Extrusion equipment maker Future Design Inc. has moved from Brampton, Ont., to larger quarters at 5369 Maingate Dr., Mississauga, ON L4W 1G6. Tel: (905) 361-9978
Atlanta-based Process Control Corp., a supplier of blenders, loaders, and other materials-handling equipment for extrusion, has signed a new Western representative for sales and service. John Gysbers in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., was the company's service manager for the last two years. Tel: (914) 218-9491
The Budd Co., Troy, Mich., will produce an SMC pickup-truck inner box for Toyota. The first company to use an SMC pickup box—also produced by Budd—was Ford Motor Co. on its Ford Sport Trac. Budd will build a new facility near Tijuana, Mexico, to supply Toyota's new truck-bed facility to be built there.
Automotive TPO supplier Solvay Engineered Polymers in Auburn Hills, Mich., has formed an alliance with an independent compounder of thermoplastic vulcanizates (TPVs). This allows Solvay to supplement its TPO offerings with TPVs from Thermoplastic Rubber Systems, a two-year-old firm that operates 20 million lb/yr of compounding capacity in Shirley, Mass. Solvay has exclusive rights to sell TRS's NexPrene family of fully vulcanized TPVs to automotive markets in North America and Europe. NexPrene spans a Shore hardness range of 40 A to 50 D.
Up to now, Solvay has focused on auto-exterior TPO applications, which today amount to a market of about 25 lb/vehicle. Solvay is turning its sights to interior TPO uses, which add a market opportunity of 10 lb/car. TPVs in chassis and suspension uses add another market potential of 10 lb/car, and the newly emerging weather-seal business could offer an additional 25 lb/car. Most weather seals today are EPDM thermoset rubber. Switching to thermoplastics offers a 20% cost saving per part, according to Solvay. One major Detroit auto maker is planning a midyear change that will convert one weather seal on an unnamed truck model to thermoplastic by Jan. 3, 2003. The seal will be a tri-layer extrusion, with a talc-filled PP structural support, TPV compression layer, and TPO gloss layer. (Solvay has proprietary technology for high-gloss TPOs.)
The agreement also gives Solvay non-exclusive rights to sell other TRS products—NexFlex SEBS-based TPEs, NexTrile TPVs based on NBR (nitrile rubber), and NexLink TPVs based on SEBS and EPDM. TRS also makes NexCoat, an abrasion-resistant HDPE coating designed for coextrusion over TPV weather seals. In addition, Solvay has an option to buy TRS.
Kreyenborg Industries, formerly of Norcross, Ga., opened its new 16,000-sq-ft facility in Lawrenceville, Ga., on May 1st. Kreyenborg Industries sells screen changers, extrusion gear pumps, and underwater pelletizers. The new facility can demonstrate all of these products on a new lab line, which includes a 58-mm twin-screw compounding extruder, three loss-in-weight feeders, and integrated control system from sister company BSG. The line is capable of outputs up to 2500 lb/hr. The company's new address is 720 Raco Drive, Lawrenceville, GA 30045. Tel: (770) 339-4177
A safety standard for vertical injection machines has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Developed by the SPI Machinery and Molders Divisions, the standard is designated ANSI/SPI B151.29-2002. It is available from Global Engineering Documents (tel. 800-854-7179). The standard will apply to all new machines manufactured after April 2003. This version does not require upgrades to existing machines. For more information, contact Walt Bishop at SPI (tel. 202-974-5230 or e-mail email@example.com).
According to Christopher D. Pappas, president of styrenics for Nova Chemicals in Pittsburgh, a combination of circumstances makes it nearly certain that rising prices and tight supplies of polystyrene resin will continue until late 2005 or early 2006. Pappas blamed the price and supply pinch on increasing cost and tightening supplies of styrene monomer (see also Pricing Update section). Worldwide, there are 50.7 billion lb of capacity for styrene monomer, but there are 57.4 billion lb of capacity for PS and other styrene derivatives. Pappas notes that it takes three to four years to build a styrene monomer plant. Globally, there are just three monomer expansions planned to come on stream before 2005, amounting to 3 billion lb. One of these is in North America—a 400-million-lb unit from Chevron Phillips. Nova and a few other suppliers have some limited opportunities for debottlenecking in monomer, Pappas says, but even that would take two years.
Putting it all together, Pappas forecasts tightness in styrene monomer supply from this year through 2005 and perhaps even through 2007. His forecast puts monomer operating rates above 95% from 2004 through 2007, with styrene demand equaling or exceeding global capacity in 2005.
Pappas announced last week that on Sept. 1, Nova will permanently shut down 100 million lb/yr of older and less-efficient suspension-resin capacity in Chesapeake, Va. This constitutes 1.25% of North American capacity for solid PS. Pappas argues that the closing will have little effect on the overall supply/ demand situation because limited supply of styrene monomer, not polymerization capacity, is the prime factor.
Next-generation automobiles are headed toward 42-volt battery power, which will have broad impact on materials and processes used in under-hood parts. DuPont Engineering Polymers, Wilmington, Del., has created a website (www.42v.dupont.com) that provides information on the subject. The site covers electrical distribution, electronic control, starter-alternator, thermal and air management, and "control-by-wire" systems for steering, braking, and throttle. DuPont offers the 42V market resins and compounds, film and sheet insulation products, coatings, and electronic subassemblies.