Your Business in Brief - March 2000

Phillips & Chevron Merge Plastics UnitsPhillips Petroleum Co. of Bartlesville, Okla., and Chevron Corp. of Houston plan to form a 50/50 joint venture combining their global chemicals and plastics businesses.

Phillips & Chevron Merge Plastics Units
Phillips Petroleum Co. of Bartlesville, Okla., and Chevron Corp. of Houston plan to form a 50/50 joint venture combining their global chemicals and plastics businesses. The new venture will have combined capacity of 5.5 billion lb/yr of HDPE, LDPE, and LLDPE, plus 1.2 billion lb of styrenics.

According to consultants TownsendTarnell Inc. in Houston, the venture will be the fourth largest polyethylene producer in both North America and the world. It would be the largest HDPE producer in North America, with capacity of nearly 20% market share. Phillips is also a partner in Phillips Sumika Polypropylene Co.


Shell Kills Its Carilon Polyketone
The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of Companies is withdrawing its Carilon polyketone engineering thermoplastic from the market. For the past year, Shell has been seeking to sell the Carilon business. Carilon was supplied in the U.S. by Shell Chemical Co., Houston. The resin will be available for a limited time from a plant in the U.K.


SMC Cargo Box Makes Its Debut
It took 14 years to arrive, but the first all-composite rear cargo box became a commercial reality last month. Just now appearing in dealer showrooms is the 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, a sport utility vehicle with an open rear cargo area like a pickup truck. Its one-piece SMC cargo box replaces around 20 metal parts and weighs 20% less than steel. According to Pete Miskech, technical specialist at Ford Body Structure Systems Technology in Dearborn, Mich., the SMC concept was proven in a demonstration project back in 1986. Then it sat on the shelf until Ford came up with a vehicle that required tooling up a new cargo box from scratch. At the planned volume of 65,000 units, an SMC mold costs one-fifth as much as tooling for a stamped sheet-metal assembly.

The cargo box consists of vinyl ester resin with 50% random glass fiber and 27% filler. A special glass was designed by Owens Corning of Toledo, Ohio. It provides fast wetout at the high line speeds used to make the SMC at the Van Wert, Ohio, plant of The Budd Co.’s Plastics Div.

The cargo box, which weighs close to 71 lb and measures about 51 x 51 x 19 in., is molded at Budd’s North Baltimore, Ohio, plant. It is compression molded in a 2500-ton press with a robotic charge loader and parts unloader. Molding cycle is 140 sec, which Budd aims to get down to 110-120 sec. Total cycle is 220 sec, but the goal is 180 sec. The box is molded with a grained texture and needs no plastic inner liner. The SMC is pigmented black and later painted the same color. Ribs are molded into the underside of the box, so no supporting cross-members are required.

The second commercial plastic cargo box will appear this fall on a GM Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Series full-size pickup truck. It will be molded of glass/urethane SRIM and surrounded by mica/polyurea RRIM fenders. Owens Corning predicts that cargo and pickup boxes will consume 110 million lb/yr of composites by 2004.


Shell Sells Its PET To Italian Firm
The London-based Shell companies have agreed to sell their PET and PEN businesses to the Mossi & Ghisolfi Group of Tortona, Italy. A family-owned firm, M&G makes bottle-grade PET resin as well as bottle preforms, sheet, and film. The acquisition will boost its PET resin capacity from 382 million lb/yr to about 1.5 billion lb/yr. It includes Shell Chemical Co.’s 628-million-lb/yr plant in Point Pleasant, W.Va., and a new 232-million-lb plant in Altamira, Mexico, as well as a plant in England and one in Italy that was originally a joint venture with M&G.


Moldflow & C-Mold To Merge
The two leading suppliers of CAE software for injection molding simulation and analysis are planning to merge. Moldflow Corp. in Lexington, Mass., has agreed to buy C-Mold of Ithaca, NY., and Louisville, Ky. C-Mold would become a subsidiary of Moldflow. Moldflow says it will initially support both companies’ product lines, until it can integrate them in a manner to take advantage of each company’s strengths.


Donald Duncan Becomes New President of SPI
The Society of the Plastics Industry in Washington, D.C., named Donald K. Duncan to fill the post of president vacated Jan. 1 by the retirement of Larry Thomas. Thomas had served 12 years in the position. Duncan was previously president and CEO of DuPont Dow Elastomers LLC in Wilmington, Del. Duncan’s role will be to reorient and reinvigorate SPI and lead its effort to provide new services for members.


Borden Restarts Some Idled PVC Capacity
With PVC supplies tight, Borden Chemicals and Plastics Ltd. in Columbus, Ohio, has restarted idle capacity for commodity homopolymer PVC. Nine months ago, Borden closed half the 400-million-lb/yr plant at Iliopolis, Ill. Meanwhile, Borden plans to shed its methanol and nitrogen businesses to focus exclusively on PVC.


Ashley Polymers Moves To New Jersey
Ashley Polymers Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y., a compounder and distributor of engineering resins, is moving its headquarters to a new 250,000-sq-ft facility in Cranford, N.J. The site includes rail facilities and an up-to-date laboratory.


Maag Pump Is Moving
Maag Pump Systems Textron, a supplier of gear pumps and melt-filtration systems, is moving its U.S. operations from Matthews to Charlotte, N.C. The firm will move next month to a 31,200-sq-ft facility that will accommodate production of its pump systems as well as its new filtration products acquired from LCI Corp. International last April.


Kerr-McGee to Buy Kemira’s TiO2 Plants
Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp., Oklahoma City, Okla., has agreed to purchase two titanium dioxide pigment operations from Kemira Oyj of Finland. The facilities are in Savannah, Ga., and Borlek, The Netherlands. Combined capacity is 440 million lb/yr, which will increase Kerr-McGee’s total capacity by 60%, elevating it to the world’s third-largest supplier with about 16% global market share (up from 10% previously). Both Kemira facilities use Kerr-McGee’s chloride process, although the Savannah plant also uses the older sulfate technology. The sale effectively takes Kemira out of the plastics market for TiO2. It retains a plant in Finland that serves mainly paint, paper, and inks.


Huntsman Teams Up With Borealis
Huntsman Corp. of Houston has entered into an alliance with Borealis of Denmark, Europe’s largest polyolefins producer, in order to strengthen each firm’s global presence in the automotive and appliance industries. The two firms plan joint marketing, product development, and distribution in order to serve their global customers in Canada, Mexico, the U.S., and Europe. The agreement also covers exchange of know-how and technology.


DuPont Doubles Capacity For High-Heat Nylon
A new 18-million-lb/yr compounding line scheduled for start-up in the third quarter of this year will double the production of Zytel HTN, a high-temperature aromatic nylon from DuPont Engineering Polymers, Wilmington, Del. DuPont is expanding space at its Maitland, Ontario, plant, to accommodate the new line. “The additional capacity will allow DuPont to meet rapidly growing needs for Zytel HTN in automotive, electrical/electronic, and other industrial applications,” says Clive Robertson, global business manager. Zytel HTN is said to retain its properties and dimensions in hot, wet, and/or chemically aggressive environments.


Milacron Realigns Business Units
As part of a global realignment, Milacron Inc.’s Plastics Technologies Group in Batavia, Ohio, has created four business units: Ferromatik-Milacron, ExtrusionTek, Uniloy-Milacron, and D-M-E. The company is ending its use of the Cincinnati Milacron brand name and is uniting its two best-known injection molding brands—Ferromatik and Milacron—under the Ferromatik-Milacron label. The Japanese-built Roboshot machine will continue to be marketed as a Milacron-Fanuc product.

The company’s U.S.-based extrusion systems business becomes ExtrusionTek-Milacron. Uniloy-Milacron will be the name for all of the company’s blow molding machinery. And D-M-E Co. retains its established name in the market for mold components.


Reichhold Quits Peroxide Initiators
Composite materials supplier Reichhold of Research Triangle Park, N.C., has sold its peroxide initiators business to Norac Co. of Azusa, Calif., which also makes organic peroxides.

Reichhold supplied MEKP, BPO, and other specialty peroxides under the Superox name. Norac has the right to use the Superox brand name for up to five years.