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May 27, 2002

5 Min Read
Materials Update

Point and click for answers and discounts


New features added to the Omnexus website include a TechCenter and a surPlus Center.

Online resin supplier Omnexus has developed new features aimed at aiding injection molders on both technical and economic levels. First, the site has introduced a tech center that connects users with FAQs and technical experts to answer materials questions. Second, it's opened the surPlus center, which lists excess inventory from member resin suppliers and gives molders access to discounted prime materials.

Tech Savvy
On any given day, molders and designers may encounter at least one glitch that is materials or process related. These are the types of questions that used to be answered by a resin supplier's resident guru. Getting that same type of service today, however, requires only a few mouse clicks, and that is what Omnexus brings to the molding community with its latest online offering.

"The new TechCenter allows processors and designers to connect with the best technical experts that our resin and processing suppliers have to offer," says Mike Thaler, vp strategy for Omnexus. "We've created a knowledge base around markets, resins, and processes. Our member companies' tech experts have loaded some of the most common questions they receive, and this knowledge base is full-text searchable."

Also, users can write a question of their own and submit it to suppliers. Answers are typically returned within 24 hours, and the Q&A then becomes part of the knowledge base unless specified as private by the user.

Surplus Sale
Navigating to the new surPlus center brings up a searchable catalog with listings of excess inventory from various member resin producers. According to Michael Walsh, interim ceo, this center opens the market for excess material to all plastic buyers. "The center lets all buyers tap into this cost-saving method."

The center lists 64 lots of prime resin spanning 46 different polymer grades. BASF, Dow, DSM, and Entec are currently posting material with two other suppliers to be added soon. Both prime and nonprime materials can be posted, and suppliers pay a fee to have materials listed.

Buyers can search and view listings of available surplus materials easily on the site. Clicking on a particular resin brings up more details about the lot, along with buttons for inquiry and more info. If interested, the buyer clicks the inquiry button, which brings up a form asking for contact information. This is then e-mailed to the seller, who contacts the potential buyer directly. All transactions are completed offline.

For sellers, the center is a cost-effective means of clearing out excess inventory without going through a secondary sales channel. It is also a way for buyers to purchase at a discount the resin they normally get from the same supplier.—Michelle Maniscalco

Atlanta, GA
(678) 302-3438

Carrying case boosts shelf appeal


Most would consider the Q-Tip to be a staple in the toiletry bag. But unlike its traveling partner, the toothbrush, Q-Tips don't have their own case; they're usually thrown into a plastic bag or dumped in the bottom of the bag. This scenario is what inspired Union Street Brand Packaging (Clinton, MA) to approach Q-Tips' maker, Unilever, with an idea for an injection molded package.

Union Street focused on the trend towards portability in packaging and presented Unilever with a travel case for 30 Q-Tips. "In addition to portability, we knew the travel case had to feel good in the consumer's hand, be durable, and allow the cotton swabs to be seen in this case on the retail shelf," explains David Schultz, vp and gm of Union Street. "More importantly, we knew it had to be cost effective to produce in high volume for Unilever."

The result was a patented package including a living hinge and a closure mechanism that produces an audible click for easy closure. The package is see-through to facilitate shelf appeal and is made of a specially formulated PP from Huntsman that ensures label adhesion. The case was manufactured by Union Street.

Huntsman Corp.
Salt Lake City, UT
(801) 584-5700

Engineered Plastics demand to increase through 2006


According to a study conducted by The Freedonia Group Inc., demand for engineered plastics in the U.S. is projected to advance 4 percent/year through 2006, to 5.7 billion lb. Gains are expected to come from cost and performance advantages over competitive materials, which should spur the development of new applications. But improvements in resin grades and processing technology will be necessary to maintain the momentum since relatively few new resins are being introduced.

In 2001 ABS, polycarbonate, and nylon were the leading engineered plastics according to the study, representing 74 percent of volume. Of these, polycarbonate presents the best growth opportunities through 2006 with projected annual gains of 5.2 percent to 1.4 billion lb. ABS, on the other hand, is predicted to advance at a well-below-average pace through 2006, primarily due to competition from less costly polypropylene. Demand for nylon is projected to grow by more than 4 percent/year through 2006 to 1.2 billion lb. The fastest gains are anticipated for relatively low-volume resins such as thermoplastic polyester and polyphenylene oxide.

The Freedonia Group forecasts that the electrical/electronic and motor vehicle markets will remain dominant and expand at above-average rates through 2006. The smaller industrial markets will present the best opportunities for engineered plastics. Demand in both markets will be for materials providing high strength; heat, corrosion, and chemical resistance; reduced weight; and good electrical properties.

Production of engineered materials evolved in a way that only a small number of firms can compete, and in 2001 only six companies accounted for 85 percent of the U.S. aggregate production capacity: GE Plastics, Bayer, DuPont, Dow Plastics, Ticona, and Honeywell International. GE, with 38 percent of capacity for that year, is the leader in the U.S. as well as globally due to its strength in polycarbonate and a variety of other resins.

The Freedonia Group Inc.
Cleveland, OH
(440) 684-9600

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