Topas Advanced Polymers (TAP) is a new joint venture that has acquired the Topas cyclic-olefin copolymer (COC) business of Ticona. TAP has offices in Frankfurt, Germany, and at the Ticona facility in Florence, Ky. TAP is a joint venture of two Japanese firms, Daicel Chemical Industries and Polyplastics Co., which is a joint venture of Daicel and Ticona.
Two recent announcements from PolyOne Corp., Avon Lake, Ohio, affirmed its renewed commitment to specialty PVC resins and unveiled an expansion for compounding engineering thermoplastics and TPEs. In December, PolyOne decided to keep its specialty vinyls, which had been for sale. It is now a separate group called Geon Specialty Resins, which is North America’s largest maker of dispersion resins and also produces blending, powder coating, and specialized suspension PVCs.
PolyOne also added a 100,000-sq-ft Engineered Materials compounding plant in Avon Lake, which will start up in the second quarter. It will house six compounding lines with room for six more. Dedicated lines will make FDA-compliant and conductive compounds.
Since January 2005, several hundred small injection molding machines have been produced on a new “progressive-assembly” or “paced-assembly” line at Demag Plastics Group in Wiehe, Germany. It is said to reduce lead times and improve quality. A similar system was implemented last fall for mid-size machines (125 to 420 metric tons) at the headquarters plant in Schwaig, Germany. The system transports the machines on rails through a series of stations where operators add specific components, similar to an automobile assembly line. All standard machines and many special-purpose models are now built on this system. As we reported in July 2004, a similar assembly-line process is used by Engel Austria GmbH at Schwertberg, Austria.
Demag in Strongsville, Ohio, plans to implement a different version of a “flow line” assembly system this September. This flow line will be used initially to build injection-unit components and will be expanded later to other components. “Eventually, Demag will deliver completed subassemblies to the machine flow line, mirroring automotive assembly lines,” says Demag’s new U.S. president, Brian Bishop.
Century Inc., Traverse City, Mich., has sold its twin-screw extrusion business to CPM Holding in Waterloo, Iowa, which also owns California Pellet Mill. The sale includes both the compounding extruder business and spare parts and components for twin-screw compounders. CPM’s new business unit will operate as Century Extrusion at its present facility and with the same management.
Two more firms have joined the race to produce carbon nanotubes in commercial quantities at reasonable prices. These pure carbon tubes are 10,000 times finer than a human hair—1 to 60 nanometers (nm) wide and at least 1000 to 10,000 nm long. They have exciting potential as conductive additives and reinforcements in plastics and composites.
One new player is Arkema of France (U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia), which recently launched the first nanotube plant in Europe. This pilot facility can produce up to 11 tons/yr. The product will be officially launched this month at the JEC Composites show in Paris.
Also, Raymor Industries, Advanced Powders & Coatings Div., Montreal, plans to launch its first “high-capacity” plant, capable of up to around 3.5 tons/yr, by the end of this month.
3D Systems Corp., Valencia, Calif., a leading supplier of materials and equipment for rapid prototyping, plans to move its headquarters to Rock Hill, S.C., by September. The company has opened a 12,000-sq-ft temporary facility there while an 80,000-sq-ft building is being constructed. 3D will close its locations in Valencia and Grand Junction, Colo.
Agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM), Decatur, Ill., has teamed up with bioplastics development company Metabolix, Inc., Cambridge, Mass., to build the first commercial plant to produce PHA thermoplastic resins from renewable resources. PHA is a biodegradable polyester produced by bacterial fermentation of agricultural raw materials such as corn sugar. PHA can be processed into film, fibers, paper coatings, sheet, and thermoformed and molded products. The plant will have a capacity of 100 million lb/yr and will be located at an ADM site. It will supply resin to a joint venture being established by the two companies. No completion date was cited by the companies.
PHA natural plastics can range from rigid to elastic, resist hot liquids and oils, and biodegrade in aquatic, marine, and soil environments and in anaerobic conditions such as in septic systems and municipal waste-treatment plants.
Entek Manufacturing, Inc., Lebanon, Ore., is now producing screws and barrels not only for its own brand of corotating twin-screw extruders but also as replacement parts for other corotating and counter-rotating brands. Available sizes are 27 to 160 mm. Standard delivery time is six weeks. Tel: (541) 259-1068
Basell of the Netherlands (U.S. office in Elkton, Md.) will become a participating producer in the global PE and PP futures market hosted by the London Metals Exchange (LME) in the U.K. “Basell has been following the LME activity closely over recent months, and liquidity is growing slowly,” said Hans-Robert Schmidt, senior v.p. of Basell Polyolefins in Europe. “As one of the major producers of polyolefins, the time is now right to list.” Schmidt explained that this move “is consistent with our view that a shorter-dated contract, a spot marker, is a vital ingredient for the LME’s plastics contract to work effectively. The LME has indicated a willingness to finalize such a marker. We are optimistic that when the LME incorporates this spot price marker, a transformation of the plastics industry pricing structure will result.”