Are You in Film Extrusion?

By: Jim Callari 26. September 2016

Then check out the Extrusion 2016 Conference.


If your company is in the business of film processing check out Plastics Technology’s Extrusion 2016 Conference, scheduled for Dec. 6-8 in Charlotte, N.C.


Over the course of two-and-a-half days, you’ll be able to sit in on 24 different presentations on “general” extrusion topics—conveying, drying, additives, troubleshooting, size reduction, filtration, and lots more—as well as another 14 talks specific to blown and cast film.


Check out the complete agenda here. Use the tabs to view topics and presenters in the General Extrusion sessions, as well as the Film break-out session. Click on the Show Description button on the page to get more details on each presentation.


Plastics Technology’s Extrusion 2016 Conference is the one event of the year that brings the world of extrusion to one place at one time. In addition to sessions on General Extrusion and Film, there will be breakouts on Sheet, Compounding and Pipe/Profile and Tubing.


All told, you’ll have networking access to 80 of the top technical minds in the extrusion industry. And you’ll be able to visit an exhibit area with more than 50 suppliers.


Registration is open now. Click here for details.


Questions about fees and pricing?  Click here and take advantage of the Early Bird Discount by registering before Nov. 2.


And don’t get locked out of the hotel. Use this link to book your room.


Bill Gates Invests in Low-Carbon Plastics

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. September 2016


Pioneer for the conversion of biomass into cellulosic sugar technology can now start to move from lab into commercial use.


Earlier this year, startup Renmatix, Philadephia, a leading licensor for the conversion of biomass into cellulosic sugar and a commercial partner of NewBio, patented its Plantrose Process that can lead to cost-effective production  of industrial sugars on a commercial scale as an alternative to petroleum-based polymers in a range of industrial  processes. (Led by Penn State University, NewBio is a regional network of universities, businesses, and government organizations dedicated to building robust, scalable, and sustainable value chains for biomass energy in the Northeast.)


Now, Renmatix has secured a $14-million investment from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, which will allow it to begin the technology’s transition from the lab to industrial use. Before the U.N.’s Paris climate talks earlier this year, Gates corralled 28 high-profile investors to form the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and committed them to invest in low-carbon energy innovation to save the planet.


Said Gates, “To effectively address climate change, we need to develop an energy infrastructure that doesn’t emit greenhouse gas and is cost competitive. A critical component in this effort must be to decarbonize the industrial sector. Another is the possibility of cost-competitive biofuels. Renmatix provides and innovative process that is an exciting pathway to pursue.”


Menwhile, Belgium’s Total (U.S office in Houston), a global energy and back-integrated polyolefins and PS conglomerate, joined Gates in expanding its initial 2015 investment in Renmatix by signing a licensing agreement with the company for 1-million tons (2-billion/lbs) of annual cellulosic sugar production capacity, at Total’s discretion to build corresponding facilities.


The license represents significant revenue potential for Renmatix, extending over the agreement’s lifetime. “Our ambition is to become the responsible energy major. We want to make low-carbon businesses a profitable growth driver accounting for 20% of our portfolio in 20 years’ time. Meeting these goals in what has led to setting-up and expanding our collaboration with Renmatix,” Total Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanne said.


Renmatix’s Plantrose process uses supercritical water to reduce costs in conversion of biomass to cellulosic sugars, the critical intermediary for second-generation biochemical and biofuels. With faster reactions and virtually no associated consumable-expenses, Renmatix’s supercritical hydrolysis is said to economically enable a multitude of renewable process technologies and help access the market for ‘high-volume, low-cost, broadly-sourced’ cellulosic sugars. From this industrial sugars’ foundation, the company is expanding its product portfolio with additional bio-building block intermediates, including Omno polymers and crystalline cellulose.


The new investment in commercializing Plantrose is expected to help in the drive towards the first wave of Renmatix licensees building Plantrose-enabled biorefineries in diverse global markets like Canada, India, Malaysia, the U.S. and elsewhere. In parallel, such activity will facilitate further market development in downstream bioproduct applications. Renmatix CEO Mike Hamilton:


“This investment from Gates and Total together shows recognition of our technological achievements, and magnifies our commercial momentum. That acknowledgement and Total’s signing of the million-ton license are compelling indicators of our Plantrose technology’s maturation toward biorefinery scale.” 

City in Iraq Opens its First Recycling, Production Plant

By: Heather Caliendo 22. September 2016

Iraq, with a population of 34.3 million, is estimated to produce 31,000 tons of solid waste every day while the capacity to collect this waste is 4,000 tons per day.


That substantial discrepancy between trash and the capacity to manage it, courtesy the World Health Organization. In fact, the current operational and technical management capacity of disposing solid waste in Iraq is estimated at just about 25% of the country’s needs.


So clearly this is a large gap that needs filled and it looks like at least one city is working to solve this problem. According to an article on NRT, a Kurdish language news television network in Iraq, the city of Basra— Iraq’s main port—has installed a $15 million new plastics facility, and while the facility will look to produce a wide variety of plastic goods, it also includes the city’s first recycling production line.  In the report, Ali Chasib, Head of the Basra Investment Commission, says:


"The facility produces all types of PVC products including rubbish bags, medical plastic bags, plastic pipes and plastic sheeting used in agriculture and greenhouses. The project is an ISO-registered company and has a high production capacity of all its production lines, which makes it a strong competitor that can meet the demands of the province and might even cover the demands of other provinces.”


The facility is 4,000 square meters (43, 055 square feet) and has four production lines. It can produce up to 25,000 tons of plastic products for agricultural and industrial purposes and up to 10,000 tons of oil and sewage pipes of different sizes and diameters per year, NRT wrote.


Iraq's government released a five-year economic plan in 2013 with a goal to diversify beyond oil production as well as develop the country's industrial sector. (Photo courtesy Basra Investment Commission)


Smart Tool, Electric Tool

By: Matthew H. Naitove 20. September 2016

The old gray mold ain’t what she used to be. Or won’t be for long, if recent trends hold up.


Those trends will be evident to some extent at next month’s K 2016 show in Dusseldorf, so if you’re going, you can judge for yourself.


Trend 1: Mold with a Brain
As detailed in our K Show preview last month, one of the more prominent trends at the show will be the industry-wide evolution (more consciously in Europe than here) toward the “smart factory” of self-directed, interconnected machines, known under the rubric “Industry 4.0.”


The problem is that, while injection machines and auxiliaries have been getting smarter and smarter, one fundamental part of the process remains “dumb”—the mold. That’s dumb in two senses—it doesn’t think and it doesn’t talk or communicate.


Milacron in Cincinnati has been working on a multi-year project to do something about this. The result, exhibited at K, is Smart Mold, a metal box (photo below) that attaches to a tool equipped with cavity sensors. The box contains software to extract and communicate data from those sensors via web server and OPC-UA server, as well as logic and storage capacity to save setup recipes for the entire cell that works around that mold, as well as preventive maintenance routines, engineering change records, etc.



Think of that—a mold that can tell the injection press, auxiliary injector (for two-shot molding), hot-runner system, robot, chiller, etc. what settings to implement so the mold can do its job. (For more on Smart Mold, see the results of an exclusive interview in October’s Starting Up.)


Trend 2: Going Electric
The October story notes that Milacron will be introducing another new product, as yet unnamed, that controls six servo axes on the mold—valve gates, top and bottom stripper plates, and two rotary axes such as a spin stack or rotary table and an index plate. Milacron is only one of a handful of companies that seek to replace hydraulic tooling functions with electric servos and/or stepper motors, which are clean, compact, fast, and more affordable than ever.


In an October Close Up, I report on my visit this summer to NyproMold in Clinton, Mass., which has pioneered high-cavitation unscrewing molds with electric “continuous cam” action in place of the cumbersome rack-and-pinion mechanisms of the past (photo below).



There’s also the Altanium servo control from Husky Injection Molding Systems, Bolton, Ont., a fairly new module (shown at NPE2015) for its hot-runner controller that controls servo axes in the mold—valve gates, collapsible cores, slides, unscrewing, stack rotation, and coining motions. Husky will exhibit at K, too.


And as far back as K 2010, Hasco of Germany (U.S. office in Fletcher, N.C.) showed off an all-electric mold with servos controlling every action in the tool. Hasco also will show off its latest at K.

Finnish Startup Gets In-Mold Structural Electronics (IMSE) Lighting Patent

20. September 2016


TactoTek’s newly-patented technology available for licensing.


An interesting technology from a Finnish startup that has a unique method for integrating printed electronics such as circuitry, touch controls and antennas, as well as discrete electronic components such as LEDs, into injection molded plastics has been issued a U.S. patent (9297675). Applications for the so-called “illuminated indicator structures for electronic devices” include automotive, home appliances, wearables and health care.


The new technology from TactoTek, based in Oulu, Finland (U.S. office in Cupertino, Calif.) reportedly enables sophisticated lighting in very thin 3D plastic ‘smart surfaces’. “This patent recognizes a key innovation for injection molded structural electronics (IMSE) technology—employing the plastic material that is the structure of a part as a light guide. Using this technique, we can create very bright, evenly distributed illumination within structures as thin as 2-millimeters (0.079 in.),” according to CTO and co-founder Antti Keranen.


For illumination, TactoTek’s IMSE technology consolidates printed electronics and LEDs within the 3D molded plastic part and uses the plastics themselves to conduct light. This, in contrast with traditional electronics designs, which typically include a cosmetic surface structure and use a separate light pipe structure to direct lighting to the surface from a flat, rigid printed circuit board (PCB).



TactoTek’s approach of using the molded cosmetic surface as a light guide removes design constraints that had previously prescribed thick, multi-part assemblies, explains head of product management Hasse Sinivaara. “As we remove parts, we remove design time, weight and minimize electrical and mechanical assembly—very appealing when considering form factor innovation and total cost of ownership.”


TactoTek’s patented and patent-pending technologies integrate a mixture of well-known production technologies into a unique approach that enables mass production of 3D structural electronics. These include flexible circuit printing, surface-mounting electronic components, thermoforming, in-mold labeling (IML), and injection molding.


The approach starts with an IML material. Decoration, if desired, is printed, followed by conductive circuitry, and in some designs, printed touch controls and printed antennas. Electronic components are mounted using standard high-speed pick-and-place machinery. Electronics can be as simple as LEDs or as complex as microprocessors and are affixed to the IML using specialized adhesives able to withstand the temperature and pressure of injection molding. With electronics in place, the IML carrier is used as an insert for injection molding.


According to senior v.p. of marketing Dave Rice, the company uses a range of plastics that are standard for high-pressure, high-temperature injection molding, including: PC, ABS, and acrylic for rigid structures; TPU and hybrids, e.g., TPU/silicone for flexible structures.


Here is Rice’s answer when I asked if the company plans to license its newly-patented technology:  “Our core business model is to help customers adapt their traditional electronics designs to TaktoTek IMSE technology and, develop mass production ready prototypes. For mass production, in some cases, we will manufacture parts ourselves; in most cases, we will license our technology and train a third party—typically an established Tier 1 supplier, to mass produce those parts.”


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