Victrex Acquires Kleiss Gears to Bolster PEEK Gears Business

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 27. July 2015



Victrex, West Conshohocken, Penn., has enhanced its ability to provide complete ‘integrated’ service through its acquisition of PEEK polymer gears specialist Kleiss Gears, Grantsburg, Wisc. In moving downstream in this manner, the company is aiming to accelerate the adoption of its Victrex PEEK gear proposition to meet the needs of the automotive industry.  Asked if this means the company will now be competing with its customers in PEEK gears, sources at Victrex gave us the following response.


First that Victrex’s focus is on building PEEK market growth and as such is striving to continuously improve the products and services it offers existing and new customers. The strategic decision to acquire Kleiss Gears is consistent with their goal to provide and improved service specifically on PEEK-based gears, bringing the much needed capability around engineering design, tooling, and durability testing.


“The market for PEEK gears is still much in its infancy and in order to facilitate market growth, Victrex has identified that an integrated capability is needed to provide the right robust gear solution in order to meet the high demands of the Tier1/OEM customers,” says one Victrex source.


According to Victrex, the aim is to use this integrated capability to shorten the development cycle for their customers. This starts from understanding the needs and challenges of its customers, leading to a design review of the typically metal gear system when NVH, wear and energy benefits can be clearly gained by moving to PEEK design.


The Kleiss manufacturing capability is built around polymer gear application technology only.  Victrex says its intention is to build further the global market for PEEK gears and help pioneer the replacement of metal gears in demanding environments, which in turn should increase the market opportunities for all of its customers—directly and indirectly.


Added Rod Kleiss, president of Kleiss Gears, “We have been partnering with Victrex for many years and are convinced that our customers and end-users will benefit from a more integrated approach, enabling them to develop and launch gears that solve their key challenges with greatly reduced development cycles.”


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


Ingeo Biopolymer Tops 'Smallest Carbon Footprint' List Among Commonly Used Plastics

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 24. July 2015


With many consumer product brands increasingly looking to reduce their carbon footprint, several different types of plastics recently have had  reassessments of their eco-profile—energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). In step with this market trend, there has been an update to the profile of Ingeo biopolymer from NatureWorks, Minnetonka, Minn. Called “Life Cycle Inventory and Impact Assessment Data for 2014 Ingeo Polylactide Production”, the article was also just recently peer reviewed and approved for publication in the June 2015 issue of Industrial Biotechnology by an independent panel of experts.


The eco-profile of a polymer gives information such as the total energy and raw materials consumed, and the total emissions to air, water, and soil from the cradle to the finished polymer pellet. A life cycle inventory (LCI) is an essential input to any full LCA conducted on consumer products made from that polymer.


“Our most recent eco-profile in 2010 was calculated using the methodology, the modeling software, and core database in place at the time. The same approach was used by such industry organizations as Plastic Europe since the beginning of the 1990s to calculate the eco-profiles for the fossil-based polymers. However, LCA tools and databases have progressed in the past four years, and we decided it was time to recalculate the eco-profile based on those advancements,” says NatureWorks environmental affairs manager Erwin Vink.


Overall, the publication of the new Ingeo life-cycle assessment (LCA) shows that GHGs and energy usage during its manufacture is lower than all commonly used plastics, including PP, PET, GPPS and ABS. The article documents the energy and GHG inputs and outputs of the Ingeo production systems, the revised 2014 Ingeo eco-profile, and the calculation and evaluation of a comprehensive set of environmental indicators. It also addresses topics such as land use, land-use change, and water use.


To help brand owners and researchers in the direct use of this life-cycle assessment data, NatureWorks now has available an online calculator--Environmental Benefits Calculator--providing them with a  tool for comparing the net GHG emissions and the nonrenewable energy use of products made with different plastics. The calculator provides an intuitive interface from which manufacturers and brands can input data details and receive instantaneous feedback on the environmental impact of the materials they are using.  


This revised eco-profile (the cradle-to-polymer life cycle inventory data), which is based on the latest version of Thinkstep’s GaBi LCA software and database, follows the ISO 14040 and 14044 standards and reinforces the fact that the production of Ingeo polymer emits fewer GHGs and consumes less non-renewable energy compared to other commonly used plastics.



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




Sounds Weird, But...Plastic Roads May Actually 'Surface'

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 20. July 2015




Our infrastructure problem is not going away any time soon. So, any fresh ideas, no matter how weird they may sound are surely worth taking a look. Here’s an example from The Netherlands where the first ‘plastic road’ could become a reality within the near future.


Particularly in recent years, Dutch  engineers and designers have become increasingly recognized for their innovative and eco-friendly ideas—ranging from self-healing concrete to the first solar bike path.  Just within the last month, Dutch construction company VolkerWessels has announced that it is teaming up with the City of Rotterdam to produce a prototype for a prefabricated road consisting of 100% recycle material. If all goes as imagined, this will result in a sustainable alternative to conventional road structures which will be virtually maintenance-free, lightweight, will take a fraction of the construction time, and have a three-fold expected lifespan.


PlasticRoad  according to the ambitious company, features numerous advantages both in terms of construction and maintenance. First, plastic is much more sustainable and opens the door for a number of new innovations such as power generation, quieter road surfaces, heated roads and modular construction. Moreover, the design features a ‘hollow’ space that can be used for cables, pipes and rainwater.


The company’s says its PlasticRoad concept is in line with developments such as Cradle to Cradle and The Ocean Cleanup: the initiative to free the seas of ‘plastic soup’. Recycled plastic is made into prefabricated road parts that can be installed in one piece. The prefabricated production and the lightweight design also make the road’s construction a much simpler task. Roads can be built in weeks instead of months as the road sections fit together like tiles. It is also much easier to control the quality of the roads such as stiffness and water drainage versus traditional asphalt.


Also, because of its hollow structure, the road can simply be installed on a surface of sand or other poor soil, without the need for costly foundations. VolkerWessels also say, that it is possible to integrate other elements in the prefabrication phase including traffic loop sensors, measuring equipment, and connections for light poles.

The next step is to build it and test it in Rotterdam’s street lab to make sure it is safe in wet and slippery conditions and so on. The company is interested in hearing from potential partners.

Contacts include:

Anne Koudstaal, +316-50226418, and Simon Jorritsma,+316-52533297,


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




ASTM Launches New Plastic Film QA Testing Tool

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 16. July 2015


An innovative statistical qualitative assurance tool for plastic film testing has been just launched by ASTM International, W. Conshohocken, Penn., and with support from ASTM Committee D20 on Plastics.


The Proficiency Testing Program for Plastic Film Testing, is aimed at helping laboratories that want to improve and maintain a high performance when conducting a variety of ASTM test methods, ranging from tensile properties and propagation tear resistance to haze and gloss. ASTM says this program empowers participants to monitor the strengths and weaknesses of their lab capabilities, to compare their test results with other labs worldwide, and to help maintain accreditation status.


Here’s how it is set up to work. The first test cycle will be in September 2015. For each test cycle, each laboratory will receive two rolls of film, each made of different materials. These rolls will be 12 in. wide with nominal 1- or 2-mil (0.001 or 0.002-in.) gauge and will contain 50 to 75 feet of film to conduct the specified tests. Materials to be evaluated include LDPE, LLDPE and HDPE. The following parameters reflect the scope of the program:


• ASTM D882, Test Method for Tensile Properties of Thin Plastic Sheeting


• ASTM D1003, Test Method for Haze and Luminous Transmittance of Transparent Plastics


• ASTM D1004, Test Method for Tear Resistance (Graves Tear) of Plastic Film and Thin Sheeting


• ASTM D1894, Test Method for Static and Kinetic Coefficients of Friction of Plastic Film and Sheeting


• ASTM D1922, Test Method for Propagation Tear Resistance of Plastic Film and Thin Sheeting by Pendulum Method


• ASTM D1709, Test Method for Impact Resistance of Plastic Film by the Free-Falling Dart Method.



• ASTM D2457, Test Method for Specular Gloss of Plastic Films and Solid Plastics


• ASTM D2582, Test Method for Puncture-Propagation Tear Resistance of Plastic Film and Thin Sheeting


• ASTM D6988, Standard Guide for Determination of Thickness of Plastic Film Test Specimens


For each trial, participants will receive two sample materials, as noted above, along with interactive electronic data report forms and test instructions. Labs will conduct the ASTM specified tests of their choice that they routinely run. Upon completion of testing, each lab will electronically submit the data to the ASTM PTP Center to generate statistical summary reports. Final reports will be electronically distributed within 25 business days of the data submission deadline, containing all test results coded to maintain customer confidentiality; statistical analysis of test data; and charts plotting test results versus laboratory code.


Interested companies must register by Aug, 28, 2015 to be included in the first test trial. The prorated subscription fee for the September 2015 trial is $338. For 2016, the program will be offered in March and September with an annual subscription fee of $695.


To submit your registration forms, click here. For questions, contact Helen Bucci, ASTM International, (610) 832-9534;


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






Expect Graphene to Make its Mark in Multiple Markets

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 14. July 2015


There has been a lot of buzz about graphene in recent times and for good reason.  A material stronger and stiffer than carbon fiber, graphene is thought to have enormous commercial potential, but has been impractical to use on a large scale, with researchers limited to using small flakes of the material. Graphene has been making some major progress, however. In the form of oxides or nanoplatelets, graphene is in a better position to fulfill market needs, as it is a durable, stretchable and lightweight material. Here are some examples of the ‘buzz’ I gathered (we’d love to hear from you for more on this):


PT’s sister publication Composites World reported on May 18, that through use of a new chemical vapor deposition method, a team of researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, Tenn., have fabricated polymer composites containing 51-mm by 51-mm (2.01-in. by 2.01-in) sheets of the one-atom thick hexagonally arranged carbon atoms.


The ORNL team is led by Ivan Vlassiouk, who noted that up until their recent work, the superb mechanical properties of graphene had been shown only at a micro scale. “We have extended this to a larger scale, which considerably extends the potential applications and market for graphene…..In our case, we were able to use chemical vapor deposition to make a nanocomposite laminate that is electrically conductive with graphene loading that is 50 times less compared to current state-of-the-art samples. This is a key to making the material competitive in the market.”


The team’s use of the larger sheets of graphene versus the use of tiny flakes of graphene or other carbon nanomaterials as are traditionally used for polymer nanocomposite construction, eliminates the flake dispersion and agglomeration problems and allows the material to better conduct electricity with less actual graphene in the polymer.  If the ORNL team can reduce the cost and demonstrate scalability, researchers envision graphene being used in: aerospace (structural monitoring, flame retardants, anti-icing, conductive); automotive (catalysts, wear-resistant coatings); and, structural applications (self-cleaning coatings, temperature control materials). Other areas include: electronics (displays, printed electronics, thermal management); energy (photovoltaics, filtration, energy storage); and, manufacturing (catalysts, barrier coatings, filtration.


The new Frost & Sullivan study, “Impact Assessment of Graphene in Key Sectors” expects market revenues to reach $149.1 million by 2020. One of the prime markets for graphene has been the energy sector and it will remain so for the next three years, according to technical insights research analyst Sanchari Chatterjee. “Lithium storage and catalytic system substrates are some of the most demanding application areas of graphene. However, other applications such as energy storage for batteries and capacitors have also been identified.


In the electronics sector, graphene is replacing materials like indium tin oxide. While graphene is widely used in flexible electronics, it can further penetrate this sector for the production of minute electronic components and optoelectronics. Moreover, according to this analysis, the adoption of graphene in the electronics and composites sector will increase within the next three to five years, while during the same time, new markets such as healthcare and personal care are expected to open up for graphene.


The absence of large-scale graphene production in a cost-effective and reproducible manner has made commercialization a challenge but Chatterjee says, “Manufacturers are designing several economical and large-scale production processes to ensure that high-quality graphene can be produced within a short time. This can significantly reduce commercialization challenges.”


Although graphene is among the thinnest yet strongest materials in the world, its structural design creates flaws when made into sheets for use in energy applications. This compromises performance, Further, the zero band gap of graphene is a major technical drawback as it limits the achievable on-off current ratios, notes Chatterjee.


With the reliability of standalone graphene in doubt, there is ongoing research to customize graphene to enable manufacturers to use it in its reinforced and hybrid forms. Overall, corrective R&D and innovative commercialization techniques can help realize the tremendous potential of graphene that ranges from applications in biomedical to anti-corrosion coatings, according to this analysis.


As reported in a February 19 blog, among the ‘starring’ companies that were a part of the NPE2015 Startup Garage, a partnership of SPI and new-venture tracking firm Startup.Directory, was Garmor Inc., Orlando, Fla. The company’s focus: graphene priced for high-volume plastics applications. At NPE2015, Garmor displayed samples of its low-cost graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide as well as products made with graphene oxide polymer and fiberglass composites. Such composites can be used in applications ranging from automotive, aerospace, and military to consumer electronics, medical, and construction.


Although initial work has been with epoxy-based and other thermoset composites, the company has data on its work with graphene-reinforced thermoplastics such as HDPE and PC, and is actively seeking interested companies in the thermoplastic arena to further its development. Polymers enhanced with Garmor’s graphene oxide reportedly show a dramatic increase in mechanical and electrical performance.  Garmor’s partnership with the University of Central Florida (UCF), have played an integral role in perfecting a method to optimize the incorporation of graphene in various polymer, composite materials and coatings, according to v.p. of engineering Sean Christiansen.


Garmor’s biggest feat is its ability to manufacture low-cost graphene oxide in large volumes. This ‘green’ and novel manufacturing technology was developed at UCF by Richard Blair, a researcher in the College of Sciences and the Center for Advanced Turbine and Energy Research, and subsequently licensed to Garmor for further enhancement. The end result is said to be a simple but effective method of producing edge-functionalized graphene oxide with only water as a by-product; essentially, a ‘green’ additive suitable for large-scale production at commodity type prices. Garmor has focused on testing the use of graphene in downstream products to facilitate product acceptance. Essentially, it has been devising ‘simple’ recipes that potential customers can use to produce advanced graphene-based materials, according to Christiansen.


Meanwhile, though unrelated to plastic composites, what may possibly be the first commercially viable product to use the super-strong carbon—a light bulb--is slated to go on sale later this year. Designed at UK’s Manchester University, where the material was discovered ***, the dimmable bulb contains a filament-shaped LED coated in graphene and is said to cut energy use by 10% and last longer owing to its conductivity.


The light bulb was developed by a Canadian-financed company, Graphene Lighting, with one of its directors being Professor Colin Bailey, deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Manchester. The light bulb is expected to be priced lower than some LED bulbs. Based on traditional light bulb design, the use of graphene allows it to conduct electricity and heat more effectively.


Also important to note: Earlier this year, the UK government made a $59-million investment in opening the ‘National Graphene Institute in Manchester’, via its Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, with an additional $36-million provided by the European Regional Development Fund.  Chancellor George Osborn, who opened the site on March 20, said he hoped the UK can set off competition from China and South Korea to become the center of excellence in graphene technology. More than 35 countries have already partnered with the university to develop projects. The race is now on to develop other practical and commercial uses, including lighter but more robust car and aircraft frames and false teeth. The material has also been incorporated into products such as tennis rackets and skis.


*** The discovery of graphene in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, two Russian-born scientists at the University of Manchester, earned the pair the Nobel Prize for Physics and knighthoods. A micro-thin layer of graphene is stronger than steel and it has been dubbed a “wonder material” because of its potential use.


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


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