It''s here: the world''s largest plastics industry trade show. The triennial K runs Oct. 20-27 in Düsseldorf, Germany at the massive Düsseldorf Trade Fair Centre. Spread over 17 halls and 1.7 million sq ft, the show is a prime opportunity to see the latest and greatest in technology, equipment, materials, and supplies. Your bags better be packed.
If you''ve been to a plastics trade show before, you might think that you know what to expect. When it comes to K, however, you''ll have to ratchet up your expectations. Think orders of magnitude bigger. The exhibits are bigger, the crowds are larger, and the sheer mass of exhibition space can take days to cover even fairly. But done right, you can leave K with a wealth of knowledge about the new molding, extrusion, materials, and moldmaking technologies that are shaping this industry.
Before you go, do your research and make sure you understand which exhibitors you''re going to see and when. K does a nice job of grouping like technologies (for instance, all injection molding machine makers are confined to a couple of halls).
Don''t forget your German-English dictionary before you go, and prep your palate for schweinshaxe and wiener schnitzel (pork shin and breaded veal cutlet). And you''d better like beer. For K newbies, MP offers these travel and dining tips for managing K and Düsseldorf.
Inside the Messe Düsseldorf fairgrounds there is exactly one way of getting around: your feet. Treat them well. To and from the fairgrounds and the city, as well as around the area, your choices of transport are abundant. On the K website (www.k-online.de) you will find travel information in the Hotel & City Info category.
Düsseldorf-Moenchengladbach Airport is 25 km west of the city. Bus line 010 gets you to the local train station for a ride to Düsseldorf HBF. The Cologne-Bonn Airport is south of Bonn. A shuttle from the airport to the Cologne (Köln) train station and a train from there to Düsseldorf HBF will take about 1.5 hours total.
For information: Call +49 (180) 599-6633 or visit www.bahn.de (click on "Int. Guests" for English).
For information: Call +49 (211) 172020 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting around Düsseldorf is almost as easy. For the trip between the fair and the center city, you can take the U78 and U79 tram/subway lines and Bus 722. The bus stops at all the show entrances. The tram stops marked Messe Ost (east) and Messe Nord (north) are within walking distance of those entrances. The U78 also goes to the Eingang Nord (North Entrance), and leaves from there for the return trip.
Some of the city''s 1350 taxis queue at fairground entrances, but it is you who will queue at closing time-though not for long. A ride between the fairgrounds and the train station is 15 euros and 15 minutes; to and from the Altstadt (Old Town) takes a few minutes less and about 13 euros.
Finally, show management and the VRR (Rhine-Ruhr Regional Transport Network) have come up with the offer you can''t refuse. The KombiTicket, which is included with your admission as an exhibitor or attendee, lets you ride free on the trams, buses, and trains (second class) in the VRR zone. That includes a fairly large area around Düsseldorf and the city itself, but not Köln/Cologne. It''s valid from two days before the show starts until two days after closing. Any admission ticket is your "Ticket to ride."
Dining in Düsseldorf
Most visitors to Düsseldorf are immediately advised to indulge in two of the cities finest gastronomic inventions: the dark Alt beer brewed in the time-honored natural tradition, and the Altstadt, the city''s Old Town. Altstadt consists of narrow lanes and old churches, along with quaint breweries and ancient pubs, hip bars and clubs, French fries, and high-quality fare. It''s easy to find your way there from the fairgrounds (see map, opposite) and in most pubs and restaurants, the next Alt beer comes without ordering.
There are several dining establishments and just as many cuisines from which to choose. Traditional German dishes include Rheinisch sauerbraten, warm Floenz (blood sausage), or a hearty Aehzezupp (pea soup). Don''t forget to try Mostert, Düsseldorf''s famous mustard.
Lunch at (or near) the fairgrounds.
While restaurants near the fairgrounds are few, most of the halls offer a variety of restaurants, snack bars, bistros, self-service, and carry-out facilities. There are also outdoor stands that offer sausage, crepes, sandwiches, and beer. A complete list is posted at www.k-online.de.
Wining and dining beyond
Düsseldorf boasts more than 220 restaurants in a variety of price ranges. A few caveats to keep in mind:
To get you started on your gastronomic adventure, here''s a short list of restaurants that have received high marks from Marcellino''s Restaurant Report (www.marcelinos.de).
Im Schiffchen. Considered the best triple-star restaurant by many, dishes are acclaimed by diners as "pure perfection." Pricey, but worth it. D-Kaiserswerth, Kaiserswerther Markt 9 (1st floor), +49 (211) 40 10 50.
La Terrazza. This Italian gold-medal establishment offers views of the Kö (short for Königsallee, the city''s main shopping boulevard) from the second floor on Düsseldorf''s Golden Mile, and is relatively affordable. Königsallee 30, +49 (211) 32 75 40.
Victorian. Three floors house a bistro, one-star restaurant, and private party rooms, with menus that run the gamut from German casseroles to French and American cuisine. An excellent value for the money. Königstrasse 3a, +49 (211) 8 65 50 20.
If you (Yanks, that is) get homesick
Stateside Bar & Restaurant. Creative cocktails, big burgers, and quick service. Altstadt, Berger Strasse 15, +49 (211) 3 23 88 15.
Louisiana. Deep South dishes. Altstadt, Bolkerstrasse 18, +49 (211) 86 58 90.
McDonald''s. Altstadt. Neustrasse 16, +49 (211) 32 68 82.
Cafe Uferlos. Salsa club. Altstadt, Rheinort 5, +49 (211) 3 23 07 65.
Confetti''s. Good Italian food. D-Oberkassel, Düsseldorfer Strasse 2, +49 (211) 57 26 66.
Le Doc. A taste of France. Sternstrasse 68, +49 (211) 48 53 47
Quaglinos. Pasta, burgers, and salads. Rheinort/Rathausufer, +49 (211) 3 23 07 65.
Bayer MaterialScience breaks out with bounty of developments
The German materials giant intends to dazzle show-goers with a wide array of new materials introductions. Included is Makroblend DP 7645, an elastomer-modified blend of polycarbonate and polyethylene terephthalate (PC/PET) only commercial since July.
The first commercial parts being touted by the supplier are the radiator grilles of the new Audi A6 and Audi Am, with those components molded by Gerhardi Kunststofftechnik (Lüdenscheid, Germany). Nylon typically is used for grilles, but Audi''s larger grille required better low-temperature impact strength, pointing to the PC/PET blend. The blend is also easy to coat and resistant to all typical car chemicals.
Also new from the supplier is a plasticizer-free, flexible thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) with a Shore A hardness from 60 to 80. The new grade is part of the supplier''s Desmopan PUR range. The material is expected to see use in markets including automotive, electronics, machine tools, leisure, and sports, with applications including molded parts with spring elements, film hinges, sealing lips, or impact strips. They could also see application in two-component molded grips with the TPU providing soft touch. The material can be injection molded, blowmolded, extruded, calendered, and sintered.
The supplier also is offering a new Makrolon film said to diffuse light even more intensely than the acrylics usually used in backlit information carriers such as dials and LCD displays.
According to Bayer, the new film, available in rolls or sheet .3 and .5 mm thick, beats PMMA on light scattering while also offering the advantages of PC, such as toughness. It can also be thermoformed and printed easily. The diffusion capacity is retained after printing. Bayer MaterialScience, Leverkusen, Germany; www.bayer.com
Atofina launches new division and materials to boot
Atofina is reorganizing its chemicals business with a new structure provisionally called CIP that includes polyamides, functional polyolefins, plastic additives, vinyl compounds, PVC, and PMMA. The supplier has big plans for both its stand and off-site efforts, where it will rent an art gallery to serve as an "image venue," intended to position the CIP name and convey the corporate and product messages. At the fairgrounds, the supplier will have a bevy of new materials targeted at specific markets. These include its Pebax thermoplastics elastomers, a polyether-block-amide material marketed for sports shoe components and soles that offers low density, transparency, and color pigmentation.
Also new is Orevac 18370, which Atofina claims is the first grafted polyolefin to produce perfect adhesion between metal foil and polypropylene (PP). It could see use in metallized, laminated, multilayer films and offers high oxygen- and moisture-barrier protection. And for the thirsty, the supplier will highlight its Rilsan BESVO nylon, a polyamide 11 specified by brewer Interbrew for use in extrusion of all of its beer hoses.
Atofina''s additives stable is enlarged by a number of new items including Plastistrength 770, an acrylic copolymer PVC process aid offering a nonsticking effect in PVC formulations. It is particularly suitable for rigid PVC packaging and can be used in the calendering of transparent or opaque rigid PVC for the production of food and pharmaceutical packaging film. It is also suitable for injection molding, blowmolding and rigid profile extrusion. Atofina, Paris, France; www.atofina.com
New "old" supplier ready to go it alone
Lanxess, recently spun off from material supplier Bayer, has its own developments to trumpet including online coatable grades of Triax ABS/PA blends. So far, Triax grades have been used only in interior automotive applications, but the new ones could see use in fenders and other exterior car parts, fuel-tank caps, and mirror housings. The material positions Lanxess with a solid competitor to the PPO/PA blends offered by GE''s plastics division.
Lanxess will also tout its custom-colored range of ABS materials, offered to European processors. Self-coloring options are also marketed for processors choosing that route.
The supplier is also eager to show results of tests made with its Lustran E401 grade of ABS by Slovak appliance manufacturer Gorenje. The OEM is replacing inner refrigerator liners made of high-impact polystyrene with the Lanxess material after seeing that it offered augmented low-temperature insulation performance, thereby improving the refrigerator''s energy use. Lanxess, Leverkusen, Germany; www.lanxess.com
Online paintable nylon for vertical surfaces
From Rhodia, the patent-pending compound Technyl A 238P5 M25 is 100% nylon with an additives package that improves surface conductivity and dimensional stability over time. Painted automotive exterior parts using the material offer a class A surface equivalent to metal ones, says the firm. The material is commercial and has already been validated by a number of processors. It withstands e-coating to 200°C, meets all critical requirements in impact strength, and processes on standard injection molding machinery. Rhodia Engineering Thermoplastics, Lyon, France; www.rhodia.com
New nylon grades cut the noise in cars . . .
The supplier says its two new grades for noise-reduction applications, Technyl Star S 218dB1 M50 and S 218bD2 MV60, can reduce noise by up to 4dB compared to glass-fiber-reinforced nylon or polypropylene. The improved performance of these monomaterial compounds could enable the removal of foams and other materials added to panels to dampen noise, plus ease recycling, thereby helping OEMs better meet two new legal requirements in Europe-sound reduction and recyclability. Target applications are primarily automotive, including engine covers, carburetors, air pipes, timing-belt covers, and more. The grades can also find use in housings for electrical appliances or sound insulators in buildings. Rhodia Engineering Thermoplastics, Lyon, France; www.rhodia.com
. . . as do these . . .
Also for engine covers to reduce noise and cut costs are two grades from DSM Engineering Plastics. Both of them, K220-HGM44 and K-FHGM24, are glass- and mineral-reinforced, heat-stabilized nylon 6. The first includes 20% each glass and mineral fibers and is marketed for acoustic covers, whereas the second grade has 10% glass and 20% mineral loadings and is more for aesthetic covers.
According to the supplier, these grades allow for thinner parts and longer flow paths so that less material is needed to mold engine covers compared with conventional PA grades. Also, these materials often are processable in existing tooling for PP and other materials. Peak temperature resistance and toughness is better than that of comparable PP parts, while flow and appearance top competing nylon grades, says DSM. Other potential applications could include pedals, front-end modules, air-inlet manifolds, and fan and shroud assemblies. Away from automotive, applications may include power tool housings and furniture. DSM Engineering Plastics, Sittard, Netherlands; www.dsm.com
. . . while this one works in the sky
DSM Engineering Plastics has introduced its Stanyl 46HF4130, a 30% glass-fiber-reinforced compound based on nylon 46 that was initially developed for use in large (up to 40 cm), thin (to .8 mm in places) blades in the intake portion of the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 jet aircraft engine. The molded nylon parts replace glass-reinforced plastic ones made via hand layup. It also helps minimize noise. Now that the grade is flying high, the supplier also is marketing it for more earthbound uses such as connectors and other intricate parts with thin sections or complex geometries. Melt temperature is 295°C. DSM Engineering Plastics, Sittard, Netherlands; www.dsm.com
High modulus plus high flow in new PA6 grade
DSM also offers Akulon Ultraflow K-FG0 nylon 6, a 50% glass-fiber-loaded grade said to offer cost-reduction potential compared with conventional PA6 and PA66 materials through cycle-time reductions, less material usage, and elimination of painting molded parts. One current application is in the seatback adjuster handle on a European car, where a competitor''s PA66 was replaced. The new handles are 14% lighter and made in 25% shorter cycles with total cost reduction of 25%. The 50% fiber loading ensures that no metal insert is required to achieve necessary stiffness. Despite the high fiber content, molded parts retain a high-gloss finish so that no painting is required; the material is available in black and natural colors. The supplier says better wet-out of fibers during compounding accounts for this gloss. Other grades within the Akulon Ultraflow range are available neat, or with lower or higher fiber loadings. DSM Engineering Plastics, Sittard, Netherlands; www.dsm.com
Lubricants work well with Ca/Zn stabilizers
Supplier Honeywell will introduce new lubricants at K that are designed to help pipe and profile processors making the switch from lead-stabilized PVC to materials with Ca/Zn stabilizers. Better lubricity enables processors to increase screw speeds and thus output, explains Michael Calicchio, global business manager of plastics at the firm. Extruders can also be run at higher temperatures without burning the material, he says. Color stability is also said to be improved. According to Calicchio, the shift from lead stabilizers to others, especially Ca/Zn, is occurring rapidly and globally (outside North America, where tin stabilizers are favored). Honeywell Specialty Materials, Morristown, NJ; www.honeywell.com
Applications aplenty at Milliken''s stand
Officials from the supplier of clarifiers and nucleating agents said at a pre-K press event that they expect to have a number of new commercial parts on display at K, including stretch blowmolded PP bottles that take advantage of a specially formulated grade of Hyperform nucleating agent. Werner Van De Sande, business manager, says the firm also expects to have some new transparent optical media packaging options on display that use the firm''s Millad 3988 clarifiers.
To support its case that clarity can boost sales, the supplier recently released results of an independently conducted survey showing that consumers'' preference for soft drink and bottled water brands is significantly influenced by whether the beverage container closure is clear or opaque. Research Inc. of Alpharetta, GA, conducted the research including 400 in-person intercept interviews with consumers purchasing beverages at retail outlets. "Going into the research, our suspicion was that the closure design impacts consumer preference, but we were surprised to learn that it exerts a stronger influence than even we had suspected," said Martin Horrocks, a market manager with Milliken. Milliken Europe NV, Gent, Belgium; www.millikenchemcial.com
Taking stock of new stock shapes
Quadrant has added a number of new stock shapes to take advantage of material developments. This includes a host of new shapes for making machined components for machinery in the life-sciences industry using chemical- and temperature-resistant materials that offer longer autoclave and sterilization life. Also, the supplier gives full traceability and biocompatibility testing from raw material to stock shape.
Also new are a range of food-compliant materials for the food-processing industry. Many are self-lubricating materials, which do not require frequent maintenance, and can replace metal versions. More than 24 grades are offered, including Ercatel POM and Ertalyte PET. Launched in July was the Ketron PEEK UHP (Ultra High Purity) material for the semiconductor industry.
The firm is also revealing details of a new process, called low-pressure casting, for forming nylon 6 parts. This is said to bridge the gap betwen traditional casting, a no-pressure process, and the high pressures of injection molding, for lower-cost production of even complex medium- to large-sized parts. Production runs can be from a few hundred to several thouand parts per year. Low injection pressures allow the use of relatively inexpensive aluminum tools rather than hardened steel. Already commercial are parts such as cable sheaves, sprockets, wear pads, and guiders. The firm will also raffle from its K stand a Bowflex exercise machine that includes Power Rods made from its materials. Quadrant Engineering Plastic Products, Tielt, Belgium; www.quadrantplastics.com
PP runs on PE blown film lines
Borealis has developed a range of polypropylene blown film materials that can be processed on conventional polyethylene blown-film lines. The new materials, in the Borclear transparent and Borsoft lines, overcome PP''s tendency to split at the molecular level as well as its lower melt strength, while also enhancing cooling and optical properties. The supplier reckons the materials will let blown-film processors enter new markets with their current machinery.
The Borclear grade RB707CF is a random copolymer with melt-flow index of 1.8-g/10-min. Borsoft SA233CF, a random heterophasic copolymer, is tough but soft and mainly used for coextrusions or blends to improve impact and tear properties. In hygienic films, it could allow downgauging from current PE films of 20% to 30%, says the supplier. Borealis A/S, Lyngby, Denmark; www.borealisgroup.com
PP for fiber optics could replace PBT
Polyolefins supplier Borealis says a new grade, PP1112, can replace polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) in loose-tube fiber-optic products using standard equipment already running PBT, with cost savings of 30% to 40% expected. The material does not slow line speeds but exceeds PBT in hydrolytic stability. It is also suitable for slotted core elements. Borealis A/S, Lyngby, Denmark; www.borealisgroup.com
Closure molders, step right up
Two new high-density polyethylene (HDPE) grades have been developed for beverage caps and closures. Labeled MB6561 and MB6562, the materials are said to allow downgauging with no loss of properties. Processing via injection or compression molding is possible. Independent French laboratory Qualtech rates the materials as very good in organoleptic properties, including freedom from objectionable taste or odor. Both also extend cap-design options. Borealis A/S, Lyngby, Denmark; www.borealisgroup.com
FR compounds with plenty of color
Grup Repol now offers the Dinalon PA range of colored flame-retardant nylon compounds that are halogen- and phosphorus-free. Colorants, from natural or white to intense color tones, do not affect mechanical properties, and reinforcement with glass or mineral fibers is offered. Traditional reinforced flame-retardant polyamides, also commercialized by Grupo Repol and widely used in the electric, electronic, and building industrial sectors, are based mainly on halogen flame retardants or red-phosphorous compounds. Initially, the new flame retardant range includes a PA6 30% glass-fiber-reinforced V0 natural; a PA6 30% mineral-charge-reinforced V0 grey; and a PA66 30% glass-fiber-reinforced resin V0 natural. All are available with different percentages of reinforcement and in a variety of colors. Grupo Repol, Almazora, Spain: www.repol.com
New TPV, SEBS compounds
So.F.Ter''s Forprene family of PP/EPDM dynamically vulcanized compounds has been extended with Series 665 for glass encapsulation. The Laprene SEBS family now includes the 8K1 Series, exhibiting good adhesion to nylons, polycarbonate, and acrylics; good UV resistance; very good colorability; and abrasion resistance. The company has also extended its Polifor polycarbonate compounds range with electrically conductive types containing carbon black and other conductive products; compounds for cosmetics packaging containing metal additives to yield densities up to 5g/cu cm; and sound-deadening compounds for loudspeakers and acoustic insulation. The So.F.Ter, Forli, Italy; www.softerspa.com
Extended TPV capability
Very soft engineered thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs); low-lead TPV grades for electrical applications; low-friction coating and molding products for TPV weatherseal applications; and new developments in foaming technology are among the Santoprene highlights from Advanced Elastomer Systems on the ExxonMobil Chemical stand. AES recently concluded an exclusive deal with Trexel for the use of MuCell foaming technology in automotive weatherseals (see First Look, p. ??). AES, Brussels, Belgium; www.santoprene.com
New entry into TPVs
Polykemi has initiated development of a thermoplastic vulcanizate for applications where, for example, high oil resistance or low compression-set are crucial. A complete product line is under development, but research grades are already available for small-scale sampling. The company will also present its existing Polyelast thermoplastic elastomers, Scancomp nanocomposites, and a new development initiative for compounds containing thermoplastics based on renewable resources. Polykemi AB, Ystad, Sweden; www.polykemi.se
Novel TPE for films, consumer goods, adhesives
Oppanol IBS from BASF is made from styrene and isobutene using "living cationic polymerization." Oppanol is BASF''s brand name for medium- and high-molecular polyisobutene (PIB), which prevents water vapor and other gases like argon from diffusing through a barrier layer, such as in sealants used in double glazing.
Oppanol IBS builds on these properties. Being a TPE, it has no cold-flow and is available in pellet form for processing like a regular thermoplastic. BASF will tailor molecular weight and styrene content to customer requirements, says Margit Hiller, who is in charge of product development. Oppanol IBS can be blended with other polymers. The company sees the polymer''s high barrier properties and processability being used in medical applications, as well as in construction. BASF, Ludwigshafen, Germany; www.basf.com
More polyolefin elastomers
The latest Engage grades based on ethylene butene complement existing ethylene octene compositions and are targeted for automotive TPO and interiors, as well as wire and cable for consumer goods applications. Supplier DuPont Dow cites high melt strength, impact performance, and clarity. ENR 7086 high-melt-strength grade, primarily designed for modifying polypropylene or HDPE blends, enables use of PP for large blowmoldings. ENR 7380 can be used to extend SEBS blends without sacrificing properties. ENR 7256 and ENR 8556 are designed for good processibility for foam and extrusion applications such as tubing, wire, and cable. ENR 7270, ENR 7447, and ENR 7467 offer improved impact performance at low temperatures for automotive TPO and plastics modification. DuPont Dow Elastomers S.A., Geneva, Switzerland; www.dupont-dow.com
Fully automatic MID technology
Erwin Quarder Werkzeugbau offers a fully automated solution of flex foil injection molding for production of molded interconnect devices (MIDs). The firm is a developer and producer of molds and automation systems, and a processor of finished parts. It builds fully automated product lines for MID-parts in large series, such as door-lock housings, gearbox cases, or multimedia cards.
Quarder claims to be the only company in the world currently producing in this fully automated method on such a large scale. Planned yearly output is 2.9 million parts, produced on four production lines equipped with robots.
The MID technology involves overmolding of flexible polyimide circuit foils. This is followed by automatic pick-and-place and soldering of microswitches. The 100% final quality test is also fully integrated into the system.
Quarder says use of flexible-circuit foils avoids limitations relating to the 3-D product design. Circuitry 55 µm in width is possible. The polyimide foil withstands temperature peaks of 310°C, continuous temperatures of 150°C, and can be used with various contact surfaces such as gold, tin, and copper. All usual soldering techniques can be used. High placement density can be achieved by arranging contacts on both sides of the foil. Erwin Quarder Werkzeugbau GmbH, Espelkamp, Germany; www.quarder.de
Low-pressure molding equipment
Wilmington Machinery will showcase the Lumina LP Series, which can be used for structural foam, gas-assist, and other low-pressure plastics molding processes for production of large, heavy-walled parts with multinozzle technology. Plus, the Series III wheel-type blowmolder takes up to 60 cavities and features barrier-extrusion capacity for producing complex containers in large quantities. Wilmington Machinery, Wilmington, NC; TAGS: Injection Molding Thermoforming Compounding Materials Business