BP of the U.K. and Solvay of Belgium have agreed to several major transactions to realign their respective polymer businesses. BP will transfer its engineering polymers business to Solvay, and Solvay will transfer its polypropylene business to BP. Also, the two firms will combine their HDPE businesses into two joint ventures, one for Europe and one for the Americas.
BP's engineering polymers business, based in Alpharetta, Ga., is known as BP Amoco Polymers, though its name is expected to change officially to BP in April. Its products are Udel polysulfone, Radel polyphenylsulfone, Amodel PPA, Xydar LCP, Torlon polyamide-imide, and Kadel PAEK. Solvay's engineering resins are Ixan PVdC, Solef PVdF, Ixef reinforced MXD6 nylon, Primef PPS, Polydan XLPE, and Sequel TPOs.
BP is already the world's third-largest maker of PP, and Solvay is the twelfth-largest producer. The swap will give BP capacity of 6.8 billion lb/yr at nine sites in Europe and the U.S.
Solvay is the world's fifth-largest HDPE producer and has five plants in the U.S., Europe, and Brazil. With BP's two European plants, the new joint ventures will form the third-largest global producer, at 4.84 billion lb/yr capacity.
Newly formed SIG PETtec of Troisdorf, Germany, has opened a new technical center in Troisdorf-Spich. SIG PETtec was created to build and market the Ecomax line of integrated (single-stage) injection stretch-blow molding machines developed by Krupp Corpoplast and Krupp Kautex, which were both recently acquired by SIG Industrial Co. Holding Ltd. of Switzerland.
The new technical center aims to assist customers in developing PET packaging solutions, from bottle and preform design to process optimization and prototype or pilot production. The center has three Ecomax 10/2 and 5/1 machines, a laboratory, and a consulting team of eight PET specialists. SIG PETtec is represented here by SIG Plastics Technologys (USA), Inc., North Branch, N.J.
After an absence of about six years, injection machine builder Negri Bossi S.p.A. of Milan, Italy, has re-entered the North American market with the establishment of Negri Bossi America Inc. in Concord, Ont. Its showroom will stock about 20 machines in sizes from 44 to 580 tons. Several models will be exhibited at the upcoming Plast-Ex trade show in Toronto, April 30-May 3. President of the new firm is Willy Hauer, and its director of sales and marketing is Larry Pascucci, formerly of Engel Canada.
Negri Bossi makes horizontal-clamp machines from 44 to 1540 tons. New Amico Teleservice allows machines to be serviced remotely via wireless LAN and the Internet. Machine alarms are automatically communicated to Negri Bossi via e-mail.
Bimetalix Ltd., Sullivan, Wis., a maker of single- and twin-screw bimetallic barrels for extruders and injection machines, has purchased Progressive Alloys, Inc., Lynchburg, Va., which produces twin-screw barrels. Bimetalix now can make parallel and conical twin barrels of 20 to 300 mm diam.
Moldflow Corp. of Wayland, Mass., the leading supplier of injection molding process-simulation software, has agreed to purchase a second supplier of real-time process and production monitoring systems. Last month, it signed a letter of intent to buy Branden Technologies of Wilsonville, Ore. Moldflow also said it had dropped plans that were announced in December to buy the plastics monitoring business of Minneapolis-based FullMetrics, Inc.
Dow Plastics, Midland, Mich., has begun commercial production of polypropylene at its first U.S. plant, located in Freeport, Texas. Its capacity is 550 million lb/yr.
Bayer AG in Germany recently announced plans to double global capacity of Makrolon polycarbonate resin in the next five years, thereby becoming the world's largest producer. Bayer currently ranks second behind GE Plastics. Bayer will expand its total PC capacity from the present 1.43 billion lb to nearly 2.86 billion lb/yr in 2005. The plan involves expansions in Europe, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region, with primary focus on the booming markets in Asia. Included are plans to boost PC capacity at Baytown, Texas, from 462 million lb to 770 million lb/yr by 2005.
The former Krupp Werner & Pfleiderer of Ramsey, N.J., is now called Coperion Werner & Pfleiderer. Buss America in Bloomingdale, Ill., has changed to Coperion Buss. And Waeschle Inc. in Bloomingdale is now Coperion Waeschle. The name changes for these German-based mixing and compounding machinery producers are due to their recent merger into a new German holding company called Coperion Holding GmbH.
Tool-steel suppliers Boehler and Uddeholm, formerly sister companies, have joined together into a new organization called Bohler-Uddeholm. It is based at the former Uddeholm location in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Now the unified sales group will supply both product lines. Phone and fax numbers will remain the same. New e-mail address is email@example.com, and the website is www.bucorp.com.
Atoglas, a subsidiary of AtoFina and the world's largest producer of acrylic resin, has started up a complete DVD replication line at its R&D center in Cerdato, France, near Paris. The lab will support the company's efforts to replace polycarbonate with acrylic as the material for new generations of high-density DVDs. Acrylic discs produced in partnership with machine manufacturers reportedly have already proved that all basic DVD specifications can be met with Atoglas VOD-100 acrylic resin, supplied here by Atoglas Div. of AtoFina Chemicals Inc., Philadelphia.
The French lab has installed a clean room with Singulus Spaceline system and two Netstal Discjet injection machines equipped with Axxicon molds. The first project will be to fine-tune acrylic DVD-9 formats.
Great Lakes Chemical Corp., Indianapolis, has begun production of antimony trioxide flame retardant at its Reynosa, Mexico, site ahead of the projected start-up date. The company intends to concentrate its global production of antimony products at this site.
Van Dorn Demag Corp. of Strongsville, Ohio, has opened a new 77,500-sq-ft facility to house its new Molder Action Network. This is the new name for its unified customer-service operations, including spare parts, training, on-site field service, machine and process troubleshooting, and mold demonstrations. Van Dorn Demag decided to improve coordination of all its after-sale services by unifying their management. “We required a facility that could give all of our customers a complete response package under one roof,” says Al Tolliver, director of the new organization. “Parts, modernizations, service, training, and process-solutions center will be within reach by making one phone call.” Previously, these services were based at two operations in the Cleveland area. A common database will link customer records for various services.
Two suppliers of laser-marking equipment, A-B Lasers of Acton, Mass., and Rofin-Sinar Marking Systems Div. of Tempe, Ariz., are now both called Rofin-Baasel Inc. A-B Laser's parent, Baasel Lasertech Group, has been acquired by Rofin-Sinar Laser GmbH. Both are German industrial laser equipment companies. Rofin-Baasel's main office remains in Acton, Mass., and the Arizona office will house applications laboratories.
Chemicals and plastics distributor JLM Industries, Inc. of Tampa, Fla., has purchased the resin distribution business of Franklin Polymers, Inc. of Broomall, Pa. Headed by Roger F. Jones, Franklin Polymers was the U.S. distributor of Gafone PEEK resins from Gharda Chemicals in India, while JLM is the exclusive distributor of Gharda's Gafone polysulfone, polyethersulfone, and polyphenylsulfone resins. Now JLM has all of Gharda's products under one roof. Franklin also distributed Mitsubishi Engineering Plastics' acetal, MXD6 nylon, and polycarbonate, as well as Mitsubishi Rayon's acrylic and Chisso's Z-Clean purging compounds.
The first plant to use the Vinyloop selective dissolving process to recycle PVC is being built in Ferrara, Italy, and is due to start up by mid-2001. Developed by Solvay S.A. in Belgium, the process uses biodegradable solvents to separate vinyl from other waste materials. After the PVC-containing solution is drawn off from the other waste, chemicals are added to precipitate out the PVC. The solvent is reused in a closed circuit. The reclaimed PVC is reportedly of near-virgin quality.
This method will be used to recycle post-consumer electrical cables and flexible packaging in a facility sized to handle 19 million lb/yr. The plant will cost $7.7 million and is being built by a joint venture of Solvin Italia (a Solvay/BASF joint venture that makes PVC), Adriaplast (a Solvay Group subsidiary that makes packaging), Fitt S.p.A. (an Italian PVC pipe producer), Tecnometal s.r.l. (a cable recycler), and Vulcaflex S.p.A., a vinyl calendering firm.
Two British makers of rheological testing equipment have merged with the acquisition by Bohlin Instruments Ltd. of Rosand Precision Ltd. Bohlin will retain the Rosand trade name for the acquired product line. In the U.S., Bohlin Instruments, Inc. is located in East Brunswick, N.J. The former Rosand Precision office in South Orange, N.J., has been closed.
Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Co., North Kingstown, R.I., a leading supplier of coordinate measuring machines, has sold its metrology product line and business to Hexagon, A.B. of Stockholm, Sweden. Brown & Sharpe will retain its metrology software development business.
A new website for on-line purchasing of air compressors, vacuum systems, other air-system components, and air-powered hand tools is www.compressorworld.com. The site, which is said to list thousands of products from numerous suppliers, was started by Compressor World LLC in Brockton, Mass.
Two more firms have joined Atlanta-based Omnexus, the global plastics e-marketplace (www.omnexus.com) aimed particularly at injection molders. One new participant is Clariant International, Ltd. of Switzerland, a major producer of color and additive concentrates.
Also joining Omnexus is chemicals and plastics distributor Ellis & Everard plc of the U.K., which has operations in nine countries, including Performance Polymers, Inc., in Leominster, Mass.
Conferos is the new name for the on-line collaborative product-development service formerly called BuyPlastics.com. The new name and site (www.conferos.com) better reflects the company's business purpose, according to president and co-founder Chuck Hoar. Conferos is derived from the Latin word “confero,” which means “to bring or gather together.” Says Hoar, “Our emphasis is on bringing people and resources together to get plastic-based products to market faster. This has implications beyond simply buying.”
The newly active website features design collaboration services and content for companies participating in the manufacture of plastic parts—molders, designers, engineers, toolmakers, materials suppliers, and OEM customers. These parties are brought together via ProductSync, an on-line design collaboration space for the plastics industry. It consists of a suite of on-line service offerings under a single graphical interface. They include product data management (PDM) software; ability to share, view, and manipulate CAD solid models; storage and retrieval of all documents related to a project, and intelligent tools for selecting suppliers and materials.
Projects are available only to authorized team members, and different levels of security can permit different team members to access or change only certain types of information. As Hoar explains it, one benefit of Conferos is to ensure that all team members always have the latest versions of every document. Another is to ensure that no information or documents are lost if team members leave the project or change employers. Conferos is based in Waltham, Mass.