Sponsored By

January 12, 2006

11 Min Read
E-Weekly News Briefs,  January 9 - 13

Thermoformed paint-film takes on injection in auto exteriors

General Motors Corp. (Detroit) has decided to move thermoformed paint-film exterior panels supplied by Durakon (Lapeer, MI) beyond niche vehicles to mass-market autos, signing off on an anticipated production volume of 250,000 rocker panels in 12 color pallets for use in the 9-7 Saab and Chevrolet SSR. The Durakon panels already are used by DaimlerChrysler on its Jeep Liberty Renegade.

Durakon has been at work developing exterior automotive parts that combine thermoforming with paint-film technology as a replacement for injection molded parts that are painted after molding. Durakon cites enhanced durability, faster time to market, greater environmental friendliness, and reduced tooling and piece costs as advantages for the thermoformed parts.

In March of last year, MPW e-Weekly reported that GM had contracted with Durakon for twin-sheet thermoformed cargo-cover systems and side-storage boxes for the 2007 model-year Avalanche, which will arrive at dealers in mid-2006. This move was an extension of a program that goes back to 2001.

BASF hopes to become global catalyst leader

Petrochemical giant BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) is on the prowl to take over Engelhard Corp. (Iselin, NJ), supplier of products for catalysis and surface finishing. If successful, the move would make BASF the world''s leading provider of catalyst systems. The German company has proposed an all-cash bid to acquire all outstanding common stock shares of Engelhard, offering $37/share, which BASF says represents a 23% premium over Engelhard''s closing stock price on Dec. 20, 2005.

"Engelhard [would be] an excellent enhancement for the BASF portfolio," says Jürgen Hambrecht, chairman of BASF''s board of executive directors. "By combining the R&D activities of both companies, BASF would create a unique global technology platform for catalysts and open up further growth [as well as] innovation potential."

BASF originally made efforts to negotiate a friendly takeover with Engelhard''s board and management, but this move was rejected. The company is now making an unfriendly bid to acquire the outstanding Engelhard shares, and it plans to file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission the necessary tender offer documentation.

Engelhard confirmed it had received BASF''s unsolicited offer but the board of directors is requesting stockholders take no action until it can meet to review the proposal. The board said it will make a recommendation to stockholders "in due course", which Engelhard media contact Ted Lowen was unable to define.

BASF appears to be on an acquisition roll. Late last month it says it wanted to acquire the construction chemical division from competitor Degussa (Frankfurt, Germany).

Additives, minerals consolidation continues

Rio Tinto (Toulouse, France), mining and processing company, is merging three of its industrial minerals businesses in order to serve markets better, it says. Rio Tinto Borax, borate supplier; Luzenac, talc producer; and Dampier Salt, a salts exporter, are being combined under a single management group to form Rio Tinto Minerals (RTM).

Together with Rio Tinto Iron & Titanium, RTM will form the Rio Tinto Industrial Minerals Product Group. Group CEO Andrew Mackenzie says combining the businesses'' resource base, know-how, and infrastructure should support global market growth better with particular focus on developing economies.

Starting next month, Gary Goldberg, current president and CEO of Borax will become president and COO of RTM. Adam Parr, managing director of Dampier Salt, assumes the role of president and chief commercial officer.

A new year, also new structures

The New Year welcomed in some familiar company names but with new legal structures. Silcones producer Wacker (Munich, Germany) has moved from a private limited company (GmbH) to a stock corporation (AG) with the company''s shares listed. "Private limited company, as a legal form, involves serious financing limitations, especially when injecting equity capital," says Joachim Rauhut, Wacker''s chief financial officer. "In the context of the new Basel Capital Accord (so-called Basel II), this could translate into tighter loan conditions in the future."

Micromold builder and -molder thinXXS Microtechnology (Zweibrücken, Germany) has also changed its legal status as well as its name from a limited liability company to a stock company. Marketing manager Thomas Stange says the conversion allows thinXXS more flexibility in pursuing capital "for larger investments such as the expansion of worldwide sales activities or extension of production capacity."

Lutz Weber and Hans-Joachim Hartmann, company co-founders and previous general managers, are now members of the executive board. Ownership remains unchanged. Besides the two founders, stock holders of thinXXS Microtechnology AG are PRICAP Venture Partenrs (Hamburg), GAM GmbH Management Consulting (Unterhaching, Germany), FIB Fonds für Innovation, Beschäftigung Rheinland-Pfalz Unternehmensbeteiligungsgesellschaft, and Wagnisfinzierungsgesellschaft für Technologieförderung in Rheinland-Pfalz (both Mainz, Germany).

Interplastica builds strength in Moscow

Messe Düsseldorf recently completed the ninth staging of the Russian rubber and plastics show Interplastica (Dec. 13-16), saying the event drew a record number of exhibitors (450) and visitors (25,000) to over 107,600 sq ft of show space. Visitors hailed primarily from the Russian federation and surrounding countries, while exhibitors journeyed mostly from Russia, Germany, and Italy. The event was held concurrently in Moscow with the packaging event Upakovka/Upak Italia and the RePlast 2005 plastic-recycling conference.

Russia offers a variety of opportunities, according to Messe Düsseldorf, which says in injection molding alone there are approximately 2000 shops running around 10,000 machines, with fully 80% of those presses needing to be replaced. Messe reports that Russia imported €61.3 million in European machines in 2004, up 45.6% over 2003. The use of plastics in the country also has room to grow with per capita plastics consumption at only 2.7 kg compared to 17-22 kg in most Western European countries.

Austria, Iran build machinery bridge

Austrian exports of plastics processing equipment to Iran have grown by about 30%/yr in the last three years, reports the commercial section of the Austrian Embassy in Tehran, following the recent Iran Plast `05 show. Overall, Iran is now among the top 10 export destinations for Austrian-made tooling and processing equipment.

On-call extrusion parts, service

Davis-Standard LLC Extrusion Systems Group has introduced a 24/7 service line for spares and service under a toll-free (free in North America only) number at (800) 480 8105. Parts shipments, if in stock, can be received within two days.

SMS Cincinnati extruders find Spanish home

Processing equipment maker Cincinnati Extrusion (Vienna, Austria), part of the SMS Plastics Technology group, has delivered its 300th single-screw Alpha-brand extruder to Spanish pipe manufacturer Tubos Perfilados, also known as Tupersa, (El Burgo de Ebro/Saragossa). The pipe processor has an annual production capacity of 30,000 tonnes. The 300th Alpha is the tenth such extruder this customer acquired from Cincinnati in 2005. Tupersa how has 40 extruders and downstream equipment made by the Austrian company.

Brampton beefs up lab

Equipment manufacturer Brampton Engineering (Brampton, ON, Canada) is installing two blown film lines: a 9-layer coextrusion line and a 7-layer AquaFrost water-quenching line at its lab facility. Both lines will be full-scale production models to allow customers to run experimental multilayer films structures, says Philip Kwok, VP sales. They should be available in late spring.

Antimicrobial film garners award

Seven Fraunhofer research institutes involved in the polymer surface association POLO were awarded the ICE Innovation Award by International Converting Exhibition ICE (Munich, Germany) organizers for the development of special antimicrobial polyester or polyethylene films used for packaging.

Jarden grows in 2005

Jarden Corp. (Rye, NY) reported that its third quarter net sales increased 284% to $938 million compared to $245 million for the same period in 2004. Net income for the third quarter, which ended Sept. 30, 2005, increased by 14.1% to $25.4 million. Current statements include the results of operations from US Playing Card, American Household, and Holmes Group businesses, which were acquired in June 2004, January 2005, and July 2005 respectively. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2005, Jarden reported net sales increased 268% to $2.2 million compared to $602 million for the same period a year earlier.

Martin E. Franklin, chairman and CEO, commented on the results in a statement. "Our businesses produced another record quarter. Our strong operating performance in the face of tough macro economic conditions shows the resilience of our diversified portfolio of brands and markets has paid off." Franklin cited organic growth in Jarden''s Consumer Solutions and Outdoor Solutions as particularly beneficial. Jarden manufactures a number of well-known products/brands including Mr. Coffee, Oster, Seal-a-Meal, Sunbeam, and Coleman among others. The company employs 16,000 worldwide.

Webinar offers info on CAFTA

The U.S. Commercial Service of the Dept. of Commerce will hold an Internet seminar Jan.19 on the topic `Capitalizing on Central America - Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement''. The webinar is at 11:00 AM EST, 10:00 AM CST, 9:00 AM MST, 8:00 AM PST, 7:00 AM AST.

Central America is the third largest market for U.S. goods and services in Latin America after Mexico and Brazil and the 16th largest market worldwide. Implementation of CAFTA-DR (Central America Free Trade Agreement-plus Dominican Republic) will

provide an immediate boost to U.S. exports and investment, according to the Dept. of Commerce. Regional Senior Commercial Officer Dan Thompson, who was spent the past six years in Central America, will provide insights and answer questions from San Salvador on current developments and opportunities in the market and how U.S. firms can take advantage of the U.S.''s newest free trade partner.

To participate in this free webinar you need a computer with high-speed Internet connection. Contact [email protected] to get your pass code for seminar.

MonoSol LLC adds capacity, moves HQ

MonoSol LLC, processor of water-soluble films, has moved its headquarters from Portage, IN to Merrillville, IN; the new location offers room to expand its R&D facilities, says the firm.

In April 2004 Monosol acquired a European competitor, Aquafilm, now called Monosol AF, and has recently there installed a new blown extrusion line to meet growing demand for water soluble laundry bags as well as detergent and packaging films.

One of the world''s largest PET preform molders and blow molders of bottles for the beverage market, Amcor PET Packaging (Ann Arbor, MI), now also serves the personal care market. Its first customer publicized is Method Home, for which Amcor blowmolds 15-ounce, teardrop shaped PET bottles for its line of gel and cream body wash. Seaquist Closures molds the two-color disc top closures used.

Paul Davis manages Amcor''s personal care business. Amcor recently established the Personal Care business unit as part of its Diversified Products division, to supply packaging solutions to market segments such as personal care, food and liquor.

Method also tapped Amcor to supply bottles for its hand wash bottles, its best selling product. It had imported these bottles but since late 2005 sources them from Amcor.

Solvay continues its acquisition splurge

Brussels, Belgium-based engineering thermoplastics supplier Solvay, which less than one month ago announced it would acquire the Polymers Division of Gharda Chemicals in India, has added another arrow to its quiver with its Jan.10 announcement of a binding agreement for the acquisition of Mississippi Polymer Technologies (MPT; Bay St. Louis, MS). The MPT acquisition should be completed in the coming months. MPT commercialized Parmax transparent amorphous plastics, which Solvay says offer a remarkable and unique combination of strength, stiffness and hardness not available in other amorphous materials. Chemical resistance for Parmax is comparable to semi-crystalline materials and is unsurpassed by any other transparent polymer, according to Solvay. Parmax can be extruded or injection molded on standard equipment and is foreseen as an alternative to metals in applications such as aerospace components, medical tubing and devices, semiconductor components, and industrial applications including bushings, bearings, gears, and valves.

Solvay plans to integrate the Parmax and Gharda product lines within its Solvay Advanced Polymers LLC operating unit headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Asian PET demand continues to boom

The new, fifth edition of PCI''s supply/demand report on the Asian Pacific polyethylene terephthalate (PET) market is available.

PCI predicts PET demand will see 11%/yr demand growth in the region, with13% demand growth in China. China accounts for over 40% of total PET consumption in the region, says PCI. Demand for PET packaging for juices, teas, isotonics, and dairy drinks is much faster than for carbonated soft drinks (CSD) packaging. Water bottling has the strongest growth at 25%.

By 2005 both the water sector and the other beverages markets had grown to be larger than CSD, which has shrunk back to just under 20% of total consumption, says PCI.

The report identifies 44 PET suppliers in the region producing 7 million tons, a growth of over 670% in 10 years. Five of the 44 number in the top 10 global PET supply ranks. The 10 largest processors in the region account for 31% of demand.

Information on the 250-page report is available at +44-1332-295-200 or email [email protected].

Sign up for the PlasticsToday NewsFeed newsletter.

You May Also Like