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Will a shift in dates create potential conflicts for NPE2012?

(SPI) also shifted the dates for NPE, moving from June to April, and creating the potential for conflicts with other industry events. In terms of timing and event size, the biggest conflict could be with China’s annual plastics event, Chinaplas, which rotates between Shanghai and Guangzhou but is typically held in April. NPE2012 is slated for April 1-5 in Orlando, FL at the Orange County Convention Center.
Ada Leung, project director at Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd., which organizes Chinaplas, told PlasticsToday that Chinaplas 2012 will be held in Shanghai in April, adding that the timing is “well-liked” by the industry. The exact dates are yet to be determined, but she did not anticipate a conflict. “Since Chinaplas and NPE are located in different countries and they target different markets,” Leung said, “we believe that the new venue and date of NPE will not pose a significant impact on Chinaplas.”

The events were staged roughly one month apart this year, with Chinaplas 2009 held from May 18-21 at Guangzhou’s China Import and Export Fair Pazhou Complex and NPE2009 taking place from June 22-26 at McCormick Place in Chicago. Chinaplas 2009 was reportedly 30% larger in terms of floorspace compared to the most recent Guangzhou edition in 2007. That event had 11 country/regional pavilions, 1840 exhibitors, and 69,298 visitors from 135 countries and regions. At the show, Adsale reported that more than 80% of the 2009 exhibitors had already confirmed their participation and reserved space for Chinaplas 2010, which will take place April 19-22 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.

NPE2009 had 1851 exhibiting companies and covered 977,660 ft2. The preliminary total visitor registrations was approximately 44,000—about 30% below the corresponding number for NPE2006. The number of companies represented by registrants, however, was only down 17%. SPI said one of the reasons it choose Orlando over Chicago was that it felt the venue would make it more cost effective for visitors to bring more and larger equipment. In addition, representatives of the Orange County Convention Center said that shows in their first year at the site typically see a spike in attendance.

Adsale and Chinaplas foresee continued growth for their event as well. “It is anticipated that there is huge potential in the development of plastics and rubber industries in China in the upcoming years,” Leung said. “As the organizer of Chinaplas, we believe that the scale of Chinaplas will keep growing with those industries.” In response to an overbooking of the 2010 event, which is expected to reach a total exhibition area of 150,000m2, six additional exhibition halls are under construction at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre.

Other industry shows that will take place in the spring of 2012, include JEC Composites in Paris and Plast2012 Milan—both slated for March. In February, India’s growing show, Plastindia 2012, will take place from Feb. 1-6, in New Delhi. Tony Deligio

Ford installs 4000-tonne KraussMaffei machine for fascia molding

Ford Motor Co.’s Saarlouis, Germany production plant has been running a 4000-tonne KraussMaffei MX 4000-24500 injection molding machine since September, using the massive press to mold bumpers for its Focus, Focus ST, C-Max, and Kuga models. The machine is part of a complete cell that features a Kuka KR 210 L100 K robot, with a 3900-mm reach and 100-kg payload, as well as a two-belt conveyor that stages the fascia for 30 minutes of post-mold cooling.

This KraussMaffei MX 4000-24500 injection molding machine was installed in September at Ford Motor Co.’s Saarlouis, Germany plant to mold bumper fascia.
According to KM, the machine, which is Ford’s largest in all of Germany, measures nearly 14-ft tall with a 57-by-17-ft footprint, and a total weight of 287 tons, if you include its control cabinet. Maximum daylight is 173.2 inches, with a shot weight of nearly 27 lb (425 ounces) in polystyrene and 20 lb (332 ounces) in polyethylene. Delivered by truck, machine installation took approximately six weeks, with Ford having to extend an existing hall to accommodate the behemoth. The automaker also had to fortify the floor the machine would reside on, adding a new 80-cm deep base.
KM has a fair amount of experience installing larger machines, with company representatives estimating it has around 70 machines of more than 4000 tonnes clamp force installed globally, with the largest being a 5400-tonne press.

Bucking a trend by many automakers to move away from vertical integration, Ford’s Rainer Hoefner, divisional manager for the paint shop and plastics production, said in a release that after crunching numbers the automaker decided that adding a machine added up. “Regular benchmarking shows that running our own injection molding operation in Saarlouis brings clear efficiency gains,” Hoefner said. “This was the basis for our decision to invest in a big-tonnage machine to add to our machine park.” The Saarlouis body and assembly plant opened in 1970, covers 3.1 million ft2, and employs over 6000. Tony Deligio

Thermoformed containers bound for McDonald's

Thermoformed polypropylene (PP) fruit cups for Chiquita, and ultimately also for McDonald’s, meet consumers’ needs for on-the-go food while also recognizing their desire to eat healthy foods.

The processor, RPC Bebo Nederland (Goor, Netherlands), is thermoforming the 180-cc containers for the European HQ of food manufacturer Chiquita. The cups have a 76-mm diameter to facilitate on-the-go eating straight from the package. The lid includes an integral fork, supplied by Australia’s Auslid, which has a patent on a design for a molded lid with a hinged utensil, such as a fork, attached to it. Each transparent bowl is printed in up to six-colours.

Chiquita’s Snacks & Desserts division has recently launched a range of four fresh fruit mixes into Belgium and The Netherlands. In an additional joint project with McDonald’s Netherlands, Chiquita is supplying two other seasonal fruit mixes exclusively into McDonald’s to provide a healthy dessert option for kids’ Happy Meals, or a healthy snack for other consumers. McDonald’s is considering extending the program to Germany and France should the range prove popular with consumers. [email protected]

“Knowledge transfer” the hardest part of transferred projects

That is according to Christer Landgren, strategic account manager at injection molder Nolato (Torekov, Sweden), who spoke with MPW during last week’s Medica/Compamed tradeshow in Düsseldorf, Germany. “We do a lot of taking over of projects,” he said, with many of those coming from OEMs who decide to close or reduce their captive molding capacity. That is proving an especially common situation in Sweden and other Nordic countries, he said, as so many OEMs formed 15-30 years ago with heir own processing in-house. As business strategies have changed and "focus on your core business" has become the common mantra, opportunities have appeared for Nolato.

“Moving machines, molds, documentation isn’t hard,” Landgren said in an interview at his company’s stand at that show. “The most complicated part is moving the unwritten knowledge”—the experience of the employees of the former processor. Sometimes, this means that hiring a key employee proves necessary, but Landgren said his company has developed its own checklist of questions designed to draw upon the experience of the previous project management.

Captive processing arms tend to be subservient to an OEM’s sales force, he explained, so when sales yells that production is taking too long, the answer often is to add more equipment and personnel. “We however earn our money by making production lean” when taking over a project, he said. Typically the processor will take over not only processing but also assembly and packaging, and even complete logistics.

Nolato has long had processing facilities in Sweden, Hungary, and China, and recently opened a site in India. The company is keen to expand to North America and possibly Mexico, too, he said. “We think we need to be on three continents (Europe/Asia/North America),” he said. Plus, he added, the cost of shipping parts from China to Europe or North America has been low for years, arguably too low. “We spend more trucking parts from Hungary to Hamburg than we do shipping them from Hamburg to China,” he noted. “This will definitely change.”  Landgren believes that local processing will have a resurgence following the past decade’s "outsource to Asia" trend. “Plus, I think plastics processing in Asia and especially China will soon be done to serve those markets, not for export,” he added.

During the tradeshow, Nolato exhibited a number of parts from projects it took over. One highlight was a tiny silicon pin with two miniature hooks on it. “The moldmaker said it couldn’t be done,” he recalled, but added he reckons his firm is one of the best liquid silicon rubber (LSR) molders around. The company has also developed in-house expertise in tampon printing of soft parts, such as LSR moldings, such that the print does not degrade even if the part is frequently bent. Matt Defosse

Thermoforming: Prent plans new site in Denmark

The Prent official spoke with us at the Medica/Compamed medical tradeshow in Dusseldorf, Germany, where the company was exhibiting. The greenfield facility in Holbaek, Denmark will begin its work in January, said Frank Henriksen, sales engineer and account manger for the new site.

According to Henriksen, the 3400m2 plant will serve primarily new customers at its inception, although there also will be some work transferred to the site from current Prent customers in Europe who are served from the processor’s North American facilities. The site is big enough to house six to eight thermoforming machines and eventually will, he said, though it opens with just half that capacity. The machines will be housed in a Class 100,000 cleanroom. The Danish branch will primarily be processing polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and some polystyrene (PS) packaging for medical devices. Matt Defosse

Long-term polycarbonate prospects good, says Bayer MaterialScience global head

Speaking to PlasticsToday via a video call from Guangzhou, China, where he was officiating at the inauguration of the company’s latest Color Competence and Design Center, Hilken said that early this year  the company was forced to mothball 300,000 tonnes/yr out of its global capacity of 1.3 million tonnes/yr in North America and Europe but since then, 100,000 tonnes/yr has come back onstream. “We will bring the remainder back on line in coming years as demand recovers,” he says.

Hilken adds that although demand from one of the key applications, optical media, had peaked, “We expect only a moderate decline going forward, but solid growth in auto, IT, and electronics is anticipated. We definitely see continued growth at double the GDP growth rate”

Commenting on the influence of publicly announced capacity additions from the likes of SABIC Innovative Materials and  the joint venture of Mitsubishi Chemical and Sinopec, Hilken said, “The global market is in the range of more than 3 million tonnes and growing. If you do the math, additional capacity can be absorbed within one to two years, but it does depends on individual actions of suppliers.”

The PC precursor bisphenol A (BPA) continues to have a prominent profile in the mainstream press and according to a recent article in The Washington Post, The Obama administration has pledged a "fresh look" at the [BPA] issue, and the FDA is expected to complete that review by the end of November. Meanwhile, the Post says that the federal government announced in October that it is giving $30 million to researchers across the country over the next two years in an aggressive push to advance knowledge about BPA and end the debate about its safety.

Hilken says that, “Very clearly, BPA is one of the most evaluated materials in the chemical industry,” but stresses that, “Based on the principles of sound science, if you use products made from BPA, in the appropriate way, they are safe to use.” Hilken cites the importance of informing the public regarding the topic of BPA using this sound science, and highlighting the usefulness of PC in a variety of products such as CDs and DVDs. Stephen Moore

Thermoformer’s photovoltaic roof eliminates peak power rates

Already using recycled content, biobased materials, and overall less plastic through package redesign, thermoformer Plastic Package Inc. (Sacramento, CA) hopes to further build its “green” cred with the start up of a new 208-kW thin-film solar system that will power the production of 100% post-consumer recycled containers.

These cylindrical solar panels are able to capture sunlight over a 360° photovoltaic surface, helping California thermoformer Plastic Package eliminate the purchase of electricity at peak rates.
Rita Edwards, marketing manager with Premier Power, the company which installed the system, told PlasticsToday that Plastic Package took advantage of a tax-free cash grant to help fund the project. This was in lieu of an investment tax credit from the federal government that is paid by the U.S. Treasury within 60 days of a system going live. In addition, the processor also receives a performance-based incentive from its local utility provider. Edwards said the system will be used to offset the most expensive power Plastic Package buys by eliminating the need to pay peak electric rates. Such rates equate to about one-third of the processor’s total electricity usage. The solar cells are designed to produce 323,649 kWh per year, which is roughly enough to power 60 homes. Edwards says return on investment for the technology is calculated to occur between four and six years.

Saying that plastics converting is not normally thought of as a “green business” Jim Kaye, Plastic Package’s chairman explained in a release that his company’s sustainability push is helping it make major strides towards a more environmentally friendly characterization by using recycled bottles and bio-based materials in its products. “Now that we’ve added solar, we want to let the community and our clients know, so they can feel comfortable that when they use our packaging, they are part of the sustainable process.”

Using technology from a company called Solyndra (San Francisco, CA) that was installed by Premier Power Renewable Energy (El Dorado Hills, CA), Plastic Package says the 208-kW system installed on its roof will initially handle all of its peak demand and reduce its summer peak loads during the hottest part of the day. The company also installed a white membrane roof, helping boost the efficiency of Solyndra’s cylindrical solar panels. Those panels are able to capture sunlight over a 360° photovoltaic surface, with the technology targeting large, low-slope rooftops, common on commercial buildings. Started in 1970, Plastic Package vacuum and pressure forms packaging for industries ranging from food to medical, specializing in thin-gauge applications, with sheet thickness from 4 to 60 mils and draws to 6 inches deep. Tony Deligio

Auto awards name 2009 class of winners

While parts on General Motors and Ford vehicles tied for the most awards, with three apiece, the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Innovation Awards did offer some international flavor in 2009, with prizes going to Italian (Fiat), German (BMW), and Japanese (Toyota) automakers. From a supplier standpoint, Delphi was able to set aside its financial struggles for one night as the ceremony’s big winner by taking home two awards, including the highest honor, the grand award, for its plastic-case radio with insert molded electromagnetic (EMC) shielding. That part, which is in the 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMT900 vehicles, utilizes a reprocessed 16% glass-reinforced PC/ABS from MRC.

A patented process was used to integrate EMC shielding into this plastic radio case created by Delphi for GM. The part was recognized with two awards at SPE’s Automotive Innovation Awards, including the grand prize.

Notable here is the patented method of embedding EMC shielding into a plastic case, which enabled significant weight and assembly-time reductions. The part was created by insert molding reclaimed resin over a metallic-mesh Faraday cage. Also, by using a slide lock and snap lock design feature, Delphi was able to eliminate a sheet-metal case and 29 screws, easing assembly.

From a materials standpoint, Sabic Innovative Plastics stood out with three awards, four counting the hall of fame award granted the ex-GE Plastics theromplastic body panels on the 1987 Buick LeSabre T-Type Sports Coupe. Looking at the processes employed, injection molding dominated, being used to create seven of the nine winning parts. Irvin E. Poston, who had a long and distinguished career at then General Motors where he was responsible for numerous automotive plastics “firsts,” received SPE’s Lifetime Achievement Award. All the categories and winners are listed below:

Body Exterior : Exterior spoiler
• OEM: General Motors Co.
• Make/Model: 2009 Cadillac CTS Sport Wagon
• Tier Supplier/Processor: ABC Group
• Material Suppliers: SABIC Innovative Plastics
• Material: PC/ABS (with proprietary nanofiller package)
• Process: Injection molding

Body Interior : Plastic post-isolation for HVAC blower motors
• OEM: General Motors Co.
• Make/Model: 2010 Chevrolet Camaro
• Tier Supplier/Processor: Delphi Corp.
• Material Supplier: Spartech Polycom
• Material: 20%-talc-filled PP
• Process: Injection molding

Chassis & Hardware : Electric power-steering flexible coupling
• OEM: Fiat S.p.A.
• Make/Model: 2010M Fiat 500
• Tier Supplier/Processor: Nexteer Automotive/Forteq
• Material Supplier: DSM
• Material: Heat-stabilized, 50%-glass-reinforced PA 4/6
• Process: Injection molding

Environmental : Radiator end tank from renewable sourced material
• OEM: Toyota Motor Co.
• Make/Model: 2010 Toyota Camry
• Tier Supplier/Processor: DENSO Corp.
• Material Supplier: DuPont Automotive
• Material: PA 6/10 (with monomer from castor bean oil)
• Process: Injection molding

Materials : Door panel with natural-fiber preg composite
• Make/Model: 2008 BMW 7 Series
• Tier Supplier/Processor: Dräxlmaier Group
• Material Supplier: BASF AG (resin) / J. Dittrich & Söhne GmbH (needled fiber mat)
• Material: Acrylic Copolymer
• Process: Compression Molding

Performance & Customization : Illuminated door-sill insert with single-LED light engine
• OEM: Ford Motor Co.
• Make/Model: 2010 Ford Mustang, Lincoln MKZ, Ford MKT
• Tier Supplier/Processor: Innotec Group
• Material Supplier: Altuglas, SABIC Innovative Plastics, Serigraph
• Material: ABS bi-laminate, polycarbonate, and acrylic
• Process: Multiple

Powertrain : Oil pan optimized for stone impact
• OEM: Ford Motor Co.
• Make/Model: 2010 6.7L power-stroke turbo diesel
• Tier Supplier/Processor: Dana
• Material Supplier: BASF
• Material: Impact-modified, 35% glass-fiber-reinforced PA 6
• Process: Injection molding

Process/Assembly/Enabling Technologies : Plastic case radio with insert molded EMC shielding
• OEM: General Motors Co.
• Make/Model: 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe/GMT900
• Tier Supplier/Processor: Delphi E&S
• Material Supplier: MRC
• Material: Reprocessed 16%-glass-reinforced PC/ABS
• Process: Insert injection molding

Safety : Pedestrian-impact compliant front fender
• OEM: Ford Motor Co.
• Make/Model: 2008 Ford Kuga Compact CUV
• Tier Supplier/Processor: Montaplast
• Material Supplier: SABIC Innovative Plastics
• Material: MPPE/PA
• Process: Injection molding

[email protected]

Contests taking entries for clean tech, sustainable packaging

Have some spare space on your trophy shelf? Interested in seed money for a new technology? Two contests that recently made calls for entries might suit you. DuPont Packaging announced the call for entries for its 22nd DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation. The contest’s scope has been broadened this year to include packaging innovation and waste/cost reduction, as well as sustainability achievements. Entries will be evaluated for excellence in packaging innovation, sustainability, and cost /waste reduction, with entry forms and guidelines at The deadline for entries—which are free—is Feb. 12, 2010 and packaging designers, converters, consumer good producers, retailers, and equipment manufacturers are encouraged to enter their new product packaging developments.

In a similar sustainability vein, the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) will once again hold a Clean Technology Competition as part of its GPEC (Global Plastic Environmental Conference) 2010, which takes place March 8-10, at The Florida Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando. Clean Tech Competition Chair Eric Koester is seeking, “Entrepreneurs, inventors, startups, and emerging companies developing innovative clean and green technologies involving plastics and advanced materials.” One- to two-page executive summaries are due by Jan. 8, 2010 and can be sent directly to Koester. Presentations will be judged by a panel of industry investors and experts. Battelle will sponsor the competition and award the top business plan $2000, with $1000 for the runner-up. [email protected]

W&H packs 'em in for open house

Plastics processing and printing machine manufacturer Windmöller & Hölscher (Lengerich, Germany) welcomed more than 1200 visitors from 57 countries to a 3-day open house at its production facility here last week to give customers, prospects, and the trade press a peek at what the company expects to highlight at next year’s K 2010 plastics show in Düsseldorf, Germany. The in-house Expo featured two world premieres of equipment just coming into production including a new type of 3-layer blown-film line, Optimex, and the Aquarex water-cooled, inverted blown-film line designed to produce film that rivals cast-film clarity and gloss.

Unveiling the new 3-layer Optimex blown-film line with the help of smoke, drums, and special light effects, Windmöller & Hölscher presented this and other new products at its in-house Expo last week in Lengerich, Germany.
Other new developments that were demonstrated included the company’s monoaxial film stretching unit (MDO) as an off-line film "upgrader" to produce film with better toughness in the machine direction, higher clarity, and thinner film layers to ensure optimal use of expensive barrier resins. In another development, the company’s Filmex cast-film line, can now be equipped to produce up to 17 nanolayers with a die from U.S. flat die producer Cloeren (Orange, TX) for stretch film production thanks to a special feedblock. A copper casting roll provides high chill effect on the melt. Such films have high puncture resistance, ductility, and a maximum stretch. A full report on the W&H in-house Expo will appear in the January issue of Modern Plastics Worldwide. Robert Colvin