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Articles from 2009 In January

The Materials Analyst, Part 104: Is your molding machine running like a melt-flow-rate tester? – Part 2

To achieve a repeatable process, check the press.

In order to understand the interaction between melt-flow rate (MFR) and process consistency, it is important that we appreciate the meaning of the MFR measurement and what it is designed to do.

The MFR test is governed by specific procedures covered under ASTM D 1238 or ISO 1133 and involves heating a material to a specified temperature in a cylinder of a particular length and diameter. Once the material has been heated to the desired temperature, a piston and the appropriate weight are placed on the column of molten material. This load causes the material to extrude through an orifice of a standard size positioned at the bottom of the cylinder. The amount of material extruded through this orifice in a particular time is normalized to a flow rate expressed in g/10 min or dg/min.

This series of articles is designed to help molders understand how a few analytical tools can help diagnose a part failure. Michael Sepe, our analyst and author, is an independent materials and processing consultant based in Sedona, AZ. Mike has provided analytical services to material suppliers, molders, and end users for 20-plus years. You can reach him at [email protected].

In this test, the pressure on the material is a constant and the rate of flow is the result. Since the pressure cannot change, any change in the viscosity of the material will result in a change in the MFR. But the change in MFR is not a true representation of the change in viscosity. An accurate measurement of viscosity requires a controlled shear rate, which in turn means a control over the flow rate of the material. The MFR test controls the shear stress, but it does not control the shear rate. Consequently, the MFR test exaggerates the real difference in viscosity between two materials.

In order to quantify this exaggeration, we can look at plots of viscosity vs. shear rate for materials of the same polymer type with different MFRs. The graph below shows these plots for two polypropylene materials with MFRs of 4 g/10 min and 22 g/10 min. The plot covers a range from 1-10,000 sec-1 and across this range is an evident decline in the viscosity of both materials. The actual viscosity values for both materials are noted at the lowest and highest shear rates on the graph.

The MFR values suggest to many processors that the real viscosity of the 4-melt resin is 5.5 times higher than that of the 22-melt material. However, there is no point on the graph where such a difference in real viscosity exists. The largest difference in viscosity between the two materials occurs at the lowest shear rate, where the values are 3460 and 1005 Pa-sec for the 4-melt and 22-melt resins, respectively. This is a ratio of 3.44:1.

Note that as the shear rate increases, the difference in viscosity between the two materials decreases. By the time the shear rate has reached 10,000 sec-1, the ratio between the two viscosities is less than 1.4:1. If we extrapolate these plots to higher shear rates, we will see that the real differences in viscosity become smaller as we inject faster.

What MFR really tells us

If the viscosity vs. shear rate plots do not reflect viscosity differences that agree with the MFR values, how do we reconcile the disparity between the two measurements? The answer to this lies in two factors: 1) the lack of control that the MFR test imposes on the shear rate and 2) the relatively low shear rates that are involved in the MFR test.

We can calculate the shear rates associated with an MFR test simply by knowing the volumetric flow rate of the material and the size of the orifice in the test instrument. Shear rate is governed by these two factors as expressed in this equation:
S = 4Q/pr3 where Q is the volumetric flow rate and r is the radius of the flow path.

In the MFR test, the volumetric flow rate actually defines the MFR value. Simply knowing the MFR, therefore, allows us to calculate the volumetric flow rate. If a polypropylene material has an MFR of 4 g/10 min, this will be associated with the extrusion of 0.111 in3 in about 210 seconds. Given an orifice diameter of 0.0825 inch, this results in a calculated shear rate of approximately 9 sec-1. To calculate the shear rate of the 22-melt material, we can simply multiply by 5.5, the factor that distinguishes the flow rate of the two materials from each other. This produces a shear rate of approximately 49 sec-1.

On the graph, we can see where these two shear rates, indicated by the arrows, fall on the viscosity/shear-rate curves. It is clear that the MFR test does not make a direct comparison of melt viscosity at equivalent shear rates. In fact, the nature of the test method ensures that the measurements are made at different shear rates.

The actual viscosities associated with the respective shear rates at which the MFR tests are conducted are 1905 Pa-sec for the 4-melt material and 354 Pa-sec for the 22-melt material. This is a ratio of 5.38:1 – very close to the ratio of 5.5 suggested by the differences in the MFR. But this is not a reflection of a real difference in viscosity. Instead, the MFR test exaggerates the real difference in melt viscosity because it is not designed to maintain a constant shear rate.

This shows that the conditions under which MFR tests are performed are very different from the conditions at which first-stage filling in injection molding is conducted. As an example, the shear rate on a PP resin that fills a part weighing 500g in 2 seconds through a round gate with a diameter of 0.080 inch is more than 230,000 sec-1 at the gate as opposed to the range of 5-200 sec-1 at which most MFR tests are performed. The MFR test is not designed to be a measure of how the material will flow under actual processing conditions. So why do so many material manufacturers list MFR as a key property on their data sheets?

The MFR specification is used because this measurement is a good relative indicator of the average molecular weight of the polymer. Molecular weight drives performance. So when a material supplier sets a nominal MFR of, for example, 9 g/10 min and provides a window around that nominal value of 7.5-10.5 g/10 min, they are not doing so because of concerns regarding processability. They are using this number as an indicator of whether or not they have control over the molecular weight of the material.

Machine adjustments

The ability of the MFR test to exaggerate real differences in melt viscosity makes it very sensitive to changes in molecular weight. As the polypropylene materials in the graph show, these differences in MFR should be minimized at normal processing conditions. A machine set up to run with an abundance of first-stage pressure should be able to self-adjust in response to changes in the MFR of the raw material by simply regulating the amount of pressure called for to achieve consistent mold filling. And if, at a shear rate of 10,000 sec-1, the difference in viscosity between a 4-melt and a 22-melt resin is less than 40%, imagine how small the differences will be from lot to lot for a given grade of material.

But let’s suppose that, either because of machine limitations or the manner in which the press is set up, the process cannot run with an abundance of first-stage pressure. If the process is pressure limited, then the molding machine operates like an MFR tester. It becomes overly sensitive to changes in the viscosity of the raw material. And since the pressure the machine can generate is capped, the only possible response to an increase in melt viscosity is to slow down the injection speed.

As the flow rate declines, the real viscosity increases, which amplifies the real difference in melt viscosity in the same manner that the MFR test does. The molder then makes process changes to compensate for the difference in the viscosity of the material. Since the machine is pressure limited, it cannot inject at a higher speed. Therefore, the processor will rely on the other process variable that influences melt viscosity – the melt temperature. If the process is already operating at the upper end of the melt temperature range for the material, then the processor is backed into a corner and the material supplier gets the phone call about inconsistency of the raw material.

Before you pick up the phone, examine your process to ensure that it is not pressure limited. First, check the actual injection pressure at transfer against the first-stage injection pressure setpoint. If they are the same, the process is pressure limited or the transfer position is too far forward and the cavity is being filled completely during first-stage injection.

To check this latter possibility, disable the pack-and-hold portion of the injection process and examine what is referred to as a “fill only” part. If the part is not slightly short or at least noticeably sunken, move your transfer position so that less of the shot fills the cavity on first stage. The part should be 95-99% full by volume at transfer, not 100%. Once a proper transfer position has been established, recheck the actual injection pressure at transfer against the setpoint. If the actual injection pressure still equals the setpoint, raise the setpoint until you achieve a differential between setpoint and actual.

As you do this, you will likely notice that the injection speed increases. This is due to the fact that, as more pressure is made available, the machine becomes more capable of achieving the fill rate setpoint. If the injection speed changes, it may be necessary to revisit the transfer position setpoint since a faster fill speed will result in more material entering the cavity during first stage. This is especially true of a hydraulic machine, where the actual transfer point is determined to an extent by the inertia of the screw moving forward rapidly and then trying to slow down without the benefit of a positive braking mechanism.

Art to science

If, after raising the first-stage injection pressure setpoint to the maximum pressure the machine can generate, you find that the actual pressure continues to equal the setpoint, then the press is not capable and the best solution may be to find a press with a higher available injection pressure. Ideally, you will be able to achieve a pressure setpoint that is 200-300 psi of hydraulic pressure above the actual pressure required to perform first-stage filling. This provides the process with the necessary pressure differential to overcome the inertia of the system. This is the pressure you would need to move the screw if the injection unit were empty.
Once the process has achieved a sustainable pressure differential between setpoint and actual, the machine can operate on velocity control. This ensures that the shear rate remains the same and as the viscosity of the material changes from lot to lot or within the lot, the first-stage pressure will automatically adjust to compensate.

If this objective cannot be attained and because of scheduling constraints or considerations of press size a different machine is not an option, the last resort is a study to determine the source of the pressure bottleneck in the system. This exercise, called a pressure drop study, is designed to identify areas in the flow path where an excessive amount of the available machine pressure is being lost.

This pressure loss can occur anywhere between the nozzle and the end of the cavity. If it occurs in the flow path leading up to the cavity, it may be possible to enlarge the sprue, runners, or gates to reduce the pressure loss. In some cases these studies have shown that the maximum machine pressure is attained before the material even fills the runner! Pressure loss varies inversely as the fourth power of the diameter of a flow path with a round cross section, so small increases in the size of the flow path can go a long way.

If, after these efforts, you still find yourself with a pressure-limited process, then you will continue to struggle with process consistency because your molding machine will operate like an MFR tester; it will accentuate the real differences in viscosity from lot to lot and the physics of polymer flow will condemn you and your staff to a career of process tweaking.

Enjoy it while it lasts, because the day is fast approaching when injection molding as an art is replaced by injection molding as a science. Our competitive environment demands that this happen. Process control as babysitting is not a sustainable activity in a high-wage nation like the United States. But at least once you understand the fundamentals of the problem, you can reduce your company’s phone bill with the calls that you won’t have to make to your material suppliers.

Market Snapshot: Appliances

Needing a reason to replace that five-year-old refrigerator? While sales of major appliances trend with new home building – and that’s been in the doldrums – appliance manufacturers are creating high-end models with a variety of new features to spur demand for the latest and greatest, even if your present appliances aren’t exactly worn out.

Whirlpool, a leading appliance maker of brands including Maytag, Amana, and Jenn-Air, among others, is enhancing its product lines with appliances that save energy, use less water, keep refrigerated foods fresher longer, and offer more features, such as a new steam feature in its laundry dryers.

Click here for data on individual appliance types

Demand for new household appliances tends to track new home construction, and that market is down with no turnaround in sight. “We have seen no improvement over the past month in terms of sales conditions for new homes,” says the National Assn. of Home Builders’ chief economist David Crowe. “In fact, certain factors have gotten progressively worse, not the least of which is the job market, where massive layoffs are having a devastating effect on consumer confidence.”

With that said, what are the trends in the appliance market and what opportunities are there for molders? According to a report from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland, OH-based market research firm, demand for injection molded plastics in appliances is projected to grow slightly – about 2% annually – to 734 million lb in 2010. Advances will be stimulated by frequent design changes and the incorporation of more performance features.

Development of new household appliances is focused on high-end, “intuitive” appliances that will encourage people to replace their older, but still-working models. For example, Bosch Home Appliances has developed a “smart” dishwasher – the Ascenta, which uses a patented technology called ECOsensor that reduces energy usage. The ECOsensor Wash Management System examines the soil level in the water, and customizes the water consumption and heat to save on energy costs. It also reduces water usage.
The U.S. Dept. of Energy announced earlier in the year more stringent standards for dishwashers carrying the Energy Star label. These new standards promise to save American families about $25 million in energy and water each year.

Bosch’s line of Nexxt Laundry systems also have energy- and water-saving features, including the ECOsensor and the ECOoption, that make doing laundry efficient and provide savings 102% above current energy savings requirements, said the company.
Whirlpool Corp., which makes major brands that include KitchenAid, Kenmore, Roper, Maytag, Jenn-Air, and Amana, also makes energy-saving appliances such as its Resource Saver dishwasher that conserves both water and heat. And its high-efficiency Cabrio washer/dryer comes with a steam option to remove wrinkles and odors in minutes, reducing trips to the dry cleaner and saving time and money. The Cabrio laundry pair also reduces drying time to less than 30 minutes for an average load thanks to the washer’s ultrafast spin speed and the dryer’s optimization of airflow.

Drawing in the careful consumer

The appliance industry is being buffeted by increased competition and price sensitivity, with consumers demanding more sophisticated features, better performance and aesthetics, new features, and ergonomic product designs, notes a report from the Freedonia Group that was released a year ago. The movement of major appliance makers from the more competition-sensitive, value-priced products to the high-end, feature-filled appliance models gave these OEMs the higher margins they were seeking, says Chuck Flaherty, VP and GM for Jones Plastics & Engineering Co. LLC (Louisville, KY).

However, 2008 saw Jones Plastics’ customers down about 10% during the year and Flaherty isn’t optimistic about a quick turnaround. “What I’m hearing for 2009 is that if a recovery takes place, it will be in the third or fourth quarter,” he says. “The early forecasts aren’t calling for any big improvements for the first or second quarter.”

Flaherty says there is still demand for products with intuitive features – a lot of electronic bells and whistles – that were a big benefit to appliance makers until recently. “The higher-priced products have started moving a bit slower than the value-priced products,” he adds.

Flaherty notes that a lot of the design work Jones Plastics currently is doing focuses on taking out cost to make the products more competitive. “We’re seeing a combination of things in this regard,” he explains. “We see reduction in wall thickness, projects combining multiple parts into one component, higher-cavitation molds in certain high-volume parts, and material substitution. There’s a lot of emphasis being put in this area and these ideas taking traction.”

With the need to differentiate products, plastics continue to offer appliance makers a competitive edge, and are increasingly being specified in place of metals. Plastics also give appliance makers the ability to eliminate painting with molded-in metallic features and precolored resins or masterbatches, the Freedonia Group’s latest report noted.

Leading appliance markets for injection molded plastic components are refrigerators, washers and dryers, vacuum cleaners and rug cleaning machines, and dishwashers. Smaller markets include cooking ranges, microwave ovens, air conditioners, and heating furnaces.

Where has all the appliance manufacturing gone?

In spite of the apparent opportunities for plastics, the appliance industry offers limited, niche opportunities for molders except in cases where the appliance market is a major focus. Bob Janeczko, president of custom injection molder i2Tech (West Des Moines, IA), says that at one time, the company had some of its business with the appliance market. Iowa was once home to a number of major appliance makers including Maytag and Amana. With the consolidation in that industry, such as Whirlpool’s purchase of Maytag and Amana, and much of the manufacturing near-shored to Mexico, that business dropped off for i2Tech.

“Many of the appliance OEMs currently have assembly operations in Mexico and therefore want their injection molding suppliers to locate close to those plants,” comments Janeczko, adding that i2Tech does some overflow molding for appliance makers that do in-house injection molding. “These plants supply the U.S. market and therefore are experiencing the same slowdown as the appliance plants in the States. We’ve done some appliance components, however, and we’re their balancing act for their production schedules.”

Moll Industries Inc. (Dallas, TX) continues to serve the appliance market as a major focus of its business. With plants built to accommodate servicing the appliance industry in Lexington, NC as well as Mexican locations of Empalme, Sonora and Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, the company is a full-service contract manufacturer of custom injection molded components and assemblies to the appliance industry in North America. It operates a total of 142 presses ranging from 22-1450 tons, and also serves the medical and consumer markets.

Sweden-based Electrolux AB recently opened a facility in Juarez, Mexico to manufacture front-loading washers and dryers. The new facility complements Electrolux’s 1.8 million-ft2 refrigerator/freezer plant in its South Juarez campus with a total investment between the two plants of more than $250 million.

Jones Plastics recently expanded its molding by leasing a building in the Intermex Sur Industrial Park, across the street from the Electrolux campus, to supply that company and others with components. The facility is 144,000 ft2, has 23 presses ranging from 170-1800 tons, and expects to employ 200.

New designs, new features

Many of the new appliances are being designed with the aging baby boomer population in mind. Popular laundry products such as the horizontal-access machines that sit on pedestals and help reduce bending and reaching have continued to do well. Another big push is appliances that save on energy, water resources, and food waste.

High-end appliance makers are moving forward with features such as Sub-Zero Inc.’s new Built-In Refrigerator Series that provides an air purification system to enhance food preservation with its commercially proven antimicrobial filters that scrub the air of bacteria, odors, and microscopic contaminants. The air is refreshed every 20 minutes, which reduces food odors and ethylene gas emitted by some foods (apples, for instance) that cause overripening and hastens spoilage of other foods.

The new Built-In Refrigerator Series, introduced in fall 2008, also has the fridge-within-a-fridge feature. The company moved the evaporator lower in the body of this line to efficiently channel cold air to storage drawers, creating a special low-temperature zone, providing optimum conditions for fruits and vegetables. This line is pricey, however, with refrigerators ranging from $6500-$11,000.

Both General Electric Co. and BSH Home Appliances Corp. are coming out with refrigerator models containing two evaporators that can provide two different levels of humidity in the freezer and the fresh-food sections.

With the economy in a down mode, appliance makers are hopeful that designing appliances that offer greater cost-of-ownership savings along with upscale features will lure buyers who, while maybe not buying that new home, will instead settle for a major kitchen overhaul that requires new appliances.—[email protected]


Factory unit shipment statistics for September 2008

You know it’s time for an ERP fix when….

Many hold onto their ERP systems, if they have one, for many years, and miss out on some of the new developments that could make a good system work great. More simply they avoid investing in ERP, counting on a sharpened pencil and their experience to manage procurement, production and resource planning, and more.

In the following article, two ERP experts--David Dunn, leader of the chemical industry practices at SAP Americas, and Ken Nathan of MGL America’s Inc., which works with SAP on the EZPlastic ERP solution for the plastics industry, offer their experience on steps a processor should take when evaluating an ERP system.

Steps to evaluating plastics manufacturers’ ERP needs

Changing market conditions and demanding customer requirements force plastics companies to embrace dynamic and responsive business processes. Those processes and systems that served the purpose are not enough any more. Customers are not willing to give the lead-time that they gave before. For instance, the time consumed from design and engineering, through proof approval, through sample production, customer order approval and order delivery has shortened significantly. Large OEM customers are changing the way they do business with their plastics processing vendors. This huge challenge also presents a great opportunity - by shifting to a dynamic and customer-centric sales, production and delivery mechanism, plastics processors can optimize their customer response and service time to better differentiate from the competition. A plastics company needs an ERP system that can seamlessly integrate those key components within the supply chain and ensure better customer service.

Here some of the common ERP problems in the industry, and our suggestions for avoiding them:

1. Unsustainable Lean program: Lean initiatives are widely prevalent in many plastics companies, but there is an evident need for making serious progress. The organizational pressure to cut manufacturing cost and improve cycle time is ever so important, may it be injection molding, extrusion, thermoforming or blow molding. Many plastics processors have invested time and resources to implement a lean program, they have done all the initial hard work - processes are analyzed, gaps fixed, and any unnecessary steps eliminated to better streamline the process. The reality check is to accomplish the lean goal by putting plan to action first, and then ensure the business can handle a complex molding configuration or a new fabrication or blowmolding process. It is important that a processor transforms its Lean initiatives from theoretical mantra to practice. While organizational readiness and willingness is the key to fulfill Lean ambitions, it also needs an ERP system that is designed to support Lean automation.

2. Poor materials management: Materials management is a key issue in the plastics industry. There is ever-increasing pressure from OEM customers and even channel partners to get the price lower. Materials management plays a big role in determining the successful performance of the entire organization. A combination of inventory management techniques, such as safety stocks, reorder levels, ABC analysis and effective forecasting using historical data need to be used. The plastics industry also has the need for scrap management and effective regrind processing, which are valuable cost savings when virgin materials are not a primary requirement. The need for an ERP system that can seamlessly integrate Purchasing, Inventory, Production and Delivery is critical to keeping the material issues under control.

3. Limited real-time production visibility: Real-time production monitoring and control is another important issue facing plastics processors. An injection molding press may be producing defective parts due to inaccurate calibration of the mold, or an extrusion line may have a slight variance in the diameter of a product. Lack of real-time visibility may ruin an entire production run and force it to be scrapped before a shift supervisor has the chance to rectify the problem. It also means inefficient utilization of available production lines. It is important to have real-time data regarding operating efficiency and reject levels, and be able to accurately know the final output to make appropriate adjustments when needed and to ensure adherence to delivery schedules. Processors should ensure their ERP system can monitor “actual to planned” as it happens, and enable proactive shop floor management. Such an ERP system should have the ability to interact with machine monitoring systems if available, or provide tools that will enable synchronized communication between shop floor and business applications.

4. Lack of divisional financial reporting: Most of the homegrown accounting software and older generation ERPs do not provide the tools to track costs and profitability at divisional levels. It is also very difficult, and many times inaccurate, to isolate and monitor the performance based on various criteria - customers, products, material groups, sales & delivery channel, and so forth. Availability of tools to analyze and report such information goes a long way in uncovering hidden issues - which may present opportunities to cut costs/increase revenue. An ERP with sophisticated tools that can provide accurate financial reporting is key to management control and decision-making.

5. Poor partner and cross-function collaboration: In today’s ever-changing market conditions it is crucial for a processor to collaborate effectively with the various components in his supply-chain. External components such as customers, vendors, channel partners and consignment warehouses, and internal components (the various departments at a processor) need to collaborate for smooth information flow and to leverage the power of timely communication and information sharing. Plastics processors need an ERP system that can help them electronically collaborate with customers, vendors and partners, and be able to support technologies like EDI, which is becoming a necessity to stay competitive.

6. Inflexible systems: It is common to meet processors shopping for missing pieces in their existing software system. The same software that was just enough yesterday often is not enough today. Changing business rules and market conditions have resulted in exponential growth in information needs, and the need for it to be available in a timely fashion. Many companies start “patching the gaps” not addressed by their current system and in no time end up with a bunch of disparate and heavily customized systems to partly satisfy short term needs. Maintaining these information silos further adds to their woes and the quest for patches is never ending and expensive.

Our recommendation is that processors always work to select a single ERP system that can integrate and cater to all of their business functions while at the same time providing a solid platform to manage change and growth in future.—[email protected]

Total launches revamped styrene unit

Total Petrochemicals (Paris) has reconfigured its styrene unit, refocusing the business around a revamped site in Gonfreville-l’Orcher, France that boosted its capacity by 210,000 tonnes/yr, lifting total operation capacity to 600,000 tonnes/yr. As part of the plan, it shut down its Carling styrene unit in France, which had 120,000 tonnes/yr of capacity. Indicative of the longer-term struggles of styrene, the company began work on the restructuring in the spring of 2007, spending €320 million of capital expenditures, including 20 million to adapt the site infrastructure and improve safety and environmental standards. Total says that investment will result in a 30% increase in energy efficiency and a 30% cut in carbon emissions.

Overcapacity and volatility in key feedstock benzene have negatively impacted the global styrene industry, which The Styrene Forum calls a $60 billion/yr market, which creates 20 million tons of styrenic resins. Of that, 50% goes into polystyrene, followed by styrene butadiene rubber (15%), styrene butadiene latex (12%), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (11%), unsaturated polyester resins (11%), and styrene acrylonitrile (1%).—[email protected]


That dripping should sound like an opportunity for the plastics industry, specifically pipe extruders, who can position plastic pipes as a sounder alternative to metal and concrete competition. The Plastics Pipe Institute does just that, calling plastic pipe “a sustainable and environmentally responsible choice” that is strong, durable, lightweight, and flexible, using less energy to fabricate, transport, and install, while offering superior resistance to corrosion and abrasion. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) has been used in drinking water applications for almost 50 years and in sewer pipe applications for more than 30 years.

Suppliers sense an opportunity with Bob Bessemer, product manager downstream extrusion at The Conair Group (Cranberry Township, PA), telling MPW that some of the proposed economic stimulus infrastructure spending could be a boon for pipe. “Given that hopefully the government is going to be spending some infrastructure dollars,” Bessemer said, “I think there’s going to be a lot people interested in big pipe.”

Considering that out of 15 categories, the highest grade given by the ASCE was a C+, there are likely opportunities beyond pipe for plastics in infrastructure..—[email protected]

Names in the news, Jan. 30

Roger Stehr has been appointed managing director of Automatik Holding GmbH (Grossostheim, Germany), assuming overall responsibility for the coordination of corporate development within the Automatik Group. He will also serve as a co-managing director of pelletizing machinery manufacturer Automatik Plastics Machinery GmbH, alongside the current managing director, Harald Zang.

Automatik's Rogert Stehr

Automatik Plastics Machinery GmbH is the former Rieter Automatik GmbH, with the name changed last year soon after it was acquired by Swiss equity investor CSC Management AG (Pfäffikon) from Switzerland’s Rieter Group.

Stehr has climbed the corporate ladder at a number of firms over the last decade. He moved from blowmolding machinery manufacturer Bekum (Berlin, Germany) to take a post as technology director at one of Bekum’s competitors, then called Krupp Kautex. It was acquired by SIG and he became managing director of SIG Kautex until its sale to a finance investor, at which point he moved to take management roles at film conversion machinery manufacturer Jagenberg.

Vassili Modlinski has been named general manager of Wittmann Battenfeld’s Russian sales and service subsidiary, OOO Battenfeld Injection Molding Russia. Modlinski has been active in the Russian plastics industry for more than 15 years, including as a sales engineer for the Moscow office of Wemex GmbH from 1993 to 2003; from 2003 to 2006 for the Russian subsidiary of KraussMaffei as its sales manager for injection molding technology; and since 2006 as head of the extrusion and recycling technology product groups at the Moscow branch of Siegfried Schumacher GmbH.

Plastics films and foams processor Toray Plastics (America) Inc. (North Kingstown, RI) has named Richard Schloesser as the company’s chief executive. He is the first American to fill that position. Toray Plastics (America) is a subsidiary of Japanese chemicals and textiles manufacturer Toray.

Last June, Schloesser was named the company’s first American president and COO. As CEO he succeeds Kojiro Maeda, who returns to Japan to assume the deputy general manager position in Toray Industries’ films division. Schloesser joined Toray Plastics (America) in 1990 after working at ExxonMobil Chemical.

Film-extrusion equipment supplier Gloucester Engineering Co. (Gloucester, MA) has hired Scott Ryan as its process manager, making him responsible for technical and process support of all Gloucester technologies. Ryan has 32 years of experience in manufacturing and management, including his most recent work with competitor Kiefel Inc., where he was the technical sales manager for blown-film equipment.

Telles, the bioresin-producing joint venture of Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland Co., has appointed Robert Engle as general manager. Engle joins Telles from thermoplastics supplier Ticona, where he worked for the last 10 years, most recently as VP of affiliate management.

The Polymer Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society has awarded Frank Kelley with the 2008 Paul J. Flory Polymer Education Award, its highest honor. Kelley is dean emeritus of The University of Akron College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering. Kelley studied at the university and, after work with Goodyear Tire & Rubber and Union Carbide, returned to teach there in 1978.

Thermoset plastics compounder Menzolit has hired Roberto Lazzari as a sales manager for Italy and Southeastern Europe. He will be responsible for customers in Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria—countries Menzolit considers major growth markets, especially for automotive, electrical, sanitary, and building applications. Lazzari comes to Menzolit after stints at Rio Tinto Borax, Lonza Polymers Intermediates, and Interexport Italia.—[email protected]

Economical means for color-true dying of plastics

New from auxiliary equipment manufacturer Koch (Ispringen, Germany) is the KEM range of direct-dying machines, marketed as a value-for-money piece of kit when a processor needs to dose masterbatch directly into the input area of a plasticizing screw. The KEM machines help ensure that the shade of the end product remains consistent.

The pellet or powder’s dying is carried out with volumetric chamber volume dosing, done automatically as granulate is supplied to the screw. The main component is added via a free feed device. When the product is changed, there is no mixed material in the machine needing to be removed. Changes to the dosing values can be seen immediately during production.

The KEM models’ control system is integrated in its housing and offers various programs for use with injection molding machines or extruders. The dosing quantities can be variably adjusted in percentages or seconds and the system can store up to 20 different mix recipes. Koch offers a range of dosing rollers for shot weights from 2-10,000g. Direct dosing dying machines in the KEM are available for dosing quantities of 0.5-200 kg/hr.

Barking up the right tree, with polyurea

A new flexible polyurea resin, Chemthane 7070, is designed for manufacturing artificial tree bark. Made and marketed by Chemline, Chemthane 7070 is a spray-in-mold elastomeric polyurea with hardness formulations ranging from 75-85 Shore D. It is a 1:1 mix of solids that contains no solvents or styrene.

“If you have an application where real trees won’t survive, they weigh too much, or simply won’t fit through the door, Chemthane 7070 offers an attractive alternative,” said John Henningsen, Chemline’s director of marketing and sales. Molds for processing the material are made from real trees. The molding process is said to capture even the slightest surface details of the real tree bark. Bark from 3-12 mm thick can be formed.—[email protected]

New SBCs from Kraton offer a PVC alternative

The first grade available is Kraton A1535, which can be compounded with TPUs to reduce hardness and enhance flexibility. According to Kraton, it offers dimensional stability, lower viscosity when compared to conventional grades, and weatherability.—[email protected]

Compounder RTP increases its film extrusion footprint

Now the company has expanded this division once more with its most recent purchase, the Dupo, IL extrusion facility of Omnova Solutions. The Dupo facility will join RTP’s sheet and film division, and the compounder says it intends to retain all current personnel and equipment at the 40,000-sq-ft (3715-sq-m) facility. Peter Ploumidis, president of RTP’s sheet and film division, said the acquisition expands Wiman’s capabilities, capacity, and geographic presence. In particular, Wiman’s medical- and industrial-film product lines can now be extruded as thin as 1 mil compared to the 4-mil thick products it already had offered.—[email protected]