is part of the Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Green Matter: A little light in the darkness

Sustainability, we are told, offers business opportunities. It's the way forward for business and industry, and anyone failing to adapt will eventually find themselves hopelessly behind. For many companies, however, the transition is not that easy. The general feeling is that green is good - no argument there - but still a huge chore. And most are still trying to figure out how to combine sustainable business practices with actually making money. In theory, companies investing in sustainability should be able to improve their image, gain competitive edge and increase market share; in practice, many are finding this a considerable challenge, and feel that the costs tend to outweigh the benefits.

Wakawaka lightThen there are the eco-entrepreneurs who instinctively seem to know their way around the green new world. They see opportunities for the development of sustainable products and embrace financial and organizational alternatives like crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, alliances and networks.

One such company is Off-Grid Solutions, a young Dutch company that aims to develop, engineer, manufacture and market affordable lighting and phone charging product concepts for the 1.5 billion people in the world who have no access at all to the electricity net. The company's newest bright idea is a small, solar powered LED light that can be used as a light or a mobile phone charger.

Green? You bet. Sustainable? And how. But best of all: it's actually feasible.

The Wakawaka light - wakawaka means 'shine bright' in Swahili - features a patented solar technology chip, which can boost the efficiency of the solar cell by up to 200 percent. As a result, a full charge can deliver around 16 hours of good reading light, easily beating competitively priced products currently on the market.

Next to state-of the art technology, the light boasts a lightweight, clever and economic design for easy assembly that minimizes material use - which, in this case, will be recycled ABS, says Camille van Gestel of OGS, who did not rule out the possibility of using a bioplastic later on.  While charging, it folds into a compact rectangle. Unfolded, it has been designed to be mounted on a plastic bottle that can serve as a stand - a creative solution that saves on costs and reuses used bottles. Off-Grid Solutions aims to have the first pre-production samples ready for testing by early February. If all goes well, the consumer launch will take place later this year, most likely in June.

The Wakawaka light is intended to replace the use of kerosene lamps in homes throughout the world. Not only is kerosene expensive, it is dangerous: the World Health Organization has calculated that indoor air pollution from kerosene and similar fuels used for indoor lighting and cooking cause more than 1.5 million deaths annually.

However, in addition to the fact that the nifty new solar lamp has zero emissions, zero fumes and is designed to be affordable for off-grid homes around the world, another reason it caught my attention was the way the company has marketed the project. The company has engaged with consumers, by getting people involved and financing the whole thing through crowdfunding. And, next to that, by reaching out to a number of large companies  - such as Coca Cola - that are working hard on their sustainability credentials, to offer promotional opportunities. A Wakawaka light atop, say, a biobased Coke bottle as the sole light source in an otherwise dark household makes a pretty strong statement.

By marketing a green project as a business proposition, OGS has made it very clear that, while humanitarian en environmental aspects may well be uppermost, they also intend to make a profit.

Sustainability as a business opportunity: it's not always easy in this brave new green world. Yet more and more businesses are discovering how to make sustainability work.

Which is just as well: there's no way back.

Note: to support the Wakawaka initiative, go to http://symbid.com/ideas/890-wakawaka-solar-led-light.

Dealing with buyer pressure: know the law, and make a stand

  • SPOT BUY - this is a one-time order. The kind a contractor would make with a lumber yard when ordering materials to build your deck.
  • CONTINUING ORDER - this is an ongoing order. Actually this is the type of contract you sign with the phone or utility company. You will be billed a fixed amount for a fixed usage without any additional paper work, your payment changes as a function of use.
  • ORDER TO ORDER - This is the most common type in Injection Molding. The PO is really only a framework that establishes lot sizes and perhaps annual volumes to lay the foundation of pricing. However there is no guarantee of any business. The customer orders any acceptable lot volume based on this order whenever he wishes. In order to service this contract, somewhere you have agreed to produce parts 'to specification'.

Contract law simply states that if the terms of the contract are not complied with, the contract is broken. This is described as the contract has been breeched (the entire contract, nor just one section). But, if both parties agree to continue; it is mutually agreed 'by actions' that a new standard is acceptable for all future transactions.

Almost all contracts for plastic parts are breeched with the first shipment because it is practically impossible to completely produce parts 'to print' (meaning every dimension on the print, to the exact color, free of defects, etc). However the parts are shipped, and accepted.

And then THE FUN BEGINS.

Buyers take seminars, read books and from many other sources learn about the ins and outs of contracts. Molders are lucky to mildly tolerate their lawyers talking to them. The game is already stacked against the molder.

For a molder there are a few simple facts you need to keep in mind.

  • If you agreed to a price of $75/1000 parts you are under no obligation to change it.
  • If your price is based on a material price (a cost you cannot control) with an 'adjustment' clause in it, you are under no obligation to ship parts made of the more expensive material until the price has been adjusted.

This list is endless.

So how do you deal with a buyer who is constantly pounding on the desk for lower costs, higher quality, delaying payment etc.?

First you need to understand why you got the job in the first place:

You probably weren't the low bidder (although he told you if you dropped the price by 1% you would be, and he proved it when you dropped your price and he gave you the job - even though the real low bidder was probably 10% below your quote). You just got Played.

You got the job because the buyer knew you could deliver on his schedule (and frankly he'd do it for any price although he won't tell you that). Again you got Played.

You were chosen because (despite all the yelling and bluffing) there aren't "a dozen guys like you out there who can do it better and cheaper". Yes, there are dozens who say they can; but if it were true, he wouldn't be talking to you. Played again.

Now you need to understand who has the "POWER".

As a tier 1 supplier, you jumped through hoops and filled out a ton of paperwork taking more than six months to simply be approved. Then you were given the 'table scraps' jobs to prove yourself for two years. This means anybody who is your peer took 3 years 'just to get on the list'.

Newsflash - it doesn't take much of an IQ to understand there aren't too many options open to the buyer. It takes too much work to bring a new source on board when you tell him, you no longer want him as a customer.

Since you didn't agree to any 'policy'; every time you're told "It is our policy to pay N-120" although the PO says N-30, there's no reason for becoming your customer's personal bank offering an interest free loan.

Ever wonder why when you agree to a price reduction it is immediate? But when you want a price increase you get "we only renegotiate increases annually"? OR, When the QC people find 10 admittedly bad parts in a lot of 10,000 why did you agree to immediately accept the entire shipment returned and you hand sort everything to replace the order immediately? You agree to this because you've been told "This is our policy".

What you've missed is: what is your Policy? If it is 'the customer is always right', he'll bleed you to death. And you've been running your business believing everyone is fair, honest and willing to help you - while a beautiful fantasy it isn't close to the real world.

But what do you do when you train your dog? You show him 'the program' (yours). Sometimes you have to show him the stick before you throw it until he learns. Sometimes you have to swat him with a newspaper for him to understand your disappointment for bad behavior until he learns. And sometimes if 'that dog won't hunt' you give the dog away or have it put down because the dog is a waste of your time and effort because he can't/won't learn.

When a buyer gives you 'his' policy (the way any untrained dog will), you should explain your policy. Here are a few examples:

THE REJECTED LOT

EXPLANATION- bad parts in small percentages are normal in manufacturing (even the medical industry's use of the AQL system is measuring the 'acceptable level of defectives'). Bad parts are normal and should be replaced or credited. As a molder, perfect parts (in high volume and low cost) are statistics game you can't win. But if the entire lot is bad, something's wrong and needs to be corrected. The defect needs to be explored, found, the cause both removed and verified, and then production can resume. (If you've been silly enough to hire an ISO consultant to do your paperwork in the Quest for Certification this already is part of your documentation.)

YOUR POLICY - the occasional bad part (which is normal) can be replaced, credit to the amount you've over-shipped and not billed, or simply tossed out. No harm, no foul. A bad lot (meaning some kind of a system breakdown) will mandate a minimum of a four week shutdown where no parts will be shipped to the customer until the problem is both understood and resolved.

OUTCOME - since most customers have their JIT systems counted in days, shutting off production for four weeks will have the buyer give long and hard consideration before he'll reject the entire lot.

PRICE NEGOTIATIONS

EXPLANATION - when the part is quoted, it is at a price where both the buyer and seller agree whether it is a fixed price for the term of the contract or a formula based on the value added from the molder plus the fair market cost of the purchased components.

YOUR POLICY - Price negotiations go both ways. You will only ship goods when the price has been agreed to. All current shipments will be stopped and on a day for day drift until the negotiations are completed. If the buyer will consider your price increase in three months, then you'll begin shipping again in three months when it is approved.

OUTCOME - the buyer can change pricing anytime he wants. While it is to his advantage to keep his costs low, driving you into bankruptcy or having your subcontractors refuse to ship components because you and they haven't been paid, is in no one's long term interest. Explain it to him the first time he stalls, cut him off the second time.

THREATS/TASKS/AUDITS

EXPLANATION -Why do you even listen to someone who is doing business with you; threaten to go elsewhere? (If your spouse threatened you that way, how long did it take before you knew the divorce was coming soon?) Why is it in your best interest to lower your costs some mandated percentage demanded by your customer with no financial incentive to help you implement these changes? Why would you let your customer tell you 'you're making too much profit!' or sneak in and tell you that you'd improved your yields or cycle times and he demands a price reduction? This really comes down to how many times would you let your dog bite you before you did something about this bad behavior?

YOUR POLICY - Don't do tasks without funding from your customer. How you make your profit is your business and not open to discussion. There are several shops that will only let buyers/engineers into the front lobby or someone's office. They are barred (by policy or 'for insurance reasons') from seeing actual production.

Threats are easy to deal with: tell the person who threatens you (for any reason) he gets the first time for free. The second threat you perceive (he doesn't have to even come out and overtly do it); you'll stop production immediately and he can take his business (that particular job) elsewhere - immediately.

OUTCOME - people submit to threats and intimidation pressures voluntarily. Power is given, not taken. All you have to do is play whatever game you initially agreed to without exception. All the stuff the buyer says is Bluffing. If you can spot it when you play Poker with your friends, you should be able to spot it at your business.

How do you do this? Simple: Ideally you publish a 'policy manual' of your own clearly stating how you will do business. Attach it to every quote you submit. Attach a signature page and have it signed and returned before you begin business. In the real world however, it is best to state in writing the policy describing the terms of termination of a job and who pays for what. Have your attorney look at it to include full payment for work in process, raw materials and finished goods before you give up the tools. While the buyer will routinely sign and ignore it, this will stop him from filing a Business Interruption action where he takes the tools and you no longer have any leverage.

The conclusion to this little rant is that it is neither a privilege nor a burden to do business with anyone. No customer is more important than another unless he owns an equity position in your company. It is as simple as "I no longer wish to do business with you; it isn't fun anymore". This is particularly effective in an Order to Order contract. You fulfill the particular order you've agreed to and then stop.

Your Policy can be as verbal as the buyer's. The less you write, the less they can hang you with. All you're doing is leveling the playing field. With the field tilted to one player's advantage there's always trouble.

Business should be fun, exciting and profitable with a minimum of drama. If you want drama in your life, raise teenage girls.

Haitian is introducing unique electric machine at NPE

Haitian is introducing  unique electric machine at NPE

Haitian is introducing a new all-electric line for medical molding at NPE2012 that is the fruition of a seven-year German-based development project to break into the Japanese-dominated field of high-tech, all electric injection molding machinery.

The innovations are coming from Zhafir Plastics Machinery GmbH, which  started in 2005 as a development center to design improved injection

3

Zhafir Mercury features a tiebarless clamping unit.
molding machines from the ground up. Haitian acquired 91% of Zhafir in 2007, while Helmar Franz, the CEO of Zhafir, retained 9%. A 4,300 square meter manufacturing plant in Ebermannsdorf, Germany was completed at the end of 2009.

One of the first results of the effort was the Zhafir Venus line, which was introduced in North America at NPE2009 by Absolute Haitian (Worcester, MA), which represents Haitian in the United States and Canada.  

On display at NPE2012 April 1-5 (booth 1573) will be a  Zhafir Mercury 1000-35/35,  a tiebarless, all-electric machine that uses side  plates rather than tiebars to create 70% more mold space, allowing use of larger tools on smaller machines.  The machine design is described as 30% slimmer than previous models, boosting productivity per square foot.

The toggle clamp mechanism has just two levers and a central servo direct drive. The simplified design is aimed at smoother machine operation in an effort to boost repeatability. There is no lubrication requirement. The Zhafir Mercury series became available for sale in the United States this month for the first time.

The machine running at NPE2012 will mold 200ul (microliter) medical pipettes made from medical grade polypropylene with a scalable 64-cavity mold  designed and built by Cavaform International, LLC (booth 4653). In line with themes of other medical-oriented cells that will be running at the show, the cell will be highly automated with a Yushin robot (booth 1563) handling part removal. The automation partner is Modern

f
Two-stage injection unit is said to improve melt quality.
Technical Molding & Development, a subsidiary of  Cavaform.

According to Haitian, melt quality is improved by separation of plastification from injection in a two-stage injection unit. A unique rinsing process is said to eliminate melt residue. Plastification occurs immediately via a high-torque motor. The injection process is controlled by a central spindle driven by a servomotor, which shortens response time and achieves speeds of up to 500mm/sec with acceleration of over 10g.

There are three screw drives and three screw diameters available for each machine size.

In an interesting, energy-saving feature, the central power supply to the drives and a new generation of inverters from KEB GmbH recirculates the braking energy back into the power grid. Servo motors with low inertia reduce energy consumption during heavy acceleration.

j
Helmar Franz, left, the head of Zhafir, meets with Zhang Jianming, CEO of Haitian.
The control system from KEBA AG features a decentralized bus system that allows as many signals as possible to communicate through a standardized field bus system that is compatible with Ethernet. The signals are read through decentralized IOs (inputs and outputs) and emitted on the spot where they are needed. This is said to guarantee precise timing and no loss of signal or disruptive influences. Optimized wiring and shorter cable lengths contribute to system stability and greater ease of maintenance.

In 2010, Haitian sold more than 30,000 machines to 130 countries. Sales for last year have not yet been announced. While Haitian is the largest manufacturer of injection molding machines in the world, Japan is the largest producer of electric machines, with a cumulative output of some 15,000 machines. The current market for electric machines in China is estimated at 3,000 to 5,000 machines.

Machines can be built in a week in the German plant. Some components are sourced from Asia. The Zhafir machines are built in Ningbo, China for the Asian market.

Keeping tabs on sustainable packaging

I recently came across a sustainable packaging story, which despite the company's claim that the product contains hardly any plastic content, will still interest our readers. After all, it's always good to know about new packaging technologies and products.   

Anyways, packaging company Sealed Air has launched PakNatural, a "packing peanut" product that is made with 95% of non-food based renewable materials.

95%? Naturally (pun intended), I was curious about this - so I talked with Bill Gray, a member of Sealed Air's marketing team, to find out more.

He told me the PakNatural loose fill product provides cushioning protection equal to EPS without the static cling. Gray went on to say PakNatural produces less dust, offers improved anti-static performance and increased inherent strength in comparison to similar products and starch-based loose fill products on the market.

PakNatural marks Sealed Air's first venture in the loose fill packaging market. The company stated it didn't offer loose fill packaging previously because the environmental and performance positioning did not fit with its vision.

While he wouldn't give me much detail about what non-food based renewable material substance is used to make PakNautral, he did compare it to a "seed-like material" that can be expanded just like loose fill.

According to Gray, the product is well received.

"It's very competitive from a cost standpoint, and while it is the early days for us, we have found a lot of acceptance for the product," he said. "It fits in very nicely with Sealed Air's sustainability goals."

It does seem sustainable packaging is experiencing some real momentum.  In particular, bioplastics, which is estimated to reach revenues of more than $2.8 billion in 2018, with annual growth rates of 17.8%, according to a new report from market research firm Ceresana Research.

Although bags and sacks, as well as loose fill, are expected to register further growth over the next years, packaging and films as well as automotive and electronics will see the biggest gain, the report stated.

If the study remains on track, it makes you wonder if bioplastics and sustainability is now becoming mainstream for the packaging industry rather than just an alternative option.

Now it's your turn. Do you think more products like PakNatural will come to market? How could that affect your business? Are you seeing more demand from customers for bio-based processes and products?

Rough week for PVC, Telles; Brighter days for bioplastics in general; and congrats to SPE

Medical Channel editor, Doug Smock, and Packaging Channel editor, Heather Caliendo reported on the PVC un-sourcing for PlasticsToday on the same day, interviewing representatives at Kaiser and P&G about why vinyl had fallen out of favor, as well as getting the vinyl side of the story from PVC advocacy group, The Vinyl Institute.

As a material, PVC is nothing if not resilient, and it has certainly weathered past storms due its status as the eco-conscious's whipping polymer of choice, but whether or not we're at a tipping point for vinyl in some markets will be something PlasticsToday will continue to monitor.

Wherever you stand on the matter, Doug's defense of PVC, and his breakdown of a potential path to a greener future in his Medical Musings blog, is a must read for vinyl backers and haters.

As a headline, this one is not uncommon, especially these days:

"Company X seeks to simplify its supply chain"

With that in mind, Clare Goldsberry has some New Year's resolutions to make sure that when OEMs and brand owners inspect their supply chain, you're not the weakest link.

The paths to commercial prosperity diverged this week for two of the emerging bioplastics markets' seminal players, Cereplast and Metabolix. Green Matter editor Karen Laird covered the announcement that ADM was pulling out of its partnership with Metabolix, Telles, which sought to commercialize the Mirel brand of polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA). Cereplast, meanwhile, announced that its sales saw continued growth in 2011.

Regardless of the financial fates of individual players, our readers do see a sizable role for bioplastics in the not-so-distant future, with 44% responding in a pole that bioplastics will capture a sizable share of the plastics market within the next 6 to 10 years, while 31% thought it could be sooner, and 25% feel it could be a decade or more.

Elsewhere in bioplastics, Heather reported on the unlikely convergence of thermoforming and a fungus-fueled growing tray and AT&T's move to use partially sugar-cane derived PET from Klöckner Pentaplast in its packaging.

Automotive/mobility editor Stephen Moore covered what could be a very interesting development in container ships: a move to LNG as a fuel source in response to new regulations seeking to lessen the impact of the massive ships on environmentally sensitive areas. Wouldn't you know, plastics play a very important role.

Finally, a warm welcome to Willem (Wim) De Vos, new CEO of the Society of Plastics Engineers and congratulations to SPE on finding their man. Exiting CEO Susan Oderwald skillfully guided the association through the market wringer that was the last seven years, keeping SPE relevant during a time when many similar associations simply vanished. It will be interesting to see what, if any, differences come from Mr. De Vos's leadership, given his extensive plastics background.

Eco-friendly plastic packaging aims to offer a sweet alternative

With more companies placing a greater focus on packaging sustainability, sugar cane is making it easier to go green.

AT&T joins Procter & Gamble and Heinz in an effort to use plastic derived from sugarcane.

The telecommunications provider is now using Klöckner Pentaplast's TerraPET films for all of its branded wireless accessories.

Klöckner Pentaplast's TerraPET films are made in part from sugarcane, which can allow customers to replace fossil fuel based material with up to 30% plant based material.

"As a company we are committed to minimizing our own environmental impact, and we see the introduction of this plant-based plastic as an important step in the right direction," stated Jeff Bradley, senior vice president for devices, AT&T in a press release. "We are actively working with our accessory suppliers to incorporate both less packaging and more sustainable plastic and paper."

The TerraPET film is sourced from ethanol harvested from sugarcane. Since sugarcane is a semi-perennial crop, the same plant can harvest and re-grown for up to seven years.

Nancy Ryan, corporate communications group director for Klöckner Pentaplast, told PlasticsToday TerraPET films have the same performance properties as standard APET films.

 "KP's TerraPET film offers the same clarity and performance as APET," she said. "They process on existing equipment in the same thermoforming range and with the same cuttability as standard APET."

With a heat-deflection temperature of over 145°F (63°C), no special handling or logistics are necessary to process TerraPET, she said.

As with standard APET films, packages produced with these films can be marked with SPI resin identification code 1, and waste from thermoforming operations is compatible with existing pre-consumer recycling streams.

The TerraPET films can be used for food and general-purpose thermoformed packages, such as blisters, clamshells, and trays, as well as non-thermoformed applications, including transparent boxes and windows, box lids, and rounds.

AT&T became the first U.S. telecom company to use this type of plastic in its packaging. P&G began using sugarcane-based plastics for some of its products, and Heinz announced it would license The Coca-Cola Company's PlantBottle technology to use for its ketchup packaging.

Medical Musings: PVC is headed for a much greener future

PVC is under heavy fire again - and this time the shots are coming from major corporate customers, not public health researchers. Kaiser Permanente, a huge West Coast health provider, is banning use of PVC in tubing and bags and P&G is replacing PVC packaging in toothbrush containers with PET, which is more easily recyclable.

The irony is that just as widespread conversions out of PVC might really take hold in a few years, PVC could becoming one of the greener materials on the planet.

x
Will medical components, such as these cartridge covers, someday be made from a fully natural plastic - PVC?
For starters, consider that PVC is the only major volume thermoplastic that is substantially derived (57%) from a non-fossil fuel feedstock. Vinyl chloride monomer is derived from brine, which is industrial-grade salt.

The other feedstock for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is ethylene, which can now be made from sugar-derived ethanol in very large quantities in Brazil. Braskem has a huge plant while a Dow Mitsui joint venture is building another world-scale plant.

Solvay Indupa, the Brazilian arm of Belgium-based chemical giant Solvay, has announced plans to use Brazilian sugarcane ethanol as a PVC feedstock to replace naphtha, which has been bought from Middle-Eastern sources.  According to Solvay's Erik De Leye, the project remains in the project stage for now, but a plant of 120,000 tonnes a year is envisioned.

That would make PVC a 100% natural material from a polymer point of view.

The typical PVC compound, however, is heavily loaded with chemical additives, most famously plasticizers that impart flexibility.  According to Kaiser Permanente, research suggests that long-term exposure to a commonly used plasticizer called DEHP can affect the body's endocrine system, resulting in a variety of hormonal abnormalities, particularly in infants. The European Union has banned some uses of DEHP, such as children's toys.

There are alternatives, however, including high molecular weight phthalates.

And a single reactor synthesis can be used to produce phthalate-free plasticizers based on vegetable oils. According to researchers at the University of Minnesota,  the plasticizer can be manufactured at the same price with similar performance compared to dioctyl pthalate. One was recently approved for food-contact applications. Many leading companies, including Dow and PolyOne, have either already developed or are working on improved grades of bio-based plasticizers.

In a big move showing the breadth of action under way,  a tech startup called BioAmber and Mitsubishi Chemicals are  building a world-scale biosuccinic acid plant in Sarnia, ON this year using wheat-derived glucose as a feedstock. BioAmber is teaming with Lanxess to develop a portfolio of bio-succinic-based phthalate-free plasticizers that can exceed the performance of general-purpose plasticizers at competitive prices. Solvay is also doing research in the area.

Getting these materials to function at comparable levels (and at comparable costs) to plasticizers currently used in medical applications is a big job, but the level of work under way implies optimism about the future.

That still leaves some questions surrounding chlorine, the primary polymeric feedstock for PVC. A chlorine backbone is very different that a carbon/hydrogen backbone and provides some of the attributes that make PVC one of the most widely used plastics in the world. These attributes include inherent flame retardance and chemical resistance.

But is it safe?

In its press release, Kasier Permanente made this comment: "When PVC plastic is manufactured or incinerated, dioxin pollution is created. Dioxin is a known carcinogen."

These points are contested by the vinyl industry. Modern incinerators minimize dioxin formation and are equipped with devices to catch dioxins that are produced. The Web site for the International Occupational Safety and Health Information Centre (CIS) lists a lot of hazards of working in a chlorine manufacturing plant, but exposure to dioxins didn't make the list. Industry sources say that vinyl plants have much better safety records than other manufacturing plants.

In an interview, Allen Blakey, chief spokesperson for the Vinyl Institute, said that organizations like Kaiser Permanente get big PR play by bashing PVC, but fail to perform the necessary scientific due diligence to back up their charges. The particular issue is the relative safety of materials such as nitrile that the health provider is using as alternates.

Maybe someday it will be possible that major organizations can get a PR charge by saying they are using PVC - a fully natural polymer.

New reinforcing fiber finds auto application in Japan

Global automakers continue in their endeavors to engineer mass out of their vehicles and Hyperform HPR-803i is one means of achieving this aim. A 30% talc-filled grade has a density of more than 1.2 whereas a 12% Hyperform-filled grade with the same flexural modulus of 3,300 MPa has a density of around 0.96. Parts containing the fiber are also easier to color than talc filled grades according to Milliken. Additional benefits are higher stiffness, better flexural modulus, higher impact strength, and improved heat deflection temperature.

Milliken estimates that the tailgate molded from a 20% talc-filled PP compound would weigh approximately 1.7 kg, and replacement with 9% Hyperform HPR-803i would reduce weight to 1.55 kg. "However, Japanese automakers are conservative and the formulation initially adopted will be 10% talc and 3% Hyperform, resulting in a weight of 1.6 kg."-[email protected]

Japanese-Indian JV takes on polyamide for air coolers

A leading Tier I parts supplier in India has chosen Zytel Plus Nylon from DuPont (Wilmington, DE) for use in three hot- and cold-side charge air coolers used on four vehicles of a major Indian auto OEM spanning passenger car, utility vehicle, and light commercial vehicle segments.

Air coolers benefit from protection against the harsh elements furnished by polyamide.

Tata Toyo (Pune), a joint venture of Tata AutoComp Systems (Pune) and T.RAD Co. (Tokyo) selected the resin to replace specialty nylon resins for added protection against the harsh elements associated with turbo-diesel systems and now has an eye on replacing metals in other applications.

Charge air coolers quickly cool hot air generated by the turbocharger before it is forced through the induction system. Cooler air improves combustion efficiency. Zytel Plus nylon was selected as a replacement because it retains rigidity at high temperatures, offers a better surface appearance and processes with ease. "Weight, performance and cost are critical in our components and systems," says Rajiv Kulkarni, head of Engineering at Tata Toyo, a leading heat-exchange technology supplier.

"Improving powertrain efficiency is critical to improving fuel economy and reducing dependence on fossil fuels," says Patrick Ferronato, director of automotive, DuPont Performance Polymers. "Turbo systems are one of several technologies the industry is quickly adopting to boost the performance of smaller, more efficient engines. The environment these power-boost technologies create is challenging the capabilities of many existing engineering thermoplastics."

Last year DuPont introduced the Zytel Plus family of high-performance nylon and PPA materials that deliver long-term resistance to heat, chemicals and pressure. Unlike specialty nylon resins, the resins retain processing ease typical of traditional nylon resins. This family is targeted primarily at automotive underhood and engine applications.

Collaborating is critical to fast adoption of new technologies that reduce dependence on fossil fuels. DuPont recently invested in several new collaboration facilities, including the India Innovation Center in Pune, India. The facility is focused primarily on the automotive segment with a goal of connecting globally on materials and solutions that improve sustainability, performance, safety, comfort and design while reducing weight and enabling alternative-drive vehicle systems.-[email protected]

Modified clays used to create transparent films with strong barrier, UV properties

In its first industry-themed project, the new ICAP consortium will develop transparent plastics that can better protect foods and medicines from oxidation and keep them fresher for longer by blocking oxygen, moisture and UV rays.

To help develop this, ICAP will use IMRE's modified clay technology.

"Our technology is to incorporate plate-like clay into a polymer matrix, which is sandwiched between two plastic layers," an IMRE spokesperson told PlasticsToday. "This enhances the efficiency of the polymer against moisture and oxygen penetration/seepage. The UV blocking is from the metal oxide immobilized on the clay sheets."

The clay sheets in the polymer matrix stack together in a layer-by-layer technique, the spokesperson said. The clay sheets are also orientated along the substrate plane on which the clay/polymer composite is coated and laminated.

The film's final structure will be a three-layer film with the inner clay/polymer composite layer laminated between two plastic outer layers. The outer layer could be PET, PP, PE or other plastics, according to IMRE.

The plastics the group develops should require less energy to produce and allow consumers to see the actual perishable products compared to today's opaque aluminum-plastic packaging materials, stated IMRE. The same technology may also be used to make paints and varnishes that protect surfaces with airtight coatings and block oxidizing UV and near infrared rays.

"We are confident that this technology can grow our business in modified clay additives and create endless possibilities for new materials," stated Chua Leng Keong, managing director of Piaget Chemicals & Manufacturing Pte Ltd, in a news release.

ICAP was developed in response to the needs of packaging and coating manufacturers who were seeing an increasing demand for high-performance, customized packaging and coatings for critical components and equipment, consumer care, automotive, aerospace, oil and gas industries.

Through this partnership, new and innovative technologies like IMRE's packaging and coating, can be placed directly into the hands of companies thus shortening the time-to-market of new products, IMRE stated.

The consortium currently comprises core member companies including Nestle R&D Center (Pte) Ltd, Daibochi Plastic And Packaging Industry Berhad, Texplore Co., Ltd. (subsidiary company of SCG Chemicals Co., Ltd), Nipo International Pte Ltd., and Piaget Chemicals & Manufacturing Pte Ltd.

"The reaction from the industry has been very strong with five companies joining this first project," the spokesperson said. "We are also talking to a few more companies and hope that they will join the consortium."

This ICAP project will span one and a half years.