The company has a two-stage manufacturing process where they create a compound using a twin-screw extruder and profile-extrude geometries on two-stage single-screw extruders “Because we have all the compounding done on one piece of equipment, we have more control over the homogeneity of the final product. There’s no secondary mixing or dispersion, so the variability of the end product is much less,” says O’Neill.

Although the company conducted internal testing, they believed having others test the product would convince more people of the advantages of composites. “We know how the product does, and we wanted to put merit behind that and bring it out to the public,” says O’Neill.

The first of these tests, performed at the University of Maine, focused on water absorption. The test was based on the ASTM 1037 standard for wood-based materials. In it, the materials are weighed, submerged for 24 hours, and weighed again to see the weight differences in the two states. A modification looking at 30-day testing was also added, and O’Neill says the results were pleasing. “We were the lowest-absorbing product, and if it’s hard for water to get into product, it’s hard for moisture to get in there and decay the product,” he says.

At Intertek Plastic Laboratories, accelerated weathering was done based on the ASTM G155 standard. “Think of it like a tanning booth married to a car wash,” says O’Neill. Spray nozzles and UV tanning lamps were used to control the amount of UV energy and water sprayed to applied materials. In terms of a time scale, 2,000 hours of testing related to a year-and-a-half of exposure. Thus, it is intended to see what would happen to the material in the field, particularly if the color fades or changes.

O’Neill hopes the objective testing will help convince people to take the plunge into buying composites. “A lot of people sell things without really showing you what it does. By doing this testing, we’ve shown people how the product really behaves, which ultimately says a lot more.”

Percentages Can Be Misleading

Nationwide housing starts rose for a third consecutive month in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 626,000 units, according to a report from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) that relies on U.S. Commerce Department data. The report also indicates that the rate of permit issuance for new housing construction rose by 7.5 percent in the month, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units. But how is this affecting the cast polymer market, which relies heavily on the housing industry for its business?