Your Business In Brief - April 2001

Ashland Buys Neste PolyesterAshland Inc. has agreed to purchase Neste Polyester of Finland.

Ashland Buys Neste Polyester

Ashland Inc. has agreed to purchase Neste Polyester of Finland. The Neste business is expected to become part of the Composite Polymers Div. of Ashland Specialty Chemical Co., Dublin, Ohio. Neste Polyester is the world's second largest manufacturer of gelcoats and also produces unsaturated polyester resins. It has production locations in Finland, France, Poland, China, Australia, and the U.S. (based in Fort Smith, Ark.).


Ticona to Set Up MuCell R&D Center

Ticona of Germany (with U.S. offices in Summit, N.J.) is establishing a European development center to study materials and applications for the MuCell microcellular foam process of Trexel, Inc., Woburn, Mass. Ticona is reportedly the first global materials supplier to purchase a MuCell license and an injection molding machine equipped for the process. That 150-ton Krauss-Maffei press will be used to support customer application-development tests and try out different materials for the process. Ticona will test all its polymers, including acetal and PBT polyester.


PVC Fence Saves Home from Fire

A 6-ft-high vinyl fence installed around a one-story home in North Port, Fla., protected the house from a forest fire on June 12 last year. The fire, started by lightning, destroyed acres of woodland and thousands of trees and would have taken the house too if the fence hadn't blocked and redirected the fire.

The tongue-and-groove fence, installed two years earlier by homeowners Juliette Simmons and her nephew Lorenzo Riccio, began to melt and bend with the heat, but never burned. The 318-ft-long fence was made by Westech Fence in Mt. Vernon, Ind. The photo shows Lorenzo Riccio with the fence after the fire. It includes newly replaced sections and slightly bowed parts of the old fence.


Bayer Expands Optical Media Lab With Full DVD Line

Late last year, Bayer Corp. in Pittsburgh upgraded its Optical Media Laboratory with the installation of a full DVD production line and downstream finishing equipment, as well as additional measurement and inspection capabilities. New equipment includes two Meiki MDM I injection molding presses, two Cube Lite metalizers from Uniaxis, inspection equipment from Basler Vision Technologies, and analytical equipment from Audio Development and Dr. Schenk GmbH.


New UL Materials Database On-Line

Underwriters Laboratories Inc., Northbrook, Ill., has launched a new free plastics database at It allows users to search for UL-recognized plastics materials by supplier name, file number, grade, generic resin family, technical requirements, or descriptive terms such as “recycled.” Users can also find materials by minimum thickness, uv or water-immersion requirements, mechanical impact, electrical or mechanical strength, Comparative Tracking Index, High Voltage Tracking Rate, Hot Wire Ignition, High Amp Arc Ignition, and ASTM D495 Tracking. The selected grades are displayed in a table with hyperlinks to “Yellow Card” listings on the suppliers' web pages.


New Home for Controls Suppliers

Two U.S. subsidiaries of London-based Invensys plc have relocated. Eurotherm Controls Inc. moved its home office from Reston to Leesburg, Va. Barber-Colman Industrial Instruments has also moved its sales and marketing office from Reston to Leesburg. Both may be reached at (703) 443-0000.


New Web Tool Displays 3D CAD on Any PC

New “3D Instant Website” software from SolidWorks Corp., Concord, Mass., lets designers, processors, end users, and materials vendors share and manipulate 3D solid CAD files without the need for CAD software. Viewing software is downloaded and installed automatically on virtually any PC. Unlike previous web-enabled CAD tools that provide only static 2D images, the new software creates interactive 3D images that users can rotate, zoom, and pan. The software lets SolidWorks CAD users put their 3D solid models on the Web with a single click.

SolidWorks 3D Instant Website is available free to SolidWorks customers using Service Pack 8 or later versions. The web software will also be included in all future shipments of SolidWorks CAD packages.


Degussa to Acquire Laporte's Peroxides

German-based Degussa-Huls (U.S. offices in Ridgefield Park and Allendale, N.J.) will acquire U.K.-based Laporte plc, pending regulatory approvals. Laporte's businesses include Aztec Peroxides of Elyria, Ohio, a producer of crosslinking and curing agents.

Last fall, Laporte divested several businesses to investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. of N.Y.C. Those units include compounder AlphaGary Corp., Leominster, Mass., and Southern Clay Products, Gonzales, Texas. They are now part of a new company called Rockwood Specialties based in Princeton, N.J.


Resin Sales Off 2.2% For All of 2000

After starting the year with 6.3% higher consumption of resins in the first quarter of 2000, total poundage of domestic sales and use of major thermoplastics fell 2.2% for the year as a whole. So say the latest figures from the American Plastics Council, Arlington, Va. (About 60% of the poundage reported includes Mexico and/or Canada; the rest is for only the U.S.)

Starting in April, each month of last year saw declining plastics usage in comparison with the same month in 1999. The numbers fell at an accelerating rate until December's total was down by 13.3% from the year before. For that month, domestic PS usage dropped 16.4%, and PVC sales fell 17%. ABS, SAN, and other styrenics together plunged 27.5%, and nylon fell 20.8%.

For the year as a whole, domestic LDPE was down 4.4%, HDPE was off 2.1%, and PP dropped 1.1%, while LLDPE usage increased 0.8%. Polystyrene sales fell 5%, PVC dropped 2.9%, nylon lost 1.7%, and ABS, SAN, and other styrenics were off 3.4%.


Bales Mold Service Opens New Plant in Texas

Bales Mold Service, Inc., Downers Grove, Ill., which supplies polishing, plating, and welding services to molders and mold makers, opened its second plant on March 5th. The new 7000-sq-ft facility is located at 815 N. Loop F.M. 509 in Harlingen, Texas. Bales offers NiHard nickel-cobalt hard coatings and Nicklon nickel-PTFE release coatings.


Vantico Purchases U.K. Stereolithography Resins

The Tooling Systems group of Vantico Ltd. (formerly Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Performance Polymers) has bought the stereolithography (SL) materials business of Avecia Specialties in Blackley, Manchester, England. Vantico, whose U.S. office is in East Lansing, Mich., plans to produce and sell Avecia's two selectively colorable Stereocol SL materials and an SL lacquer. The products will be supplied worldwide by 3D Systems of Valencia, Calif.

Stereocol resins can be selectively tinted red to highlight specific portions of an SL model. Uses include dental or medical models, as shown above. During the build, selected areas of the model are overcured with additional laser energy in order to develop the tint. Stereocol L9000 is a uv-barrier lacquer that seals the surfaces of SL models to prevent discoloration from sunlight.


Hollow-Parts Conference Coming in June

“Hollow Parts Technology: Know Your Competition” is a first-ever technical conference intended to help processors, designers, and OEMs compare three processes for making hollow plastic parts—blow molding, rotomolding, and twin-sheet thermoforming. It is sponsored by the three corresponding divisions of the Society of Plastics Engineers and will take place June 11-13 in Chicago. Contact SPE's Chicago Section at (847) 991-4629.


Conference Reveals Wider Range of Nanocomposites

Nanocomposite technology is evolving in many new directions, as indicated by the program of the “Nanocomposites 2001” conference scheduled for June 25-27 in Chicago. The conference is sponsored by Executive Conference Management and cosponsored by PLASTICS TECHNOLOGY magazine. The two-day meeting will host 38 presentations by speakers from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Although most polymer nanocomposites discussed to date have involved PP, nylon, and PET, conference speakers will also present nanocomposites of fluoropolymers, TPOs, polystyrene, SAN, EVA, conductive polymers, and foams. And while most prior work has involved nanoclay fillers, the conference will provide information on nanocomposites of ceramic fiber, TiO2, magnetic particles, carbon nanotubes, and even other polymers (“molecularly reinforced polymers”). For more information, call (734) 737-0507, e-mail, or visit


Great Lakes Acquires Akzo's Optical Monomers

Great Lakes Chemical Corp., Indianapolis, has purchased the worldwide ADC optical monomers business of Akzo Nobel Polymer Chemicals of the Netherlands. The business includes U.S. production facilities. ADC (allyl diglycol carbonate) monomer (commonly known by the PPG trade name CR-39) represents around 70% of the plastic optical lens business worldwide. Akzo Nobel was the second-largest producer after PPG. Great Lakes already supplies ADC monomer under the trade name RAV 7.


Shell & BFG Complete Sales of Plastics Units

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies of the Netherlands has completed its sale of the global Kraton Polymers business unit to New York investment group Ripplewood Holdings, LLC. Kraton Polymers' U.S. headquarters is in Houston.

Meanwhile, The BFGoodrich Co., Charlotte, N.C., completed the sale of its Performance Materials business to an investor group led by AEA Investors Inc. The unit produces Estane TPU, Estaloc reinforced TPU, TempRite CPVC, Telene DCPD-based RIM resins, and Stat-Rite antistatic polymers, plus antioxidants and reactive liquid polymers.


Swedish Firm Acquires Tuscarora Inc.

SCA Packaging International B.V. of Sweden has bought Tuscarora Inc., New Brighton, Pa., a major producer of expandable-bead-foam and thermoformed products. Tuscarora was merged with SCA Packaging USA, Inc. and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of SCA Packaging, a $3-billion global business based in Brussels, Belgium.


Bayer Dedicates Unique Polyol Production Plant

Bayer Corp., Pittsburgh, recently dedicated the world's first facility to produce polyether polyols in a continuous process. Bayer's Polyurethanes Div. converted a reactor at Channelview, Texas, to utilize the company's proprietary Impact catalyst technology in a continuous production process. The conversion nearly doubles polyol capacity at Channelview. Impact polyols from the plant are used in flexible PUR foams for furniture and bedding. Bayer acquired Impact technology last April as part of the polyols business of Lyondell Chemical. Two other Bayer plants use Impact catalysts in batch production of polyols.


Alcoa to Buy Another Vinyl Siding Maker

Alcoa Inc., Pittsburgh, a maker of vinyl and metal house siding, has agreed to purchase Gentek Holdings, Inc. of Cleveland and its Gentek Building Products subsidiaries, which also make vinyl and metal siding. Gentek has five manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and Canada, which will become part of Alcoa Building Products Inc.


Amcor PET Packaging Acquires CNC Containers

Amcor PET Packaging-North America of Mississauga, Ont., has acquired CNC Containers Corp. of Tumwater, Wash. Both are major producers of PET bottles and containers. CNC, with sales of about $170 million, has four plants in Washington, California, and Arizona. It recently acquired 80% of PET Products International Peru S.A. in Lima, Peru. Amcor PET Packaging is the leading PET container producer in Canada, where it has six facilities.