Techmer PM's New Partnership Applies DNA Tagging to Fibers; Plastics to Follow

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 21. September 2015


Earlier this month, specialty colorants and additives masterbatch supplier Techmer PM, Clinton, Tenn., announced a partnership with Applied DNA Sciences, Inc. (ADPN), Stony Brook, N.Y., a provider of DNA-based anti-counterfeiting technology, supply chain, and product authentication methods—first for fiber applications and then beyond.


Initially, the collaboration is aimed at applying ADPN’s patented SigNature T DNA system to tag, and authenticate polymer-based fiber materials. This application offers consumer and industrial product manufacturers the ability to protect their products by applying SigNature T to masterbatch pellets at the point of origin, and verify products as they move throughout the supply chain. Ultimately say the partners, SigNature T is designed to protect products and brands from counterfeiting, providing forensic evidence, and a trail to the source. It is reportedly safe, and has been shown to perform successfully in fibers and film, among other materials.


I recently asked product development manager Bhushan Deshpande some key questions about the technology and its application in plastics. Here’s what he had to offer:


• Are there potential applications for plastics?

Yes. We believe there would be applications in fiber, film, and injection molded products. Basically, any process where there is a requirement of a tracer…this technology can be an option.


How does it work?

The plastic part (film, fiber, or molded product) contains a masterbatch from Techmer PM. This masterbatch contains a plant-based DNA unique to Techmer PM and can be further individualized for the end customer. In case of questions on the authenticity of the part, the part can be analyzed for the presence of the unique DNA confirming that the part was indeed produced by the OEM using the masterbatch.


How does one “read” the DNA signature?

Working with our partner ADPN, the DNA is analyzed in the plastic part via DNA analysis methods—polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and capillary electrophoresis. The key in these test methods is that the exact type of DNA has to be known prior to testing to be able to detect the DNA in the test part. Even if someone has used a different DNA, it will not show up in the test method.


According to James Hayward, president and CEO of ADPN, no other tracer has the forensic fidelity and strength of SigNature T. “Working with Techmer PM, we have successfully tested SigNature T DNA at their technical center. The DNA tagging has been rigorously evaluated, following Techmer’s standards, and is now being actively piloted with customers involved in all stages of the supply chain.”

Recovery of Flexible Packaging Study Gets Underway

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 18. September 2015


Materials Recovery for the Future is reportedly the first-of-its-kind study that brings together brand owners, manufacturers, and packaging industry organizations that are committed to enhance recovery solutions for increasingly popular flexible film and packaging options.


An initiative of the Research Foundation for Health and Environmental Effects (RFHEE), a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization established by the American Chemistry Council, this research effort represents a first step in what will be a series of projects aimed at creating a mainstream recovery solution for flexible packaging.


Resource Recycling Systems (RRS) consultancy developed the test methodology and will conduct the first phase of the research, which will include baseline testing of the existing sortation technologies commonly used in material recovery facilities, such as screens and optical scanners. A representative mix of the flexible packaging generated by consumers will be created and added at an appropriate concentration to single stream recyclables for testing. This mixed stream will be run through the sorters, and the amount of flexible packaging captured in the resulting bale will be measured to determine sorting effectiveness.


Results are slated to be published in the second quarter of 2016. Project sponsors include The Dow Chemical Company, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, Nestle Purina PetCare and Nestle USA, Sealed Air, and SC Johnson, as well as the Association for Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers (APR), the Flexible Packaging Association (FPA), and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association.


Says Jeff Wooster, global sustainability director, Dow Packaging and Specialty Plastics, “Flexible packaging offers many benefits we take for granted. It typically uses less energy and materials than other packaging options, helps extend food shelf life and minimize spoilage, and reduces waste by preserving and protecting products until they are consumed. This new sortation research is critical in helping to close the recovery loop for flexible packaging and we are committed to this collaboration to drive solution for increased recovery rates.”



Can the U.S., European Plastics Machinery Sectors Dodge a Falling BRIC?

By: Tony Deligio 16. September 2015

Milacron's Indian Injection Molding Machine Plant

In September 2008, the U.S. was the epicenter of a global financial earthquake that shook developed markets to their core, while many emerging economies went about their business with nary an aftershock. Almost exactly seven years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered that economic upheaval, it is the developed economies that watch on as the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) markets brace for “the big one”. Could their potential financial disaster reverberate back to our shores?


Earlier this month, SPI’s Committee on Equipment Statistics (CES) reinforced the North American plastics industry’s emergence from the Great Recession’s financial collapse, reporting 22 straight quarters of growth going back to 2010. Lehman went belly up on Sept. 15, 2008, but the breadth and depth of the impact on U.S. plastics equipment wasn’t felt fully until a year later, in the third quarter of 2009, when the value of primary plastics equipment shipments fell below $80 million (for some perspective in the most recent data, for the second quarter, that number was $303.5 million).


Bill Wood, economic analyst and founder of Mountaintop Economics & Research, which interprets the CES data for SPI, told Plastics Technology that overall plastics has fared well since the collapse, due in part to the fact that it had been on a decline prior to Lehman, owing to competition from China that it is increasingly capable of beating back.


“Plastics is moving along at roughly the same speed of growth,” Wood said. “It’s a little bit better compared to some, slower than others, but all in all it is growing at a moderate pace. If there was a wide divergence, you have to remember, China really decimated our industry. Plastics got hit harder than most by offshoring, and over the past two to three years, plastics been doing better than other sectors.”


The BRIC View From Europe
On Sept. 10, the European Association of Plastics and Rubber Machinery Manufacturers (EUROMAP) released full-year 2014 figures showing that the output of its members grew 1.9% over 2013 to 13.0 billion euro. Exports from EUROMAP countries were also up last year, rising 1.6% to 9.7 billion euro.


At that meeting, much of the discussion centered around the BRIC countries, with EUROMAP President Luciano Anceschi noting: “The performance of those markets did not meet our manufacturers’ expectations.” Anceschi then detailed a “slump” in Brazilian demand with an even sharper drop in Russia. The EUROMAP president characterized China as “uneven” and in need of being “closely monitored.” Only the “I” in BRIC, India, warranted optimism after what EUROMAP described as a couple years of declining exports.  


Globally, EUROMAP stated that output of plastics and rubber machinery reached 32.5 billion euro in 2014 with its members accounting for 40% of that total. In terms of exports, EUROMAP countries have maintained a market share of around 50% over the past five years, “despite China’s share rising sharply,” according to EUROMAP Vice President Helmut Heinson.  


Of late, there have been some cautionary reports for the U.S. market as well, including figures for the July U.S. manufacturing technology orders from the Association For Manufacturing Technology (AMT). Participating companies reported that July orders for metal cutting and metal forming machines were down 11.8% compared to June ($358.11 million vs. $361.03 million). Year-to-date totals were off 8.7% compared to 2014. In a statement, AMT President Douglas K. Woods said:


“The mood among manufacturers right now is best described as ‘caution cubed’ – concerns around disruption in China, a drop in some key economic indicators like PMI and housing starts, and softening in large customer industries, including agriculture and energy.”


The disruption in China includes a manufacturing index that has fallen or stayed flat in eight of the last 12 months (declining in six of those). In plastics and rubber machinery, however, EUROMAP reported growth for itself (12.8 to 13.0 billion euro), China (9.3 to 10.9 billion euro) and the world in 2014 over 2013.


Seismographs the world over are registering tremors, if and where “the big one” hits, remains to be seen. 

EUROMAP Global Plastics Machinery Production

Additive Manufacturing: Front and Center at SPE’s ACCE

By: Heather Caliendo 15. September 2015

Image courtesy of Carbon3D. 


It was all about automotive and design during the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Automotive Composites Conference and Exhibition (ACCE) that took place last week in Novi, Mich. The conference had three different tracks full of technical papers on a wide range of topics as well as several keynote speakers. They even had the very cool BMW i8, which features carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic, on full display. While there was plenty to digest at the show, one of the tracks that really stuck out to me was the one on additive manufacturing. 


Perhaps showing its growth in the automotive market, this was the first year for SPE ACCE to feature a track specifically dedicated to additive manufacturing/3D printing.


Ellen Lee, materials and manufacturing research for Ford, Dearborn, Mich., said that while additive manufacturing isn’t new for the automaker (almost 30 years of experience), the company is focused on going beyond the prototype level to the direct production of end use, functional parts. Recently, the company developed a dedicated new additive manufacturing research program to explore the potential of new technologies to manufacture vehicle-ready parts.


Also, Ford has partnered with Silicon Valley startup Carbon3D on using the company’s Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology. In December 2014, Ford began testing a pre-release version of Carbon3D’s first CLIP-based device. The company says that Carbon3D’s CLIP technology is allowing it to move more quickly from ideas to production. The automaker has already successfully applied the technology to current and future vehicle model designs, and is leveraging CLIP to research new automotive relevant materials.


Carbon3D’s CLIP technology uses a tunable photochemical process instead of the traditional mechanical approach, which is said to eliminate the “shortcomings of conventional layer-by-layer 3D printing technology,” to rapidly transform 3D models into physical objects. CLIP carefully balances the interaction of UV light, which triggers photo polymerization, and oxygen, which inhibits the reaction, allowing for continuously grown objects from a pool of resin. These predictable mechanical properties allow for part creation across the range of needs for Ford vehicles including under the hood, interiors and high strength to weight ratio parts.


Beyond the current vehicle applications, Ford has also been able to expand its own materials research because of CLIP’s gentle process and dedication to high quality polymeric materials. To date, the team has tested several materials including resins reinforced with nano-sized particles. Ford says its eager to further investigate resin modifications for improved mechanical properties and consider the creation of thermally and electrically conductive materials for future vehicle applications.


Looking toward the future, Lee said that one of the main challenges of additive manufacturing for automotive is limited materials as many materials currently available are not suitable for automotive applications. “The future direction for us is materials development and understanding how we can customize them,” she said.


“It’s nice to see automotive embrace additive manufacturing, since our requirements are more unique than medical and aerospace,” Lee said. “We believe additive manufacturing will significantly impact automotive manufacturing and Ford wants to be involved and also help direct where it goes.”


There are plenty more topics of interest from thermoplastics to recycling, and of course, more additive manufacturing, so be sure to check out my full conference overview in the November issue of Plastics Technology magazine.

Involved in Compounding? Then Check Out the Extrusion 2015 Conference

By: James Callari 15. September 2015

Have you checked out Plastics Technology’s upcoming Extrusion 2015 Conference? It’s going to be held Nov. 2-3 in Charlotte, N.C. at the Omni Charlotte Hotel in the downtown section of the city.


This two-day event is packed with presentations from more than 60 technical experts covering a wide range of subject areas. The format is a little different than what you might be accustomed to: The morning sessions on each day will include presentations on general extrusion topics. During each afternoon there will be three concurrent breakout sessions that hone in on your particular process: film/sheet; pipe/profile/tubing; and compounding.


If you’re involved in compounding you’ll have access to presentations on running filled materials, conveying dusty materials like TiO2, new developments in pelletizing, breakthroughs in single-screw compounding, plus troubleshooting tips on venting, dust removal, and a range of other topics.



But don’t sleep in because there is plenty on the agenda each morning for you: screw design basics, troubleshooting conveying systems, new developments in filtration and melt pump technologies, foaming, how to make more efficient use of reclaim, new approaches in foaming, and more.


In addition to the technical program, there will be ample opportunity for you to mingle with the more than 40 companies who will be exhibiting at this event.


Click here to download a copy of the entire program. Click here to see a list of all of the companies that are exhibiting.  In terms of registration, click here to see the pricing details. Best to act before Oct. 1 to save $100. We also have special pricing if your company is thinking of sending more than three people. Ready to register? Click here and begin that process.


In terms of accommodations, once again it’s best to act quickly. The Omni is the show hotel, but is filling up at a fast and furious pace. As a result, we have negotiated a similar discounted rate with the Aloft Charlotte, which is nearby.


We at Plastics Technology believe the Extrusion 2015 Conference is the event of the year for extrusion processors of all kinds. We hope to see you there.

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