BOPET Films' Growth Prospects Look Very Good

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 14. September 2016

Market demand to be driven by significant use in both packaging and technical applications.


Biaxially-oriented PET film (BOPET) appears to have become one of the fastest growing polymer substrates, with demand expected to be over 8 billion lb in 2016, a growth of over 2 billion lb since 2010. This, according to a new report, BOPET Films—the global market 2016, by Bristol, U.K.-based AMI Consulting.


Check too our September issue’s feature K 2016 Preview: Extrusion and Compounding, and a recent blog on “biobased” BOPET film for solar-control-windows.


Driving this impressive growth is BOPET film’s extensive use in both packaging and technical applications due to its novel combinations of properties, excellent processability, as well as adhesion to coatings and adhesives. The report points out, however, how volatile this market has been, noting the rapid demise of BOPET-based magnetic tapes for music and video cassettes after the development of CD—an example of applications that come and go.


Yet, the AMI Consulting report discusses emerging applications such as photovoltaics—the fastest one, with a whopping 29%/yr growth since 2010, driven by an increased demand for renewable energy sources often supported by government initiatives. Another: display and optical films, which have seen double-digit growth by expanding sales of smart phone, tablets and flat screen TVs.


Moreover, in terms of absolute growth, packaging has grown the most, which AMI says is most evident in emerging markets, particularly in China and India. On the other hand, the AMI consultants note that the increasingly competitive and commodity nature of traditional packaging film markets is driving film processors to seek added value opportunities through either diversification into thick films, technical applications or investment in secondary processing such as metallization or offline coating.  The report indicates that new investments are more and more in hybrid lines capable of making a range of films that cut across the traditional supply divisions between thin films (<50 micron; 0.002 in.) and thick films (50-350 micron;0.002-0.014 in.) as companies look to diverse their portfolio.


It appears that in the 2010-11 time frame, there was strong growth in BOPET demand, which led to tight supply and relatively high margins; thus a boom in investment in the BOPET business. Over the last several years, this led to an explosion of new capacity, with some 4.8 billion lb installed since 2010. While global capacity was boosted by over 70%, demand only increased by half that rate, which has led to significant oversupply.


AMI notes that this “oversupply scenario”, combined with the falling crude oil prices, resulted in weak pricing and poor margins, making the operating environment for BOPET film processors increasingly challenging. “Much of this new added capacity has derived from high productivity low-cost operations with a focus on flexible packaging applications…This has put pressure on heritage businesses with older and less efficient assets particularly for the production of low-cost commodity grades in developed markets of North America, Europe, and North East Asia,” said AMI Consulting senior market analyst Marta Babits. The industry has seen many of these companies shifting their focus on specialized technologies and high-end value applications. At the same time, some, such as DuPont Teijin, have opted to shutter obsolete plants as part of cost-cutting measures.


The report characterizes this industry as becoming increasingly fragmented driven by new players entering the market in recent years. The top ten producers accounted for over 60% of the total production 10 years ago and less than 50% today while there are many more manufacturers holding smaller market shares. The largest producers worldwide include DuPont Teijin Films, Flex Films, Jiangsu Shuangxing Color Plastic New Materials, Mitsubishi Polyester Film, SKC Films, and Toray Films.


The BOPET demand forecast from AMI Consulting is for 10-billion lb by 2020, a CAGR of 6% from 2015-2020, but growth in some developing countries will be well above the average. “The industry will continue to bring value-added opportunities but to maintain market power, industry players need to anticipate change and formulate response strategies quickly and direct R&D investment accordingly,” Babits said.


Let a Cobot Hand You a Beer

By: Matthew H. Naitove 13. September 2016

So-called “collaborative” robots (or “cobots”) are supposed to be safe and easy to get along with—no need to wall them off in their own guarded areas.


Just how easygoing cobots can be will be given new meaning at this month’s K 2016 show in Dusseldorf, at the exhibit of Dr. Boy GmbH & Co., German parent of Boy Machines Inc., Exton, Pa. A vertical Boy 35 EVV press will mold, label, fill, and serve beer glasses with the help of two obliging cobots from Universal Robots USA, Inc. (UR) of Denmark (U.S. office in E. Setauket, N.Y.).


One six-axis, articulated UR cobot will demold the glasses (something you probably haven’t seen one of these cobots do before) and place them in a labeling station to receive one of seven different images. A second UR cobot then places the glasses on a conveyor belt—empty—for visitors to take with them.


If you’re not satisfied with an empty beer glass, open a page on your smartphone using a QR code on the Boy press and enter your data into an input screen. The first UR cobot then receives the command to label a glass with a QR code containing your specific data. The second QR cobot then takes that specific glass from the internal transfer station and fills it with beer. You are then offered the filled glass, which you can easily take directly from the cobot’s gripper in a transfer area with no safety fence. How’s that for friendly?


(Note: the QR code on your glass also contains a variety of production data that can be retrieved from the Boy database.)


Science Shows How Colors Affect Us

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 12. September 2016

Take a look at our September special supplement “Do You Do Color Right?”, and do explore on color science and so much more.


Okay, okay! So, editors tend to be among the population of nerds, those of us in the trade press perhaps even more (and plastics and composites reporters in particular). But, as a listener of podcasts while I take lengthy walks on Connecticut shores or while working out, I can tell you that I’m always learning something.


Sometimes I’m disappointed, but more often than not, I’m ecstatic and end up looking for further information on a particular issue or topic. In the spirit of ‘peace’, and I am a peaceful person, I will not mention politics. However, it is through a couple of interesting podcasts that address politics and science that I heard about


Okay…so they are not free (some are pretty costly), but not much is these days. But you might want to check out “How Colors Affect You: What Science Reveals”. It’s a $27.95 video download with six lectures delivered by design expert and University of Houston Professor William Lidwell who explores:


  • The history, science, and cultural importance of the six universal colors
  • How our brains have evolved to respond to colors without our conscious awareness
  • The key experiments that have shaped our understanding of how colors work
  • Ways to more effectively apply the science of color to achieve your personal or professional goals for a space.


The course will reportedly open your eyes to why your favorite products practically jump off the shelf; why certain logs are more memorable than others; why particular scenes in nature evoke peace, joy, or fear; and much more.


PT, released this month a supplement, “Do You Do Color Right?” Check out the column introducing it by my colleague, editorial director and assistant publisher Jim Callari. He starts it with: Color. Is it art? Science? Some of both?


Just last week, I blogged about the BASF Color Excellence Group and how they strived to come up with 2020 automotive colors by global region. I think I’d love that job as they travel to-and-from to come up with their ‘scientific’ predictions.


So, back to color course. It appears that scientists are uncovering secrets on how colors, beyond aesthetics, work on our eyes and our brain…how they influence the way we think, feel, and behave—often without our conscious awareness. The course description describes this as an exciting time in the scientific study of how colors affect us. It points out that knowing how colors affect us informs how we tap into their powers to create environments and achieve a breathtaking range of visual goals. Moreover, it lets us strike down popular myths and misconceptions about color that can easily lead businesses and companies to make costly mistakes.  Here are some examples:


• Black uniforms tend to increase aggression and intimidation in conflict situations.


• Red ties can give you an edge in confrontational negotiations, while blue ties can express a desire to collaborate.


• Fire trucks increasingly are painted yellow because that’s the color most visible to our eyes.


• Aligning the right colors to products, brands, and ads can make or break a business’s success.


• Pink rooms will not calm aggressive prisoners or sap the strength of opposing teams.


• Yellow walls in the nursery will not cause babies to cry more often.


• Blue tableware of kitchen walls will not suppress your appetite (although food that’s dyed blue certainly will).


Graphite-Filled PP Combines Flexibility and Conductivity

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 9. September 2016

This new approach boosts mechanical properties while maintaining electrical conductivity.


Germany’s Institute of Plastics Processing (IKV), along with Skilled Crafts at RWTH Aachen University, has been developing a new approach for the production of graphite-filled PP compounds, which thus far, appear to combine flexibility with high electrical conductivity.


The researchers claim the new, highly-filled thermoplastic compound boasts significant advantages over currently used materials, including reduced brittleness, longer service life in the fuel cell, and low reject rates.


The research project’s goal is to improve the compound’s mechanical properties compared to existing materials while maintaining the same electrical conductivity. Researchers first produced a blend of PP and an elastomer in order to boost the matrix material’s elasticity, and then incorporated a mixture of selected, electrically-conductive graphite fillers.


The researchers aimed to keep the filler content as low as possible while ensuring the necessary electrical conductivity for the particular applications. They demonstrated the potential usability of the new compounds by producing bipolar plates for fuel cells.


Together with various project partners, IKV is moving on with the development of a process in which the conductive part of the bipolar plate is compression molded from the highly-filled compounds, then overmolded by injection molding, and finally joined to form a composite part.


They stress that it is important that the bipolar plates be welded securely to one another to ensure that they are gas-tight, and also that process reliability and high efficiency are ensured. This joining technology is being systematically developed at IKV. The composite material is subsequently tested in the fuel cell under conditions likely to be encountered in practice.


This joint project is financed by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) over a period of years. The other partners are Allod Werkstoff, Burgbenheim, Calorplast Warmetechnik, Krefeld, Eisenhuth, Osterode am Harz, Kessen Maschinebau, Essen bei Oldenburg, Leibniz Institute for Polymer Research, Dresden, and Protech in Pfullingen.


Are You in the Mood to Extrude?

By: Jim Callari 7. September 2016

You will be once you check out the program for Plastics Technology’s Extrusion 2016 Conference.


Registration is now open to the premier annual event devoted to all things extrusion.


Plastics Technology’s Extrusion 2016 Conference will be held Dec. 6-8 at the Le Méridien Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C. It’s PT’s second annual all-extrusion event. Last year’s was a barnburner, with more than 350 attendees. We’re expecting a bigger crowd this year, and have upgraded the accommodations accordingly.


You can check out the agenda by clicking on this link. You’ll be able to investigate the various topics that will be covered, as well as the speaker and his or her background. You’ll notice that this year’s conference—like the one held in 2015—combines General Extrusion sessions with tracks that drill down to your specific process.


The program kicks off the afternoon of Tuesday Dec. 6 with a General Extrusion session. Another General Extrusion session will be held the morning of Wednesday Dec. 7. Then after lunch, four concurrent track sessions will be held on Compounding, Film, Sheet and Pipe/Profile/Tubing. The program on Thursday, Dec. 8 is set up the exact same way as Wednesday.


Over the course of two-and-a-half days, you’ll have access to more than 80 presentations and a tabletop exhibit area featuring more than 50 of the extrusion industry’s leading suppliers.


I’d advise you to please register now as slots will fill quickly for this unprecedented networking event. Pricing details are available here. To register, click on this link. And lock in your hotel room now here to avoid being shut out.


Get in the mood to extrude. Join us in Charlotte. 


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