India slaps Chinese with anti-dumping tariffs; Haitian responds

A final verdict has been reached on the anti-dumping case brought by Indian injection molding machinery manufacturer L & T Demag Plastic Machinery Ltd. (Chennai) against Chinese-made competitors, with the Indian government slapping anti-dumping tariffs ranging up to 223% on injection molding machinery exported to India from the People’s Republic of China.



Haitian’s Franz: India’s anti-dumping move a political decision.



At the world’s largest (by units manufactured and sold) manufacturer of injection molding machines, Haitian (Ningbo, China), the decision was quickly labeled unfair, with Haitian chief strategy officer Helmar Franz telling MPW that his company has been hit with a 100% tariff. Franz derided the Indian government’s decision as a politically driven one. “For one, our machines are not competing with local offerings. Secondly, our pricing in India is not lower than our pricing anywhere else in the world,” he said during the Chinaplas tradeshow last week.

Franz predicts processors will have difficulty finding the best machines with the tariffs in place, and could end up transferring their operations to other countries such as Nigeria. “The Indian processing industry will be the big loser,” says Franz.

The decision could impact the growth of India’s molding community. As we reported from the Plastindia trade show in New Delhi in February, India’s injection molding machinery/capacity demand is expected to grow by about 6%/yr through at least 2015.

According to Milind Aginhotry, director of injection molding machine manufacturing operations at Electronica Machine Tools (Pune, India), total press sales in India were 2487 in 2005/06, 2899 in 2006/07 and 3138 in 2007/08. Electronica is the exclusive importer of Haitian’s injection molding machinery to India, but the firm plans to assemble the Haitian Saturn-series machines in India for the domestic market. stephen.moore@cancom.com

Balkan films processor seeks NAFTA outlet

(Gornji Milanovac) is keen to find a distributor to help it expand beyond its present market of Europe, Russia/CIS countries, and the Middle East into the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) region, marketing the company’s high-barrier food packaging film. The family-owned operation was among MPW’s 25 Notable Processors in 2006 and named 2007 Exporter of the Year by the government for its innovative packaging products, which include five-, seven-, and nine-layer gas- and moisture-barrier printed, shrink web for hard sausages, fresh meats, fish, and cheeses.

When MPW visited recently, Spektar Managing Director Zoran Djordjevic and his two sons had just taken delivery of a nine-layer, triple-bubble blown-film line, producing web in 25-100µm tolerances, from extruder manufacturer Kuhne (Sankt Augustin, Germany)—the first such unit from Kuhne. The design, says Djordjevic, is based on Spektar’s existing five- and seven-layer production experience, and he says the new line allows up to 50% better shrink properties for packaging of meats and cheeses. His son Petar says the unit will complement the company’s current offerings since the seven-layer film (40-100µm) already produced there provides better puncture resistance for packaging some products, such as fresh meat with sharp bones, than nine-layer film. “We want to be able to offer customers the optimum choice of film structures to match their product,” he says.

In the past two years the company has invested about €5 million ($6.95 million) not only in the nine-layer line, but also in a new building addition to house the extruder as well as an 8+8 color flexographic printer from Windmöller & Hölscher (Lengerich, Germany), which will be delivered in June. Interested distributors can contact the company at petar.djordjevic@spektar.com and jovan.djordjevic@spektar.com.

Polymerupdate European resin pricing, May 18-22: PP, PE, PVC, ABS, and PET flat; PS rises

Polypropylene (PP) prices in Europe finished last week flat, according to Polymerupdate, with contract homopolymer injection grades unchanged at €810/tonne FD Northwest Europe and copolymer steady at €850/tonne FD Northwest Europe. In the spot market, PP prices were also flat, with FD Northwest Europe homopolymer grades at €720/tonne and copolymer prices at €770/tonne FD Northwest Europe. In plant news, Dow Europe reportedly restarted its Wesseling, Germany PP unit last week. The 195,000 tonnes/yr line had been shutdown in early May for a fortnight-long maintenance turnaround.

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) general-purpose contracts were flat, with Germany holding to €910/tonne FD, and prices in Italy at €905/tonne FD. In France, LDPE contract prices stayed at €890/tonne FD. LDPE spot prices were also unchanged from the week before at €760-€770/tonne FD Northwest Europe. Regional demand was subdued, but export inquiries for LDPE were ample, with attractive markets for European LDPE in China and North Africa.

Linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) contracts were also steady, with FD Northwest Europe prices at €890-€900/tonne. In the spot market, LLDPE prices were flat at €780/tonne FD Northwest Europe. Buyers are pressuring LLDPE sellers to drop their prices, but the fact that many European sellers had already successfully achieved their volume targets in spite of subdued buying helped them defend their prices.

Polystyrene (PS) contract prices firmed in Europe last week, with general-purpose PS at €1015/tonne FD Northwest Europe compared to €995/tonne FD a week earlier. High-impact PS contracts rose to €1065/tonne FD Northwest Europe, compared €1045/tonne FD Northwest Europe. In the spot market, PS rose to €810/tonne FD Northwest Europe for general-purpose grades, with high-impact prices at €860/tonne FD Northwest Europe.

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) general-purpose and natural-grade contracts were flat, with prices holding at €1195-€1205/tonne FD Northwest Europe. In the spot market, ABS prices fell to €1050-€1060/tonne FD Northwest Europe. Sellers attributed the drop to poor demand in regional markets, particularly construction and automotive.

Polyvinyl chloride
(PVC) suspension-grade contracts were largely unchanged, with prices in Germany at €715/tonne FD, and contract settlements in Italy at €705/tonne FD. In the spot market, PVC was unchanged at €570/tonne FD Northwest Europe. Most PVC sellers polled by Polymerupdate claimed their offer prices were at €600/tonne FD Northwest Europe and higher.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle grades were assessed steady at €1080-€1100/tonne FD Northwest Europe. Compared to the April contract settlement, these prices were up between €60-€90/tonne. In the spot market, PET prices drifted lower, with bottle grades falling to between €930-€960/tonne FD Northwest Europe. mpweditorial@cancom.com

Polymerupdate Asian resin pricing, May 18-22: PE, PP, PS, and ABS fall; PVC rises

Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) prices dropped in Asia last week as demand dwindled, according to Polymerupdate, with buyers in China leading the retreat. CFR Far East Asia LDPE dropped to $1170-$1180/tonne, with CFR Southeast Asia prices at $1180/tonne. In China, prices dropped by RMB 200/tonne, quoting at RMB 9300 to RMB 9350/tonne ex work. Buyers polled by Polymerupdate said large-volume arrivals of competitively priced deep-sea LDPE cargoes from Europe further dampened the regional buying mood.

Polypropylene (PP) prices also ended lower in Asia last week, with buying sentiment turning bearish across much of the region. CFR Far East Asia prices for PP injection and raffia grades fell to $1070/tonne, with CFR Far East Asia falling to $1150/tonne. CFR Southeast Asia raffia and injection prices were assessed at $1075/tonne, with CFR Southeast Asia film at $1150/tonne. Helping push the market lower were anticipated large volumes of deep-sea cargo arrivals in Asia from July onward. In India, producers lowered PP prices by Rs 5/kg basic, while in China, PP dropped by RMB 350/tonne. In South Asia, injection and raffia prices fell to $1090/tonne CFR, while PP film settled at $1180/tonne CFR.

Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) prices finished higher in Asia, rising on gains in upstream vinyl chloride monomer coupled with reports of tight supplies in China. CFR China prices rose to $750/tonne, with CFR Southeast Asia at $740-$750/tonne. Taiwan’s Formosa quoted from $770-$780/tonne CFR China for June PVC—a $40/tonne increase from May.

Polystyrene (PS) fell, with general-purpose grades at $960-$970/tonne CFR China and CFR Southeast Asia at $960-$970/tonne. High-impact PS prices on a CFR China basis fell to $1060-$1070/tonne, with CFR Southeast Asia prices at $1070/tonne. A trader contacted by Polymerupdate said soft buying trends may drag PS prices down a further $30 to $50/tonne in June, but producers will resist dropping their prices much further since their margins are already squeezed.

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) prices also fell in Asia, as demand across the region waned. CFR China ABS prices fell to $1310-$1320/tonne. National buying was below $1300/tonne CFR China. A trader told Polymerupdate that the lagging demand can be tied to a slowdown in finished-products demand, with the end of season drawing near for products like refrigerators. The market is weighing potential government subsidies for items like automobiles and appliances, so that, for example, a Chinese citizen looking to replace his washing machine, computer, refrigerator, etc., would receive a 10% subsidy of the total cost from the government. mpweditorial@cancom.com

Electronic device panels benefit from new barrier film

Designed for use in front panels of electronic devices is a new transparent film called View-Barrier, processed and marketed by Mitsubishi Plastics Inc. (MPI; Tokyo, Japan) and now commercially available in Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

The new film is a modified version of the company’s established X-Barrier films, which MPI launched in July 2008 and which we reported on here. Silicon dioxide (SiO2) vacuum coating is used to treat the film.

According to the processor, the new film’s potential application field includes the front panel of electronic devices such as electronic paper, organic/non-organic electro-luminescence and photovoltaic modules, or in thin, light, and low-cost flat panel displays.  Looking ahead, MPI predicts the film could eventually see use in a “roll-to-roll” process (rather than glass-plate batch fabrication) for printable electronics, an emerging and fast-growing market. View-Barrier’s water vapor transmission rate is as low as 10-4 g/m2/day, which MPI claims will allow for flexible, roll-to-roll production of plastic electronics. 

The low water vapor transmission rate remains even after long-term high temperatures and high humidity, says MPI. In addition to its water vapor barrier properties, it also offers gas barrier properties for oxygen and carbon dioxide. Metal-free, it has reduced reflection and glare. matt.defosse@cancom.com

Moldmakers’ forum exposes payment abuse

“Look! There goes another one. Hope I get paid eventually for the molds I made for that car, too.”

Moldmakers on the short end of the stick when it comes to payment have a new blog, toolanddieing.com, where they are encouraged to call out those Tier automotive suppliers who are remiss in paying their debts for molds already in service. It’s part of an ongoing effort to get payments passed through from the OEM to the moldmakers.

The blog, called “Deadbeat Tooling Payments,” is seeking comments from all of the mold, tool and die makers who’ve seen a vehicle on the street for which they are still awaiting payment. It’s a common occurrence, from what I understand.

The big holdup—both meanings of the word, a delay and being robbed—remains PPAP (Production Part Approval Process), the qualification process that every mold goes through that certifies that the plastic components coming off of it are to spec and ready for use on production vehicles. Funny, but no one ever seems to know quite when PPAP has taken place or even if it is completed.

But then one day, while out about town, a moldmaker spots the make and model of the vehicle that he built the bumper molds (or other parts) for— and for which he has yet to receive payment. He calls the Tier One but no one seems to know when PPAP is scheduled. That ambiguous PPAP date has somehow disappeared into a black hole, and no one_either at the OEM or the Tier supplier—claims to be responsible for knowing the date or the results, let alone actually concerning themselves with payment to the moldmaker.

If you have been or are stuck in this situation, the blog wants you to write about it and answer these questions:

• “Are you presently still waiting for a tooling payment and the vehicle is on the street? If so, what is the vehicle and how long ago was it launched?”

• “In the past, what vehicles did you notice driving around the streets that you were still trying to collect payments on?”

Details desired include the name of the OEM, the vehicle, tool delivery day, vehicle launch date, and the dollar amount still owed on the molds, tools and dies, with “other appropriate comments” welcome.

It’s about time that OEMs and their large Tier suppliers got called on the carpet for this type of payment abuse! Blog away! clare.goldsberry@cancom.com

Milacron delivers big in China

Cincinnati Milacron Extrusion Systems (Batavia, OH) has delivered its first natural fiber/plastic composite extrusion line to a Chinese processor, Nanjing Jufeng. The line, rated at 2600 kg/hr, is China’s largest, according to Milacron. The processor is using rice husks as filler.

“Jufeng operates 15 domestically sourced lines and it has effectively doubled its capacity through addition of this single line,” says Jay Woerner, VP for Asian operations at Milacron. Better product quality, less energy consumption, lower screw wear, and greater uptime pushed the equation in favor of the imported line, he told MPW during a visit to his company at last week’s Chinaplas exhibition.

In related news, sister company Uniloy Milacron recently delivered its first structural foam machine to China. A processor in Zhejiang Province is using the unit to mold large storage containers and pallets. stephen.moore@cancom.com

TPE resin pricing, May 18-22: PE and PS firm, PP market tightens

Polyethylene (PE) spot prices firmed last week as supply remained tight and export interest continued, according to spot-trading platform The Plastics Exchange (TPE), and its reporting partner, the PetroChem Wire. Producers have proposed a $0.03/lb increase this month for contracts, but May pricing has not been finalized. Some processors point to recent weakness in ethylene monomer as a reason to hold prices level. In addition to tight inventory controls by producers, PE spot availability remains thin due to strong PE prices in Asia relative to the U.S. pushing any additional material into the export market. High-density polyethylene (HDPE) blowmold and injection grades, as well as linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE) film butene, traded in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb this week. Low-density polyethylene (LDPE) film was in the high $0.40s to low $0.50s/lb, with high molecular weight HDPE film transacting in the high $0.40s/lb. Overall, spot prices are up about 2.5 cents from end-April levels. Export interest held, especially from China, but regular inquiries also came through from Latin America, where supplies are said to be tight. TPE reports that since many Houston bagging facilities are booked through the end of June, many traders are reluctant to do deals further out over concerns that prices may soon fall in China.

Polypropylene (PP) spot prices held firm this week, with TPE reporting bullish sentiment amid a recent surge in propylene spot prices, PP production issues, and availability concerns. Producers had proposed a $0.03/lb contract increase for May PP, but market participants report only a 2.5-cent increase thus far. Spot trading was thin, with buyers picking up whatever material was available as propylene prices surged. Here, too, tight producer inventories and Asian export demand have kept the market snug.

Homopolymer PP prices were in the low-to-mid $0.40s/lb, with copolymer PP trading at a 1.5-cent premium. Limited bagging capacity has depressed export demand, and traders are closely watching Asian inquiries, with that market slowing. In production news, Sunoco declared force majeure for its polymers business, following a May 17 fire in its ethylene unit. As a result, PP units are operating at reduced rates for an undetermined period of time at Marcus Hook, PA, with the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit at the refinery shutdown.

Polystyrene (PS) spot prices were higher last week, with traders reporting there is very little material available to transact in the spot secondary market. High-impact PS was in the mid $0.50s/lb, with general-purpose PS in the high $0.40s/lb to low $0.50s/lb. Overall, spot prices were up about a penny from the week prior. mpweditorial@cancom.com

Steer’s Chinese purchase opens door to downstream markets

Indian compounding extruder manufacturer Steer Engineering (Bangalore) has maneuvered downstream in China through its acquisition of Zheng Feng (Nantong), a supplier of single-screw extrusion lines. Steer, founded in 1993, plans to leverage this acquisition to establish a position in direct in-line twin-screw extrusion of wood plastic composite (WPC) profiles and other products such as foamed sheet and long fiber reinforced profiles, with its compounding machines feeding in-line extruders made by Zheng Feng.



Steer managing director Babu Padmanabhan, right, says WPCs are being targeted in China.



Besides extruders, Steer also markets a software system called Outline for configuring extruder screws and barrels. The software can be used not only to configure the company’s co-rotating twin-screw extruders, but also other suppliers’ extruders. “The software incorporates a database of more than 400 extruders from 20 OEMs,” says Babu Padmanabhan, managing director of Steer and the company’s founder. At NPE2009 this June, Steer will unveil an online version of Outline. “This Internet-based version will operate on a pay-per-use basis,” says Padmanabhan.

In addition to extruders, Steer manufacturers all of the major components including gearboxes, and key peripherals such as volumetric or gravimetric feeders, screen changers, and pelletizers. stephen.moore@cancom.com

Gloucester scores in Malaysia, and offers sneak preview for NPE

We reported in the May 26 issue of NewsFeed on the purchase by Malaysia’s Scientex Packaging Film of a seven-layer cast stretch film line from Gloucester Engineering (Gloucester, MA), but since have been told that the sale was a true coup for Gloucester in that it was the only stretch film line sold so far this year in the whole of Southeast Asia, according to Gloucester’s vice chairman Mark VanBuskirk, who spoke with MPW at last week’s Chinaplas tradeshow in Guangzhou.

VanBuskirk also previewed a new technology to be debuted at NPE2009 this June dubbed the WOW (With-or-Without) Winder. Technically speaking, the WOW Winder can run without the need for any cores whatsoever if the infrastructure to handle such rolls is in place at end users; in reality, processors will likely use small rolls with thickness similar to that of a toilet roll, says VanBuskirk. “This represents a considerable cost savings particularly when stretch film roll lengths are short,” he adds. The WOW Winder is also capable of 1000-m/minute line speeds and employs robotic core placement. Another advantage of the new winder is trimless operation between rolls; trim is only required at the edges. stephen.moore@cancom.com