Technical Manual &Test Methods For In-Mold Label Technology Now Available

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 5. November 2014

What appears to be a unique publication, “In-Mold Label Technical Manual & Test Methods” has just been released by The Netherlands’ Alexander Watson Associates (AWA), a 44-year specialist firm in label and product decoration research and consultancy, with a focus on the specialty film, paper, packaging, coating and converting sector.


According to AWA, the new $85 manual (quantity discounts are available), is a first-of-a-kind project, which provides a compilation of a broad set of widely accepted standards. This first edition contains test methods, and will be added to accordingly in subsequent editions. Included are test methods for surface tension of plastic films; test methods of inks and coatings, such as adhesive coat weight for plastic films, adhesive coating uniformity, basic and advanced ink adhesion, and chemical resistance; and, test methods for printed labels such as die-cut label dimensions, label flatness, and electrostatic charging of labels. There is also a segment on label storage and packaging recommendations.


In-mold labels are a niche and growing labeling technology, which offer exciting opportunities to designers, material suppliers, converters, packaging technologists, and all involved in the value chain of their conversion and use. AWA says its new manual provides a cornerstone for improving the understanding of the basic characteristics that ensure the use of this unique product decoration technology.


PLA Supplier Gets Grant To Explore Biomethane As Feedstock

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 3. November 2014

The Bioenergy Technologies Office of the Department of Energy (DOE) has just awarded a grant to NatureWorks, Minnetonka, Minn., one of the world’s leading PLA suppliers, and Calysta Energy of Menlo Park, Calif., which has been developing new Biological Gas-to-Liquids and Biological Gas-to-Chemicals technologies using methane as a new feedstock for high value chemicals and transportation fuels with reportedly cost and performance advantages over current processes.

            The $2.5-million multi-year grant will support the two firms’ ongoing program that aims to sequester and use methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as a feedstock for NatureWorks’ Ingeo PLA biopolymers and intermediates. It will bolster the joint effort to meet the specific goal of transforming, via new and advanced fermentation processes, renewable biomethane into lactic acid, the building block for PLA.

            This R&D collaboration with Calysta addresses NatureWorks’ strategic interests in feedstock diversification and a structurally-simplified, lower-cost Ingeo production platform and leverages Calysta’s Biological Gas-to-Chemicals platform for biological conversion of methane to high-value chemicals. For NatureWorks, methane could become an additional feedstock several generations removed from the simple plant sugars used today in a lactic acid fermentation process at the company’s Blair, Nebraska Ingeo production facility.

Calysta has demonstrated lab-scale production of lactic acid from methane, a major milestone in the project, and the company expects to complete fundamental R&D within the next couple of years, enabling pilot production within three-to-five years.

            A greenhouse gas that is 20 times more harmful than CO2, methane is generated by the natural decomposition of plant materials and is a component of natural gas. Biomethane refers specifically to renewably sourced methane produced from such activities as waste-water treatment, decomposition within landfills, farm wastes, and anaerobic digestion. If successful, the technology could directly produce lactic acid from any of these methane sources.

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.


Global Lactic Acid Producer Plans To Enter PLA Business

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 2. November 2014

Dutch global producer of lactic acid and lactides Corbion Purac (U.S. office in Lenexa, Kansas) has its sights on becoming a PLA producer. Cobion’s CEO Tjerk de Ruiter recently commented that as part of the company’s strategic review, they have confirmed that the demand outlook for PLA is attractive, though at a lower growth pace than assumed previously.

            “Given our strong position in lactic acid, our unique high-heat technology and the market need for a second PLA producer, we plan to forward integrate in the bioplastics value chain, from being a lactide provider to a PLA producer,” says deRuiter. Corbion’s plan is to invest in a 75 kTpa (over 165 million/lb) PLA plant in Thailand, but de Ruiter says that they will only move ahead is they can secure at least one-third of plant capacity in committed PLA volumes from customers. He also says that Corbion will continue to explore strategic alliances as part of its PLA growth strategy, in order to enhance business opportunities while mitigating associated risks,

            Corbion will continue to sell lactides to both existing and new PLA polymerization customers. Many of the company’s existing polymerization customers have already built successfully a strong local presence and distribution channel, with great market coverage, according to de Ruiter. Woldwide PLA capacity is nearly sold out and with the PLA market expected to reach 600 kTpa (13 billion lbs) by 2025, the market is seeking additional PLA suppliers, he says.  

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.


Advancements Discussed At Plating-On-Plastic Summit

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 31. October 2014

Earlier this month, specialty chemicals supplier MacDermid Industrial Solutions, Waterbury, Conn., hosted a two-day Plating-On-Plastic (POP) summit at the impressive Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich. MacDermid specializes in surface finishing, pretreatments and is a leader in POP technology for the automotive, electronic, aerospace, plumbing and other industries.


The company updated attendees on the latest advancements in POP technology. Included is the company’s new Electrolac UV process. It allows for curing a colored lacquer by UV instead of at high temperatures so that the coatings can be used effectively on plastics. POP advances in double-shot molding, and a qualification process for decorative fashion finishes were also discussed. Of particular interest were presentations on molding and plastics by Mitch Gordon, OEM account manager at Synventive Molding Solutions, Livonia, Mich., and Brian Grosser, business director USA/Mexico of Samsung Chemical USA, Detroit, respectively. A round table discussion with officials from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors was another highlight on the topic.


The decorative or functional applications of plating metal on plastic substrates is accomplished with the electroplating process. Before electroplating, plastics need to be metalized which is achieved by etching the surface to provide a tough bond and then coating the roughened surface with traces of a precious metal. Nickel and chromium are the most commonly applied, normally called ‘chrome plating’ or ‘plastic chrome plating’. This coating provides both technical and aesthetic benefits and can be applied to meet the criteria of a broad range of applications.


For example, highly-visible and corrosion-resistant exterior automotive components are often chrome plated plastics, which provide a lower weight option to metal components. Plastic chrome plating has also been found to be ideal for sanitary fittings that require a durable and wear-resistant coating to resist the humid bathroom environment. Similarly, electronic devices often benefit from EMI-RFI shielding of sensitive electronic components for which plating on plastic can be ideal.


MacDermid also discussed its latest innovation in hex-chrome-free pretreatment. Called evolve the new process is an acid-based solution that allows for etching of plastics without chromium trioxide, permanganate, or PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate)--a substance that has been traditionally used as a mist suppressant in hexavalent chrome processes and which is being banned as it is considered a substance of high concern (SVHC). The evolve process requires no extra process tanks or processing times when compared to conventional metallization cycles. MacDermid revealed that it is currently in production, meeting automotive specifications and demonstrating outstanding adhesion.

Don’t Let Your New Strategy Succumb to Your Old Culture

By: Tony Deligio 29. October 2014

U.S. Army Col. Fred Gellert shared that insight and others in a presentation that distilled some key leadership principles from his coursework as an instructor at the U.S. Army War College, where he is the director of force management studies. Speaking at SPI’s Equipment and Moldmakers Leadership Summit (Tucson, Ariz., Oct. 26-28), Gellert asked attendees to think about the environment into which they introduce a new strategic vision for a company.


“Culture eats strategy for lunch every time,” Gellert said. “You can have the best plans and the best strategy, but if the culture of the organization isn't right, none of that is going to matter over the long term because the existing culture will slowly erode away what you're trying to do.”


Companies interested in changing their culture, particularly as a means to support a new strategy, should consider what Gellert called embedding mechanisms and reinforcing mechanisms. The former involves who and what you promote in your leadership role, while the latter deals with processes that support those goals.


“Embedding is the most important,” Gellert noted. “What culture are you putting into the organization?” It’s also important to understand that cultures within a company aren’t typically monolithic, with potential sub cultures impacting strategy in different ways. How does manufacturing interact with sales and sales interact with accounting, for example. Do they represent distinct cultures within the greater company? “Do the manufacturing guys think like the sales people or like the budget people,” Gellert asked. “How connected are they as an organization?”


The title of the presentation was “Leading and Managing Change in a VUCA World,” wherein VUCA, which was coined in the military, stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. With his students, Gellert stresses the ongoing battle that is management, a concept that can be difficult to understand.


“The solutions of today, cause the problems of tomorrow,” Gellert said. “When we solve something today, almost invariably it sets us up for the problems of tomorrow. Managers want to knock down the target, they want to solve the problem, but the complexity of this is tough.”


Assessing those problems requires intelligence and data gathering, which poses its own obstacles. “Ambiguity….we get all kinds of intelligence, but what does it mean; what connects to what; what is the right interpretation; and what direction should we head to go in?”


Gellert simplified the concept of strategic intelligence into three keys; get the information, make the correct interpretation, and, most importantly, believe the information. “History is replete with examples where we had the information but didn't believe the interpretation,” Gellert said.


Finally, Gellert told attendees to push their companies to not only be proactive to their environment but take a hand in creating an environment that supports your goals.


“Shaping the environment is at least as important as responding to it,” Gellert said. “Try to put some focus into how you get ahead of things,” he explained, adding that companies should ask what parts of their organization don’t have to be as worried about today and can try to look forward. “When the future is unclear, invest in leader development, intelligence and a reserve.”

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