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Articles from 2018 In April


B A Die Mold celebrates 50 years building 'badass' molds for intricate plastic parts

Alan Petrucci, founder and CEO of B A Die Mold Inc. and daughter Francine, President.

You read it correctly! The “B A” in B A Die Mold Inc. (Aurora, IL) stands for “badass,” meaning “of formidable strength or skill,” as defined by Merriam-Webster, explains the company’s latest release. During B A Die Mold’s 50-year history, the company has become widely known for its innovative solutions, including the patented PERC system for servo-unscrewing molds.

Alan Petrucci, founder and CEO of B A
Die Mold Inc. and daughter Francine, President.

“For 50 years, our company has worked hard to enhance our customers’ revenue streams by successfully designing and manufacturing molds that many other mold builders won’t or can’t build,” said Francine Petrucci, President of B A Die Mold. “We are proud that several have been loyal clients of B A for most of these years. They return time and again for innovative solutions like our Programmable Electric Rotating Core (PERC) system, a time-tested and proven alternative to conventional hydraulic unscrewing.”

B A Die Mold builds small- to medium-sized, complex molds primarily for the medical device, water filtration, automotive, beauty and caps/closures industries. Services also include mold and new product design, as well as re-engineering of existing products, using 3D solid modeling. Rapid prototyping and prototype molds, in-house mold sampling and short-run production services are also available. “We pride ourselves on providing close-tolerance molds that meet unwavering U.S. quality and high standards,” said Alan Petrucci, company founder and CEO. “Customers, which also include other mold builders, have continually endorsed the statement with testimonials about the quality of our molds.”

Petrucci was honored by the American Mold Builders Association (AMBA) as its 2011 Mold Builder of the Year. In addition, B A Die Mold was a founding AMBA member. “Community involvement and outreach is part of our DNA,” daughter Francine said. Both she and Alan continue to serve on AMBA’s Chicago chapter board of birectors and Alan is a past director of AMBA’s national board. Giving back to the trade is a heartfelt pursuit and is exemplified by the strides the Chicago AMBA has made in the area of workforce development, with Francine at the helm. 

“We could not have achieved this business milestone without the incredibly talented team here at B A,” Francine says. “In addition, we simply must mention the amazing support we have received from many excellent, local vendor partners who have supported our operations for many, many years.”

Stepping beyond the medical zone at NPE2018

<p>Plastics have transformed the practice of healthcare in myriad ways, from preventing hospital-acquired infections through single-use products to reducing the cost of medical devices. How medical plastics save lives is one of the themes at NPE2018 and that message is underscored with the first-ever Medical Parts Processing Zone at this year’s event.</p><p>Eleven exhibitors will share 3000 square feet of space in the Medical Parts Processing Zone, according to NPE2018 organizers. Those companies bring an array of capabilities and expertise in automation, materials and additives, prototyping, injection molding and coatings for medical applications. But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to plastics processing targeting medical device OEMs: This slide show features a selection of medical molding, extrusion and 3D printing applications that you can find <em>outside</em> the zone at NPE2018.</p>

HP drives distributed design, manufacturing and supply chain transformation with Jabil and Forecast 3D

HP drives distributed design, manufacturing and supply chain transformation with Jabil and Forecast 3D

HP (Palo Alto, CA) announced new industry agreements with Jabil (St. Petersburg, FL) and Forecast 3D (Carlsbad, CA) at the RAPID + TCT conference last week in Forth Worth, TX. The agreements are expected to drive the future of distributed design, manufacturing and digital supply chains leveraging the power of HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D-printing technology, said the company. 

As the global economy enters what many call the fourth industrial revolution, technologies such as 3D printing are enabling an array of new business opportunities such as distributed design and manufacturing, supply chain services and increasingly localized production.

Image taken from an infographic published by Jabil.

“From multinational design engineering and manufacturing to localized production, industry leaders such as Jabil and Forecast 3D are demonstrating 3D printing’s expanding role in the digital transformation of the $12 trillion global manufacturing economy,” said Stephen Nigro, President of 3D Printing, HP Inc. “HP Multi Jet Fusion customers and partners represent critical links in a new value chain that’s rewriting the rules of design, production and delivery, ultimately ushering in a new era of digital manufacturing.”

Also at RAPID + TCT, Jabil announced its Additive Manufacturing Network to drive greater manufacturing speed and agility while helping customers improve how they design, make and deliver products. “Jabil’s digital thread fuels a growing footprint of 3D printers and additive manufacturing capabilities to benefit customers through localized production, consolidated supply chains, reduced costs and faster time-to-market,” said John Dulchinos, Vice President of Digital Manufacturing for Jabil. “Our new Jabil Additive Manufacturing Network is the connective tissue that scales globally to integrate every printer, facility and work order across our enterprise and crystallize our vision of truly distributed manufacturing.”

Over the past year, Jabil has steadily increased its 3D-printing capacity with more than 100 3D printers now in operation at facilities in the United States, China, Hungary, Mexico, Singapore and Spain. A variety of 3D-printing machines have been installed for high-speed sintering, fused filament fabrication, polymer and metal laser sintering and other processes to address emerging customer needs in the footwear, industrial machines, transportation, aerospace and healthcare industries. Jabil’s distributed manufacturing strategy is anchored by this growing ecosystem of 3D printers, which includes a dozen production-ready HP Jet Fusion 4200 3D printers, following the recent installation of six HP Jet Fusion 4210 printers at its Singapore facility.

Dulchinos commented, “HP Multi Jet Fusion gives us the foundational 3D-printing platform we need to deliver truly industrial-grade production applications for our globally distributed customers. Our aim is to harmonize the multiple regions, technologies, materials and manufacturing workflows of the fourth industrial revolution, and HP is an important partner in that effort.”

Forecast 3D, one of the oldest and largest privately held 3D-printing companies in the United States, is adding six new HP Jet Fusion 4210 solutions to expand its fleet to 18 systems in response to increasing customer demand. Forecast 3D plans to produce several million end-use parts on HP’s 3D printers in the coming year, delivering commercial-grade applications for clients in multiple industries including the medical, consumer goods, aerospace, defense and auto sectors.

“Our customers across all industries have spoken, and they are looking for more of the speed, quality and cost benefits for production applications unleashed by HP Multi Jet Fusion,” said Corey Weber, CEO of Forecast 3D. “We are investing in this important 3D-printing technology platform as we scale up to meet rising demand from international and domestic clients seeking to reinvent their product lifecycle.”

HP is committed to democratizing 3D design and manufacturing and recently expanded its portfolio with the introduction of the Jet Fusion 300/500 series, the world’s first 3D printers to deliver engineering-grade, functional parts in full color, black or white in a fraction of the time of other solutions, stated HP in its release.

Chinaplas: New polyamide 66 engineering resin bridges gap to more costly, high temperature alternatives

Chinaplas: New polyamide 66 engineering resin bridges gap to more costly, high temperature alternatives

The transition from internal combustion engine-powered vehicles to full electric vehicles will take some time due to driving range and infrastructure limitations. In the interim hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) in their various guises will play a key role in the shift to a low carbon future. This is the view of Bertrand Lousteau, General Manager, Performance Polyamide APAC, at Solvay Performance Polyamides.

Tensile strength after ageing: Test results have confirmed that 2,000 hours of working temperature at 220°C are perfectly manageable with Solvay’s cost-effective new Technyl Red J high-heat technology for automotive turbo engine components.
Solvay Performance Polyamides’ Technyl e-range focuses on surging demand for materials capable of handling the cost/performance challenges of automotive electrical and electronic components, including signal orange colored grades for high-voltage applications such as connectors, circuit breakers, sensors and insulators in the growing market segment of e-mobility.

During what will probably be a ten-year transition period, the smaller engines employed in HEVs will operate at higher temperatures to realize higher efficiencies, hence necessitating the use of polyamide (PA) 66, polyphthalamide (PPA), and polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) engineering resins. Solvay is working to bridge the gap between PA 66 and higher temperature PPA resins with the debut of its Red J PA-based material specially designed for turbocharger systems running at continuous temperatures up to 220°C.

“Auto makers have recently been refining the real operating temperatures needed for thermal management systems. They realized that traditional high-heat polymers appear to be over-engineered and can also be too brittle to maintain required thermal, pressure and chemical performance over time,” says Didier Chomier, Automotive Global Marketing Manager for Solvay’s Performance Polyamides Global Business Unit. “In response to these specific auto industry needs we developed and are introducing Red J material. Red J is the top-of-the-range building block of our Technyl Red offering for thermal management systems. The superior property profile of Technyl Red J targets applications such as air intake manifolds, charge air coolers, turbo air ducts, resonators, cylinder head and engine covers.”

Technyl Red J reportedly offers outstanding long-term heat ageing performance of up to 220°C (at 2,000 hours) or 210°C (at 3,000 hours). Based on patented PA 66/6T technology, Technyl Red J flows like PA 66, ensures high chemical resistance and excellent surface aspect.

In addition, it is highly suitable for both vibration and hot gas welding, delivering high burst pressure levels confirmed in extensive pulsated air pressure tests at Solvay’s Application Performance Testing (APT) centers. Recommended melt and mold temperatures are significantly lower than competitive PA 4.6 or PPA resins, which saves energy during processing and minimizes part cooling time.

On the electric side of the HEV, Solvay sees high demand for high temperature flame-retardant grades used in connectors and charging infrastructure such as the company’s e-range of PAs developed to “provide fit-for-purpose and cost-efficient solutions to meet major challenges and disruptive trends such as connectivity and autonomy as HEVs, all-electric vehicles (xEV) and autonomous vehicles share a common and growing need for improved electrical and electronic components performance.”

“China is playing an increasing role in the field of e-mobility,” says Nicolas Batailley, Global e-Mobility Leader for Solvay Performance Polyamides. “While the country nearly accounts for one-third of the world’s automotive production, the share of both hybrid and fully electric vehicles manufactured in China has been set to an ambitious target of 20 percent by 2025, which represents almost seven million vehicles. Our Technyl range has been further enriched to help reach this challenging goal.”

The enhanced Technyl range comprises flame retardant (FR) solutions, electro-friendly products in both pure and high purity grades and the novel ion-free PA 66 grade for fuel cell applications. Developed in close collaboration with OEMs and Tier 1 partners, the range reportedly meets the challenges in terms of cost, performance and sustainability at the highest levels in the market.

“We have also developed a range of highly stable Technyl orange colored grades as we continue to innovate our portfolio for e-driven vehicle applications,” adds Batailley. “Orange is the new black for ease of identification as we focus on components designed to handle high voltages, such as connectors, circuit breakers and insulators.”

Double-digit growth forecast for global medical 3D-printing market

Growth stock art

Increasing adoption of direct digital manufacturing and the expiration of key patents of 3D printed products will contribute to global growth of the 3D printed medical device market, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets (Northbrook, IL). Furthermore, the growing number of applications for 3D printing in the healthcare industry is being driven by surgeons using 3D printing in surgical procedures.

Image courtesy Stuart Miles/
freedigitalphotos.net.

The market is segmented on the basis of technology, component type and region. On the basis of component, it is segmented into three broad categories: Equipment, materials, and software and services. The equipment segment is expected to register the highest growth from 2017 to 2022. The development of technologically advanced 3D printing equipment by leading market players for a number of healthcare applications and the rising adoption of 3D printing for manufacturing medical products are the key factors driving demand for 3D printing equipment in the healthcare industry, according to the report.

In the area of technology, medical 3D printing is segmented into electron beam melting, laser beam melting, photopolymerizaton, droplet deposition or extrusion-based technologies, said MarketsandMarkets. The laser-beam melting segment is expected to register the highest growth during the forecast period. This technology is primarily used to accurately produce small parts for dental applications and minimally invasive surgery.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the key players in the global 3D printing medical device market include Stratasys, 3D Systems Corp., EnvisionTEC GmbH, Materialise NV, EOS GmbH, Arcam AB, Concept Laser GmbH and Renishaw plc.

In 2016, North America accounted for the largest share of the market due to factors such as increasing government initiatives and rising demand for organ transplants. However, the Asia-Pacific region is expected to register the highest compound annual growth rate during the forecast period. The establishment of new 3D printing research, training and education centers, and efforts by leading market players to expand their distribution networks in emerging Asian countries are factors propelling growth of the 3D printing market for medical devices in the Asia-Pacific region.            

Agilyx and Ineos Styrolution sign MOU to advance circularity of polystyrene

Agilyx

Agilyx Corp. (Tigard, OR) and Ineos Styrolution (Frankfurt, Germany) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for deploying Agilyx’s de-polymerization technology at or near an Ineos Styrolution facility in North America. The aim is to convert post-consumer polystyrene waste into styrene monomer that can be used to re-manufacture new polystyrene products.

The cooperation objectives defined in the MOU between Agilyx and Ineos are the natural next step to setting up a chemical recycling infrastructure and establishing a circular economy for polystyrene.

Image courtesy Agilyx.

Agilyx, an environmental solutions company that extracts value from waste plastic streams, opened its first commercial waste polystyrene-to-styrene oil chemical recycling plant on April 19, 2018. At a ribbon-cutting on April 24, speakers representing Agilyx strategic partners included local government representatives from Tigard City Council and Washington County, and individuals representing the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and American Styrenics LLC. 

Mike Levy, Senior Director of ACC’s Plastics Foodservice Packaging Group, noted, “Agilyx is an innovator in finding new ways to capture and convert used plastics into valuable products. Delivery of a polystyrene-to-styrene oil/monomer solution is a major step toward greater sustainability and circularity.” 

Jon Timbers, Senior Manager for Sustainability and Innovation at American Styrenics, congratulated Agilyx on “taking the linear process of plastics and bending the line to close it into a loop—the new circular plastics economy,” said a joint release from Agilyx and Ineos.

The plant is the first commercial-scale closed-loop chemical recycling process for polystyrene in the world. It will recycle up to 10 tons per day of previously unrecoverable polystyrene waste and produce high-quality styrene oil that will be processed by styrene manufacturers Ineos and American Styrenics to manufacture consumer goods, said Agilyx.

The process involves “breaking the chemical bonds in the polystyrene, hence the term ‘chemical recycling’ as opposed to ‘mechanical recycling,’” Agilyx confirmed to PlasticsToday

Ineos Styrolution is committed to driving the advancement of the de-polymerization technology. Together with several research institutions, the company is working on a technical feasibility study and is aiming at the development of a holistic recycling concept in collaboration with waste management companies. 

Both companies are committed to driving the chemical recycling technology forward, which is based on the de-polymerization of post-consumer polystyrene waste. This technology aims at achieving virgin, high-quality polystyrene ultimately suitable for both food-contact and medical applications.

“We are very excited to expand our partnership with Ineos Styrolution focused on creating a true circular pathway for polystyrene using our existing chemical recycling platform,” said Joe Vaillancourt, CEO of Agilyx. “This collaboration not only looks to support deployment of a new chemical recycling application, but it also helps create a new, innovative supply chain that bridges both the plastics and waste management industries. This combination creates a new circular economy reality for polystyrene.”

Alexander Gluck, President, Americas Ineos Styrolution, commented, “We are excited to advance our partnership with Agliyx to the next level and further demonstrate our commitment to chemical recycling and the circular economy of polystyrene. Jointly exploring site options for scaling the new technology will help with accelerating our development program that we announced back in October of 2017.

“We are eager to lay down the foundation for polystyrene to be recovered and recycled and build the eco-system around chemical recycling,” Gluck added. “This will help us continue to enjoy the great benefits of polystyrene delivering substantial contributions [to] advances in healthcare and food preservation.”

StackTeck to demo Thin Recess Injection Mold system using MuCell process at NPE2018

StackTeck at NPE2018

StackTeck Systems Ltd. (Brampton, ON, Canada), a global manufacturer of high-volume production molds for thin-wall packaging, closures, medical, and mold bases, will be demonstrating its first thin-wall TRIM (Thin Recess Injection Mold) system using the MuCell process at the Trexel booth, W551, at NPE2018.

This MuCell microcellular process introduces the P Series, which, for the first time, allows for the use of ultra-fast cycle times. Attendees can view an in-mold label (IML) TRIM MuCell cup running in a 220-ton Milacron Ferromatik machine. IML automation is supplied by Ilsemann. The TRIM panels in the cup are just 0.008 inches (0.2 mm) thick, representing one of the thinnest injection molded parts in a usable packaging format, according to StackTeck.

Microcellular molding is the controlled use of gas injected into the melt stream via the molding machine. This process creates uniform micro-bubbles in a “foaming” action to disperse the plastic evenly within the cavity walls, explained StackTeck.

Benefits of MuCell technology include reduced resin consumption; less clamp tonnage needed; thin-to-thick wall material flow; and lower melt viscosity, which can help in difficult-to-fill areas.

TRIM and MuCell have benefits that complement each other. TRIM enables up to 40% part lightweighting but requires increased clamp tonnage, whereas MuCell reduces clamp tonnage in a similar proportion. Additionally, the microcellular approach brings additional lightweighting, beyond the benefits of TRIM. 

Stunning designs rock AWA sleeve label awards

<p>AWA Alexander Watson Associates (Amsterdam, Netherlands) launched the Sleeve Label Awards just four years ago to reward quality and originality in the design, production and application of all types of sleeve labels, one of the newest and fastest-growing technologies in labeling. Today, sleeve labels are at the heart of several end-use markets, particularly bottled drinks, and continue to grow. This year’s winners received their awards at the AWA International Sleeve Label Conference & Exhibition on April 18 to 20 in Atlanta, proving once again how innovative and technically superb this industry is. Yolanda Simonsis, editor of <em>PFFC Online</em>, and Corey Reardon, President and CEO of AWA Alexander Watson Associates, made the presentations. They are pictured here with Gavin Cook (center) of Safety Seal Plastics, who took home two of the four prizes this year.</p><p>The expert judging panel consisted of Tom Hammer, Séamus Lafferty and Will Schretzman from Siegwerk, Accraply and Verst Group, respectively. It was a hard task to choose winners from the universally high quality of the entries across all the categories, in itself testimony to the industry’s achievements today. They, therefore, chose to hand out a limited number of awards, all of which represent a step forward for the sleeve labeling industry in the minds of the judges. You can judge for yourselves by flipping through this short slide show.</p>

Topas COC helps mold next-gen wearable insulin delivery devices

t:slim X2 insulin pump from Tandem

More than 30 million people in the United States are diagnosed with diabetes, and it is the most costly chronic disease in the country, according to the American Diabetes Association. It cost a total of $327 billion in 2017 to treat the condition in the United States, according to the association. Fortunately, medtech companies continue to harness technology to develop more-effective, patient-friendly devices to manage diabetes. Cyclic olefin co-polymers (COCs) from Polyplastics Co., Ltd. (Florence, KY) are playing a significant role in the development of these next-generation devices.

The t:slim X2 insulin pump from Tandem Diabetes Care Inc. lets users make treatment decisions without pricking
their finger.

Earlier this year, Topas Advanced Polymers (which was merged into Polyplastics USA Inc. on April 1, 2018) announced that its COC was selected to mold the cartridge of the V-Go wearable insulin delivery device developed by Valeritas Holdings Inc. (Bridgewater, NJ). Today Polyplastics announced that another manufacturer of wearable insulin delivery pumps, Tandem Diabetes Care Inc. (San Diego, CA), has specified Topas 8007S-04 COC to manufacture the disposable cartridges for its device.

According to Polyplastics, the material was selected over competitive thermoplastics because of its purity, drug compatibility, biocompatibility and dimensional stability. The drug-contact material delivers consistent, reproducible performance and facilitates miniaturization of drug delivery systems, said Polyplastics, adding that it can be molded with zero draft for maximum precision of drug delivery.

Plastikos Inc. and sister moldmaking company Micro Mold, both located in Erie, PA, worked closely with Tandem to develop the molds and manufacture the cartridge parts. Plastikos reportedly is one of the leading medical molders of precision COC components for drug-delivery devices, with shipments of millions of parts during the past year.

Tandem’s simple-to-use t:slim X2 insulin pump is described as the smallest pump available and the only one capable of remote feature updates. It is the first continuous glucose monitoring device cleared by FDA that lets users make treatment decisions without pricking their finger. The t:flex insulin pump has capacity for up to 480 units, providing up to three days of insulin delivery with fewer interruptions for cartridge changes compared with other pumps, according to Tandem.

The pumps carry precision-molded disposable cartridges, several parts of which are molded of Topas 8007S-04. The components are manufactured under strict performance qualifications including challenging tolerance levels and multi-cavity tooling. They are produced in complex geometries and tight tolerances of less than 0.001 in. (0.025 mm).

Unlike other engineering thermoplastics or glass, Polyplastics said that its COC offers a non-ionic, minimally reactive surface. This non-polar substrate does not promote adsorption, denaturation, aggregation or precipitation. With very low leachables and extractables, the glass-clear medical polymer preserves long-term drug purity, enabling better performance and patient safety, said Polyplastics.

NPE2018: Frigel enhances Microgel RCP Chiller with digital controls

Frigel

Frigel (East Dundee, IL) has extended its digital control technology to the Microgel RCP Chiller, giving processors in demanding polyethylene terephthalate (PET) preform and large-part blowmolding operations the ability to more effectively optimize productivity, profitability and quality. The company invites attendees of NPE2018 to see the Microgel RCP Chiller at booth S14085, located in the show’s first-ever Bottle Zone. 

Designed to deliver high-pressure and high-flow cooling water for individual processing machines, the Microgel RCP Chiller eliminates the need for central chiller systems in PET preform, large-part blowmolding and high-speed multi-cavity injection molding applications. The addition of digital controls gives users the ability to capture process-cooling energy consumption data and more easily adjust the unit to achieve optimal efficiency and cost savings. 

The enhancement to the Microgel RCP Chiller is another example of Frigel’s commitment to helping processors leverage process-cooling innovations to gain a clear-cut advantage, said Frigel North America Marketing Manager Al Fosco.

“The Microgel RCP Chiller is the only machine-side chiller that provides powerful cooling with high coolant pressure and flow throughout the mold, which is essential in PET preform and large-part blowmolding applications,” said Frigel North America Marketing Manager Al Fosco. “The addition of our digital controls meets another essential need by allowing processors to more readily access process cooling data, including energy data, over extended periods. As a result, processors are better able to cost-effectively and efficiently improve cycle times and consistently produce quality products in these demanding cooling applications.”

The Microgel RCP Chiller is among numerous Frigel innovations on display at NPE2018. Frigel’s presence at NPE extends beyond its booth with 32 Frigel units operating in 14 booths of leading plastics machinery manufacturers, which is unprecedented for any process-cooling equipment company. 

Frigel also announced the availability of HB-Therm Temperature Control Units (TCUs) in North America that use water—not synthetic oil—as a heat transfer fluid to cool plastic molds at operating temperatures of 200° to 230° C (392° to 446° F). The water HB-Therm TCUs deliver precise cooling while eliminating environmental concerns associated with oil TCUs, which are often used to achieve high operating temperatures. Additionally, water as a heat transfer fluid is an inherently safer option than synthetic oil.

Frigel will display the HB-Therm TCUs in booth W193.

Frigel North America has served as the exclusive distributor of HB-Therm TCUs in the United States and Canada for nearly a decade. HB-Therm AG manufactures the full line of TCUs at its operation in Gallen, Switzerland. The Swiss TCUs have proven to provide highly accurate temperature control in applications where precise cooling is essential. Examples include medical applications that require validation of process cooling temperatures and small, injection-molded precision parts. 

“With these high-temperature water TCUs, processors can maintain precise cooling at high temperatures without the environmental concerns normally associated with the use of oil as a heat transfer fluid,” Fosco said. “Water is also a more safe option than oil."

The high-temperature water HB-Therm TCUs complement the existing line of HB-Therm water TCUs rated to deliver and maintain process-cooling water from 100° to 180° C (212° to 355° F).