Glass fiber, nylon combine in zero-permeation CNG tank

(Norrfjärden) is now able to manfacture zero-permeation cylinders that meet the very stringent ECE R110 regulation governing the use of Type IV high-pressure CNG cylinders for motor vehicles.

Gastank President Kurt Berglund states: "The combination of both Akulon Fuel Lock and HiPer-tex glass fiber enables optimizing the cost-benefit ratio of Type IV cylinders. HiPer-tex high-performance fiber bridges the gap between heavyweight steel and high-cost carbon fiber composites due to its ability to deliver a comprehensive range of properties economically, whereas the newly developed, cost-effective Akulon Fuel Lock considerably reduces loss of gas through permeation."

Berglund continues: "Independent consultant Powertech Labs Inc. (Surrey, Canada) did not detect any loss of gas via permeation in our newly developed Gastank 32 CNG tank with 32-liter capacity. This unprecedented result makes our lightweight, zero-permeation composite CNG tanks a benchmark within the composite cylinder manufacturing industry."

Eric Debondue, business development leader at 3B, adds: "3B's unique HiPer-tex glass formulation delivers a high level of performance in composite parts such as wind turbine blades, ballistic armor, and high-pressure vessels or pipes while ensuring sustainable economics. We are very proud at 3B to partner with GASTANK Sweden AB and DSM to develop an extremely reliable and durable CNG tank thanks to the high mechanical, fatigue, and corrosion-resistant properties of HiPer-tex fiber as well as the unique high-barrier properties of Akulon Fuel Lock."

Tim Vorage, application development manager at DSM, adds: "Cost-effective Akulon Fuel Lock not only shows a permeation factor at least 150-times lower than high-density polyethylene (HDPE); it also significantly limits creep under extreme temperatures at the cylinder's neck thanks to a 50°C higher temperature resistance than HDPE. In addition, the ability to withstand higher temperatures allows a faster curing time of the composite material."

DSM launched Akulon Fuel Lock in 2010 as a mono-polyamide 6 compound that dramatically reduces evaporative emissions from the fuel tanks of non-road, outdoor equipment and vehicles with small, spark-ignition engines. Tests of a tank with a nominal 2-mm wall thickness molded from Akulon Fuel Lock showed an exceptionally low evaporative emission rate less than 20% of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation limit. Akulon Fuel Lock further supports sustainable practices by avoiding fluorination, a traditional barrier technology for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that can pose environmental risks.

CNG fuel systems equip approximately 2 million cars every year globally with as many as four tanks installed per vehicle. Some OEM's offer CNG as an option, however many vehicles are retro-fitted and the use of CNG is expected to grow at 18% per

Hybrid vehicles are more plastics-intensive: Japanese consultant

The inherent structure of hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) drive trains creates extra demand for plastic components employed in auto-electronic and battery components, boosting average usage to 158.6 kg according to Japanese consultant Fuji Keizai (Tokyo). This compares with an average of 144.1 kg for the auto industry as a whole, and an average of 136.9 kg in an electric vehicle (EV).


Future hybrids such as a commercial version of Toyota's FT-Bh concept (Future Toyota B-segment hybrid) unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, which weighs in at just 786 kg and boasts fuel economy of 2.1 liters per 100 km, will rely on plastics to a great extent for lightweighting and drive train.

Fuji Keizai's report on plastics usage in automobiles pegs the global market for auto plastics at around 8.6 million tonnes in 2011, of which 151,000 tonnes was used in EVs and HEVs. And while the consultant forecasts overall market growth through to 2016 of 22.3%, taking consumption to over 10 million tonnes, it expects plastics usage in EVs and HEVs to increase almost six-fold over the same period to reach close to 900,000 tonnes, translating to around 8% of the overall auto plastics market.

According to Fuji Keizai, the average HEV uses around 85 kg of general-purpose plastics, and 38 kg of engineering plastics, and approximately 35 kg of other plastics (such as elastomers, thermoset plastics and bioplastics).

An EV, meanwhile, employs on average 79 kg of general-purpose plastics, 26 kg of engineering plastics, and 32 kg of other plastics. This compares with 78 kg, 32 kg and 34 kg for the average vehicle.

Fuji Keizai is more sanguine when it comes to adoption of carbon fiber-reinforced plastics in EVs and HEVs. Pegging total usage in automobiles at 2000 tonnes in 2011, growing to over 11,000 tonnes in 2016, the consultant expects only 200 tonnes of this to be employed in EVs and HEVs. —

Ferromatik Milacron to showcase new modular F-Series at NPE2012

Injection molding machine manufacturer Ferromatik Milacron will present its F-Series model configured for packaging at (booth 2803). Each of the five machine axes can be powered by either hydraulic or electric drives and these can be combined in whatever manner suits the manufacturing requirements of the user. At NPE, the machine will feature electrically driven clamping and plasticizing movements with hydraulic drives for ejection, carriage, and injection.

The F80, with a clamping force of 800 KN, features a size 40 Advanced Performance (AP) injection unit and a three-zone screw with a diameter of and an L/D ratio of 22. With this configuration, the machine delivers injection speeds up to 500 mm/sec. The F80 offers tie-bar spacing of 470 by 470 mm and will use a 2-cavity mold from Collomb to produce round lids in a cycle time of 2.7 seconds. The parts have a diameter of 110 mm, a wall-thickness of 0.52 mm, and weigh 7g each. The lids will be used for re-usable 0.6-liter containers for foods such as yogurt, cream, or ice cream. Since its debut at K 2010, Ferromatik Milacron has brought five models in the new F-Series to market: the F80, F120, F160, F200 and F350.

CBW Automation will demonstrate high-speed automation technology at NPE2012

CBW Automation (booth 3169), a manufacturer of high-speed automation for the plastics processing industry, packaging, and medical markets, will display some of its automation solutions at NPE2012, including its new high-speed automation system for case unpacking of lids/containers at the filling lines. CBW’s lid/container automation for unscrambling, orienting, stacking, transferring and case packing of products has been available for many years. New at NPE is the company’s unpacking automation that completes the entire line from molding and case packing to unpacking the cases. The same high-speed automation developed by CBW for case packing, is now available for unpacking.

Information will also be available in CBW’s booth on the company’s recently developed technology for flip-top caps. Using robotic part capture, the machines remove the caps using part-removal robotics, and closes them on the fly, placing oriented caps on a conveyer for downstream operations such lining or laser marking for lot traceability. Even with the robot intrusion into the mold, it’s ½-second faster in and out of the mold because the parts don’t have to fall clear of the mold before closing, the company stated.

Kortec to display new shapes of multilayer food and beverage packaging at NPE2012

Kortec Inc. (booth 2390) will display a variety of food and beverage packages produced with its multilayer barrier technology. These include new shapes and styles of high barrier, thin-wall multilayer food containers, one-piece closures, and multilayer PET and OPP preforms and finished containers.

Kortec’s thin-wall multilayer food packaging technology provides shelf-stable options for a variety of food processing applications including retort, aseptic, or hot-fill processes. “We continue to see tremendous interest in our thin-wall multilayer packaging technology,” said Russell Bennett, Kortec vp of sales and marketing. “It is ideal for virtually any type of food application.”

Kortec will show several new square and round-shaped containers at NPE. Pet foods, soups, stews, fruit, meats, dairy products, and more, are candidates for this technology.

Mold-Masters will showcase its new IRIS technology

Mold-Masters, a supplier of hot runners and process controllers, will showcase its new IRIS technology in a live work cell (booth 4463). The company is partnering with other suppliers of plastics-processing technology to host live demonstrations.

The technology will produce HDPE closures in a 16-cavity mold supplied by F&S Tool Inc., incorporating Mold-Masters’ IRIS co-injection hot runner, an E-Multi secondary injection unit, and E-Drive servo driven valve-gate control, all integrated into a single control unit. Precise dosing, flow and pressure control are all achieved via integrated control of the two melt streams and the movement of the servo-actuated valve pins.

Using Mold-Masters new co-injection technology, the cap is molded with a 3-6% EVOH barrier encased in its center. This results in a cap that can be used directly, versus needing a secondary operation to insert or mold in a liner.

IMD (Brügg, Switzerland) provided testing equipment that has the ability to detect the presence, thickness, and location of clear barrier in all parts produced. Downstream equipment includes the IMDvista INOX Line for cooling, sorting and packing of the parts. PolyOne participated as the HDPE material supplier via its PolyOne Distribution business unit by recommending a material from Dow Chemical.

The IRIS technology will also be shown molding 0.5-mm thick dairy containers at JSW Plastics Machinery Inc. (booth 463). This system is integrated with a mold provided by Nypro. Co-Injection in thin-wall containers eliminates the need to use a multi-layer thermoformed structure. The benefit is that of a net shape part that’s produced with no web scrap. Simultaneous injection of 3-6% barrier in each cavity is achieved with balanced filling and unprecedented control of the melt streams, according to Mold-Masters.

MWV unveils packaging materials and technologies R&D pilot plant

Scott Openshaw, manager of corporate communications at MWV, told PlasticsToday the decision to move operations allowed the company to double the size of the pilot plant and expand its capabilities.

"Our experience locating our headquarters here was so positive, it made bringing the CPI and pilot plant here an easy decision for us," he said. "With size and capabilities nearing commercial scale, the facility enables MWV to tackle bolder innovation projects by helping to minimize development risk."

The pilot plant plays a key role in the company's development of new products and technologies to address industry needs, and helps global brand owners achieve speed to market with its products in geographies around the world, according to the news release.

The MWV pilot plant features 32-ft ceilings, 10 loading bay doors, and five labs consisting of materials and metallurgy engineering, TAPPI conditioned materials testing, polymers and packaging, paper science, and coating. Its capabilities include: polymer compounding and characterization, metallurgy and corrosion analysis, coatings and materials testing, form/fill/seal machines, die-cutting, plastic and paperboard thermoformers, and injection molding.

"Its size, scale, and capabilities help differentiate us in the marketplace," Openshaw said. "I'd be extremely surprised if anyone else in our sector could claim a facility this comprehensive with the ability to engage in larger scale testing all under one roof."

The company spent about $47 million on research and development in 2011, according to financial reports. It had $6.06 billion in sales in 2011.

PVC steady; PE, PP, PS, and ABS up in Asia

Polypropylene (PP) prices climbed in Asia last week, rising on strength in upstream propylene, according to Polymerupdate. A series of planned regional plant turnarounds helped the buying mood lift as players anticipated a market environment in which product supplies would tighten, with high naphtha costs helping support the increase. On Friday, March 9, propylene prices were assessed up at $1370/tonne FOB Korea in the feedstock markets. PP raffia prices rose to $1425/tonne CFR Far East Asia, while CFR South East Asia prices were assessed at $1440/tonne. PP injection molding prices were assessed up at $1415 to $1420/tonne CFR Far East Asia while CFR South East Asia prices were assessed at $1440/tonne. Block copolymer prices came in at $1460/tonne CFR Far East Asia and $1470/tonne CFR South East Asia. In China, local prices of PP raffia were at Yuan 10850 to Yuan 10900/tonne ex works. In India, Reliance Industries announced a price increase in its PP prices on March 7. Local rates were hiked by Rs 2/kg basic with effect from March 8.

Polyethylene (PE) rose in Asia last week, with high-density (HDPE) moving higher at the start of the region's cracker turnaround season. Despite relatively quiet trade action seen by Polymerupdate, sellers were able to steer prices higher, citing strength in upstream ethylene costs. HDPE injection molding prices were assessed at $1390/tonne CFR Far East Asia, while CFR South East Asia prices hit $1420/tonne. CFR Far East Asia prices of HDPE film were assessed up at $1400/tonne, while CFR South East Asia prices were assessed at $1420/tonne. In China, HDPE film prices were at Yuan 10850/tonne ex works.

Asian low-density (LDPE) prices leapt higher supported by strength in upstream ethylene. CFR Far East Asia prices on Friday were assessed up at $1395/tonne, while CFR South East Asia prices rose to $1420/tonne. In China, Sinopec hiked its ex works price of LDPE in East China by Yuan 100/tonne last week while in India, Reliance Industries announced an increase in its LDPE rates by Rs 2/kg basic, effective March 8.Tosoh of Japan is reported to have hiked its LDPE price by Yen 25/kg while Sumitomo announced an increase of Yuan 20/kg.

An LDPE seller told Polymerupdate that the price gains would have been steeper if not for the weak play in global energy rates early last week. "This resulted in softer naphtha rates which in turn dampened buying sentiments in the region," the seller told Polymerupdate. "However, with the cracker shutdown season well underway, we expect to see the market mood lift going forward as product availability is expected to tighten."

Linear low-density (LLDPE) prices in Asia marched higher as strength in feedstock ethylene prices supported a rise. Ethylene rates last week were at $1300/tonne CFR North East Asia, up $20/tonne on the week. On Friday, LLDPE prices in Asia were assessed at $1330/tonne CFR Far East Asia mark. CFR South East Asia prices were assessed at $1360/tonne while CFR South Asia prices were at $1440/tonne to $1450/tonne. In China, Sinopec announced an upward revision in its LLDPE prices on March 6 of Yuan 300/tonne in East China with revised rates up at Yuan 10450/tonne mark. Indian petrochemical major Reliance Industries increased its prices of LLDPE by Rs 2/kg basic on March 7, effective March 8.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices were mostly stable last week in Asia, with only South East Asian prices gaining on the back of reports of tight product availability. Domestic prices in India and China were also seen lifting. In South East Asia, PVC prices were up marginally to $1025/tonne CFR. CFR China prices of PVC were assessed stable at $1010/tonne, while CFR India prices were assessed at $1050/tonne CFR mark. In the domestic markets of India, Reliance announced a price increase of Rs 1.50/kg basic in its prices of PVC, effective March 8, 2012. The price increase was attributed to the recent slump in the value of the Indian rupee against the U.S. dollar. The domestic currency on March 6, slumped to six-week low of 50.39 on hefty demand for the U.S. dollar. In China, domestic prices of ethylene-based PVC were up at Yuan 6850/tonne mid week. Meanwhile fresh offers were awaited for the month of April. For China, price offers were expected at $1030/tonne CFR although Chinese processors contacted by Polymerupdate said that they were prepared to resist these hikes owing to weaker demand trends and softer crude and naphtha values.

Polystyrene (PS) prices marched higher in Asia last week, and even though feedstock styrene monomer (SM) prices slipped, prices on the week were pegged firmer and this helped support the price gains in PS. CFR China prices of SM were assessed at $1490/tonne on March 7. General-purpose PS prices were assessed up at $1590/tonne CFR China while CFR South East Asia prices were assessed up at $1600/tonne. High-impact PS prices were assessed up at $1800/tonne CFR China, a week-on-week climb of more than $20/tonne. Offers in China were heard at $1820/tonne CFR, with CFR South East Asia prices were assessed up at $1810/tonne. EPS prices rose to $1665/tonne FOB North East Asia for general-purpose grades, while for fire retardant grades, offers were heard firm at $1800/tonne FOB.

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) prices edged up last week in Asia, prompted by firm acrylonitrile (ACN) and SM costs, as well as reports that ABS makers had nearly completed their March target quotas. On March 7, CFR China ABS prices were assessed up at $2170 to $2180/tonne with offers heard at $2200 to $2250/tonne CFR China. CFR South East Asia ABS prices were assessed at $2180 to $2190/tonne. An ABS seller told Polymerupdate on March 8 that the buying momentum in Asia's ABS markets has slowed. "The fall in energy prices early week coupled with last week's tumble in butadiene rates has prompted caution among many of our clients," the seller said. "They are hesitating to commit for April parcels and prefer to wait and watch how the markets behave hereon."

Tech Molded Plastics’ expanded facility completed

The company's total footprint has almost doubled to more than 92,000 sq ft now that the newly renovated building is up and running. "This investment cements our commitment to customers, our people, and the community even when economic conditions have been strained," said Scott Hanaway, president and CEO of Tech Molded Plastics.

The 38,000-sq-ft addition was designed to optimize production efficiencies in a white-room environment, and currently houses 12 of the company's 33 injection molding presses ranging in size from 40 to 440 tons. The new addition has room for another 20 presses to be added over time. Tech Molded Plastics specializes in close-tolerance molded plastic products for the medical, automotive, consumer, electronics and aeronautics industries.

A new corridor was constructed to bridge the new facility to Tech's main building, and optimize the flow of materials between the two buildings, which also serves as a communication center for shift-to-shift resource planning. Other efficiency improvements come from new streamlined inventory management processes suing ERP/MRP software. Tech's dedicated training center is also located in the new facility, showing the company's commitment to training and continuous education programs.

"Tech recently held its first RJG training session which aligns the company's goal to support personnel growth and provide the best opportunities to expand skills and knowledge," Hanaway said.

Plastics Operations Manager Jason Kinnear noted that the improvements have created "an excellent environment for our employees, as well as for Tech's customers." The new facility was upgraded with efficient overhead lighting fixtures and large, energy-conserving windows for natural lighting. The core production area features an open floor plan with white liner wall panels for maximum energy efficiency, and a glossy white floor finish that complements the company's visual workplace standard.

Doug Hanaway, who coordinated the facility planning project, said that "visiting customers can relax in the new conference areas or catch up on the news while watching the large-screen television in the facility's lunch room. We tried to make it as customer friendly as possible," he added.

Molded plastic components advance hearing devices

Plastics technology is making important contributions to restoring human hearing.

Cochlear implants using molded polyethylene and elastomers such as silicone are now well proven as a successful treatment for severe to profound hearing loss. They first debuted more than 30 years ago, and designs have increasingly leveraged micro molding capabilities.

New hearing device does not use microphones or speakers.
A critical component is an electrode array in which photopolymerization is used to model the cochlea. Lead wires are surrounded by polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). Housings for external accessories are molded from plastic.

In a new development, Envoy Medical Corp. (St. Paul, MN) has developed what it describes as the industry's first totally implantable hearing system for moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss.

The Esteem prosthetic hearing restoration device has two terminal connectors made of Zeniva polyetheretherketone (PEEK) from Solvay Specialty Polymers (Alpharetta, GA). PEEK is a strong, biocompatible material increasingly used in implant applications.

In place of a microphone or speaker, the Esteem implantable hearing device uses the ear drum to detect sound and send a message to the brain via the auditory nerve by stimulating the cochlea with a prosthetic simulator. Envoy Medical received pre-market approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 for commercial distribution of its device.

"We believe that the Esteem implantable hearing system represents a major breakthrough that provides an alternative to non-implantable and partially implantable hearing aids," said Kevin Verzal, research and development engineer for Envoy Medical.

The design incorporates two terminal connectors (0.1-in by 0.5-in / 2.5 mm by 12.7 mm) for the injection molded transducers. PEEK is said to offer better insulative properties and higher mechanical strength than previously used materials such as silicone.

The Esteem device is sold directly to patients.

Envoy Medical was originally founded as St. Croix Medical in 1995