July 2008

Close-Up on Technology

Blow Molders and Thermoformers Try Plastic Rapid Tooling
Rapid prototyping (RP) equipment is increasingly being used to manufacture prototype and short-run production molds for blow molded and thermoformed parts.

New Low-Pressure Process Molds Long Profiles On Small Presses
A new process that can produce long, thin-walled profiles and strips with functional or decorative geometries integrated in the part in a single step was developed by IB Steiner engineering consultants and Hybrid Composite Products GmbH, both in Spielberg, Austria.

Processor's Edge

Training Pays Off in Productivity
A skilled and efficient workforce provides a decisive edge against competition and improves the bottom line.

Starting Up

Economic Outlook - July 2008
U.S. residential construction continues to languish in the wake of the sub-prime mortgage debacle, and it will be at least another year before activity starts to show consistent improvement.

Feedstocks Drive Up Prices
Prices of all sorts of commodity and engineering thermoplastics and thermosets are rising by leaps and bounds, reacting to equally strong increases in feedstock costs. PE PRICES UP SHARPLYPE prices moved up 3¢/lb in May, after a 3¢ increase in April.

Market Outlook - July 2008
Mastio & Company’s most recent Injection Molding Markets Study predicts modest growth for injection molded automotive products in 2008.

Still a Bargain
These days, everyone is talking about being “green.” That spurs recycling activity, which should mean more availability of recycled material and lower prices. But the other side of the coin is growing demand for reclaimed plastics.

Your Business In Brief - July 2008
Clariant & Bayer Partners In Nanotube CompoundsTo take advantage of the electrical conductivity and mechanical strength afforded by carbon nanotubes (CNT), Bayer MaterialScience AG in Germany (U.S. office in Pittsburgh) and Clariant Masterbatches (U.S. office in Winchester, Va.) signed a long-term cooperation agreement for development, production, and sales of CNT/thermoplastic compounds and masterbatches.


Composites Embrace Mass Production
The focus this year at the international JEC Composites Show in Paris was not so much on brand-new processes as on adapting existing processes and materials for mass production, especially of large parts with critical structural demands. Attracting the most attention was wind energy, where composite material usage is growing more than 17%/yr, according to Gurit (formerly SP Systems), a Swiss-based global prepreg supplier with U.S. operations.

Enhancing Biopolymers: Additives Are Needed for Toughness, Heat Resistance & Processability
Plastics are going “green,” but they will need some help to get there. Biodegradable polymers derived from renewable resources are attracting lots of interest and publicity, but that enthusiasm is counterbalanced by persistent questions of availability, cost, performance, and processability. All these issues are inter-related: Increasing demand will lead to more capacity, which will presumably lead to lower prices. But the foundation is market demand, which ultimately depends on whether biopolymers will have the performance properties and processability to compete with existing non-renewable plastics.

It's All Relative ...
If you travel to Europe anytime soon, try not to gulp too hard when you look at the prices on a restaurant menu or in a shop-window display.

Keeping Up With Technology

Activator Enhances Azo Exothermic Blowing Agents
A new activator/kicker is said to be the most effective of its kind for reducing the decomposition temperature of azodicarbonamide blowing agents.

Big Screen Changer for RPET
A giant screen changer of 170 mm diam. with six pistons and 12 screens was made by Erema in Ipswich, Mass., to provide up to 5000 lb/hr throughput of recycled PET.

Bio-Based Resins for Packaging And Durables
Three previously announced families of renewably sourced polymers for packaging and engineered products are now commercially available from DuPont Co., Wilmington, Del.

Bio-Based, Compostable Sheet Arrives for Packaging
A previously announced line of formable sheets based on renewably sourced polymers is now commercially available from DuPont Packaging & Industrial Polymers, Wilmington, Del.

Blow Moldable Acetal
A new acetal from BASF Corp.

Camera-Based Web Inspection Is Growing
WEB EXCLUSIVE Two suppliers of camera arrays for automatic inspection and defect control of plastic film and sheet report recently delivering their widest arrays ever.

Converting and Printing Bio-Films
Two European converters launched 80% to 100% bio-derived and industrially compostable film/paper laminates late last year that are opaque white and printable, capable of replacing petro-derived film laminates.

Cyclic PBT Adds Barrier To Rotomolded Fuel Tanks
To address stricter permeation requirements for small rotomolded fuel tanks, Cyclics Corp., Schenectady, N.Y. has developed a two-layer barrier system based on HDPE and its CBT cyclic PBT resin.

Energy-Efficient Labeler For Large Containers
A new front/back bottle labeler has an energy-saving feature for 5-gal containers that require a 12-min cool-down before labeling.

Energy-Saving Press Melts Resin by Conduction
A novel air-driven injection machine for small parts (10 g or less) relies on barrel heating rather than mechanical shear heating for resin melting.

Enhanced MDPE and HDPE For Rotomolding
Four new hexene-copolymer MDPE and HDPE resins for rotomolding come from Chevron Phillips Chemical, The Woodlands, Texas.

First Translucent UV-Block Films
3M Corp.’s Drug Delivery Systems Div. in St.

Heat-Conductive Alloy Contains No Beryllium
A high-thermal-conductivity alloy introduced last year is now widely available from Brush Wellman Inc., Cleveland.

High-Flow Nylon Stays Tough in the Cold
A high-flow nylon 66 from Chem Polymer, Ft.

Internally Heated Hot-Runner Nozzles
A new source of internally heated hot-runner nozzles that eliminate the risk of external heater-wire damage is Melt Design Inc., St.

Larger, Faster and More Accurate FDM Unit
As additive fabrication systems move from rapid prototyping into direct digital manufacturing, there is a need for greater build-size capability, speed, and accuracy.

Machine Builder Offers Novel Energy-Saving Barrel Heater
Milacron Inc., Batavia, Ohio, is now the exclusive supplier to the plastics industry in the Americas of the unusual barrel heating/cooling technology developed by Rex Materials, Inc., Fowlerville, Mich.

Micro-Embossed Sharkskin Film Pattern Is Anti-Microbial
A surface micro-pattern of parallel dashes in a cross-hatched overall pattern, which is so small it is difficult to feel or see, is enough to keep dangerous microbes from attaching to the film surface.

Mini Tunnel Gate Inserts Are ‘Smallest Ever’
New at the recent MoldMaking Expo in Novi, Mich. (sponsored by our sister publication, Moldmaking Technology) was a new line of mini tunnel-gate inserts said to be the smallest on the market.

Needle Bearing Locks And Undercut Releases
Two new standardized mold components are available from Progressive Components, Wauconda, Ill.

New IR Lamps Save Energy In Stretch-Blow Molding
Royal Philips Electronics, Somerset, N.J., and Sidel Inc., Norcross, Ga., have jointly developed infrared lamps that reportedly cut electricity use by 15% in PET bottle molding.

New-Style Drive Belt for Desiccant Wheel Dryers
A new and reportedly unique traction drive-belt system improves performance of Carousel Plus dryers from The Conair Group Inc., Cranberry Township, Pa.

Optically Measure Tool Dimensions During Milling
A high-resolution video inspection head with integral laser point finder and 15-in.

Oversized Devolatilizer For Big Reclaim Extruder
The largest cascade reclaim extruder ever built in the Merritt line from Davis-Standard LLC in Pawcatuck, Conn., will be delivered this month to ABC Polymers Inc., a recycler in Stone Mountain, Ga.

PET Resin Contains Up to 20% PCR
A new PET bottle resin containing up to 20% post-consumer recycled material boasts exceptional color, clarity, and dimensional stability for applications such as bottled water, carbonated soft drinks, juices, sports drinks, teas, foods, and household goods and cleaners.

Process Aid for HDPE
Just 1% addition of a new internal mold release and processing aid is said to improve HDPE flow up to 20%. Developed by Axel Plastics Research Laboratories, Woodside, N.Y., MoldWiz INT-41FPE is available as a 100%-active pellet or free-flowing powder.

Security Locks for High-Temp. Hose Couplings
A simple turn prevents accidental disconnection of the new valve-less Secure Lock hose couplings from Nonnenmann Inc., Sterling Heights, Mich.

Single Valve-Gate Nozzle For High Temperatures
A new single valve-gate nozzle uses mechanical actuation that takes up very little space in the mold.

Smart Guarding For Robot Cells
A guarding system that protects workers and automation devices in a molding cell is now available from Fortress Interlocks Ltd., Erlanger, Ky.

Software Prepares and Fixes Rapid Prototype Models
New versions of software for preparing and repairing 3D CAD data for rapid prototyping and simulation comes from DeskArtes in Finland, represented here by NEST Technologies, Inc., Studio City, Calif.

Twin-Screw Extruder Has U.S. and Chinese Parents
Century Extrusion, Traverse City, Mich., and sister company Ruiya Extrusion in China have cooperated on building the new Apex line of corotating twin-screwextruders.

Ultrasonic Welder Offers Quick Tool Changeover
Ultrasonic welders from MS Plastic Welders, Fowlerville, Mich., utilize a new quick-tool-change device for assembly of automotive door panels, consoles, and other assemblies.

Water Slurry Aids Nano-Compounding
Dispersing nano-scale fillers in high-viscosity plastic melts is no simple feat.

CW Brabender
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