BFGoodrich Co., Charlotte, N.C., has agreed to sell its Performance Materials business to an investor group led by AEA Investors Inc. and including DLJ Merchant Banking Partners and DB Capital Partners (an affiliate of Deutsche Bank AG). The sale includes BFG’s Estane TPU, Estaloc reinforced TPU, TempRite CPVC, Telene DCPD-based RIM resins, and Stat-Rite antistatic polymers. Also included are antioxidants and reactive liquid polymers.
Omnexus, the Atlanta-based on-line e-marketplace, conducted its first commercial transaction on Nov. 30, when Technimark, a custom injection molder in Asheboro, N.C., purchased 80,000 lb of PS from Dow Plastics, Midland, Mich. Dow was one of the founders of Omnexus, together with BASF, Bayer, DuPont, and Ticona.
The e-business site (www.omnexus.com) now provides access to the products of more than 20 global suppliers. It plans to serve Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world later this year.
Omnexus has formed an alliance with Conferos (formerly BuyPlastics.com) of Waltham, Mass., which offers on-line collaborative product-development resources. •95•
With the opening of its new plant, Weber Manufacturing Ltd. in Midland, Ont., increased its nickel-vapor deposition (NVD) capacity from 50,000 to 80,000 lb/yr to 400,000 lb/yr. Weber’s plant can make large plastics molds in nickel, steel, or aluminum for injection and compression molding, RIM, SRIM, and RTM. NVD is used to produce nickel shells for cores or cavities in applications ranging from bathtubs to auto interiors. NVD molds can weigh as much as 75% less than steel molds. Their improved heat transfer can produce shorter cycle times. The tools also cost less and require shorter lead times. What’s more, nickel is harder than P-20 steel and offers better corrosion resistance, Weber sources say. •93•
Asahi Glass Co. of Japan has brought together all its fluoropolymer products in North America under one banner. As of this month, its imported Aflon COP (ETFE) and PFA materials, as well as Aflas fluoroelastomers, are now supplied by AG Fluoropolymers USA, Inc., Chadds Ford, Pa. AG Fluoropolymers also supplies U.S.-made Fluon PTFE and Fluorocomp PTFE compounds, plus Whitcon TL lubricant powders and Fluoromelt melt-processable compounds. Until now, the Aflot materials were sold by another Asahi subsidiary, AGA Chemicals of Charlotte, N.C. •98•
Henkel of Germany is looking for a buyer of its Cognis chemicals subsidiary, whose U.S. headquarters is in Ambler, Pa. Cognis makes vinyl additives, including plasticizers, stabilizers, lubricants, and antistats.
GE Plastics, Pittsfield, Mass., recently completed a 64-million-lb/yr expansion of PPO capacity at Selkirk, N.Y. An additional 24-million-lb expansion is due on stream by the third quarter of 2001. PPO is the key ingredient in GE’s Noryl and Noryl GTX resins.
Nova Chemicals Corp., Pittsburgh, is greatly expanding its plans to produce a new generation of polyethylene resins with its Advanced Sclairtech Ziegler-Natta catalyst. Nova plans to start up a solution-phase LLDPE and HDPE plant at Joffre, Alberta, by the end of March. Planned capacity there has been increased from 770 million to 850 million lb/yr.
Meanwhile, Nova has begun to convert its existing Unipol gas-phase LLDPE plant at Joffre to use the Advanced Sclairtech catalyst. Nova plans full conversion of the 1.3-billion-lb plant in the first half of 2002.
Mannesmann Plastics Machinery AG (MPM) in Germany has been put up for sale by its parent company, Mannesmann Demag Krauss-Maffei AG. MPM will be sold only as a block. It includes injection machine builders Krauss-Maffei, Demag Ergotech, Netstal, Billion, and Van Dorn Demag. The group also includes Berstorff, a maker of extruders.
New Castle Industries, New Castle, Pa., a maker of screws, barrels, and rolls for plastics, has acquired Keystone Rolls, Inc. of Wheatland, Pa. Keystone specializes in chrome plating and finishing of chill rolls for plastics processing. This comes soon after New Castle bought FR Gross Co., a maker of heat-transfer rolls.
Hot-Runner producer Mold-Masters Ltd. of Georgetown, Ont., has opened a new technical center in Mt. Clemens, Mich. The 10,000-sq-ft center is focused on the automotive industry. Besides training in hot-runner use, the center offers a fluidized-bed cleaning service for hot-runner components. •96•
Cancarb Ltd. of Medicine Hat, Alberta, a major producer of thermal carbon black, has been acquired by Sid Richardson Carbon Co., Fort Worth, Texas. Sid Richardson produces furnace blacks. Cancarb will operate as a subsidiary.
Extrusion Dies, Inc. (EDI), Chippewa Falls, Wis., has established a new website (www.reworkdies.com) to provide processors with information about remanufacturing services for flat dies for film, sheet, and coatings. The site describes the engineering and machining systems used by EDI to restore dies to as-new condition, outlines options for modifying die dimensions or adding capabilities such as automatic gauge control, and discusses costs and lead times.
Amcor PET Technologies, the R&D division of Amcor PET Packaging-North America in Mississauga, Ont., has launched PET barrier beer bottles with three microbrewers in the U.S. and Canada. All are 16-oz (473-cc) amber bottles that have three layers. The middle layer is of Amosorb 3000 oxygen-scavenging resin from BP Amoco Polymers, Inc., Alpharetta, Ga.
Two U.S. brewers using the bottles are Michigan Brewing Co. in Webberville, Mich., and Pony Express Brewing Co. of Olathe, Kan. Both will use a plastic screw cap. The Canadian brewer is Taylor & Bate of St. Catherines, Ont. It will use a crown finish.
The privately funded, non-profit Plastic Technology Center recently started up in Angola, Ind. It is dedicated to providing training and educational services to all plastics processors, not just those in that state. The Center has partnered with Tri-State University in Angola, which will allow students to earn college credits while training at the Center. Another partner is Paulson Training Programs, Inc. of Chester, Conn., which donated its entire training library—over 150 hr of programs in injection and blow molding and extrusion.
The Center will offer programs in adult education, customized industrial training, and classes for high-school and vocational-education students. The 12,500-sq-ft building includes over 6000 sq ft for a processing room, which will house injection molding, thermoforming, blow molding, extrusion, and rotomolding equipment donated by machinery suppliers and rotated every one to two years. For more information, contact Harry Adamson, director of the Center at (219) 624-2420 (219) 624-2420.
While almost all plastic engine manifolds in North America are injection molded of glass-reinforced nylon 66, some manifolds in Europe have been molded of Stanyl nylon 46, an exclusive product of DSM of the Netherlands (parent of DSM Engineering Plastics, Evansville, Ind.). Stanyl is used where manifold temperatures can reach 375-390 F, at which other nylons either do not perform adequately or would require thicker walls. Stanyl can even withstand short-term exposure near to its melting point of 554 F, thus avoiding the need for a heat shield.
The latest example of this application is a 30% glass-filled nylon 46 air-intake manifold for the Ford Transit minivan in the U.K. It is molded in two pieces by Siemens Automotive of Telford, U.K., and then vibration welded. •97•
California’s Building Standards Commission in mid-November granted local governments limited authority to approve chlorinated PVC pipe use where acid soil and water (pH less than 6.5) have caused or could cause metallic-pipe failures. Local governments, however, can’t approve CPVC pipe use until the state’s Dept. of Industrial Relations issues formal guidelines for plumber training and safety during installation.
California officials have long had environmental concerns about carcinogenic solvents (MEK and tetrahydrofuran) found in primers and adhesives used to seal CPVC pipe joints. California regulations will require ventilation and safety gloves for workers. And because solvents from the adhesive leach into drinking water for a short while after installation, the state will require extensive flushing of the pipe system before it can carry drinking water.
CPVC compound, trademarked FlowGuard Gold, is made by the Performance Materials Div. of BFGoodrich Co. in Charlotte, N.C. •94•
Mica producer Azco Mining Inc. has relocated its corporate offices in Ferndale, Wash., and Vancouver, B.C., to a new headquarters in Glendale, Ariz.
Natural variability in properties of plastics and composites is taken into account for the first time in new release 5.7 of Ansys finite-element structural-analysis software from Ansys, Inc., Southpointe, Pa. The new package incorporates the new Probabilistic Design System (PDS), which models the statistical variation in material properties and load conditions (temperature, humidity, stress level, etc.). Until now, finite-element analysis (FEA) software used single-point data that do not represent real-world variability in materials and end-use conditions. Thus, designers have had to design products on the basis of “worst-case” data, which can lead to costly overdesign.
Reportedly the first commercial software of its kind, PDS accepts as input a statistical distribution of data or a range of data points based on measurements. Then PDS performs multiple analyses by varying the input data in order to arrive at a statistical distribution of results. Those results define the probability of “worst-case” phenomena and thus show how robust or reliable a design is. Ansys officials say PDS can be particularly valuable in designing with composites, which exhibit variations in fiber orientation, fiber/resin ratio, and other factors.
Ansys 5.7 also contains a new feature to speed up the use of PDS. Called Parallel Performance, it can link multiple computer work stations to function as a parallel-processing network, with each computer performing a piece of a large calculation. This way, all of the computers in an office can be used to solve a complex problem overnight, when they would otherwise be idle. •100•
Pigment maker Lansco Colors (Landers Segal Color Co.) in Montvale, N.J., has bought Aarbor International of Brighton, Mich. Aarbor manufactures organic pigments in 10 factories in China. The purchase reportedly makes Lansco the leading supplier of organic pigments from Asia to the U.S. •101•
Mikron Holding AG of Biel, Switzerland, plans two acquisitions that will make it an important international player in plastics moldmaking, the world’s leading producer of plastics gear systems, and a stronger factor in molded plastics components for medical and telecommunications markets.
Mikron, a diversified industrial technology company with operations in the U.S. and Europe, aims to buy Axxicon Group NV of the Netherlands, a leading international producer of plastics injection molds, especially for CDs, DVDs, and smart cards. It is also substantial molder of technical plastics parts. Axxicon’s U.S. sales office recently moved to Los Angeles. Mikron also has signed a letter of intent to purchase a firm identified only as “one of America’s largest mold producers.” That firm has 230 employees and sales around $63 million. It concentrates on injection molds for high-volume production of medical, personal-care, telecommunications, and packaging components.
Together, these two acquisitions will form a new Mikron Mold Technology Div. with annual sales around $111 million. This new division is expected to make Mikron’s Plastics Technology Div., which performs custom injection molding, a more attractive strategic partner for medical and telecommunications producers. Micron Corp. Anderson in Anderson, S.C., is part of that division.
Because both Axxicon and Mikron mold plastic gear systems, the combined firm reportedly will become the world’s leading supplier, with eight plants and gear sales of $78 million.
Sales per employee, per line, and per plant, as well as value added derived from downstream or secondary operations, are some of the parameters benchmarked in An Econometric Analysis of the North American Profile Extrusion Business, a new report from Plastics Custom Research Services in Advance, N.C. Dr. Peter J. Mooney, president of the firm, says the report is based on a survey of 110 U.S. and Canadian profile extruders.
He estimates that there are roughly 700 profile plants in North America, employing nearly 45,000 people to run close to 4000 extrusion lines. They process over 5 billion lb of material and generate $9 billion in sales. During the 1990s, when the overall North American plastics industry grew by 6%/yr, the profile business averaged a 9.4% annual growth rate. Mooney expects profile extrusion to grow by roughly 9%/yr for the next few years. Over 80% of the resin consumption is PVC, and 63% of the output is in building construction products. Siding is the leading application, followed by window and door components. His report indicates that future productivity growth will depend on increased use of twin-screw machines and further penetration of wood flour as an economical filler.
The 178-page report costs $650 to profile extruders and $1300 to others. For details, call (336) 998-8004 (336) 998-8004.