC, an enhanced PVC compound, some PVC blends and ASA. The samples were brown in color with lightness (L*) values between 35 and 65. Testing was performed by QUV accelerated testing devices with water spray capabilities (to simulated outdoor moisture/condensation exposure) in accordance with the ASTM D4329 standard. The length of the accelerated testing was 2,500 hours, which is a period determined to be most closely associated with a two-year outdoor exposure period. The outdoor testing was completed after two years at three sites representing three different climates: humid continental Ohio, humid sub-tropical Florida and arid Arizona. The exposed materials, both to accelerated and outdoor testing, were then compared to one another for each material.

For PVC, with typically poor weathering performance, the samples weathered equally poorly in accelerated and outdoor exposure. Enhanced PVC weathered well in outdoor trials at all three locations, but accelerated tests showed much more color fade than the real world trials. So if accelerated QUV testing results were given significant weight, the material which performed very well in the real world might never have been produced.

In PVC blends containing PVC and varying amounts ASA or acrylic, the correlation between accelerated and outdoor weathering was also quite weak. Additionally, the weathering performance was inconsistent between the three outdoor sites. We drew the conclusion that the materials in blends might not be fully compatible, forming two separate weathering phases. Finally, ASA was tested and found to be highly weatherable and well correlated between accelerated QUV testing and real world outdoor weathering.

What did we learn? We considered these to be the major takeaways:
  • Enhanced PVC and ASA are good performers and superior to PVC and PVC blends in weatherability.
  • Outdoor testing in end-use environments is vital, because accelerated weathering’s ability to predict performance is at least somewhat inaccurate.
  • QUV testing results are more apt to be accurate with single polymer compounds.

So, Americhem’s weathering experts are learning every day. The results of their work can have a big impact on the producers of polymeric building products, and we hope this insight can be of assistance to our customers. Americhem is working on a white paper which will be available soon that contains much more detail on this important study. In the meantime, to learn more about Americhem’s weathering capabilities visit our website.

Scott Blanchard
Senior Corporate Marketing Specialist

Monday, November 10, 2014

Why Solution Dye?: Environmental Advantages

English author and historian Thomas Fuller once said, “We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” This quote brings to mind one of Americhem’s most sacred company principles, which is, “Be a proactive steward of the environment.” One of the ways we do this as a company is to promote environmentally friendly practices and manufacturing methods. One of our biggest company initiatives toward that end is our promotion of the solution dyeing of synthetic fibers. With a solution dye process you not only see better quality, but the process preserves more natural resources.

Post dyeing is the process by which finished white yarn is colored with liquid dyes after the fiber is made.  This process leads to an extraordinary amount of water being used and a huge amount of that water being permanently polluted. According to the Color Masterbatch Technical Handbook, there are about 30 metric tons of PET fiber produced globally every year. Let’s assume that a third of those products will require color. In this scenario, if post dyeing is used exclusively, 99,000,000 gallons of polluted color effluent is produced. It brings to mind the African proverb, “Filthy water can not be washed.” And indeed, the industry must find a way to safely dispose of this effluent water, which is not an easy task.

Solution dyeing, which adds the colorant from a masterbatch to the fiber as its being spun, presents a more eco-friendly alternative. No water is used during the solution dyeing process and very little water is used in the overall process.  It has been estimated that the overall water consumption in post dyeing is one hundred times greater than that of using masterbatch in the solution dye process.

Solution dye not only saves water during the process, it also saves energy. By combining fiber spinning and coloring into one step, the amount of energy used is considerably reduced. This one-step process also means that no additional equipment is needed, whereas the spinning and coloring steps in post-dyeing each require their own special equipment.

You can read more about the advantages of solution dye from Americhem global director of business development, V.G. Kulkarni, in his recent article in International FiberJournal.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Dedicated to Carpet: Five Americhem Plants Dedicated to the Industry

Americhem’s dedication to the worldwide carpet industry is unequaled among manufacturers of color for solution dyed carpeting. We’ve been designing and making color and additive concentrates for the industry for nearly thirty years and our capabilities span a range of polymeric materials including nylons, polypropylene, polyesters and more.

Three decades is a long time. This experience exceeds that of all competing color concentrate manufacturers. We lead the industry in color control and color consistency, both lot-to-lot and within lots. We support the industry with the most personnel dedicated to carpet makers, including sales, technical, and customer service. We pride ourselves on being the most dependable carpet industry supplier in quality, service and communication with our customers. And we understand your manufacturing processes and maintain 11 high- and low-speed synthetic fiber spin lines in our facilities around the globe to assist in product development and testing without interfering with our customers’ production equipment.

No other masterbatch supplier has three manufacturing plants dedicated to the North American carpet industry. Did you know that Dalton,Georgia is home to more than 150 carpet mills and that more than 90% of the functional carpet produced in the world today is made within a 65-mile radius of the city? That’s why Americhem has been on the ground with a plant in Dalton for over twelve years, and we’ve been serving the industry long before that. Our Dalton plant is a Center of Excellence for carpeting, with resources dedicated to manufacturing, product development and design. The plant also houses our fiber color design center, with thousands of card wrapped colors displayed in a room that serves as a giant light booth, including three different light sources: incandescent, daylight, and cool white fluorescent.

Our Concord, North Carolina facility is also dedicated to the carpet industry and serves as our Center of Excellence for nylon and polyester manufacturing technology. Established in 1989, this plant has served the industry ever since. Our Liberty, North Carolina facility was created with advanced material handling technology, enabling large runs of white, black and additive concentrates. Liberty’s lines are geared toward manufacturing campaigns of 10,000 pounds or more with the perfect combination of superior dispersion technology, end-product consistency, and cost effectiveness.

Outside of North America, our plants in Manchester, United Kingdom and Suzhou, China are also dedicated to the carpet industry. The Manchester facility serves customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and is widely regarded as one of the leaders in the industry. The Suzhou plant serves customers in the Asia Pacific region and maintains pilot lines dedicated to carpet fiber that assist our customers in product development and testing.

It’s clear to see that Americhem is dedicated to the carpet industry worldwide. Let us know how we can benefit you with our technology, support personnel, pilot line technology and facilities dedicated to the industry.

Scott Blanchard
Senior Corporate Marketing Specialist, Americhem, Inc.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Value Engineering is Americhem's Most Important Additive

How does Americhem provide value? The answer lies beyond our color, additives, compounds and other world-class polymeric products. The heart of Americhem’s value is found in the bundle of value-added services that are wrapped around our products. We call it Value Engineering. It’s what helps set Americhem apart. Any supplier can make a color or additive masterbatch. But by partnering with Americhem, you benefit from our industry-leading expertise, our decades of experience, our problem-solving capability, and our ability to customize a solution exclusively for you.

What’s more, we don’t sell color matches. We engineer our products so that they will work best inyour resins, equipment and processes. All of our products are engineered to give you the best overall value when considering all of your requirements.

No other masterbatch supplier takes a more holistic approach to helping our customers succeed. We lead the industry in color control, color consistency and additive properties, but that’s only the beginning of our value engineering story.
It also includes:

  • The best service and technical guidance in the business. Right where you need us to be, with the availability of field and technical service at your location.
  • Testing Expertise. Whether it’s your products, your raw materials or competitive products, our analytical and physical testing labs can provide the answers you need. And our accelerated and outdoor weathering labs are world-renowned and can help prove that your products will weather and endure as long as you intend them to.
  • Customer product design. We have product development labs at all of our locations. They work to develop exactly the product you need to ensure consistency, performance, and the physical properties you desire. Our vDesign® web-based color and property software can help you design a product quickly, with the benefit of millions of possible colors and decades of Americhem expertise.
  • Pilot lines and product simulation. To fully understand your challenges and to help you bring new products to market faster and more cost effectively, Americhem has invested in numerous pilot lines to effectively simulate your processes. Not only does this aid in trialing color and additive masterbatches, but it also allows you to perform tests on our equipment without interrupting your workflow.
  • Color education. Through our Americhem U. series of educational classes, we keep you up-to-date on topics such as color theory, color trends, additive processing, color measurement and more. Rely on our experts to give you the information you need that will help you get your job done right.
You are at the heart of our value engineering model. Benefit from our approach and experience Americhem’s most important additive.

Scott Blanchard
Senior Corporate Marketing Specialist, Americhem, Inc.