K Reporter’s Notebook, Materials: New PPAs; Styrenic-Based Thermoplastic Composites; and Additive Introductions

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 20. October 2016

BASF and DSM have introduced all new PPAs targeting automotive applications, while a modified SAN from INEOS is thought to be the first styrenic-based thermoplastic composite and Vertellus and Addivant introduce antioxidants and chain extenders, respectively.


BASF and DSM launch new PPAs for automotive applications.
BASF Corporation - Engineering Plastics's new Ultramid Advanced N PPA, which is designed for complex and compact electronic assemblies, is used in parts for the RN30 concept car being showcased by BASF and Hyundai. It can also be used in structural parts near the engine and the gearbox.


DSM's (in U.S. DSM Engineering Plastics North America) new ForTii Ace, is its third-generation ForTii PPA. Positioned as a replacement for die-cast metals and costlier engineering resins like PEEK, the PPA’s target applications include power train, transmission, chassis, and thermal management components.


Styrenic-Based Thermoplastic Composites
The new StyLight composites INEOS Styrolution (Ineos Styrenics in the U.S.) are believed to be the first styrenic-based thermoplastic composites available on the market, with mechanical properties that reportedly exceed nylon 6- and PC-based composites.


StyLight is based on a modified SAN and offered with both glass or carbon fiber fabrics for aesthetic/semi-structural and strictly structural applications for automotive, truck interior and exterior panels, seat structures, center consoles and more. The product is also suitable for applications in electronics, sports and healthcare.


StyLight grades are offered as semifinished goods or thermoplastic sheets, which are ready for processing via thermoforming and over molding. A video at the company’s exhibit shows the manufacturing process, with sample parts also on display. The company also offers the materials for back injection or over molding. Included in the launch are three glass-filled ABS/nylon 6 grades and one ABS grade.


Addivant and Vertellus Introduce New Additives
Addivant has launched a new generation hindered phenolic antioxidant for HBCD-free flame retarded EPS. Lowinox XPS 162 reportedly boasts 1.5 times better stabilization and 10 times less discoloration.


Also new is Lowinox Fast CL antioxidant, which is said to boost productivity of XLPE power cable producers while lowering cost. Ultranox 800 phosphite AO is said to provide high color and process stability with enhanced cost savings for PP compounds.


Vertellus launched three new ZeMac masterbatches: Extend L65 and L68, which are chain extenders and branching agents, respectively, that can work with everything from low relative viscosity nylon to branched high RV nylon with what’s said to be better thermal and mechanical performance than linear nylon RV. Extend P62, meanwhile is said to be the only product in the market able to smoothly compatibilize nylon and recycled PET to reduce material costs. 



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.


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.

Nylon from Wood Industry Waste?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 14. October 2016

Process can produce nylons from wood cellulose terpenes.


A process developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology (IGB) can produce high-performance engineering plastics from terpenes—a side stream of the cellulose production from wood. Their new bioplastic and its potential applications will be featured at K 2016 at the Fraunhofer exhibit—booth SC01, Hall 7.


More specifically, the synthesis of nylons from terpenes was developed at BioCat—Bio, Electro and Chemocatalysis, a branch of Fraunhofer IGB. BioCat, headed by professor Volker Sieber, works on techniques for converting terpenes into biosurfactants, biobased epoxides or monomers for biobased nylons with new properties. 


Terpenes are hydrocarbons that are typically found as components of softwood, but there are also several other sources in nature including: dandelions, rubber trees, and spices such as aniseed, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon and allspice. Slightly volatile terpenes, referred to as essential oils, can be derived from the peel of citrus fruits during the manufacture of orange juice of tinned fruit.


The BioCat researchers first aimed to develop a bioplastic that is like nylon 6. Synthesized from the terpene 3-caren, this novel nylon is said to be significantly more transparent than nylon 6, making it suitable for new and high-quality applications, such as the production of ski goggles or visors of helmets. According to project manager Harald Strittmatter, it will also be possible to manufacture coatings, textiles and adhesives from the biobased nylon.


The Fraunhofer researchers are driven to work with terpenes because they are a renewable resource that is generated in large quantities as byproducts in the pulp and fruit industries.


“As a waste stream, the application of terpenes for the production of new bioplastics is in conflict with the need for food production for humans and animals…similar compounds are only accessible from fossil resources with great effort,” said Strittmatter.


For the synthesis of nylons, terpenes have to be modified: via an oxidation step, a so-called carbonyl group is introduced, which can be converted into a lactam—a monomer building block of nylons.


The process’s benefits: this synthetic route of producing terpene-based lactams is shorter and, more importantly, combines bio- and chemo- catalytic reaction steps, which allow avoidance of harmful regions. Until now, these bioplastics have been manufactured only in the laboratory but the research team plans to develop a route which will allow for commercial-scale production. 


Collaboration on Recycling Chewing Gum into TPEs

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 11. October 2016

Teknor Apex teamed up with U.K.’s Gumdrop to divert gum waste from landfills and into TPEs.


That icky-sticky stuff that sticks to the bottom of your shoes—now it can be what your shoes themselves are made of. Teknor Apex, Pawtucket, R.I. has been working with U.K.’s Gumdrop Ltd. to advance the latter’s sustainability program of diverting chewing gum waste from landfill by converting it into a raw material for TPEs. The London-based company is reportedly the first in the world to take on such an endeavor.


Founded in 2009 by Anna Bullus, a designer with a special interest in plastics and recycling, Gumdrop created a program  for reclaiming  pre- and post-consumer gum waste for use in material it has dubbed  Gum-Tec. The company then approached Teknor Apex Co. to develop and produce compounds from the chewing gum industry’s large, annual waste stream of 500,000 tons (1-billion lbs).


Custom compounder Teknor, with its extensive experience in TPE production took on the challenge; namely, to devise formulation and manufacturing techniques from an altogether new type of raw material with the aim of producing commercial-scale quantities of compounds. Such compounds would need to consistently meet the requirements of specific applications, including optimized elasticity, compression set, tensile properties, and other mechanical properties as well as processability.


Teknor’s senior market manager Stef Hordijk noted, “We assembled a multi-disciplinary team drawing on our capabilities for materials analysis, process engineering, and manufacturing. The team addressed basic considerations such as feeding it into our equipment, formulating compound recipes using this unique raw material, determining optimal compounding process parameters, and other issues posed by such an unusual feedstock.”


Similar to standard TPEs, the resultant Gum-Tec compounds have been shown to exhibit a low compression set, can be formulated for either glossy or matte finishes, readily accept colors, and are recyclable, according to Hordijk.


The new gum-based TPE compounds are comprised with up to 30% chewing gum waste. Among the first commercial applications was that of Wellington boots. The latest is shoe soles. Some other uses are caster wheels, automotive bumpers and floor mats, window gaskets, wristwatch straps, toothbrush grips, and extruded pencils.


Director at Gumdrop, Anna Bullus said, “Our aim is to divert the substantial amount of chewing gum waste and convert it into Gum-Tec compounds for use in the rubber and plastics market, giving the waste stream a second life and putting it to use in high-quality end products that contribute to sustainability….Every kilogram of chewing gum that goes into a Gum-Tec compound means one less kilogram going to the landfill.”


The company has designed a closed-loop recycling process. Gum-Tec material is used to manufacture both the Gumdrop and Gumdrop on-the-go, pink receptacles designed specifically for the disposal of the waste chewing gum. Gumdrops are bright pink—with the look of strawberry-flavored bubble gum bubbles. Once the Gumdrop is full, the whole unit and its contents is recycled and processed to manufacture new Gumdrops. 


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