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Buyer pressure; Prism Plastics; slimmer packages; the week that was at PlasticsToday

"How do you deal with a buyer who is constantly pounding on the desk for lower costs, higher quality, delaying payment etc.?" That simple question, and the complex answer, were laid out this week by Bill Tobin in a column on molder/customer relations. Your buyer has policies in place for rejected lots, price negotiations, audits and more; do you have your own set of guidelines?

Over at Prism Plastics, three long-time plastics professionals, no doubt veterans of buyer bullying, have created a very successful injection molding business based on one key tenet: simplicity. Clare Goldsberry highlights how the company has used the collective experience of its founders, including the learnable moments they absorbed at their former companies, to create a niche that emphasize less machines, materials, molds, and customers and has earned greater profits. Clare also highlighted how lucrative labels have been for Inland Label, which has targeted the IML market.

Kraft Foods has found a way to simplify its resin sourcing; eliminate 100 million lb of packaging materials worldwide by 2015. Packaging Channel Heather Caliendo spoke with the company about one example of its effort to slim down, the Yes Pack, and stand-up pouch with molded closure that replaces a rigid blowmolded container used by restaurants for things like dressing.

Heather also stopped in at high-speed custom automation supplier, CBW Automation, to get the first-hand scoop on that company's latest flip-top closure robotics system. Completely rethinking the flip-top closure cell, the system eliminates downstream ancillaries that cost money and occupy floor space with a new design that captures, and closes, the closures.

Automotive Channel Editor Stephen Moore took a look at a removable engine cover application that uses a multishot injection design with elastomer studs and a nylon badge plate to replace rubber studs formerly added manually post mold, pretty slick. Stephen also donned his shades to take a peek a bright market, getting brighter, thin-film solar. The market for solar installations based on copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) thin-film panels is forecast to nearly double in size to $2.35 billion in 2015, and Mitsubishi Plastics has taken notice, announcing plants to set up a plant in Tsukuba, Japan to supply Tucson-based Global Solar Energy.

Medical Channel Editor Doug Smock provided a glimpse of the future in medical, a wireless one heavily reliant on plastics. He also checked in with Haitian, which through its Zhafir subsidiary, will launch a unique all-electric injection molding machine targeting the medical market at NPE2012. Doug also touched on an increasingly important question for the medical market; Where's the beef? Better not be bovine in your plastic additives.

Green Matter columnist, Karen Laird, brought to light (pun intended) a unique startup hoping provide light and phone charging to markets well off the electrical grid. The light's lightweight, economic design utilizes recycled ABS, and the light's maker, Off-Grid Solutions, told Karen that they had not ruled out the possibility of using a bioplastic.

Finally, PVC had a rough go last week, with P&G and Kaiser announcing their intent to stop using it in some instances, but for our readers and their customers, the reaction to vinyl was pretty muted. Asked if customers had ever expressed concerns about using PVC, 44% said no; 33% said yes; and for the 22% who don't run PVC, it's a non-issue.

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