K 2016: Day Two Show Report

By: Heather Caliendo 20. October 2016

All 19 halls of the Düsseldorf Exhibition Centre are fully booked at K 2016 so clearly there's a ton to see at the show. But the Plastics Technology staff has you covered as several of us are here for the entire show run. With Day Two of K 2016 just wrapping up, check out the video below where Plastics Technology Editorial Director Jim Callari discusses some of the trends in extrusion that he's seeing at K 2016.

Spotlight On 3D Printing at K 2016

By: Heather Caliendo 20. October 2016


During K 2013, Arburg captured everyone’s attention with its novel Freeformer machine for additive manufacturing. We’ll find out soon what will be the next showstopper, but in the meantime, here’s a preview of some cool and innovative 3D printing technologies that you’ll see at K. See you in Dusseldorf!


3D fab+print
Be sure to check out the 3D fab+print presentations, which are organized and managed by MMesse Düsseldorf North America in cooperation with its partner KCI Publishing BV. In-depth presentations and discussions about the topic will be held in two half-day conferences to take place on October 20 and October 25 from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm.


The 3D fab+print Summits will further focus on developments in materials as well as on the different methods used in the processes of additive manufacturing, including best practices, scenarios, market potentials and costs. Contributions by manufacturers as Stratasys, Inc., Arburg GmbH & Co KG, Proto Labs, Inc. and EnvisionTec, as well as by experts from the fields of research and science, will ensure a wide variety of perspectives. Each of the 30-minute presentations will be structured as short talks, followed by question-and-answer sessions.


You also have to check out the “Wolfgang’” FabBus parked in front of Hall 3 during K 2016. As part of EU funding project, the double-decker bus was converted into a mobile laboratory by GoetheLab of the Aachen University of Applied Sciences (see picture at bottom).


“Wolfgang” will bring the latest scientific findings in the field of additive manufacturing straight from the laboratory to the exhibition center, making the technology understandable and accessible. The FabBus' lower deck is designed as a showroom with exhibits and components manufactured using all the usual methods of additive manufacturing. The upper deck features eight workplaces with CAD computers and 3D printers for visitors to design and print their own objects.


Some highlights from exhibitors:
At this year’s K-Show, Stratasys (Hall 4/C55) will showcase how companies like Unilever, HASCO, Berker and many more are enjoying savings in both cost and time across their manufacturing operations by incorporating Stratasys technology into their injection molding process.


In addition, the recently-launched J750 3D Printer—the world’s only 3D printer to produce full color, multi-material prototypes and parts in a single 3D print—will demonstrate  the capability to quickly and cost-effectively produce molds in ABS.


Wacker will showcase a reported “world’s first” at K 2016: the first industrial 3D printer for silicones (see picture at top). The high-tech device—called ACEO Imagine Series K—will be in operation in Hall 6/A10 throughout the entire tradeshow. Up to now, there is no mature 3D printing technology available for silicones. Wacker believes this process marks a milestone in additive manufacturing.


A new development collaboration between Airbus Group Innovations, LSS Laser Sinter Service and Lehmann&Voss&Co. has been launched to bring ThermoMELT, a new 3D printing process developed by Airbus Group Innovations. This technology is said to reduce the cost of producing with high performance polymers, and allow new high performance polymers to be used, by lowering required sintering temperatures. German service bureau Rauch CNC will also join this collaboration as a partner for testing ThermoMELT and to ensure it fulfills market requirements.


ThermoMELT allows the production of parts using high performance materials in slightly modified commercial SLS machines that are already in the market. These modifications will provide better thermal and laser control to the system. Furthermore, ThermoMELT also significantly reduces the thermal aging effects during the manufacturing process, increasing recyclability and reducing costs compared to standard additive layer manufacturing techniques.  


This collaboration will bring the ThermoMELT process to a commercial level allowing the use of high-performance materials in additive manufacturing. Lehmann&Voss&Co. will present insights of the THERMOMELT process in Hall 8A/G33.


K2016 Reporter’s Notebook: Materials News

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. October 2016


Celanese to offer PEEK, TPE; SABIC eyes new Gulf Coast facility; Covestro displays automotive, electronics innovations; and Baerlocher launches heat stabilizer for recycled resins.


Celanese: Will Offer High-Flow PEEK; Expands Portfolio into TPE More With So.F.TER. Deal
Celanese Engineered Materials opened the show with big news beyond the fairground’s halls, announcing that by year's end it will have entered into the TPE business via the acquisition of Italy's So.F.TER. The company will also expand its engineering plastics portfolio with the latter's reinforced PP, nylons 6 and 66, PBT, PC/ABS, ABS, PC, PS, SAN and PPE compounds.



Beyond that, the company announced it will enter into the PEEK market, with a special high-flow product. This is new enough the company still has no brand name but still launched at the K. Celanese representatives said they plan to use their LCP expertise for complex PEEK geometric shapes targeting under hood automotive and electronics applications, among others.


In addition, Celanese is launching its first ever flexible Fortron PPS for applications like cable ties for materials handling, agriculture equipment and auto. These will compete with nylon cable ties, with Celanese stating PPS boasts better heat resistance.



The company is also now sampling brand new high-flow Celstran LFT grades. These are initially PP-based but other polymers can be used. Celanese believes these will be ideal for instrument and front end panels in automotive.


Covestro: Electric Concept Car Boasts Seamless PC Glazing/Lighting Integration
Among the various new technologies touted at K2016 by Covestro LLC was a the new electric concept car, featuring a wrap-around glazing made of transparent PC. Designed to give drivers better all-around visibility, the concept vehicle also featured an entirely new lighting concept. One key stressed by the material supplier was seamless integration of the PC body with the PC lighting structure. The rear of the vehicle also featured an eye-catching holographic lighting function. The extremely thin design with PC backlights and LED technology is said to be a “first”.



Covestro also touched on interesting 3D printing technology across several industries. Within athletics, the company discussed opportunities in footwear, with Covestro officials seeing that space as the most rapidly developing in terms of commercial additive manufacturing. At this time, Fused Filament Fabrication (FFD) is being applied with TPU and PC filaments.


The company also discussed a new steering wheel production process. Eliminating spray painting, the application is injection molded from PC or PC/ABS, and in one shot within the same mold a PUR coating is integrated.


In electronics, Covestro showcased a PC sheet impregnated with continuous carbon fiber as a next-generation laptop housing. Applicable for mass production, Covestro says the ultra-thin housings, which are rated UL94 V0 below 1 mm, feature good stiffness.



SABIC: Plans to Partner With ExxonMobil on Gulf Coast Plant; Automotive Innovations
SABIC officials confirm they are evaluating, in conjunction with an ExxonMobil affiliate, the building of a petrochemical and derivatives complex, including polyolefins, either in Texas or Louisiana.


By end of 2017, SABIC will produce glass-fiber-reinforced polyacetal which will be sold globally for applications in automotive, building/construction and more. Standing out at its stand is a New Scania truck, which features 30 different applications that utilize SABIC materials. These include:


  • A Cycoloy PC/ABS instrument panel
  • Stamax long-glass filled PP storage boxes, mounting panels and guiding rails
  • A Xenoy PC/PBT upper side step panel and mud guards



In addition, Sabic touted an industry-first use of plastic in body-in-white (BIW) reinforcement without adhesives or foams in the 2017 Jeep Renogade. This hybrid plastic-metal solution is directly welded to the rocker. Part of the floor rocker reinforcement is made of GTX 910 PPE/nylon 6.



Other eye-catching displays:


  • A 3D-printed airline seat made from Ultem PEI filament
  • A new Udmax fiber-reinforced thermoplastic tape portfolio (initially in PP but carbon fiber PC and glass nylon coming soon).


Baerlocher: Proprietary Heat Stabilizer for Recycled Materials
Baerlocher has developed a proprietary heat stabilizer technology called Baeropol RST for stabilization of recycled and recycled content materials. Sold under the product name Baeropol T-Blends, it is primarily aimed at polyolefins but is also said to look promising for PS, nylons and polyacetal.


In the metallic stearate family, the RST component of the new heat stabilizer blends can either totally eliminate phosphites or reduce their use due to RST's synergy. Unlike phosphites, Baerlocher says the RST technology has no solubility limitations and no plate out or gels in high speed extrusion. This allows greater use of RST, which also cost less than phosphites. Moreover, it promotes improved colorability, with better whiteness and less yellowing.


Commodity Engineering Resin Production, Consumption Shifts to Asia

18. October 2016


Supply/demand in balance for PC, nylon 66; overcapacity looms large for ABS, nylon 6.


A mixed bag reflects the market outlook for the four large-volume commodity engineering resins—ABS, PC, nylon 6 and nylon 66. At this year’s Global Plastics Summit (GPS 2016), co-hosted by IHS Markit and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. Paul Blanchard (pictured) IHS Markit’s senior director for engineering plastics tackled this subject. Here’s a look at key takeaways from his presentation.



• Global ABS demand needs to catch up to capacity additions.

• Lower prices can be had from North American suppliers.

• ABS consumption is mainly in Asia—83%.

• Asian ABS suppliers are selling at near variable breakeven cost.

• Capacity overhang in key Asian market restrains operating rates and profit margins.

• Global prices to remain under downward pressure.

• Supply/demand balance will improve with modest demand growth.



• PC rationalization of plants in the U.S., Singapore, Japan and Brazil reset the supply/demand balance in 2016. This, from the overcapacity of 2011-12.

• Tighter supply allows PC suppliers to recover cost increases in the near term.

• North American PC operating rates are pretty high; suppliers gain margin for near term.

• Entry of new Chinese companies is a game-changing development.


Nylon 6

• Nylon 6 fiber continues to be “king”, accounting for 66% of consumption.

• China now producing 58% of nylon fiber globally, with most consumption in Asia.

• China’s drive for self-sufficiency is adding capacity well ahead of global demand; this impacts trade patterns.

• Falling exports to Asia are reducing operating rates in North America and Europe.

• Caprolactam plant closures in U.S. and Germany are removing excess capacity.

• Pricing for nylon 6 pricing rising in North America and expected to fall in Asia.


Nylon 66

• Global demand for Nylon 66 is balanced and well managed—so far new capacity is tracking demand.

• Operating rates for nylon 66 are in the 80s% range vs. nylon 6 which are at a dismal 60% range.

• Closely-held adiponitrile technology supports high industry concentration; technology barriers to new entrants.

• Performance overlap with nylon 6 in engineering applications.

• Startup of Invista Shanghai plant in 2016 offset by the closure of Invista Chattanooga plant.

• Price trend is upwards.

Key Takeways from IHS Markit Pros on PE, PP Outlooks

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 17. October 2016


The polyolefins presentations at GPS 2016 signal better times for processors in terms of pricing leverage, options.


The fourth annual Global Plastics Summit (GPS 2016) co-hosted by IHS Markit and SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association provided a comprehensive view of the ever-changing global plastics industry, as well as perspectives from across the supply chain.


The well-attended summit included presentations from IHS Markit experts on the outlook for key commodity thermoplastics including engineering resins. Here are key takeaways from the PE and PP presentations, starting each with a focus on the North American market followed by global outlooks.


A New Era for Polyethylene, presented by global business director plastics & polyolefins Nick Vafiadis. Vafiadis sees the North American PE market continuing to be characterized by competitive production economics, high operating rates, and both domestic and export demand growth. However, he also pointed to the changes that are emerging that will impact the market differently than 2016:


• Near-term capacity additions…..

• Braskem Idesa + Ineos Sasol + Nova Chemicals=2 million m.t (4.41 billion lbs)  in 2016.

• ExxonMobil + CP Chem +Dow= 3.2 million m.t. (7 billion lbs) by end of 2017.

• Some 2017 contracts are already reflecting increased discounts.

• Arbitrage is playing enhanced role in North American PE prices.

• Expect increased competition to trim suppliers’ margins as buyers gain options and leverage.


Vafiadis summed up key takeaways for the global PE outlook this way:


• Global demand growth outpaces GDP.

• Potential for record growth overcapacity during 2016-2018.

• Capacity overhang may dampen prices and margins as cost-competitive regions compete for global market share.

• Regional prices move toward netback parity as competition ramps up.

• Price and margin impact dampened if significant new-start delays develop.

• PE buyers increase purchasing leverage during 2017-2018.

• 5 million m.t. of new North American capacity in 2016/2017.


“Global PP: How Does Near-Term Oversupply in Asia Affect the Rest of the World? Have Global Producer Margins Peaked”, presented by senior director Joel Morales, started with the immediate outlook:


Not so good for PP suppliers; getting better for PP buyers; and, suppliers’ margins have indeed peaked! For the North American market, Morales’s key takeaways include:


• ‘Golden Goose’ of suppliers’ profit margin flushed out in 2016.

• Massive influx of imports sets a floor for most competitive segments like film and fiber.

• Pace of debottlenecking accelerates and domestic suppliers need to push out imports to run at full rates in 2017; opposite of 2015.

• Reinvestment economics for greenfield projects questionable though current margins on mostly depreciated assets exceptional.

• Growth for 2017 expected at near 4.5%; overall growth 2016-2021, a steady 2.8%.


Morales’ global PP market takeaways include:


• Timing of new Chinese capacity start-ups is likely the single biggest factor over the next 18 months.

• Global net exporters such as the Middle East and South Korea will continue to focus on alternative markets.

• Naphtha-based PP suppliers continue to benefit from the low-priced oil environment that allows for higher local production rates.

• Global non-integrated margins are in decline from this point forward; only PDH (referring to on-purpose propylene hydrogenation) operators benefit with slight oil-price recovery through the forecast period 2016-2021.

• North American PP pricing ‘experiment’ concluded and imports to remain a price ceiling.

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