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June 1, 2007

17 Min Read
e-Weekly News Briefs June 11-15


Balda shows off Decoline

At its recent open house, injection molder Balda (Bad Oeynhausen, Germany) showed visitors the Decoline molding cell, said to be the only production cell to integrate injection molding, metallizing, and painting completely in one production flow. Balda developed the system with Singulus Technologies (Kahl, also Germany), best known as a manufacturer of optical-disc processing cells. Balda and Singulus agreed in October 2006 to develop Decoline, basing it on Singulus’ 3DS metallizer, and Balda will have exclusive use of the system for some applications.


Canon VA wins 3D Systems’ business

Canon Virginia Inc. (Newport News, VA) has won the order to mold and assemple the V-Flash compact desktop 3-D modeler, designed and marketed by 3D Systems. Canon will also make or source the molds for the project. Canon already molds and assembles printers and copiers for its parent company, but recently was set up as a separate profit center to source outside business.

The V-Flash desktop modeler from 3D Systems can build ready-to-use, three-dimensional models within hours, and in the next years it and similar products are expected to have a profound impact on the product design industry. Canon Virginia also will run a cartridge collection and recycling program for the product. The V-Flash desktop modeler will be available this summer in the U.S.


Glow wire testing changes

A key change in plastic products’ flammability testing in domestic appliances (standard IEC/EN 60335-1) has been introduced by Germany’s VDE Testing and Certification Institute. Instead of glow wire testing of a finished plastic component, OEMs can now specify a plastic for their finished plastic components that has already been tested and certified by the VDE after glow wire testing of test plaques. The change could offer substantial benefits for OEMs. Previously, every plastic component in a product series had to be tested individually at the VDE – meaning testing often occurred late in product development. In contrast, the VDE testing of plaques can be done when specifying materials, at the beginning of product development. VDE certification often is a prerequisite for a product’s legal sale in many countries.

The testing program for the new VDE material certificate provides for glow wire tests of plaques (round discs) in four colors and three different thicknesses. To comply with the domestic appliance standard, the plastic plaque must reach a glow wire ignitability temperature (GWIT) of at least 775 C and a glow wire flammability index (GWFI) of at least 850 C. If the plastic passes these tests, it can be processed into components of any wall thickness and any color.

Needless to say, the change has inspired some plastics suppliers to have their materials certified, among them Lanxess (Leverkusen, Germany). “Lanxess has accordingly had some flame-retardant grades of its Durethan polyamide and Pocan polyester tested by the VDE,” said Marcus Schäfer, in the semi-crystalline products business unit at LANXESS. The firm also intends to have VDE testing done for all flame retardant materials that have a Yellow Card listing with the U.S. testing institute Underwriters Laboratories.


Perstorp invests in plant

Specialty chemicals company Perstorp is investing €175 million in a new plant for production of Valeric aldehyde and its derivates 2-PH alcohol, Valeric acid, and a new plasticizer, DPHP. With this significant investment, Perstorp will be able to offer the market a cost-effective plasticizer and is confident that it will meet both regulatory and labeling requirements.

The investment is the largest ever in the 126-year history of Perstorp. “This investment confirms our long-term commitment to this important industry sector,” said president and CEO, Bo Dankis. “It is also a good example of our ambition to meet new demands on the market, combining cost-efficiency and environmental requirements.”

In 2011, when full production capacity is reached, Perstorp will be able to offer the market 150,000 tonnes of DPHP (Di-Propyl-Heptyl-phthalate), 2-PH (2 propylheptanol), and Valeric acid.

DPHP is expected to be a key mainstream c10 plasticizer, used in PVC applications such as electrical cables, plastic flooring and interior details in cars. The applications are consumed in huge volumes today and the anticipated worldwide growth is expected to exceed 5% annually.

Building on the experience gathered from over 25 years as a fully integrated plasticizer producer, Perstorp will develop the technology in-house.


German window profiles see light at end of tunnel

German lineals processors may be sighing relief that at long last their branch is seeing positive signs. After nearly 10 years of falling markets, the sector reports that demand for window profiles in 2006 rose by 9.6%, bringing the market value up to 12.7 million window units (completed windows). Plastics, mainly PVC, again dominated the profile market in Germany last year.

The door market saw a 5.4% increase to 1.19 million units, according to a report issued by Pro-K and the German association of window and siding producers (VFF, Frankfurt). The two associations are further predicting a continued rise in the profile section this year that should continue in 2008. Much of this demand is being spurred by high-energy costs and attempts by householders to limit these through more environmentally friendly window units. An extremely mild winter in 2006-2007 also played a role in permitting continued building and construction work in months not normally use to such activity. Experts also say the decision by the German government to up the value added tax from 16% to 19%, which took effect at the beginning of the year, spurred many homeowners to make last-minute orders and pay for plastics lineals at the end of 2006.


Label-manufacturing consolidation

BMO Capital Markets announced that Elk Grove Village, IL-based label converter Fort Dearborn Company, a portfolio company of Genstar Capital LLC, acquired Renaissance Mark from Arsenal Capital Partners Inc., a New York, NY-based private equity firm. BMO Capital Markets initiated the transaction, assisted in negotiations, and served as exclusive financial advisor to Renaissance Mark and Arsenal Capital Partners Inc.

Renaissance Mark Inc. (Bowling Green, KY) is a manufacturer of consumer product labels, including cut and stack glue applied labels, roll-to-roll glue applied labels, shrink and specialty labels. It serves customers in the food, beverage, water, wine and spirits, and personal care markets. The company operates four strategically located manufacturing facilities throughout North America.

Fort Dearborn Company is a manufacturer of high-impact decorative labels, including cut and stack, pressure-sensitive and shrink-sleeve labels for the beverage, food, household products, paint and coatings, personal care, and private label/retail markets.


PVC Innovation contest draws 104 entries

The third SolVin Awards for PVC Innovation, a contest organized by SolVin, the Solvay/BASF joint venture supplying PVC compounds, has sparked the interest of 104 entries. Five winners will be chosen for various product categories, and the winners will be announced during a gala event in Düsseldorf on October 29. This is the third SolVin Awards for PVC Innovation. Contest entries came in from across the processing world and included efforts from processors, compounders, recyclers, and designers, but also academic institutions, additives or machine-tool manufacturers, private persons, and students. This year, SolVin has decided to crown the most innovative projects in two new categories: Industrial Design and Recycling. The winner in both categories will get a €7500 prize. Awards in the general category are substantial, with €50,000 for the top winner, €25,000 for the silver medalist, and €10,000 for third place. Winners are chosen by a five-member independent panel.


Additives prices hiked

Globally active plastics additives supplier Chemtura (Middlebury, CT) announced it has this month, or as contracts permit, raised selling prices of all organotin stabilizers by 10% for all package sizes in North and Latin America. Non-formula-based prices for metallic stearates were also increased, by $0.05–$0.15 per pound. The supplier points to escalating raw materials costs for the price increases.

In related news, Chemtura has named Mark Chrisman to VP global sales of its polymer additives group. His responsibilities include plastic additives, flame retardants, and brominated products. Previously, Chrisman served as the global commercial director for flame retardants and brominated products. He has worked for Chemtura and one of its founding companies, Great Lakes Chemical, for a combined seven years.


Albemarle adds FR capacity

Flame-retardant manufacturer Albemarle Corp. (Richmond, VA) will expand production of its Magnifin magnesium hydroxide flame retardants at its Breitenau, Austria facility to 20,000 tonnes/yr. The coated and uncoated flame-retardant powders, which Albemarle says are in high demand, are especially suited for thermoplastics materials and elastomers with processing temperatures in excess of 200C. Included in this group, are products like energy and LAN data cables; automotive wire and cable; electronic/electrical connectors; and construction foils.

Magnifin is a manufacturing joint venture between Albemarle and RHI Group of Austria. Albemarle supplies all manner of flame retardants, including aluminum and magnesium hydroxide.


Researchers create inherently FR material

A University of Massachusetts Amherst research team has created a polymer that resists fire without halogens or other flame retardants, and when it does burn, only releases water vapor. The team, led by Richard Farris, Bryan Coughlin, and Todd Emrick, has presented its findings to interested parties from the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Army.

Flame retardant materials are measured by their char yield, which is the material left behind that does not turn into gas after burning. In the case of some plastics, that off-gassing can be toxic. The higher the char yield, the better, and the bishydroxydeoxybenzoin (BHDB) polymer building block that was created results in resins with a char yield of 70% without any additives, compared to polypropylene, for instance, which in a virgin state has a char yield of zero.

The BHDB material is reportedly clear, flexible, durable, and economical to manufacture, especially compared to other inherently flame-resistant materials like PEI or PPS. Right now the lab is ramping up production for test components.


Briefs

A new moldmaking alliance includes injection moldmaker JS Die & Mold Inc. (Byron Center, MI), Wes-Tech Automation Solutions (Buffalo Grove, IL) for production line automation, and Jungwoo USA, offering a lower-cost offshore sourcing option for injection molds and dies via its factory in Shenzhen, China.

PVC Compounders (Kendallville, IN) has acquired the Marion, IN-based plastics compounder Prime PVC. This acquisition follows the takeover last December of Breen Color Concentrates (Lambertville, NJ) by PVC Compounders.

IDI Composites International (Noblesville, IN) has invested in new equipment for production of sheet molding compounds (SMC). According to the company, this new equipment is also suited for sampling, testing, and new-product development.

Coatings and surface finishing company Sherwin-Williams (Cleveland, OH) has just introduced a method for processors to quickly and easily touch-up powder-coated products. The Powdura Color Selector Touch-Up program features aerosol spray-can coatings that can be used with the company’s existing Powdura powder-coatings systems. These are available in epoxies, polyester, hybrids, and polyester urethanes.

Polymer and additives producer BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) has increased its Hexamoll Dinch plasticizer production from 25,000 tonnes/yr to 100,000 tonnes/yr at its headquarters. The additive, used in plastics toys, medical devices, and food-contact packaging films to provide flexibility while meeting European Food Safety Authority regulations, is in high demand, says Albert Heuser, president of the company’s petrochemicals division. The additive was first commercialized in 2002.

Pequiven, the Venezuelan state-owned petrochemical company, and Brazil’s Braskem have opted for Spheripol technology from Basell (Hoofddorp, Netherlands) for a new joint-venture polypropylene plant located at Jose, Venezuela. The 450,000 tonnes/yr capacity facility is set to start-up in 2009. In other news from Basell, the company plans to debottleneck and revamp its polypropylene processing plant in Brindisi, Italy that uses its Spherizone technology. When completed in 2009, the capacity will be increased by 50,000 tonnes/yr to 235,000 tonnes/yr.

All shares of Remak Maschinenbau (Reinheim, Germany), a producer of robotic systems and temperature control technology for injection molding machinery, formerly owned by Klöcknerwerke, have been acquired by Hähn Automation (Rheinböllen, Germany). Remak will continue to market its products independently following the takeover.

Packaging-film processor Nordenia International (Greven, Germany) has taken over the shares from its former joint-venture partner Thong Fook Corp. of the Malaysian Nordenia-Thong Fook flexible-packaging and film-processing operations.

European polymer distributor Distrupol (Chertsey, England), a subsidiary of Univar, has added a range of highly-transparent amorphous nylons from Aquafil Technopolymers (Arco di Trento, Italy) to its portfolio. The range offers low oxygen and carbon-dioxide permeation, good surface hardness against abrasion and scratches, and high chemical resistance. The Aquamid HG product family comes in glass loadings from 12-60%.

Chem Polymer (Brownsville, TN), a subsidiary of Teknor Apex, has begun commercial-scale production of nylon and other engineering thermoplastics at a new 24,000,000-lb/yr capacity compounding plant in Tennessee. Teknor Apex acquired Chem Polymer in 2004.

Southeast Polymer Solutions Inc. (SEPSI; Kennesaw, GA) has been named the extrusion sales representative for Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee by Maag Pump Systems Textron.

The Associated Press reported that Korean electronics firm, LG Philips LCD Co., is changing investment plans, shifting away from an older generation LCD display operation to a new plant designed to meet large flat-screen television demand. The goal is for mass production to begin in 2009. In the previous plan, the facility would primarily manufacture computer monitors to 22 inches and TV’s to 32 inches. The new plans will focus on TVs that are 50 inches and up. LG is the second largest maker of plasma screens globally, but it recently announced it would shut down a plasma facility since it was losing money.


Names in the News

David Stonecipher has joined polymer and additives maker PolyOne (Cleveland, OH) as marketing director North America for its color and additives division. He previously worked for Sensient Technologies.

The Nova Chemical/Ineos (Pittsburgh, PA/Landhurst, England) polystyrene joint venture announced in March has selected Tom Strifler as VP operations and engineering and John Morgan to be VP purchasing and logistics. Both previously served in posts at Nova Chemicals.

Joining processing equipment manufacturer Milacron (Batavia, OH) is Sam DeBartolo as sales manager of rebuild and retrofits for the company’s Servtek Services business unit. He previously worked as national sales manager for Epco (Fremont, OH) a re-manufacturer of processing equipment. Stephen W. Smith has taken a post with Servtek Services as a technical process engineer for the western U.S.

Peter Kelly has joined JER Envirotech International (Vancouver, BC) as the chief technology officer, after serving as a technical consultant to the wood-plastic composite (WPC) manufacturer. Kelly will be tasked with creating new WPC formulations, expanding WPC processing technologies for the company, and investigating new polymer/fiber combinations. Kelly’s previous work includes 10 years with Canadian consultancy Nefilim Research Ltd. and serving as senior research scientist for DuPont Canada.

Molder/moldmaker Micron Products (Fitchburg, MA) has named Michael Nolan as its CEO, according to the Worcester Business Journal. Nolan will oversee all three Micron divisions, which include New England Molders, Micron Integrated Technologies, and Leominster Tool.

Delegates at the Global Pultrusion Conference held June 7-8 in Baltimore chose Robert Sweet as the winner of the Brandt Goldsworthy Pultruder of the Year 2007 Award. Out of 7 candidates, Bob Sweet got almost 2/3 of the vote.

Surface heat exchanger supplier Bimetalix (Sullivan, WI) has added a European sales office in England. The company, which manufacturers stainless steel, nickel, and trimetallic scraped surface heat exchangers, has leased space in Middlesex, with David Busse acting as the technical sales manager.

Auxiliary supplier conglomerate, ACS Group (New Berlin, WI) has hired Brian Quinn as the VP of engineering. Quinn comes to ACS from TI Automotive’s HVAC group, where he was engineering director. The ACS Group includes AEC, Sterling, Cumberland, Colortronic, Wabash, Carver, and Economizer.

Petrochemical and plastics consultants, Chemical Market Associates Inc. (CMAI; Houston) have announced two hires serving synthetic fibers and fibers and feedstocks. Vincent Chua will work from CMAI’s Singapore office, focusing on synthetic fibers, while Karen Jones will act as director of fibers and feedstocks for the Americas from CMAI’s Houston headquarters.

Analytical equipment and sensing technology supplier Dynisco (Franklin, MA) has received a GOST R Pattern approval, which allows the company’s products to be imported into Russia. The company has created a Russian distribution network with the help of the U.S.-Russia Marketing Group (Stamford, CT).

Custom downstream extrusion equipment manufacturer, CDS Inc. (Lachine, QC) has launched a new website—www.cdsmachines.com—with more pages to help optimize its search-engine performance. The site includes a quote form and literature download.

To mark its first 100 years going back to Belgian-American chemist, Leo Baekeland’s creation of a phenol-formaldehyde resin in 1907, London’s Science Museum has an exhibit looking forward to what plastics may allow in the future. Displays include plastic blood for use in transfusions and shape-shifting airplanes, among others.

Supplier and manufacturer of polyaryletherketones, Victrex plc, is relocating its U.S. subsidiary’s corporate headquarters from Greenville, SC to West Conshohocken, PA. In addition to the polymers, Victrex supplies Vicote coatings. The company said the new location, outside Philadelphia, will accommodate its growth and ease travel for visitors, especially from overseas.

The U.S. division of Bulk Molding Compounds Inc. (BMCI; West Chicago, IL) has been awarded ISO/TS 16949 Certification. BMCI’s Mexico City location was ISO/TS certified in 2006. ISO/TS 16949 is the quality benchmark for companies involved in the supply of products to manufacturers of automobiles and automotive assemblies. Christopher Vaisvil, president of BMCI’s U.S. operations, says his is the only BMC supplier in North America to achieve this certification.

Gershow Recycling will receive delivery of a recycling system from Global Resource Corp. (West Berlin, NJ) to process automotive shredder residue. Global Resource’s Hawk 10 system uses microwave frequencies to convert shredder residue, or the bits left over after scrap metal is pulled from waste vehicles and the remains are shredded, into oil and gas, reportedly reducing the amount of scrap that’s landfilled by 65%, and allowing for the recovery of additional metal. The microwaves serve to break the hyrdocarbons’ molecular chains, converting them into 80% light, combustible gases and 20% oil.

As part of Pennsylvania’s Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), Multi Plastics Inc. and Multi Tool Inc. (both Saegertown) will receive $800,000 to renovate their 73,6220-sq-ft plant. The $2.2 million project will reportedly allow the company to retain its 76 employees. In its 50-year history, PIDA has invested more than $2.3 billion to build more than 300 industrial parks in Pennsylvania.

Industrial and food service packaging supplier Polymer Packaging Inc. (Massillon, OH) has installed a Alpine Machine Direction Orientation system at its Ohio facility from Hosokawa Alpine. The system has a shaftless unwind for three- or six-inch cores and can orient film with a maximum lay-flat width of 78.75-inches.


Global Plastics Bulletin Board

The Packaging Machinery Manufacturer Institute (PMMI; Arlington, VA) is accepting nominations for its Packaging Hall of Fame, to be announced at an awards ceremony during Pack Expo Las Vegas 2007. The awards recognize significant contribution to the industry and packaging education efforts. Nominations will be judged by the Packaging Hall of Fame Commission, which is made up of representatives from a cross section of the packaging industry. Submissions must be received by August 3; to nominate someone send in a 500-word-or-less description of the individual’s contribution to packaging to Ben Miyares ([email protected]) and a recent photograph.


Weekly futures activity from the LME

Futures trading of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) and polypropylene (PP) on the London Metal Exchange (LME) for the shortened trading week of June 4-8 saw a low price for LLDPE of $1210/tonne set on Tuesday, June 5, Thursday, June 7, and Friday, June 8, for July, August, and September buyers. LLDPE’s high of $1250/tonne was reached on Monday, June 4, for August sellers.

For PP, a low price of $1210/tonne was reached on Tuesday, June 5, and Wednesday, June 6, for July buyers. The high of $1245/tonne was reached on Monday, June 4, for August and September sellers.

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