Established in 1964, Penn Color Inc. has manufactured color concentrates and pigment dispersions for over 35 years. During this time, the company has remained on the leading edge of color technology, providing color in virtually every known resin system.

Recently, Penn Color recognized a need for an expandable dispersion system that was capable of consistent color performance through an adaptable, flexible, and customized system. As a long-time Netzsch customer, Plant Manager Wayne Miller turned to his supplier for suggestions on implementing an automated turnkey package that would surpass current efficiency and output capacity.

Netzsch Inc., being a manufacturer of grinding and dispersion systems, has sold over 20 machines to Penn Color since the late 1970s. Having prior experience with Penn Color's products and processes, Netzsch began to engineer a complete system that would meet its customer's expectations for improved formulation technology. To date, such an elaborate and automated dispersion system, which incorporates its Mastermix mixing and dispersion machines, had not been installed in the United States.

To demonstrate a similar dispersion system in operation, Netzsch invited representatives from Penn Color to its Mastermix headquarters in West Midlands, England. There, David Tomlinson, Mastermix managing director, arranged a visit to five manufacturing plants, providing examples of the systems Penn Color was considering implementing.

Within weeks after the plant visits in England, the two companies began to envision the entire system.

After months of planning, the complete system was installed in the first quarter of 2002. The turnkey system includes PMD VC Dispersers, LMZ Zeta Mill, stainless steel circulation tanks, Rockwell "Open Batch" software control package, mezzanine, process and utility piping and switch gear controls. Netzsch also was responsible for the programming of system controls, testing and final commissioning. Randy Cleaver, engineer and project manager at Netzsch, says, "With our extensive product line and project experience, Netzsch was able to provide Penn Color with one-stop shopping, including process equipment system controls, testing and final commissioning. Being able to coordinate the entire product and take full responsibility for the project was crucial to meeting deadlines and working efficiently with all parties involved."

Since operating the new system, Penn Color has substantially increased its output capabilities previously processed on its other systems. The system is extremely flexible, allowing for changes to be made to a batch easily through an automated process. The result is batch-to-batch consistency. In addition, Penn Color protects the environment with zero-VOC emissions and reduces product waste by using the totally enclosed Netzsch system. This automated system has the ability to manufacture both solvent- and waterborne products, and can be cleaned in place. Rockwell Automation provides the Bizware(tm) software package that runs the system. The integration of the RsBatch(tm) software provides extensive reports allowing Penn Color to record the complete dispersion process and control its inventory on demand. The RsBatch software also offers automated Statistical Process Control (SPC), allowing the company to provide their customers with consistent, quality products in every batch.

With the turnkey system installed and operating, Penn Color is already focusing on future projects. Penn Color is considering purchasing two additional systems that will work in conjunction to the already installed operation. In addition, its dry dispersion facility currently processes plastics and color concentrates.

After more than 20 years of working closely together, a strong relationship of trust and willingness to change has developed between the two companies. Each company has the same goal in mind - to improve the overall milling and mixing process to deliver the best solutions available. In addition, both worldwide companies are working toward making the end users' job easier and more consistent, providing a better final product and supplying excellent customer support and technical service. While Netzsch Inc. and Netzsch Mastermix look forward to establishing many more turnkey system installations in the United States, Penn Color prepares to remain the industry leader by tailoring systems and processes to produce dispersions that meet or exceed customer requirements.

For more information on equipment, contact Randy Cleaver, Project Engineer, NETZSCH Inc., 119 Pickering Way, Exton, PA 19341; phone 610/363.8010; fax 610/363.0971; e-mail; or visit