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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 Synvective 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.

Expanded NPE3D Pavilion Announced By SPI

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 24. October 2014

It is no surprise that we heard from SPI earlier this week that there will be an expanded NPE3D pavilion at NPE2015, taking place March 23-27 at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.  With 18 companies already on board to display technologies for 3D printing, show management has expanded this special section by eight more booths. Says Brad Williams, SPI’s director of sales and marketing, “From toolmakers to processors to brand owners, many in the plastics industry have a need to know about recent developments in 3D printing. NPE2015 will provide the marketplace an opportunity to discuss this technology, its current applications, and the future possibilities. A related NPE3D conference track with six presentations will be part of SPI’s Business of Plastics Conference co-located with the show.

 

Among the pavilion’s highlights will be the new Objet500 Connex1 multi-material 3D printer which will be demonstrated by Stratasys. This machine can product parts from three materials in a single production run. As such, users can create assemblies with components formed from three different materials, or components that contain both rigid and flexible materials. Stratasys will also highlight plastics it has developed for 3D printing. “Materials are the most important component in 3D printing. That’s why Stratasys continues to expand our portfolio of thermoplastics and photopolymers, including four color photopolymers,” says public affairs manager Joe Hiemenz.

The companies that have signed up to exhibit are:

  •  Advanced RP, Inc. 3D printers and printing services.
  •  B3D
  •  Burteck LLC. Injection moldmaking.
  •  Comdec Inc./SMI. Contract printing.
  •  Forecast 3D. 3D equipment, materials, services.
  •  Geometric Ltd. Engineering services and software.
  •  Global Precision Industries. Rapid manufacturing systems, prototyping, toolmaking.
  •  Guangzhou Seal Mould Co., Ltd. Rapid prototyping and toolmaking.
  •  Interpro. 3D printing, rapid manufacturing, prototyping, injection molding.
  •  JG&A Metrology Center. 3D internal part inspection services.
  •  Linear Mold & Engineering. Rapid manufacturing, prototyping and toolmaking.
  •  MHS—Mold Hotrunner Solutions. Molds, dies, tooling.
  •  Polyone Corp. Specialized polymer materials.
  •  Rapid Prototype & Manufacturing (RP&M). 3D printing, prototyping, rapid manufacturing.
  •  Redeye, by Stratasys. 3D printing, rapid manufacturing, prototyping, toolmaking.
  •  Shanghai Xiesheng Machinery Mfg. Co., Ltd. Extrusion systems.
  •  Stratasys. 3D printing equipment, materials, software.
  •  3M Advanced Materials Division. Engineered materials and additives.

 

Some Highlights From Global Plastics Summit 2014

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 21. October 2014

Early this month, I was at the very interesting and exceptionally well-attended 2014 Global Plastics Summit (GPS) hosted by IHS and SPI in Chicago, which addressed the industry’s challenges and opportunities. In addition to the informative commodity resin analyses and outlooks presented by top IHS pros, presenters included resin producers, processors and manufacturers and, there was a focus across key markets including, packaging, automotive, healthcare and medical. Here are some highlights:

 

• IHS sees continued good economic growth in 2015. North American gas supply is plentiful and low cost and a continued wide disparity between oil and gas prices is projected.

 

• Will converters benefit yet from shale gas development? This will take some time to trickle down from lower energy costs, but productivity is up in end-use plastic markets. IHS and SPI cite wages, productivity growth and lower energy costs as key drivers for competitiveness.

 

• Planned new ethylene capacity is now about a year behind and planned 2017 new PE capacity is not likely to show up until 2018, according to Nova Chemical’s Chris Bezaire, senior v.p, PE business. At that point, he says converters will have greater supply options, redundancy, more price leverage, less supply disruptions. He also noted that Nova is very concerned about PE demand destruction and was a reluctant follower of the September PE price hike.

 

• Also concerned about opportunity destruction due to high commodity resin prices were speakers representing leading North American flexible packaging and rigid packaging manufacturers Bemis Company and BWAY Corp., respectively. They addressed growth opportunities and threats for plastics, noting that cost is a key driver in material selection, but also noted that supply availability is crucial, citing tight supplies.

 

They described pricing of commodity resins, particularly PE, to be “irrational” over the last two years, and called for more public education to overcome negative perception of plastics. Bemis sees lots of opportunity for both metal and paper replacement in the food packaging arena. BWAY sees a “good news story” in terms of the conversion that has taken place in the consumer rigid packaging market, and a “bad news story” which is the return to alternative packaging due to higher resin prices.

 

•  Among some of the IHS experts’ resin pricing outlooks are:

 

PE

• Demand growth of 4.4%/yr or 1.2 times that of GDP.

• Most of the planned PE capacity will materialize, but with delays.

• There has not been one reduction in PE contract prices in the past 2 years, which is unprecedented, and it may go to 3 years.

• Flat prices are projected for remainder of the year, with “roughly” flat prices through 2015.

 

PP

•World PP capacity is more than adequate but North America will continue to have a “sellers” market because of tight supplies till 2017, when planned on-purpose propylene plants will start to make an impact.

• North America’s dependence on PP imports is growing—double in 2014 to that of 2008. Imported Asian pellets and finished goods like BOPP will continue as new PP capacity is not likely to be on stream until after 2017.

• PP prices are projected to stay high until capacity expansions come to fruition.

 

PET

• World PET capacity is long and will continue long, making suppliers’ resin margins short or non-existent.

• America is “getting healthy” and this is killing the PET carbonated soft drinks (CSD) market, while PET water bottles use under half of the PET of CSD bottles, driving operating rates to under 75%.

• In 2014, virgin PET suppliers lost volume to RPET, PET imports and APET sheet imports.

• Significant new PET North American capacity coming on stream next year may have to be exported unless there is a dramatic domestic demand increase.

• PET prices are projected to be relatively flat for 2015.

 

PVC

•  Global PVC construction market is expanding. In the Americas, it’s a healthy 3.8%.

• Low-cost feedstocks, along with construction market demand, are key drivers to PVC’s upsurge in the U.S.

• PVC prices are likely to be higher in the coming years.

• Supply/demand balance to improve; 3%/yr growth in demand projected.

 

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

 

 

More Details On The Big Area Additive Manufacturing (BAAM) Project

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 27. September 2014

 

As I discussed in an earlier blog this week, the launch of Cincinnati Inc.’s prototype Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine (BAAM) made a big splash at the recent IMTS show in Chicago, and further development of what is already an impressive machine is underway.

 

A couple more interesting tidbits about BAAM were passed onto me by my colleague Jim Callari. One is that Dri-Air Industries furnished the dryers for the carbon fiber reinforced ABS that was used for the Strati car project that was produced during IMTS. The other is that a well-known authority in plastics processing and machinery  designed the screw for the project. The original screw used was generating 10 lb/hr but the new design from this pro boosted BAAM’s output to 35-40 lb/hr, as noted in the earlier blog. This pro has also signed up to design and build new extruders for this evolving project.

 

As reported previously, BAAM resulted from the formation of the company’s partnership earlier this year with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to develop a large-scale additive manufacturing system. The partners aim: to introduce significant new capabilities to the U.S. machine tool sector which supplies manufacturing technology to automotive, aerospace, appliance, and robotic industries.

 

The prototype machine uses the chassis and drives of Cincinnati Inc.’s gantry-style laser cutting systems at the base, and incorporates a high-speed cutting tool, pellet feed mechanism, and control software. Cincinnati Inc.’s market development manager Rick Neff explained to me how the company participated with Local Motors, Sabic and ORNL to take on the challenge to 3D print a car during the IMTS trade show.

 

Printing started on Sunday morning at 7 am, and by 6 am Tuesday, they had printed the main structure of the car including the frame, seats, cockpit, hood and tail in one 1000-lb piece. The rough part was then taken to a Thermwood Router where the surfaces that needed to be accurately machined smooth were routed smooth.

 

On Wednesday through Saturday morning, the Local Motors crew attached a drive train, suspension, steering wheel, instruments, brakes and some trim to complete the car. The car, named Strati (Italian for layers), uses a drive train from Renault that is employed in the European Twizy City Car. “Right on schedule at 9 am Saturday, we fired up the Strati and drove it out of the show…the reaction from the crowd and the press was overwhelming,” says Neff.

 

Here is some key information Neff provided about BAAM:

 

• The machine extrudes hot thermoplastic to build parts layer-by-layer, similar to an FDM machine.

• BAAM’s extrusion rates are very high—in the neighborhood of 35 lb/hr, which is reportedly hundreds of times faster than typical rapid prototyping 3D printers.

• The material for Strati is ABS with carbon fiber reinforcement formulated right into the plastic. Carbon fiber reinforced ABS is readily available for about $7/lb.

• The layer thickness is 0.160”.

• The build envelope on the prototype BAAM is 2m x 4m x 0.87m.

• The extruder can use quite a variety of thermoplastics and fiber reinforced thermoplastics. Neff says they have used ABS, PPS, PEKK, and PEI. Carbon fiber and glass fiber reinforcements have been used to improve strength and thermal stability of the parts.

 

Although a production version of BAAM is not yet ready for delivery, Neff confirms that the company is considering selling a very few alpha level machines to laboratories or companies who would like to do some basic research on the technology right now. He says, they are also willing to take orders for beta level and production machines that will be available in 2015 for customers who want to be the first in their industry to be using BAAM.

 

Big Area Additive Manufacturing Stars at IMTS

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. September 2014

At this year’s IMTS show in Chicago earlier this month, Cincinnati Inc., launched its prototype Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine (BAAM), which resulted from the formation of the company’s partnership earlier this year with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to develop a large-scale additive manufacturing system. One that would be capable of printing polymer components up to 10 times larger than what is currently producible, and at speeds 200-500 times faster than existing machines.

 

The partnership’s aim is to introduce significant new capabilities to the U.S. machine tool sector which supplies manufacturing technology to automotive, aerospace, appliance, and robotic industries. The prototype machine uses the chassis and drives of Cincinnati Inc.’s gantry-style laser cutting systems at the base, and incorporates a high-speed cutting tool, pellet feed mechanism, and control software.

 

Cincinnati Inc.’s market development manager Rick Neff explained to me how the company participated with Local Motors, Sabic, and ORNL to take on the challenge to 3D print a car during the IMTS trade show. “We started printing on Sunday morning at 7 am. We printed the main structure of the car including the frame, seats, cockpit, hood and tail in one 1000-lb piece by 6 am on Tuesday. We then took the rough part to a Thermwood Router where the surfaces that needed to be accurately machined smooth were routed smooth.”

On Wednesday through Saturday morning, the Local Motors crew attached a drive train, suspension, steering wheel, instruments, brakes and some trim to complete the car. The car, named Strati (Italian for layers), uses a drive train from Renault that is employed in the European Twizy City Car. “Right on schedule at 9 am Saturday, we fired up the Strati and drove it out of the show…the reaction from the crowd and the press was overwhelming,” says Neff.

 

Here is some key information Neff provided about BAAM:

 

• The machine extrudes hot thermoplastic to build parts layer-by-layer, similar to an FDM machine.

• BAAM’s extrusion rates are very high—in the neighborhood of 35 lb/hr, which is reportedly hundreds of times faster than typical rapid prototyping 3D printers.

• The material for Strati is ABS with carbon fiber reinforcement formulated right into the plastic. Carbon fiber reinforced ABS is readily available for about $7/lb.

• The layer thickness is 0.160”.

• The build envelope on the prototype BAAM is 2m x 4m x 0.87m.

• The extruder can use quite a variety of thermoplastics and fiber reinforced thermoplastics. Neff says they have used ABS, PPS, PEKK, and PEI. Carbon fiber and glass fiber reinforcements have been used to improve strength and thermal stability of the parts.

 

Although a production version of BAAM is not yet ready for delivery, Neff confirms that the company is considering selling a very few alpha level machines to laboratories or companies who would like to do some basic research on the technology right now. He says, they are also willing to take orders for beta level and production machines that will be available in 2015 for customers who want to be the first in their industry to be using BAAM. 




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