Your Business in Brief - September 2000

Targor PP Process Goes to EquistarEquistar Chemicals, LP, Houston has formed a joint venture that will acquire the Novolen PP polymerization technology business from Targor GmbH of Germany, a subsidiary of BASF AG.

Targor PP Process Goes to Equistar

Equistar Chemicals, LP, Houston has formed a joint venture that will acquire the Novolen PP polymerization technology business from Targor GmbH of Germany, a subsidiary of BASF AG. The other partner in the venture is engineering/ construction firm ABB Lummus Global. Targor is selling the Novolen technology business—including catalyst and metallocene technology rights—to satisfy European Commission conditions for approving the pending merger of Targor, Elenac, and Montell. That merger is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Equistar will own 20% and ABB Lummus 80% of the new Novolen Technology Holdings C.V. ABB will manage the partnership and licensing business. Catalyst, product, and application development will be handled by Equistar and BASF.


Geon & Hanna Complete Merger

Following stockholder approvals last month, the planned merger of M.A. Hanna Co. and the Geon Co. took effect Sept. 1. On that day, the two Cleveland firms began operation as PolyOne Corp., headquartered for now at the former Hanna offices.


Study Profiles Successful Plastic Molders

A survey of 84 processors determined that more profitable firms have greater size, more design input and capabilities, a more focused product line, and a more positive employment environment. The study was conducted by accounting and consulting firm Plante & Moran, LLP, Southfield, Mich. About 90% of the firms studied were custom processors and about 75% were injection molders. The rest included compression and blow molders and extruders. Among other conclusions, the firm reports that molders with either design input or design responsibility earn higher gross and net margins than molders manufacturing “part to print.” While design responsibility is accompanied by higher engineering costs, it apparently is more than offset by opportunities for savings related to product and process innovation and design for manufacturability.

The study found that molders with a tight focus on a specific product or process also experienced better financial performance. Such focus allows molders to hone their “operational excellence” by concentrating on fewer materials, process technologies, and press sizes. Company “culture” was another factor in molders’ profits. Firms that emphasized employee training, advancement opportunities, job enrichment, and employee involvement had higher retention rates, which contributed to financial performance.

The accompanying chart compares some financial ratios for “successful” versus “struggling” molders. They were defined, respectively, as the top and bottom 25% of the sample in terms of sales growth, profitability, and return on assets. To learn more about the survey, call 616-385-1858 616-385-1858.


Shell Sells Off Epoxy Business

The Royal Dutch/Shell Group of the Netherlands has found a buyer for its global epoxy business and two associated chemicals, bisphenol A and epichlorohydrin. An agreement in principle was signed in July by Apollo Management L.P., a newly formed private investment firm in N.Y.C.


Edward D. Segen Moves Offices

Thermoform tooling supplier Edward D. Segen & Co., LLC, has moved from Milford, Conn., to new facilities with three times greater manufacturing space. The new address is 100 Trap Falls Rd. Extension, Shelton, CT 06484. Tel. (203) 929-8700 (203) 929-8700.


2000 Resin Sales Hit a Slowdown

After soaring through the first quarter with a 6.3% increase, consumption of volume thermoplastics in the U.S. and Canada ended the first half just 3.3% above the 1999 level. According to figures from the American Plastics Council, Arlington, Va., resin sales started dropping in April, which came in 1% below the same month a year ago. By June, the latest month reported by APC, resin sales were off 4.4%.


Krupp Plastics & Rubber Gets a New Name

As of Oct. 1, Krupp Plastics and Rubber Machinery (USA), Inc., North Branch, N.J., will be known as SIG Plastics Technologies (USA), Inc. This change reflects the recent purchase of Krupp Kunststofftechnik from ThyssenKrupp in Germany by SIG Industrial Co. Holding Ltd. in Switzerland. SIG is an international firm focused on packaging technologies.

Krupp Kunststofftechnik will be an independent unit known as SIG Plastics international GmbH. The former Krupp Corpoplast div. will become SIG Corpoplast, based in Hamburg, Germany. The former Krupp Kautex and Fischer-W. Muller divisions will become SIG Blowtec, located in Bonn-Holzar.

A brand-new unit, called SIG PETtec, will offer the Ecomax line of integrated single-stage PET bottle machines developed by Corpoplast and Kautex. SIG PETtec will be headquartered in Troisdorf, Germany.

Molds and tools for PET containers will be handled by the new SIG Moldtec in Essen.


Kuraray to Build SBC Plant Here

Kuraray Co., Ltd. of Japan will construct a plant to make Septon and Hybrar styrene-block-copolymer TP elastomers in Pasadena, Texas. The 26.4-million-lb/yr plant is to be completed in the second half of 2002. Kuraray says it will establish a U.S. organization to make, sell, and provide technical support for these products. At present, Kuraray has one SBC plant in Japan with capacity of 42 million lb/yr, but the company plans to boost its total capacity to 110 million lb by 2005.

Septon resins are expected to find broad use in automotive and appliance parts, as well as sports equipment, consumer products, polymer modification, and adhesives. Hybrar resins have high vibration-damping properties suitable for automotive and sporting-goods uses. Ronald Foster is director of market development for these products at Kuraray America, Inc., Lisle, Ill.


More Resin Capacity Is on the Way

Three materials suppliers recently announced expansion projects:

  • EVOH: Eval Co. of America (Evalca), Lisle, Ill., recently completed an expansion of its Pasadena, Texas, plant for Eval EVOH barrier resin. The 4.4-million-lb/yr expansion brings the plant’s capacity to 50 million lb, reportedly making it the world’s largest EVOH plant.
  • PET: KoSa in Houston plans a new 300-million-lb/yr PET bottle-resin plant at an undetermined site in North America for mid-to-late 2002. This supplements a 130-million-lb expansion to start up this month in Queretaro, Mexico.
  • MDI: Dow Plastics, Midland, Mich., plans to add 550 million lb/yr of polymeric MDI capacity by 2004. This will involve both a 50-million-lb expansion at Dow’s LaPorte, Texas, plant and a new grassroots facility on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Buy More Kinds of Products On the Web

Soon there will be almost nothing you can’t buy on the Internet. Check out this batch of new E-commerce sites for an expanding range of “E-vailable” products and services for plastics:

  • for transducers, interfaces, controllers, specialized I/O systems, and industrial networking systems.
  • for precision flat-ground tool-steel stock (O1, A2, D2, S7, and low-carbon types). Drill rod is expected to be added soon.
  • for retrofit kits to convert standard injection machines to multi-component operation.
  • for industrial minerals.
  • for ultrasonic and photoelectric sensors, light screens for machine safety, etc.
  • for infrared spectroscopy, thermal analysis, liquid chromatography, and other testing instruments and supplies.
  • and for rapid-prototyping and rapid-tooling services.


LNP Wins a Round in Long-Fiber Patent Case

After three trials and almost four years, the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., rendered a final judgment in the patent dispute between LNP Engineering Plastics Inc., Exton, Pa., and RTP Co., Winona, Minn. The latest court decision went in LNP’s favor, upholding a patent on long-fiber reinforced thermoplastics (LFRT) produced by a melt-pultrusion process. The court also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting RTP from making and selling LFRT products containing 30% or more fiber by volume. Previous decisions determined that RTP could sell LFRT with less than 30% fiber volume.

RTP sources say 90% of its LFRT business is in products with less than 30% fiber by volume. They note polypropylene LFRT may contain up to 53% long glass by weight, and nylon and PPA can have 45% glass by weight, and not exceed 30% by volume.

The long-running legal battle is not yet over. Both LNP and RTP are appealing—LNP to prevent RTP from selling LFRT with less than 30% fiber, and RTP to be free to make LFRT with higher volume percentages of fiber. LNP sources expect the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to take about nine months to issue a decision.

In the meantime, RTP has come out with a new family of reinforced thermoplastics that it calls Advanced Fiber Compounds (ADF), which are made by a proprietary modified extrusion compounding process. Because they are not made by melt pultrusion, ADF products are not legally limited in fiber content, RTP says. ADF reportedly provides structural properties similar to those of LFRT but at around 20% lower cost.


Two New Tech Centers For Injection Presses

Two European-based suppliers of injection molding machines have announced new technical centers in the Northeast:

  • Demag Ergotech U.S.A., Strongsville, Ohio, and its sales representative, Pressmasters of Plainville, Conn., are building a 3500-sq-ft center at Pressmasters’ headquarters. Scheduled for completion in December, it will house a mold-trial area equipped with presses from 50 to 300 tons, as well as a training classroom. The center will use auxiliary equipment from AEC Inc., Wood Dale, Ill., which is also represented by Pressmasters. The facility represents greater exposure in North America for Demag Ergotech, which recently separated its business from that of sister company Van Dorn Demag. The new site replaces Pressmasters’ older tech center in Cheshire, Conn.
  • Sandretto USA, Inc., Freedom, Pa., this month will open a tech center in Pittsfield, Mass. It is a joint venture with Pittsfield toolmaker Starbase Technologies. The Sandretto facility will occupy 5000 sq ft of Starbase’s 45,000-sq-ft plant. It will open with four machines including a Series Nine 330 and Micro 30. Training courses will be offered there next year.


New Regional Offices For Presses & Tooling

Injection machine supplier Ube Machinery Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., has opened a new technical sales and service office in Nashville, Tenn. It is located at 1113 Murfreesboro Rd., Suite 106-402, Nashville, TN 37217. Tel. (615) 599-3534 (615) 599-3534.

Meanwhile, PCS Co., Fraser, Mich., a maker of injection mold components, opened a branch office in La Mirada, Calif. Address is 14101 Rosecrans, Unit H, La Mirada, CA 90638. Tel. (888) 960-1262 (888) 960-1262.


Dexter Sells Off Several Businesses

Dexter Corp., Windsor Locks, Conn., has sold segments of its business to two different buyers. Adhesive maker Loctite Corp. in Rocky Hill, Conn., has bought Dexter’s Electronic Materials, Adhesives, and Polymer Systems Businesses. Also, Ahlstrom Paper Group Oy of Finland has purchased Dexter’s Nonwoven Materials business.


Huntsman Moves Detroit PUR Center

Huntsman Polyurethanes, West Deptford, N.J., has moved its Flexibles Business Regional Development Center from Sterling Heights to Auburn Hills, Mich. The site has foam molding and pouring equipment and a mini slab line. It will also serve as the company’s automotive headquarters for the Americas.


RAM Precision Forms PET Preform Mold Div.

RAM Precision, Inc., Centerville, Ohio, has created a PET preform mold division called RAM Advanced Mold Solutions. It is located near Dayton, Ohio. It specializes in preform mold repair, refurbishment, and conversion, as well as supply of spare parts and components. By the end of the year, RAM-AMS plans to introduce its “next-generation” 48-cavity RAM Advantage preform mold.


Master Precision Mold Buys More Capacity

Master Precision Mold Technology of Greenville, Mich., a builder of injection molds, has purchased Enterprise Mold of Grandville, Mich. The acquired firm, now called Master Precision West, Inc., doubles the firm’s capacity to build molds for machines from 30 to 1500 tons. The company gains capacity to build much larger molds than before—particularly two-shot molds.


Compounders Expand

Several U.S. compounders have made or are planning capacity additions, and a third has added distribution facilities:

  • DSM Engineering Plastics, Inc., Evansville, Ind., is adding 50,000 sq ft of space and has installed a new twin-screw extrusion line that will add over 15 million lb/yr of capacity.
  • To support growing demand for flame-retardant compounds, Gitto/Global Corp., Lunenburg, Mass., will make a 15-million-lb/yr capacity addition by the end of the year.
  • Color concentrate maker O’Neil Color & Compounding Corp., Garfield, N.J., recently installed two new custom-built twin-screw extruders.
  • RC Plastics of Houston, a div. of Kawasaki-LNP, Inc., will move to a new 86,000-sq-ft plant (nearly double the present plant size) in Houston in the first quarter of 2001. The move will increase its manufacturing capacity from the present 2 million lb to 15 million lb/yr. RC Plastics produces engineering thermoplastic compounds made with post-industrial recycled materials.
  • Plastics Color Corp., Somerset, N.J., has moved its manufacturing of color concentrates, liquid and dry colors, and specialty compounds to an upgraded 220,000-sq-ft plant in Dayville, Conn. The new site consolidates production from its subsidiary, Plastics Color & Compounding, Inc. (formerly Coz Plastics, Inc.) in Northbridge, Mass.
  • In addition, color-concentrate maker Newline Color Inc., Fitchburg, Mass., last month opened its first service warehouse in the Western U.S. Newline Color Inc./West is in Santa Fe Springs, Calif.