Evonik to Double Nylon 12 Powder Production

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 10. February 2016

Growth of 3D printing and thermoplastic composites cited as key contributors to Evonik’s substantial investment.


The market leader in the production of nylon 12 powders, Germany’s Evonik Industries (U.S. office in Parsippany, N.J.) has announced plans for a major investment—in the mid- double-digit million euro range—for a new production line for nylon 12 powder at its Marl facility. Slated for start-up in late 2017, the expansion will boost annual capacity by 50 percent.


What is particularly interesting is that the company cites two “growth fields” as contributing to the decision to move ahead with this investment: 3D printing and thermoplastic composites. This, in addition to steady growth in the traditional uses for nylon 12 powders, which are sold by Evonik under the brand of Vestosint—modified nylon 12 powder manufactured at the Marl site from a nylon 12 granulate, using a proprietary Evonik process. For example, such powders are used to coat metals for household appliances such as dishwasher baskets, but also in automotive and medical technology production and as matting and structural agents in coatings.


Evonik anticipates significant increases in demand in tool-free production—especially in the 3D printing industry. “We project attractive market growth. The new production line in Marl will meet the growing demand for PA12 powder products in the long term to support our customers’ growth,” said Claus Rettig, chairman of the board of management of Evonik Resource Efficiency GmbH. Due to their mechanical properties and chemical resistance as well as the high melting point of finished products, nylon 12 powders are particularly suitable for use in powder-based 3D printing processes such as selective laser sintering (SLS) and high-speed sintering (HSS).


In addition, Evonik is aiming its investment to the fiber composite materials field. Nylon 12 powders are said to be an ideal matrix for thermoplastic composites made of fiberglass and carbon fibers, as well as aramid or steel fibers. Applications can be found in the automotive and oil drilling industries, as well as the sports sector and in orthopedics. 

Engineering Plastics Growth Led by Nylon and ABS

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 5. February 2016

New Aranca market study projects significant growth for engineering plastics, generated by metal replacement, 3D printing and photovoltaics.


A new study from India’s Aranca, a global research and analytics firm with U.S. offices in New York City and Palo Alto, Calif., projects continued growth in metal replacement by engineering plastics with nylon and ABS in the lead here in the U.S.


Demand for engineering resins is estimated to grow at an annual rate of 4.1% through 2019, hitting $7.4 billion compared to 2009 market of $4.9 billion. The growth is attributed to metal replacement in the construction, automotive, and electrical & electronics industries. Technological advancements such as 3D printing and a growing photovoltaic industry are expected to boost the market further as well.


According to the study, the U.S. engineering thermoplastics market is dominated by nylon, followed by ABS and PC in terms of volume. Aranca places nylon and ABS in the lead, with 27% and 26% market share, respectively, followed by PC at 22% and PBT/PET at 10%, with 15% market share for all other engineering thermoplastics.


The market share of nylon is estimated to expand rapidly, driven by demand for metal replacement in underhood vehicle applications and 3D printing. ABS is projected to grow slowly as a result of competition from lower-cost resins. PC is expected to benefit from growth in the consumer and medical devices market sectors. According to Aranca, smaller-volume engineering thermoplastics are likely to exhibit high growth rates driven by increased usage in advanced batteries, photovoltaic modules and medical implants.

DuPont automotive air ducts

New Compounds, Conference for Automotive Thermoplastic Composites

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 2. February 2016

Borealis expands its Fibremod technology portfolio and Thermoplastic Composites Conference for Automotive 2016 calls for papers. 


With the ever increasing demands for improved fuel economy, carbon-fiber reinforced plastics—pioneered by the aircraft industry and having found a niche in high-end sports cars and motorsport vehicles—are finding their way into everyday passenger cars. Moreover, a new sense of urgency for lightweight construction has been created by pending updates to the U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standard, which will increase the mileage of new car models from 39 to 60 miles per gallon by 2025. In Europe, proposed EU regulations will reduce CO2 emissions for new cars to 95g/km on average by 2020.


OEMs and Tiers continue to allocate a high proportion of their R&D budgets to develop new ideas for lightweight construction in high-volume car production. As such, it’s no surprise to see more and more resin suppliers and compounders expanding their offerings in thermoplastic composites, with glass, carbon fiber, and hybrids to meet this demand, particularly in the automotive arena.


Borealis of Austria (U.S. office in Port Murray, N.J.), for example, has just announced an expansion of its Fibremod technology portfolio with the addition of carbon-fiber reinforced PP compounds geared primarily to automotive. The company first launched Fibremod in late 2013 with its series of long- and short-glass PP compounds for the automotive and appliance industries.


Three new grades now augment the company’s Fibremod portfolio:


• CB201SY is a 20% carbon-fiber reinforced engineered PP, which boasts a maximized performance strength-to-weight savings ratio.


• CB301SY is a 30% carbon fiber reinforced engineered PP that reportedly provides up to 40% weight savings potential when compared to other lightweight materials currently in use.


• CB401SY is a 40% carbon-fiber reinforced engineered PP that is said to provide ultra-high stiffness, thus enabling lighter weight, high-performance plastics applications.


Borealis sees these new grades as especially suited for applications such as chain adjusters, pump housings, headlamp housings, oil pans, seat frames, arm rests, gear shifting gates, and sunroof frames. Also being explored are applications in structural parts in interiors and underhood applications, as well as motorcycle parts.


“Building on our proven track record of creating value through innovation, we are going to offer a new generation of high-performance lightweight materials through the extension of our cutting-edge Fibremod technology portfolio,” says Nicholas Kolesch, Borealis’ head of marketing for automotive.


He noted that because carbon-fiber reinforced PP grades are by nature complex, they require extensive engineering. For this reason, Borealis developed computer-aided methods to predict fiber orientation and distribution, thus allowing for an integrative simulation of the final application performance. The company says it has also established state-of-the-art testing methods and standards for fiber-reinforced PP and is fully committed to further enhancing its modeling and simulation methodologies.


Conference Addresses Thermoplastic Composites in Automotive
Plastics Technology and its Gardner Business Media sister publications CompositesWorld and Automotive Design and Production are now preparing for the 2016 Thermoplastic Composites for Automotive (call for papers here) technical conference (#TCCAuto16) to be held on June 15-16 in Novi, Mich., co-located with the amerimold conference. Our TCC2014 event attracted attendees from a broad range of companies including automotive and agricultural equipment OEMs, Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, material suppliers, molders, technology companies and research organizations. Look for more information soon!

Jaguar F Type dashboard Borealis Fibremod technology

Plastics Growth in Building & Construction Driven by Innovation, Market Demand

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 28. January 2016

SPI’s new report analyzes the key factors impacting the plastic industry in the building and construction sector.


At last week’s 2016 International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas, SPI released its newest report, “Plastics Market Watch: Building and Construction”, the fourth in a series published by SPI analyzing key factors impacting the plastics industry’s major end markets. Already the second largest consumer of plastics behind only packaging, building and construction’s use of plastics and plastics derivatives is forecast continue to increase in coming years.


“From floors to roofs, inside and outside of walls, plastics are a go-to product on construction sites,” SPI President and CEO William Carteaux said. “Innovation in the plastics industry to improve and diversify products is matched by the building and construction sector’s pace to find, and use, new solutions to address fundamental issues like structural integrity, energy savings, recycling, and cost saving.”


The leading uses of plastics for residential and commercial construction include roofing, insulation, wall coverings, windows, piping, composite lumber, flooring and structure wraps. Further details as noted in the report are:


Roofing—Reflective, light-colored roofing membranes made of PVC or TPO single-ply membranes combined with rigid polyiso board or spray polyurethane foam—offer energy savings, durability and moisture control, especially for commercial buildings in warmer/wetter climates. Studies show that the surface temperature of a light covered roof is much lower than a darker one. The cooler the building, the less air conditioning is required, and therefore, the less energy is consumed.


Insulation—Whether it is spray polyurethane foam (SPF) in the attic or rigid foam polyiso board in the walls, polyurethane-based systems offer durability, energy savings and moisture control. When used for retrofits, they also help reduce the amount of building waste sent to landfills. In walls, behind walls and under floors, the use of polystyrene foams can provide significant energy efficiency. For example, rigid extruded polystyrene (XPS) is a builder favorite because it can be installed easily and effectively. Structural insulated panels (SIPs) made with expanded polystyrene (EPS) can help homeowners save hundreds of dollars annually on heating and cooling bills. The report notes that savings vary by material and products.


Wall Coverings—Vinyl-based materials are commonly used for durable, easy-to-clean hospitality and health-care facilities. Vinyl requires only half as much energy to manufacture as the same amount of paper wall coverings.


Windows—Polycarbonate is used for window panes. These clear, lightweight, shatter-resistant PC products have low thermal conductivity which can help reduce heating and cooling costs. PVC window frames are inherently energy efficient and save the U.S. nearly two trillion thermal units of energy per year, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions, associated with energy generation—and at the same time reducing maintenance time, materials and other costs.


Piping—Plastics pipe and fittings are relatively easy to install, durable and will not rust or corrode over time. Several types of plastics are used for piping depending on the properties and performance required. Whether PE, PP, PVC, or ABS, they each offer excellent fusion integrity when joined properly, in turn helping to eliminate potential leak points where water could be wasted. In home building flexible blue and red cross-linked PE piping (PEX) has become a favorite of many builders for hot and cold water delivery, all managed and hooked into a central and effective manifold system. The flexibility, lightness and ease of installation allow multiple feed lines throughout a house, bringing hot water more quickly to a sink or shower and saving water.


Composite “lumber” planks and rails—Recycled plastics or plastic-wood composites are carefully engineered to virtually eliminate warpage and knots, with PVC, HDPE, and PP among the plastics used. They can outlast traditional materials, often require less maintenance and are resistant to peeling, cracking, splintering or fading. They are also eco-friendly in that much of the lumber is made from recycled materials and/or can itself be recycled.


Plastic House Wrap—This technology (polyolefins and PVC play a role) has reduced the infiltration of outside air into the average home by 10-50% helping to drastically reduce the energy required to heat or cool a structure. Estimates conclude that these plastic films have helped reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by as much as 120-600 million tons of CO2 since 1980.


Advances in plastics have been embraced by architects, engineers and designers. As proof, SPI cites a report from a Columbia University conference: “Permanent Change: Plastics in Architecture and Engineering


Plastics have become one of the most ubiquitous and increasingly permanent materials in construction. The material capabilities of plastics, both as a generic material and as specific polymers, and the processes that underlie them, suggest a potential to reshape construction and the roles of architects and engineers in construction. While plastics are perhaps the most intensively engineered building materials today, we are still in the early stages of understanding them in terms of their potential applications and uses.


SPI will continue its Plastics Market Watch reports later this year, with “Automotive Recycling” to be published before end of this quarter. The three previous reports, including “Automotive & Transportation”, “Healthcare & Medical Devices”, and “Packaging” are available on the SPI website.


Image courtesy BASF

High-Tech Implant for Leg-Lengthening Treatment Enabled by PEEK

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 25. January 2016

Evonik has invested in a start-up company that has developed a high-tech leg-lengthening implant that uses Vestakeep PEEK.


Via its venture capital arm, Germany’s Evonik Industries has invested in and holds a minority share in the start-up company SYNOSTE Oy, based in Dusseldorf and Helsinki, Finland.  A 2012 spin-off of Finland’s Aalto University, SYNOSTE, together with Finland’s Orton hospital which specializes in orthopedics, developed a high-tech implant that utilizes Evonik’s Vestakeep PEEK, for a minimally invasive treatment of leg-length discrepancy.


This condition, which can lead to chronic back pain and osteoarthritis in the long term, has traditionally been treated with a method that involves the use of an external fixator—a construction made of steel which is fixed to the bone and the outside of the leg. This standard method both poses the risk of infection and is also painful and uncomfortable. Some 30,000 people per year seek treatment for this condition.


The SYNOSTE implant is similar to an intramedullary nail and is fixed to the bone after the bone has been cut. During the treatment period, which lasts for several months, it is extended in small increments of 0.5 millimeters, like a telescope, by electromagnetic means. This causes fresh bone substance to steadily form between two halves of the bone. Using this method, it is possible to increase the length of the bone by several centimeters.


An advantage of the SYNOSTE implant is its high mechanical stability. The company has aimed to allow patients to bear full weight on their leg at an early stage in the treatment process. Also, it significantly reduces the risk of infection compared to a fixator, and requires shorter hospitalization.


Due to its excellent mechanical properties and biocompatibility, Vestakeep PEEK is well established in implant, dental and medical technologies. “By investing in SYNOSTE, we hope to open up a new, extremely innovative applications for Vestakeep PEEK and enhance our business and expertise in the field of medical technology,” says Matthias Kottenhahn. Moreover, he notes that the SYNOSTE implant technology also offers potential for deformities in arms, fingers and toes as well as spine and craniomaxillofacial surgery.


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