Chinaplas consolidates status as leading mainland show

Chinaplas 2004 opens in Shanghai on June 29, hosting more exhibitors (an estimated 800) and occupying more floor space (around 60,000 sq m; 645,000 sq ft) than any of the previous 17 editions.

Widely acknowledged as the leading international plastics event in Greater China, the four-day Chinaplas show at the Shanghai New International Expo Center (SNIEC) in Pudong continues to enjoy endorsement from Euromap, and this year it will be held for the 18th time.

Chinaplas 2004 will be 65% larger in exhibition space compared to its last iteration in Shanghai in 2002. It is also larger than Chinaplas 2003, held last December in Beijing, where 656 exhibitors occupied a total exhibition area of 40,000 sq m (430,000 sq ft). The first Chinaplas, in Beijing in 1983, attracted slightly more than 100 exhibitors.

This year, there will be eight country pavilions (Austria, Canada, PR China, Germany, Italy, Taiwan province, U.K., and U.S.). Symposia and technical seminars will also take place, with topics such as Application of Plastics in Auto parts Production: How to Improve Efficiency & Enhance Competitiveness; Production of Plastic & Rubber Building Materials—New Trends and New Technologies; and The Latest Technology & Materials for Plastic Packaging in Food and Beverage Industries taking center stage.

The Fourth International Thixomolding Magnesium Conference will also be held during Chinaplas on July 1. The majority of laptop computers and mobile phones are produced in this region, and many of those are produced using the thixotropic injection molding process, according to Stephen LeBeau, VP of sales and marketing at process licensee Thixomat. This makes Chinaplas an ideal venue as the majority of Thixomat''s licensees are plastic injection molders.

International exhibitors have traditionally dominated Chinaplas, but the number of local enterprises participating in the show is also growing. Organizer Adsale Exhibition Services predicts their number will at least triple at this year''s show. Among them is Keya, China''s largest manufacturer of compounding extruders. Coperion intends to acquire a controlling share of the firm by mid-year. Keya equipment is used for a variety of tasks, including compounding of PE, PP, PVC, PC, EVA, and TPR.

NFM (stand 2J31) will introduce several new extrusion developments at Chinaplas, including the Welding Engineers Series of counter-rotating, non-intermeshing twin-screw units, designed to accommodate a diverse variety of applications including devolatilization, reactive extrusion, latex coagulation, and long-fiber processing. Extruders are available with screw diameters of 20 to 250 mm. One specialized application is the processing of wood/plastic composite materials.

Extrusion Dies Industries (EDI, stand 2D31) will highlight advances in flat-die operation that enable extrusion processors to expand the range of cast film and sheet adjustments available without shutting down the die. One is the new Autoflex VI-L system, which combines a lever action with the thermal actuation that is standard on other Autoflex systems to move the flexible upper lip of the die as much as twice the maximum distance of EDI''s Autoflex VI-R. The speed of lip adjustment is also double. This makes automated gauge control accessible for the first time to manufacturers of thermoformed packaging and containers, thin-gauge glazing, and other light sheet up to 3.8 mm thick

In the injection field, Hong Kong''s Tat Ming Technology is introducing a triple-pump version of the CAP32, an injection molding machine dedicated to making bottle caps. Equipped with a 32-cavity, 1.6g, 28-mm cap mold from Italian moldmaker Gefit, a cycle time of 4.5 seconds has been achieved. "Local moldmakers do not have the technology to make fast-cycle molds," says Kevin Tong, general manager at Tat Ming, citing the rationale behind partnering with a foreign moldmaker. "Because of this, local machine makers do not aim at making fast-cycle machines, and large processors thus rely on imported machines and molds to cater to high productivity requirements." Tong says that with the Tat Ming-Gefit combination, investment cost is essentially cut in half.

In auxiliaries, Maguire Asia (stand 4C05) will highlight the diversity of its LPD resin drier range for injection molders of tiny optical parts to high-volume producers of PET bottles. Maguire Asia started operations in March as the region''s first direct subsidiary of Maguire Products Inc. A second facility was established in Shanghai (see p. 14 this issue). Included in Maguire''s dryer range are four models, the LPD-30, -100, -200, and -1000, accommodating processing-machine throughputs of up to 13.6 kg/hr for the smallest unit, to 450 kg/hr for the largest. The dryers can reportedly dry resin six times faster, which reduces energy consumption by 80%, and subjects polymer to 80% less exposure at elevated temperatures.

In the testing field, Instron (stand 2Q05) is featuring its 3300 Series single-column testing systems for evaluating the tensile, compression, and flexural properties of plastics and elastomers. Instron''s 3300 Series includes a load frame with integrated control electronics, a load cell, surface mount circuitry, and Series IX materials testing software.

Diverse material options

PE supplier Borouge (stand 3C01) will focus on the introduction of its Borstar technology to the Chinese market. The technology produces bimodal products that combine good mechanical strength and product processability. They are used in packaging and pipe applications, among others. Hubert Puchner, CEO of Borouge Pte Ltd, says, "In flexible packaging, consumers are becoming more sophisticated in their purchasing habits, which means that attractive, quality packaging is needed. The growth in the domestic market complements China''s packaging export market which is already quite developed." Borouge supplies products from a complex in Ruwais. By the end of 2005, capacity will have been expanded from 450,000 tonnes/yr to 580,000 tonnes/yr.

MBA Polymers Inc. (MBA) and Guangzhou Iron & Steel Enterprises Holdings Ltd. (GISE) have formed a joint venture to operate a plastics recycling facility in Nansha, China. The joint venture plans to begin operation of a 40,000-tonnes/yr plant by early 2005. The new company, called GISE-MBA New Plastics Technology Co. Ltd., will process highly mixed plastics resulting from the legislated take-back and recycling of durable goods such as appliances and electrical equipment. This recycling is taking place on a very large scale in places like Japan, Taiwan, and Korea, as well as Europe.

In engineering plastics, DSM (stand 3F21) will feature new developments in materials and applications for its Stanyl polyamide 46, Arnitel TPE, Akulon polyamide 6, and Arnite PBT and PET resins, including examples of metal substitution in automotive applications. In the electronics field, new generation connectors employing Stanyl will be featured. The material''s heat resistance makes it suitable for high-temperature, lead-free soldering.

Nanjing Jinling Opta Polymer Co. is a joint venture of Sinopec Jinling Petrochemical Corp. and Finland''s Optatech Corp. The joint venture employs leading solid-state polymerization (SSP) and dynamic vulcanization technology from Finland to manufacture a wide range thermoplastic elastomer materials sold under the Pacrel brand. Pacrel TPV performs like thermoset rubber but processes like thermoplastic, and can be used in construction, medical, automobiles, and appliances, for example. Properties include rubber-like properties between –60 and 125C, and the ability to extrude, inject, or blowmold under conditions typical for polyolefins.

On display at Maillefer (stand 2S01) will be PE cross-linking solutions for the manufacture of plastic tube, wire, and cable. The firm will unveil its IRPex-A infrared system for inline curing of cables and tubes. The new method completely eliminates the process step of hot baths or saunas.

Stephen Moore sbmoore@modplas.com

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