Sneak Peek at Molding 2016

By: Tony Deligio 24. November 2015

Over two-and-a-half days next March, experts from across the injection molding supply chain will gather in New Orleans offerings insights into the latest trends and technologies in this dynamic industry. Molders, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and more will be there.


Primary tracks at Molding 2016 (March 29-31; Westin New Orleans Canal Place) currently include:


Establishing/Monitoring/Maintaining Robust Processing

Adding Value Via Automation, Assembly and Packaging

Material Drying/Handling



Emerging Technologies


In addition to those, special breakout sessions are in the works specifically for automotive and medical injection molding. In the automotive track, presenters will address liquid color advances, effective automation, the potential for mid-sized all-electrics, preventative purging, and lightweighting batteries via molded conductive plastics, among other issues.


On the medical side, presentations will cover running Tritan in multicavity hot runner molds; using ERP software to maintain documentation and certifications; whitewall medical molding; and more.


Machine manufacturers (Arburg, Engel, Husky, Milacron, Wittmann Battenfeld, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag) will be on hand, as well as auxiliary suppliers (Conair, Novatec, UnaDyn) and material companies (Eastman Chemical, Covestro, Momentive, PolyOne). Plenty of established molders will be there (Extreme Molding, Henkel, Makuta Technics, Noble Plastics, Nypro, Tessy Plastics) as well as a newer player in Proto Labs.


Specific topics currently include:


Injection molding design of experiments

Lights out injection molding

LSR Molding

Industry 4.0

Smart packaging

Digital manufacturing

Recycled resin

Automation (collaborative, value added, automation in automotive)

Inspection (3D and predictive)

Induction heating of tools

Multi-component molding

Measuring melt temperature in real time

Automatic temperature control

Predictive maintenance

Liquid color

Process development

LED lighting Applications


Columnists from Plastics Technology magazine are also on tap, including:


Pete Stoughton

Randy Kerkstra

Suhas Kulkarni

Robert Gattshall


Save the date and wait for more updates as we get closer to Molding 2016!

Molding 2015 Conference and Exhibit

Two Dow Flexible Packaging Technologies Among 2015 R&D 100 Awards

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 24. November 2015


Earlier this month at the 2015 R&D Awards and Technology Conference in Las Vegas, two advanced flexible packaging technologies from Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics business, were among the winners.


The 53-yr-old R&D 100 Awards, sponsored by R&D magazine, Rockaway, N.J., recognizes advances in testing equipment, chemistry, biomedical products, consumer items and more. Dow received an award under the Mechanical Devices/Materials category for its novel PE Stand-Up Pouch. It also received an award under the Green Technology category for PacExpert bottle technology for which the company is the exclusive global licensee through an agreement with co-developer Smart Bottle, Inc., Asheville, N.C.  


I checked in with key Dow sources following the awards announcement for some clarification and a bit of an update as to the direction to which these technologies are headed. Here’s what I learned:


PE Stand Up Pouch: This technology is targeted to packaging of both frozen and dried foods, and is suitable for recycling in communities with existing PE film recycling streams and eligible to use the How2Recycle label. The PE stand-up pouch consists of several layers of Dow’s high performance PE grades that offer stiffness, high temperature, toughness, and sealability—a combination that is necessary to duplicate the performance of the traditional multi-material, multi-layered pouches. The big advantage is the recyclability of the PE stand-up pouch with existing PE film recycling streams such as the grocery store drop-off, stresses global development leader Lamy Chopin.


Chopin further explains that Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics is focused on developments that extent the performance of PE into areas where PET or other material are often used, most specifically by enabling the creation of products that are recyclable. One example, is Opolux XGT, a high-temperature, high-gloss varnish applied to surface-printed PE film, which broadens the processing window of the films—and, as such, expanding the PE film performance while maintaining the recyclability. In a recent trial, Dow was able to demonstrate an increase in upper temperature limit for pouch-making equipment of 100˚F. In fact, according to Chopin, the film coated with Opulux HGT sealed at the highest temperature the equipment would tolerate, and made stand-up pouch formats at up to 200 pouches per minute.


Chopin also acknowledges that aside from temperature resistance, PET in laminate films can offer barrier and stiffness. However, Dow has recently equaled and exceeded the barrier performance of PET laminate with a new barrier adhesive technology, which is said to allow reverse-printed, all-PE packaging designs which have aroma barrier and are still viable for store drop-off recycling programs.


Dow has also developed new options to make traditional PE+EVOH barrier structures compatible for use in the store drop-off recycling programs. The company is also exploring options to increase the film stiffness using Dow’s new Innate Precision Packaging Resins, a new family of polyethylene resins that is aimed at addressing key challenging performance gaps in flexible packaging, most notably: unmatched stiffness/toughness balance, processing ease and improved sustainability profiles.


PacXpert Packaging Technology: This is the flexible, lightweight alternative to rigid packaging bottles that requires less material to manufacture and allows for more efficient shipping, for which Dow obtained the global license in early 2014. Dow sources confirm that the PacXpert ‘bottles’ may be made from numerous flexible materials including PE, nylons, and/or foils or a combination of these materials and bonded together with laminated adhesives or functionalizes tie layers.


The technology is fast gaining significant play in the market. Dow has sub-licensed the technology to several converters, and is assisting them to commercialize the packages and work with them to create broad pull-though demand from brand owners. They include:


O.Kleiner A.G, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in Europe. Company will produce packages enabled by the technology and will sell the packages to their customer base under the “Brainypack” name.


Ampac, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in North America. Company will produce packages with this technology and sell them to their customer base under the Ampac CubePak name.


China Sun, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in The People’s Republic of China.


Darplas, a leading producer of liquid and barrier packaging in Latin America, is authorized to produce packages in Colombia, to sell to its customers in the Andean region, Central America, and the Carribean.


Camada, part of the Grupo Embalo and one of the largest producers of flexible packaging in Brazil, is authorized to sell in Brazil.


KRW Machinery, is authorized to sell in North America.


Lord Plasticos, a privately-owned company with more than 40 years in the Brazilian market is authorized to sell in Brazil.


Valifil, a flexible film and packaging converter, is also authorized to sell in Brazil.


Leygapack, flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in Europe.


Kyodo Printing Co., Ltd., is authorized to sell in Japan.


3D Printing Offers Much Promise For Materials Scientists

By: Heather Caliendo 19. November 2015

During the 3D Printing USA Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., hosted by UK-based IDTechEx, it was proclaimed that thanks in part to 3D printing, this is the “golden age for material scientists.” This statement from John Hornick, partner of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, and intellectual property law firm that has a focus on 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM).


He was not alone in those thoughts. Throughout the two-day 3D printing conference, much conversation centered around materials.


“We need materials optimized for additive manufacturing,” said Hemant Bheda, CEO and founder of Arevo Labs. “In absence of that, we have to take those current materials that are available and modify to make them suitable for additive manufacturing. That in combination with our process, goes hand in hand in getting the optimal performance out of material.”


Arevo Labs recently made headlines when it announced it’s offering AM service to make 3D-printed composite parts using PEEK and PAEK polymer-based formulations.


“High performance materials are required by industries such as aerospace and oil and gas,” he said. “There’s been a long dream of polymers replacing metal – and we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”


While 3D printing is a “powerful” industry, Kenneth Church, president and CEO, of nScrypt Inc., a manufacturer of micro-dispensing and 3D printing systems, says it’s not complete as there are still both material limitations and compatibility issues. This is why diverse materials are crucial, he said.


Stratasys, which offers a range of additive manufacturing materials, gave an overview of some of its materials as well as a look into what’s on the horizon as far as R&D. The company recently announced that it now offers ULTEM 1010 high performance FDM thermoplastic for the Fortus 400mc and 450mc 3D production Systems. The material had been previously available for the Fortus 900mc 3D Production System.


Ken Burns, materials business manager with Stratasys, said that in regards to the thermoplastic landscape, the company’s goal is to start using lower cost materials, however, not as “low cost” as HDPE. The company is also interested in the “high range,” including thermoplastic composite film.


Some other key takeaways:


—About 35% of engineering job postings today require 3D printing skills. (NinjaTek)


—Lightweighting‪ is a growing area in 3D printing (IDTechEx)


—The global 3D printing market is estimated to reach at least $7 billion by 2025. While traditional applications such as prototyping continue to grow, it will be augmented with a variety of new applications. (IDTechEx)


‪—nScrypt, however, believes ‪3d printing will be a $20 billion industry.


Pictured: A part printed from Stratasys's Ultem 1010

Stratasys Ultem 1010 3D Printing



Takeaway from IHS Presentations on PET, and nylons 6 & 66

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. November 2015


Significant overcapacity for PET and pending overcapacity for at least nylon 6 and less so for nylon 66 over the next two years will result in flat, if not lower prices. Just one of the overall conclusions from two sessions on the shape and outlook of the global PET and commodity nylon markets. Both “Polyester Chain Update—Aromatics & Fibers” and “Nylon—The First Engineering Plastic” were presented at the recently-held Global Plastics Summit (GPS2015), co-hosted by IHS Chemical and SPI.  I’ll focus on each of the resins’ key takeaway for North America as cited by two IHS pros.


PET--Tison Keel, Senior Direction, IHS Chemical:

• Keel projects overcapacity for both PTA and ethylene glycol in the next five years. Expects the lower prices of these key feedstocks to benefit PET processors.


• Since 2012, way too much PET capacity has been brought on stream with operating rates now down to 70%.


• Expect overcapacity of PET to continue for a long time unless some suppliers bite the bullet and shutdown some capacity.


• The opportunity to buy lower cost PET resin imports still exists, but this will shrink due to domestic suppliers’ anti-dumping petition.


• Expect PET prices to drop in 2016. Watch for 2017—it will be a transition year—due to planned new capacity currently scheduled to come on stream in late 2016.


• North American domestic demand for PET will increase less than 2 percent per year over the next five years.


Nylon—Paul Blanchard, Director Engineering Plastics, IHS Chemical

• Currently, North America’s supply of nylon 6 is adequate.


• New capacity of nylon 6 slated to be brought on stream soon by Honeywell will result in operating rates dropping to 60% over the next two years.


• Blanchard projects competitive pricing for nylon 6 base resin but relatively stable prices for N6 compounds.


• Nylon 66 supply is adequate in North America


• Nylon 66 has been growing at a 3% rate per year. Blanchard expects this to continue with prices flat to a bit downward—with N66 base resin prices more competitive and N66 compounds more stable.


“Winning With the Lifecycle Approach”

By: Tony Deligio 17. November 2015

In existence for 155 years, including 47 in plastics, Milacron has seen its business model (along with the industry it serves) change dramatically over the years. Most recently, those changes have included a $285 million initial public offering on June 24. Earlier this month in two investor presentations and a conference call with Plastics Technology, company executives laid out Milacron’s current interests and how those have changed in recent years, with more evolution to come.


The big takeaway? Formerly synonymous with “machinery”, the new Milacron will emphasize much more than primary processing equipment and be more present in its customers’ day-to-day business.


“We’re winning because our approach is lifecycle,” President and CEO Tom Goeke told analysts in the company’s Nov. 6 third quarter earnings call. “When a customer buys a machine, we’re there until they need to purchase a new one.” Comparing the company to a service-oriented car dealer, Goeke said Milacron’s renewed emphasis on aftermarket parts/service and what it calls consumables (think wear components), not only benefits customers by keeping their machines running with the latest kit, but makes sense financially, giving the supplier more sales opportunities.


In a Nov. 9 Baird 2015 Industrial Conference presentation, Milacron said 61% of its sales come from those consumable products—a “high margin recurring revenue stream.” Consumables here include aftermarket, fluids, and melt delivery/control systems, with the remaining 39% of revenue attributable to “equipment systems.”


In that same presentation, Milacron noted that while an injection molding machine can have a replacement cycle ranging to 15 to 25 years, items like hot runners, mold bases and other components can require new investments every one to five years due to wholly new projects or wear on existing tools.


On the existing equipment front, the company sited large installed bases of machines (40,000) and hot runner systems (140,000) as potential sources of ongoing aftermarket business. Looking forward, Milacron forecast 7.1% CAGR in processing equipment, with the total to rise from $25.3 billion in 2014 to $31.1 billion in 2017. Business here would be fueled by upgrades in emerging regions and replacement of aging fleets in developed markets. The global hot runner market was pegged to grow at 8% CAGR, rising from $2.1 billion in 2014 to $2.6 billion in 2017.


In the earnings call, executives referenced several bright spots, including an expanded hot runner plant in India and a “very successful” Fakuma, where the company presented as “one Milacron” for the first time in Europe, with close to 1000 leads booked at the Friedrichshafen event.


On the technology side, testing continues on its coinjection molded answer to tin cans for food packaging, the Klear Kan, with collaboration ongoing with select prospects, up to and including focus groups with consumers.  


The company noted that it has sold three of its new PET preform systems, which launched at NPE, with the first being shipped and two more being manufactured. In automotive, Milacron executives talked up interest in a four-component machine for applications like taillights, which require multiple materials/colors.


On a geographic basis, the executives did describe a slow down in Asia in general, and China in particular. Overall the region was a wash with increased business in Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea largely offsetting contraction in China.


In North America, Milacron has seen what the executives called a general slow down, with strength in automotive, appliance, housewares, and custom molding ongoing, but weakness in construction. North America still constitutes a slim majority of Milacron’s business (52% of revenue), with Asia (22%) and Europe (21%) accounting for next biggest chunks. By end market, automotive (23%) and packaging (21%), dominate.


Goeke told Plastics Technology that the company spends around $20 million/year in R&D, and at the Baird event, a long-term goal of generating more than 20% of revenue from new products was stated, laying out the potential for a win-win for Milacron and its customers.


“At the end of the day, our customers are trying to make higher quality parts at a lower price,” Goeke said, “so everything we can do with precision of the part, is a benefit to them.”

Pictured: Milacron's Fakuma booth, image courtesy Milacron

Milacron Fakuma 2015

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