Japanese Automaker Collaborates with Stratasys to 3D Print Custom Parts

By: Heather Caliendo 22. June 2016

Daihatsu Copen 3D Printed Body Elements


More stories are emerging that take 3D printing beyond just the prototyping phase to factory tooling and even short-run production, exploiting the technology for mass customization of consumer products.


Japanese automaker Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd, (Daihatsu) is one of the first manufacturers to deliver on the 3D printing vision of mass customization of end-use parts, collaborating with Stratasys and top local designers. The company was looking to expand the market for customized plastic bodied cars and saw 3D-printing technology as an effective means to this goal.


Based in Ikeda, Osaka, Japan, Daihatsu partnered with 3D printing company Stratasys, Kota Nezu from industrial design company Znug Design and 3D creator Sun Junjie to turn the vision into reality. Designers created 15 "Effect Skins"—intricate geometric and organic patterns in 10 different colors that are 3D printed using Stratasys’ Fortus 3D printers. The skins may be ordered for front and rear bumpers and fenders.


Here’s a video showcasing the customized car design with 3D printing.



The Effect Skins are 3D-printed on Fortus Production 3D Printers from Stratasys using ASA thermoplastic. "What would have taken two to three months to develop can now be produced in two weeks," said Osamu Fujishita, general manager, corporate planning department, brand DNA office, Daihatsu Motor Co.


This Effect Skins project illustrates how 3D printing can create on-demand product parts with high customizability and rich design properties. In fact, according to Kota Nezu of Zung Design: "This project would not have been possible with traditional manufacturing or tooling methods.”


"We believe on-demand production with 3D printing offers definite benefits to supply chain efficiencies," said Osamu Fujishita. "And it allows easy access for customers."


The Effect Skin project is being tested in 2016 in select markets with plans for commercialization in early 2017.


Make Plans to Attend Extrusion 2016 Conference

By: Jim Callari 22. June 2016

Event for all extrusion processors will be held Dec. 6-8 in Charlotte.


A two-and-a-half day technical conference devoted to all things extrusion is close to being finalized by Plastics Technology.


The second annual Extrusion Conference brings together the world of extrusion in one place, at one time, at the Le Méridien/Sheraton Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C., Dec. 6-8.


Last year’s event—the first-ever such conference produced by Plastics Technology—drew more than 350 people. As a result, we have contracted with a larger hotel, added a half-day to the program, and moved the conference a month later to take into account that many of you and your customers will be attending the K Show in October.


The conference combines sessions with presentations of interest to all types of extrusion processors with breakout tracks offering technical talks that drill down to your particular process: Film; Sheet; Pipe/Profile/Tubing; and Compounding.


The program will begin on the afternoon on Dec. 6, with presentations of interest to extrusion processors in general. The mornings of Dec. 7-8 will follow the same format. Then, in the afternoon of those two days, there will be four concurrent breakout sessions that hone in on the specific process.


As of this writing, more than 50 companies have agreed to present at the conference. Click here for the list. The complete agenda will be finalized by the end of July; drop me an email at if you’d like to be notified as soon as the agenda is posted. Click here for a list of sponsors, and here for all pricing information.


We’re looking forward to another informative and exciting event. Hope to see you there.

40 Years On, TSCA Reformed Marking First Major Update to Environmental Law in 20 Years

By: Tony Deligio 22. June 2016


Plastics industry representatives and environmentalists hailed the passage of TSCA reform, a reboot four decades in the making.


The fact that representatives of both sides of the issue offered praise and criticism of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act indicates the law, which amends the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, represents some amount of compromise on the issue, a rare commodity in Washington DC these days.


TSCA reform was one of six measures signed on June 22, and it enjoyed bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Apart from naming post offices, there’s not much the both parties and the president can agree on these days. Per the White House, improvements to TSCA included in the reforms include:


  • Mandatory requirement for EPA to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines;
  • New risk-based safety standard;
  • Increased public transparency for chemical information;
  • Consistent source of funding for EPA to carry out the responsibilities under the new law


In a blog post, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Gina McCarthy described the law as the first major update to an environmental statute in 20 years (emphasis McCarthy’s).


“TSCA was intended to be one of our nation’s foundational environmental laws. In terms of its potential for positive impact, it should have ranked right alongside the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, which, since the 70’s, have dramatically improved water quality and helped clean up 70 percent of our nation’s air pollution. But it hasn’t….Forty years after TSCA was enacted, there are still tens of thousands of chemicals on the market that have never been evaluated for safety, because TSCA didn’t require it.”


The original Toxic Substances Control Act, signed by President Gerald Ford in October 1976, was intended to provide the EPA:


Authority to require reporting, record-keeping and testing requirements, and restrictions relating to chemical substances and/or mixtures. Certain substances are generally excluded from TSCA, including, among others, food, drugs, cosmetics and pesticides.


Prior to its passage, the EPA’s deputy administrator, John R. Quarles testified in 1975 specifically about the risks perceived in chemicals including vinyl chloride, fluorocarbon, bischloromethylether (BCME), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), saying these chemicals “point to the inadequacy of our present approach to controlling toxic substances.” At the time, Quarles said that every year about 600 new chemical compounds were introduced in the United States for commercial use.


William Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association, thanked President Obama for signing the bill into law.


The U.S. plastics industry thanks President Barack Obama for signing this vital piece of legislation. H.R. 2576 delivers a much-needed update to the nation’s chemical regulatory infrastructure and ensures that businesses in the plastics industry can continue to meet the needs of consumers by manufacturing the safest, strongest and most technologically advanced products and materials in the world.


Andy Igrejas, the director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families—a coalition of health, environmental, labor and business organizations—noted the importance of the bill’s passage but also noted its perceived limitations.


President Obama’s signature on this bill marks both the end of a long process, and the beginning of a new chapter as the EPA puts its new authority to work. The chemical backlog is enormous. It's vital that EPA starts strong and extracts the maximum public health benefits possible from the new law. Because of the limitations in this bill, however, it will also be crucial that the growing demand for safer chemicals continue across society, from state and local governments, retailers, manufacturers and informed consumers.


Cal Dooley, president and CEO of the American Chemistry Council, praised the bill’s passage, noting the ACC’s long-running interest in the reform.


The reform is a historic bipartisan achievement at a time when such achievements are increasingly rare. It is the first major environmental law passed since 1990. Under it, chemical evaluation and regulation will meet new 21st century standards, which will improve the lives of American families, support American manufacturing and bolster U.S. economic growth. Reforming TSCA has been ACC’s top priority since 2008. For the past three years, ACC and our coalition partners, the American Alliance for Innovation (AAI), have worked together to support bipartisan efforts to modernize TSCA in a way that ensures smart, effective chemical regulation.


The reform was named after former New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg, who along with Louisiana Senator David Vitter initially introduced TSCA reform in 2013. Lautenberg passed away three years ago on June 3, 2013 at 89, not living long enough to see the law that even the Environmental Defense Fund called a “really big deal.”


A Pre-K2016 Experience in Belgium

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 21. June 2016

EMG did a terrific job in bringing together some 25 trade press members to hear preliminary news from some key players of plastic materials and additives.


We were all at NPE2015 just last year and now K2016 is around the corner. But with each of the big shows I get even better ideas for shoes that will save my feet (e.g., minimalist Ninja-looking things) and allow me to get the latest news. Flip flops did the trick for my visit to Antwerp, Belgium when we were treated to a great walk-about town headed by a very scholarly local guide. So, I thought I’d share some photos, including one of the old churches, Antwerp harbor from above, and a Belgium chocolate shop to which you can bet I returned.


But, back to business. The Antwerp trip was organized by the international communications consultancy EMG, and it was one of several pre-K events that take place every three years just a few months before each K show. As members of the trade press, we have no clue beforehand how valuable such a press junket might turn out in terms of news generation. There were 25 of us from all over the world, and I would say we were generally very pleased with the outcome of the event.

EMG brought us together with four of their plastic materials clients—SABIC, DSM, Ascend Performance Polymers, and Polyscope; and two plastic additives clients—Songwon and Clariant. I am reporting on their “early” news of what attendees can expect to see at this big show for our September pre-K2016 issue. But, here is a teaser list:


SABIC will showcase materials and applications for several industries, from transportation to healthcare. Included is reportedly the first rear PC glazing window on a car and PEI filament for 3-D printing of aircraft prototypes. You’ll also find new ultra-clear PP, PC/ABS, carbon-fiber reinforced compounds, and PC sheet for the healthcare sector. SABIC also announced that it has entered into the polyolefin elastomer (POE) business with the development of Nexlene alphaolefins, joining less than a handful of dominant suppliers.


DSM will showcase the latest in what it claims to be the most extensive portfolio of high-temperature polymers, including a new product family of its 4T nylon for electronics and a new PPA family for high-performance automotive and electronics. DSM has also expanded its new Detroit R&D facility to further assist OEMs and Tier I suppliers of automotive and electronics.


Ascend Performance Polymers is now one of the world’s largest integrated producers of nylon 66 resin used in automotive cooling systems, interior and exterior systems, powertrain and underhood components. You can expect to see new high-flow and flame-retardant nylon 66 compounds for electronics, as well as new nylon 66 compounds for packaging, a market in which Ascend is making an entry.


Polyscope is the leading producer of styrene maleic anhydride (SMA) copolymers, sold under the tradename Xiran—the company’s business is about 75% compounds and 25% additives. Its specialty Xiran IZ terpolymers, launched in 2013, have been aimed at boosting the thermal performance of ABS and ASA. Now, Polyscope, has expanded the range of its heat booster additives to increase heat performance of other styrenics, such as PS and SAN, and PMMA. Also look for a new maleic anhydride grafted PP compound, that bridges the gap between PP and ABS for automotive applications. A new portfolio of additives that act as compatibilizers and coupling agents as well as chain extenders for both amorphous and semi-crystalline resins will also be launched.


Songwon is now the world’s largest suppliers of polymer stabilizers will highlights its complete portfolio of antioxidants and UV stabilizers in a full range of physical forms. It will also launch a new antioxidant specifically developed to boost the long-term thermal stability of short- and long-glass fiber reinforced PP used in interior automotive and is said to promote the molding of thinner and lighter weight components.


Clariant will feature a host of new pigments, additives and masterbatches that are said to enhance safety, sustainability and innovation in plastics. Included are a yellow pigments to replace lead chromates for consumer goods as well as an infrared transparent black for nylons, ABS, PC and other engineering resins; the latest addition of halogen-free flame retardant for E/E nylon goods; and UV additive masterbatches for polyolefin roofing sheets. Look also for the launch of new anti-counterfeit fluorescent-effect tagant technology for plastic components and packaging.


Search for nearly 100,000 grades of polymers on the Universal Selector by clicking here


Search for nearly 40,000 additives on the Universal Selector by clicking here

Cautious Optimism for Europe’s Plastics Industry Ahead of K

By: Tony Deligio 21. June 2016

As host to the world’s largest plastics show, Germany and Europe’s economic conditions, and specifically plastics demand, come under greater scrutiny in K years.


That demand is down, according to an article from show organizer Messe Düsseldorf, citing data from industry consultant Applied Market Information (AMI), which noted that polymer consumption in 2014 is 10% below 2007 levels. AMI expects nominal growth to return, forecasting that polymer demand is expected rise an average just over 1% per year until 2019.


From 2002 to 2014, plastics production in Europe grew every year except 2009, rising 52% over that time period from 204 million tonnes in 2003 to 311 million tonnes in 2014, according to Plastics Europe. In its most recent report for 2015, which looks back at 2014 data, the trade association reported that the European plastic industry employed 1.45 million people at 62,000 companies generating more than Euro 350 billion in revenue.


That same report found that in 2014, 24.9% of total plastics demand in Europe—47.8 million tonnes—came from Germany, followed by Italy (14.3%), France (9.6%), the U.K. (7.7%) and Spain (7.4%).


Resin Suppliers Are Upbeat
Across the Atlantic, much has been made of the burgeoning production advantages enjoyed by North American resin makers thanks to the natural gas boom, which has lowered key feedstock costs. But more recently, the drop in oil prices has given a boost to Europe’s resin manufacturers who are more reliant on petroleum-derived naphtha.


The article noted that Borealis enjoyed record profits in 2015, quoting CEO Mark Garrett as saying that integrated polyolefin industry margins reached historic highs for the year.


“Despite lower feedstock costs, polyolefin prices did not retreat to the same extent, driven by a tight market as a result of solid demand combined with a supply shortfall, in particular resulting from unplanned production stops. In addition, imports of polyolefins into Europe have been uncompetitive following the weakening of the Euro. We expect this situation to ease in 2016, but we believe the integrated polyolefin industry margin will be solid.”


Messe Düsseldorf also sought the opinion of Melanie Maas-Brunner, Senior Vice President for Performance Materials Europe at BASF, who was also bullish.


“Overall, we look positively at the current state of the European plastics industry. We have seen good business growth in all our segments in 2015 and we are optimistic that those who have the right technologies, people and facilities globally will stay successful. We expect more demand from industries such as medical, transportation as well as from consumer industries such as footwear, sports and leisure. The main trends driving those needs are resource efficiency, light weighting, comfort and energy efficiency.”


Processors, Machinery Makers Optimistic
On the processing side, the report noted that Germany’s converting sector posted moderate growth in 2015, after a record 2014, while in Italy, where consumption has been flat, equipment association Assocomaplast reported a strong upward trend in orders.


Further on the machinery front, Euromap members most recent reports covering 2014 noted that the continent accounted for 40% of the global total of plastics and rubber core machinery sold—euro 13 billion out of euro 32.5 billion. Down slightly from 2013’s share of 41.5%, while China’s grew over the same time period from 30% to 33.5%.


Euromap members continue to export around four times as much core equipment as Chinese companies, in terms of value, with deliveries to Europe and the US on the rise, while shipments to BRIC countries slip. Around 43% of Euromap member exports are within Europe.


Force Majeure’s Take a Toll
A significant challenge to European plastics processors in 2015 was difficulties obtaining raw materials, with more than 40 declarations of force majeure during a period of just four months at one stage in 2015, as major polyolefin plants in Europe stood still for extended periods, “putting significant strains on relationships between suppliers and processors,” per the report, which noted that some processors “had to shut down production lines.”


Could there be relief on the way from the U.S.? The Messe Düsseldorf report noted that Ineos chartered eight ships to bring ethane from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale field across the Atlantic, with the first delivery arriving in Norway in late March. Shipments to the company’s refinery at Grangemouth, Scotland, were scheduled to start later this year, with Europe’s first shale-based polyethylene expected tocome onto the market soon after.


Ineos Chairman Jim Ratcliffe noted that U.S. shale could complement the declining supplies of gas from the North Sea, according to the report, with imports of shale-derived ethane acting as a stop-gap measure while his company investigates shale-gas deposites in the U.K. The company is set to drill numerous test cores in 2016, although it does not plan any fracking this year. 

Pictured: Ineos' new ethane storage tank, completed in July 2015 and said to be the largest in Europe.

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