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October 12, 2006

8 Min Read
e-Weekly News Briefs, October 9-13


Plastipak adding site in CA

Blowmolder Plastipak Packaging Inc. (Plymouth, MI) intends to open a new 180,000 square foot PET stretch blowmolding container manufacturing facility in the Beard Industrial District, Modesto, California. "Our goal was to establish a manufacturing presence on the West Coast," said Plastipak Regional Manager Scott Ratzman in a statement. Plastipak is the third largest custom blowmolder in North America, using both stretch blowmolding and extrusion blowmolding (the latter with rotary wheel machines). The company has sixteen blowmolding facilities in the U.S., Brazil and Europe. Last year it acquired LuxPet, a PET preform molding business based in Luxembourg.


Balda up for grabs

Three days after announcing it would miss its profit and sales targets for the year, publicly listed German injection molder Balda (Bad Oeynhausen) announced it was approached by Audley Capital Advisors LLP (London) with an offer to purchase Balda.

Balda made the Audley offer public on September 29. On September 26 it announced its full-year profits would be less than half the expected €46-48 million, with sales diving in Asia, Europe and North America. Balda made the announcement after a September sales meeting in China at which it saw forecasts from its customers that confirmed that poor sales in July and August were not a fluke but a trend, said the molder. Among the negatives, a major project for Nokia expected to begin this year has been delayed to 2007. In addition, Balda reports that while global unit sales of mobile phones continue to rise, extreme price wars have caused actual dollar sales to in fact stagnate or fall.

In Brazil, Balda says an unnamed customer has pulled production from that country to its facilities in Mexico and China, a move Balda blames on the strength of Brazil’s currency as well as an ongoing strike among import/export duty workers in Manaos, Brazil’s cell phone production hotbed.


Exxpro extends tire life

ExxonMobil Chemical Co. (Houston) has paired with The Yokohama Rubber Co. (YRC) Ltd. to provide a dynamically vulcanized alloy (DVA) inner tire liner based on Exxpro polymers. The DVA liner reportedly combines the flexibility and elasticity of rubber with low-air permeability of a plastic. ExxonMobil acquired the DVA technology from YRC in 2004, and formed a joint-cooperative agreement. In 2005, it announced a multimillion-dollar investment to double the production capacity of its Exxpro specialty elastomer used in DVA. That expansion at ExxonMobil’s Baytown, TX facility is slated to be finished in the fourth quarter of 2006.


PTI becomes RJG certified

PTI Engineered Plastics Inc. (Clinton Township, MI) has completed RJG Inc.’s (Traverse City, MI) Certified Tryout Shop program, which includes adopting systematic molding principles as well as decoupled molding techniques and rigorous mold trials. PTI works to turn functional prototypes into low-volume injection molding tools quickly, using aluminum for molds as well as alloys and hardened tool-steel products.


Engel expands eastward

Inaugurating the expansion on Sept. 5, injection molding and automation supplier Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) continues its expansion in Central and Eastern Europe, going back to where it all began in the region in 1990: Prague, Czech Republic. Engel and local government officials opened the new service center, which has 33 employees, 17 of whom are service engineers. The facility features spare parts storage, and by Engel’s estimates, is the largest subsidiary in the Engel organization. Also included is a training and technical center.

Engel now has facilities in Hungary, Poland, and Finland to serve growth in Eastern Europe. New construction at the Polish subsidiary is slated to finish by the end of the year, with operations initiating in Q1 2007. The company has also founded an Engel Main Office Moscow to coordinate machine sales in Russia.


Honeywell boosts caprolactam capacity

The world’s largest single-site production facility for nylon precursor caprolactam will boost production by 10% in response to rising Chinese demand. Honeywell Resins & Chemicals (Morris Township, NJ) already produces 750-million lb (340,000 tonnes) of caprolactam annually, but said Chinese consumption of the chemical has grown from 500,000 tonnes in 2002 to more than 700,000 tonnes last year, with demand in the country expected to outpace domestic supply through 2011.


Graham garners awards

Blowmolder Graham Packaging Co. LP (York, PA) was recognized with two DuPont Awards for Innovation for recent food and beverage packages. Its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) 46- and 64-ounce Heinz ketchup bottles won a Gold Award in the food and beverages category due to their "convenient means of storing, handling, and dispensing ketchup." That product’s packaging is reportedly preferred 70% to 30% by consumers. The single-serve PET bottle Graham made for S. Martinelli & Co.’s apple juice took home a Silver Award. By using liquid nitrogen to purge the container headspace and pressurize it as a hot-fill container, the package didn’t need vacuum panels or supporting ribs, allowing the unique apple shape.


K-Tron builds bulk-handling presence with Premier

K-Tron International (Pitman, NJ) has acquired conveying and bulk-handling equipment supplier Premier Pneumatics Inc. (Salina, KS) for $27.565 million in cash. Premier, and its various iterations, go back 50 years, with well-known bulk-powder-handling products including Aerolock rotary valves, Series II 2400 vacuum receivers, blower packages, and diverter valve product lines. The company’s 12-month revenues ending in August were $25.8 million.

Premier management, including Mike Wedel, VP sales and marketing; Todd Smith, VP engineering and manufacturing; and Gary Lee, VP finance, will be retained. K-Tron Senior VP Kevin Bowen, who’s responsible for K-Tron’s Process Group, will act as Premier’s president.


Briefs

SIEI and Gefran (Provaglio d’Iseo, Italy) are merging and will offer electrical drives under the Gefran-SIEI brand in the future.

A free technical guide to coloring plastics with masterbatches, including notes on the latest EU legislation regulations, is available from British masterbatch producer Colour Tone Masterbatch (www.colourtone-masterbatch.co.uk). Tony Gaukroger, the author, says he produced the book to help solve "problems which occur at the start of production, after the material selection and the color have been agreed. " While many of the issues raised can be resolved quickly and simply on-line, he believes that prevention is better than cure and a way to become more cost effective.

Total Petrochemicals (Brussels, Belgium) is proposing making 300 jobs redundant by 2011 in an effort to protect the competitiveness of the company’s styrenics’ activities. The company says sluggish demand in Europe and growing overcapacities of polystyrene forced the company to take these steps. At the same time the company is proposing a €400 million investment program for two of its French facilities, Carling and Gonfreville, to upgrade facilities. The Gonfreville plant would increase styrene production to 600,000 tonnes/yr. The plan also sees a reorganization of the company’s low-density polyethylene and ethylene vinyl acetate at the site.

Rewindo, the Bonn, Germany-based polyvinyl chloride window-profile recycling operation and the German association of winder and siding manufacturers (VFF, Frankfurt) expect to start closer cooperation regarding recycling and polymer reuse in the future, says Rewindo Managing Director Michael Vetter.

Plastics pipe and fitting processor Wavin (Zwolle, Netherlands) has decided to trade its shares on the Eurolist of the Euronext Amsterdam stock market. "We have reached the scale and size to see a stock listing as the logical next step in the development of the company," says company president and CEO Philip Houben. Stocks are expected to start trading this week.

Swiss plastics processor Georg Fischer (Schaffhausen) has developed a polyethylene fire hydrant for an all-plastics pipe system. The hydrant resists corrosion and frost, says the company.

Cedar Resource Management, one of Ireland’s waste electrical and electronic (E/E) equipment recyclers, has launched a new recycling facility in Dublin. The company has invested more than €12 million in its facilities in both Dublin and Cork. It is installing equipment that allows Cedar to exceed legislative targets for materials recycling and recovery. The Dublin facility has a capacity to process 30,000 tonnes of E/E waste/yr.


Names in the news

Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI), as part of its efforts to expand its Performance Plastics business, has named Pam Butcher to the newly created position of VP of Marketing. Butcher, who’s been with Dow since 1980, is currently the business VP of Dow’s Specialty Chemicals portfolio. The company announced an overall strategy to shift emphasis to its performance materials from commodity resins, as a means to boost profitability.

Compounder PolyOne Corp. (Cleveland, OH) has hired Craig Nikrant as VP and general manager of the North American Engineered Materials business unit. Nikrant comes to PolyOne from GE Plastics, where he was general manager Specialty Film & Sheet for the Americas. Prior to GE, Nikrant worked at 3M.


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 week of Oct. 2-6 saw a low price for LLDPE of $1180/tonne set on Monday, Oct. 2, and Wednesday, Oct. 5, for November buyers. LLDPE’s high of $1230/tonne was reached on Tuesday, Oct. 3, for January sellers.

For PP, a low price of $1180/tonne was reached on Monday, Oct. 2, for November buyers, and Wednesday, Oct. 4, for November through January buyers. The high of $1210/tonne was reached on Monday, Oct. 2, for December and January sellers; Tuesday, Oct. 3 for January sellers; and Friday, Oct. 6, for December and January sellers. LME_Oct0206.gif

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