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Investment in People, Technology Drives Growth at PTi

by Jim Callari
Fri, May 25th 2018 05:00 pm
Processing Technology International LLC. 

CEO Dana Hanson
Processing Technology International LLC. CEO Dana Hanson

In 1988, 28-year-olds Dana Hanson and Jon Roberts sat down with a piece of paper and wrote down a few key words as they searched for a name for the new extrusion machine builder they were starting up. "The idea," Hanson recalls,"was to pick a name that reflected what we were trying to accomplish." At NPE2018, their company, Processing Technologies International (PTi) LLC, celebrates its 30-year anniversary.

Hanson, president and CEO, and Roberts, senior vice president operations, not only picked a name that matched this vision but over the past three decades, they have positioned the company among the global leaders in sheet extrusion technology. "We have about 100 employees," Hanson says, "and 30 of them are degreed engineers. From the start, we've been able to attract them, hire them and retain them. Having this depth of engineering and technical expertise is advantageous to us—especially now, as among our customers there has been a contraction in retained experience."

PTi's staff includes five process engineers who come from the processing side of the business. Two of the firm's senior managers—Matt Banach, senior vice president sales and marketing; and Sushant Jain, senior scientist applications and technology—were hired from multi-national packaging companies. "I don't know that we've made a deliberate effort to bring people into the company who worked on the processing side, but at the same time we've never turned a blind eye to anyone with talent. People make products and projects successful.

PTi is a firm believer in this philosophy. "Over the years, PTi has invested not only in people and services—it currently runs a fleet of six technical service vans—but in infrastructure as well. In 2016, it broke ground on a $10 million plant expansion at its Aurora, Illinois headquarters that added 40,000 square feet of primary manufacturing and office space. It built a 15,000-square foot Technology Development Center that's equipped with two complete production lines for testing, trials and training.

The machine builder's exhibit (Booth W6744) is reflective of two fast-growing areas in sheet extrusion. One is dryerless multi-layer sheet extrusion. In January 2010, PTi and Italian machine builder Luigi Bandera signed a 10-year agreement allowing PTi to offer North American processors Bandera's patented HVTSE (high vacuum twin screw extrusion) technology. The system employs a single atmospheric and dual high-vacuum vent system with a co-rotating twin-screw extruder that allows moisture and other volatiles to be extracted during extrusion, eliminating the need for drying in the case of hygroscopic materials such as PET and PLA. Hanson says PTi has sold 24 systems in North America since then, including large systems that run in-line with thermoforming.

The ability to eschew drying is but one of the benefits offered by the HVTSE, according to Hanson. The technology also supports a growing need among processors of sheet— particularly those in packaging—to be as nimble as possible in terms of switching from one material to another. In addition to running PET and PLA without having to pre-condition the materials, the system can also accommodate a wide range of polyolefins and PS. "As a machine builder you cannot be resin-centric," he says. "Sheet processors are always looking at the next resin depending on price point. It's important to offer systems as flexible as possible." PTi is also showing what Hanson calls "high-density manufacturing," a reference not to a type of PE, but an effort by the machinery supplier to pack a lot of processing power in a smaller footprint. Remarks Hanson, "Processors are trying to shoe-horn lines in small places. And what we've developed is a system that has a smaller footprint but packs a lot of punch."

The firm's latest Super-G HighSPEED Extruders on display— designed for PP and PS—have a 33 percent smaller footprint than previous models. For processing PP, the Super-G SGHS3000-36D has a production output of approximately 3,000 pounds per hour, offering what Hanson says is the highest output per square foot in the market.