Momentum Technologies Laboratories Inc. in Uniontown has 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 equipment in the natural rubber and latex (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.

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 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.

Construction on the new lab began around March 2018 and continued through about September, though the official launch wasn't until late last year, Armstrong said.

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."

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