Your Business In Brief - December 2006

Bayer to Restart Damaged TDI UnitBayer MaterialScience LLC, Pittsburgh, is aiming to restart its damaged TDI unit in Baytown, Texas, next month.

Bayer to Restart Damaged TDI Unit

Bayer MaterialScience LLC, Pittsburgh, is aiming to restart its damaged TDI unit in Baytown, Texas, next month. An explosion on Sept. 26 shut down one of two Baytown TDI lines that have total capacity of 440 million lb/yr. One line continued to operate, but the damaged capacity is estimated by one industry source to be 407 million lb, though Bayer would not confirm this. That source also estimates North American TDI nameplate capacity to be about 980 million lb/yr. The lost Bayer production could therefore account for as much as 40% of the continent’s total. Industry sources say the global TDI market was “balanced to a bit snug” before Bayer’s outage, and the spot market has been sold out since then.


PET Plant Start-Up

Eastman Chemical Co.’s new 770-million-lb/yr PET plant is starting up at Columbia, S.C., and will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2007. It uses new IntegRex technology to produce new super-clear Para Star PET resins.


Herrmann Moves

Herrmann Ultrasonics, Inc. has moved into a larger facility in Bartlett, Ill. It has three applications laboratories for plastics, packaging, and nonwovens, plus a training center that holds 30.


Wal-Mart’s Push for ‘Green’ Packaging

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, Ark., has begun a program to urge its suppliers to reduce the amounts of packaging and to use more recycled materials in packaging. The nation’s largest retailer, with net sales in the second quarter of this year of $84.5 billion, Wal-Mart could exercise enormous influence over the use of plastics packaging as a result of this initiative. The company previewed a “Packaging Scorecard” for its global supply chain of more than 60,000 suppliers last month and will present it formally to suppliers on Feb. 1. Starting one year later, Wal-Mart says it plans to use the scorecard “to measure and recognize its entire supply chain, based on each company’s ability to use less packaging, utilize more effective materials in packaging, and source these materials more efficiently relative to other suppliers.”

The scorecard rates each supplier based on nine criteria, including product-to-package ratio, packaging material value, recycled content, and amounts of greenhouse gases or CO2 emitted per ton of production. The scorecard is one step toward a goal of 5% packaging reduction across Wal-Mart’s supply chain by 2013. And last month, the company began using corn-based PLA packaging for certain fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Wal-Mart is testing PLA for pastry boxes, bread bags, clamshells, deli trays, and salad bowls.


Chemtura Sells Davis-Standard

On Oct. 30, Chemtura Corp. (formerly Crompton), Middlebury, Conn., sold its majority interest in Davis-Standard LLC , Pawcatuck, Conn., to D-S management and private-equity firm Hamilton Robinson, Stamford, Conn. Davis-Standard was a joint venture of Chemtura and Hamilton Robinson since the latter merged its controlling interest in Black Clawson with Davis-Standard 18 months ago. D-S is now about 20% owned by management and 80% by Hamilton Robinson.


Chemtura & Ferro Boost Epoxy Plasticizer Capacity

Increases in capacity for epoxy plasticizers used in PVC are under way at Chemtura Corp., Middle bury, Conn., and Ferro Corp.’s Organic Specialties Group, Independence, Ohio. Their plans were an nounced soon after Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., said it would cease production and marketing of epoxidized soybean and linseed oils after Sept. 6, 2006. Chemtura aims for a 15% increase in epoxidized soybean oil capacity at Taft, La., next month. Ferro plans a 20% boost in epoxidized soybean oil production at Walton Hills, Ohio, by the end of the year.


Technoplast Moves To Western Pa.

Technoplast International Inc. , the Austrian maker of downstream cooling and calibration equipment for PVC profiles, recently moved its U.S. office from Bridgeport, N.J. to Cranberry, Pa., near Pittsburgh. A company source said the move brings the firm closer to its Midwest customer base. The new office includes a larger tech center with parallel and conical twin-screw extruders plus Technoplast downstream lines. One of Technoplast’s new low-energy, water-suction profile calibrators (reported in October) will be installed next month.


Idemitsu Restarts SPS Production

Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., Tokyo, has resumed full-scale production of syndiotactic polystyrene (SPS) resin at its 11-million-lb/yr Chiba plant in Japan. SPS is a clear, heat-resistant, crystalline engineering thermoplastic invented by Idemitsu in 1985. The company shut its plant in 2000 in favor of joint production with Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., until Dow withdrew from SPS in 2004. A broad line of Xarec SPS and SPS/PS blends is available from Idemitsu Chemicals USA Corp. , Southfield, Mich.


Magnum Venus Products Buys Plastech T.T.

Composites equipment maker Magnum Venus Products (MVP), Clearwater, Fla., has acquired Plastech Thermoset Tectonics in the U.K. Plastech specializes in equipment and tooling for RTM and “light” RTM. It recently came out with a new entry-level Mono Vacuum Molding (MVM) system. MVP recently enhanced its own PrecisionTech RTM line with the new Patriot pump that is said to greatly reduce variations in flow rate and catalyst/resin ratio.


New AGC Chemicals HQ To Open Soon

Fluoropolymer producer AGC Chemicals Americas, Inc., sub. of Asahi Glass Co. of Japan, will open its new business and technical center in Exton, Pa., in the first quarter of 2007. The company’s headquarters has been located in Bayonne, N.J.


Engel Opens Tech Center

Engel Canada , Guelph, Ont., has opened a new technical center and training facility in York, Pa., where it builds presses of 600 to 1900 tons. The 7500-sq-ft center currently houses five machines of 165 to 1000 tons for demonstrations, mold trials, training, and product development.


Milacron’s New Extrusion Aftermarket Group

Milacron, Inc. has formed an Extrusion Aftermarket Group in Batavia, Ohio, to upgrade and rebuild older extrusion systems with new controls, motors, screws, and barrels. The services are available for all Cincinnati Milacron extruders and the firm will consider upgrades on other makes as well.


PolyOne Adds 7th U.S. Color Lab

PolyOne Corp. has opened its newest color matching and R&D lab at its Avon Lake, Ohio, headquarters. A staff of six will develop liquid and solid color and additive masterbatches for specific customers.