Innovation On the Agenda at TCC Auto 2016

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. June 2016

Lots of new developments discussed including Covestro’s strategy to launch continuous reinforced PC sheet.


It was very gratifying to see full attendance, often at standing-room only, at each of the 22 presentations of our second “Thermoplastic Composites Conference for Automotive” (TCC Auto 2016), which covered topics in Applications, Materials, Machinery and Processes.


Held last week concurrently with the Amerimold 2016 show and conference in Novi, Mich., TCC Auto 2016 was presented by Plastics Technology and Composites World, sister publications within Gardner Business Media. It was moderated by my colleague, PT’s executive editor Matt Naitove and CW’s editor-in-chief Jeff Sloan, and I had the pleasure of helping a bit as well.


And, you can bet that there were new developments discussed, some of which have been reported on previously, but with significant updates on what is to come. This included news from Covestro, which is planning to launch a line of continuous reinforced glass and/or carbon fiber PC tape and sheet products within the next couple of years.


 In his excellent presentation, “Development in Continuous Fiber-Reinforced Thermoplastic Composites Using Polycarbonate”, Paul Platte, senior market manager, automotive & transportation at Covestro, elaborated on the company’s developments following its March 2015 acquisition of Germany’s Thermoplast Composite GmbH (TCG), and its technology, patents and facilities for continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastics. Here’s an update:


Covestro is now in the development stages and has been able to successfully produce 2-ft by 2-ft continuously reinforced fiber PC sheet for which consumer electronics and automotive applications are initial targets. But, in a brief chat with Platte earlier today, he noted that they are open to serving other markets. “One guy at the conference approached me and asked about drones,” he noted.


While automotive is the bigger target, Platte acknowledges that application development needs to start now. He foresees the first commercial use of the new continuous-fiber reinforced PC sheet and tape products emerging in 2018 for consumer electronics, and in the early 2020s for automotive.


Search for more on Covestro’s PC resins in PT’s materials database.


A Pre-K2016 Experience in Belgium

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 21. June 2016

EMG did a terrific job in bringing together some 25 trade press members to hear preliminary news from some key players of plastic materials and additives.


We were all at NPE2015 just last year and now K2016 is around the corner. But with each of the big shows I get even better ideas for shoes that will save my feet (e.g., minimalist Ninja-looking things) and allow me to get the latest news. Flip flops did the trick for my visit to Antwerp, Belgium when we were treated to a great walk-about town headed by a very scholarly local guide. So, I thought I’d share some photos, including one of the old churches, Antwerp harbor from above, and a Belgium chocolate shop to which you can bet I returned.


But, back to business. The Antwerp trip was organized by the international communications consultancy EMG, and it was one of several pre-K events that take place every three years just a few months before each K show. As members of the trade press, we have no clue beforehand how valuable such a press junket might turn out in terms of news generation. There were 25 of us from all over the world, and I would say we were generally very pleased with the outcome of the event.

EMG brought us together with four of their plastic materials clients—SABIC, DSM, Ascend Performance Polymers, and Polyscope; and two plastic additives clients—Songwon and Clariant. I am reporting on their “early” news of what attendees can expect to see at this big show for our August issue. But, here is a teaser list:


SABIC will showcase materials and applications for several industries, from transportation to healthcare. Included is reportedly the first rear PC glazing window on a car and PEI filament for 3-D printing of aircraft prototypes. You’ll also find new ultra-clear PP, PC/ABS, carbon-fiber reinforced compounds, and PC sheet for the healthcare sector. SABIC also announced that it has entered into the polyolefin elastomer (POE) business with the development of Nexlene alphaolefins, joining less than a handful of dominant suppliers.


DSM will showcase the latest in what it claims to be the most extensive portfolio of high-temperature polymers, including a new product family of its 4T nylon for electronics and a new PPA family for high-performance automotive and electronics. DSM has also expanded its new Detroit R&D facility to further assist OEMs and Tier I suppliers of automotive and electronics.


Ascend Performance Polymers is now one of the world’s largest integrated producers of nylon 66 resin used in automotive cooling systems, interior and exterior systems, powertrain and underhood components. You can expect to see new high-flow and flame-retardant nylon 66 compounds for electronics, as well as new nylon 66 compounds for packaging, a market in which Ascend is making an entry.


Polyscope is the leading producer of styrene maleic anhydride (SMA) copolymers, sold under the tradename Xiran—the company’s business is about 75% compounds and 25% additives. Its specialty Xiran IZ terpolymers, launched in 2013, have been aimed at boosting the thermal performance of ABS and ASA. Now, Polyscope, has expanded the range of its heat booster additives to increase heat performance of other styrenics, such as PS and SAN, and PMMA. Also look for a new maleic anhydride grafted PP compound, that bridges the gap between PP and ABS for automotive applications. A new portfolio of additives that act as compatibilizers and coupling agents as well as chain extenders for both amorphous and semi-crystalline resins will also be launched.


Songwon is now the world’s largest suppliers of polymer stabilizers will highlights its complete portfolio of antioxidants and UV stabilizers in a full range of physical forms. It will also launch a new antioxidant specifically developed to boost the long-term thermal stability of short- and long-glass fiber reinforced PP used in interior automotive and is said to promote the molding of thinner and lighter weight components.


Clariant will feature a host of new pigments, additives and masterbatches that are said to enhance safety, sustainability and innovation in plastics. Included are a yellow pigments to replace lead chromates for consumer goods as well as an infrared transparent black for nylons, ABS, PC and other engineering resins; the latest addition of halogen-free flame retardant for E/E nylon goods; and UV additive masterbatches for polyolefin roofing sheets. Look also for the launch of new anti-counterfeit fluorescent-effect tagant technology for plastic components and packaging.


Search for nearly 100,000 grades of polymers on the Universal Selector by clicking here


Search for nearly 40,000 additives on the Universal Selector by clicking here

Top DuPont Award Goes to Hot-Fill Blow Molded PET Container

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 8. June 2016

Graham Packaging’s technology manipulates PET’s morphology to create a container with properties that surpass standard PET.


It is always interesting to see the winners—particularly the top winner, of the DuPont Awards for Packaging Innovation, recognized globally as the industry’s longest running and leading packaging awards program. This international competition honors innovation in packaging design, materials, technology and processes.


Graham Packaging, Lancaster, Penn., was the Diamond Winner of DuPont’s 2016 Awards for Packaging Innovation for its innovative ThermaSet blow molded PET container for hot-fill, pasteurized food. I must admit that at a first skimpy glance, I wondered what was award-worthy about a hot-fillable PET bottle. But, hey, it’s worth checking out more details, as this packaging technology was honored for “technological advancement, responsible packaging and enhanced user experience”.


Turns out that the ThermalSet technology manipulates the morphology of PET, creating a container with properties that are said to be far beyond those of standard PET. Included are thermal stability above 300 F, 50% greater sidewall rigidity, and a 25% increase in oxygen barrier.


ThermaSet is described as a lighter weight, shatter resistant, drop-in replacement for glass on high-temperature fill lines, allowing for the use of existing manufacturing assets while retaining the universally preferred metal lug closure which indicates quality and freshness.


The ThermaSet technology’s reduced wall thickness results in a narrower jar that frees up valuable shelf space and provides the consumer with a safer package which is easier to handle, use and recycle. The jar, in fact, is 100% recyclable as PET code 1. ThermaSet is said to offer retailers and brand owners high-clarity, rigid plastic containers that remove breakage, downtime and cost along the supply chain, while increasing convenience for the consumer. 


Next-Generation Biodegradable Plastics Being Developed

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 8. June 2016

France’s Carbios expands its patent portfolio on controlled lifetime biodegradation of plastics.


The latest bad rap on biodegradable plastics comes from the UN’s top environmental scientist. Referring to such products as biodegradable water bottles and shopping bags, Jacqueline McGlade, chief scientist at the UN’s Environment Programme, warned that they are a false solution to the ubiquitous problem of litter in the oceans.


Addressing last month’s UN environmental assembly in Nairobi, attended by 170 countries, she said: “It’s well-intentioned but wrong. A lot of plastics labelled biodegradable, like shopping bags, will only break down in temperatures of 50 C (122 F), and that is not the ocean. They are also not buoyant, so they’re going to sink, so they’re not going to be exposed to UV and break down.”


She sees the main solution to plastics in the ocean as better waste collection and recycling, particularly in the developing world. She also noted that some of the biodegradable additives currently used in plastics have made such plastics harder to recycle and are potentially harmful in the natural environment.


Perhaps next-generation biodegradable plastics with an improved controlled lifespan can help make a difference as well. France’s Carbios, a 5-year-old ‘green chemistry’ company, specializing in breakthrough technologies dedicated to the recovery of plastic waste, is working on that and envisions the first industrial demonstrations to take place next year. The company was just granted two key U.S. patents and has exercised the worldwide licensing options on these patent families.


These licenses concern two patent families for Carbios. The first is for the proprietary process of enzyme infusion in plastics for which patents have been granted in France and in the U.S. The second covers a PLA degrading strain for which requests haves also been granted in France, the rest of the EU, U.S., Mexico, China and Japan.


Carbios acquired these exclusive licenses in 2012 from the CNRS--the University of Poitiers and VALAGRO Carbone Renouvelable as part of the THANAPLAST academic/industrial collaborative R&D project, for which it is the lead manager. They enable the company to grant sub-licenses on its biodegradation process. To date, the company biodegradation technology is founded on nine patent families: three on biodiversity and six on the production process of biodegradable plastics. (Another eight patents protect the company’s processes for recycling of plastic waste and the production of biopolymers.)


Carbios expects its PLA biodegradable technology to expand the breadth of application for PLA. Demonstrated on a pre-industrial scale, the company’s now patented enzyme-based technology, which entails embedding an enzyme in a thermoplastic at the time of production, reportedly renders it fully biodegradable at ambient temperature.


For nearly 10 months, the company has been operating a new pilot plant at its Saint-Beauzire headquarters, which enables it to reproduce biodegradable plastic films. The plant houses several production modules, from plastics extrusion to conversion to flexible films or solid parts, as well as the characterization of all properties of the materials produced.


Search for more on biodegradable plastics in PT’s Materials  Database.


“Most Powerful Man in Polyethylene” Sees Flat-to-Downward Pricing

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 6. June 2016

Great to get an update from RTI’s Burns on PE and note his bringing home the gold medal from a world bench press championship.


I have made several industry friends through my years of reporting for Plastics Technology but none that ever won a gold medal until now! Mike Burns, v.p. of client services for PE at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi) has been my go-to guy for PE market updates for several years.


I know some things about Mike’s family, his musical tastes (he’s crazy about “The Boss”), and that he takes good care of his body in terms of good food and running. But, it wasn’t until earlier this year that he told me about his weight lifting and the significant and constant training that he has put into it for three decades. And, we joked about his colleagues referring to him as “the most powerful man in PE”.


Well, two weeks ago at the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) World Bench Press Championships in Potchefstroom, South Africa, Mike grabbed the gold medal. The event was the first “raw” championship hosted by the IPF, whereby competitors were not allowed to use equipment such as bench compression shirts to assist in making their lifts.


Mike was part of the U.S. National men’s team which finished second to Japan in the 50-59 age group and won the overall gold medal for the championship. Mike bench-pressed 386 pounds on his final lift, beating the number-one ranked Nakazawa Tadafumi of Japan in the 205-pound class. My PT colleagues and I salute Mike for this terrific win, and will rally for him at next year’s event in Killeen, Texas, to which Tadafumi assured Mike through his translator he’ll be at.


Meanwhile, here are a couple of takeaways from Mike's PE update:


• Expect the April 4ȼ/lb increase to stay put through this month and maybe the next as suppliers will work hard to maintain any increases achieved. As such, a “buy as needed” strategy is advisable. Mike notes that processors’ inventories have largely returned to normal.


• PE inventories are expected to improve both because the planned maintenance outages are being completed and because there is global oversupply. U.S. exports increasingly will be challenged by lower-priced Asian exports in places like Latin America. This could tip the supply scale the other way.


• Expect PE prices to be on a flat-to-down trajectory, possibly for the remainder of the year, barring major supply disruptions.

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