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K Reporter’s Notebook Materials: New 3D Printer Uses COCs for Microfluidic Devices; ABS Terpolymer for 3D Printing

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 24. October 2016

 

Specially designed 3D printer uses COCs for microfluidics; new ABS player promotes terpolymer for additive manufacturing.

 

TOPAS COC Applied in 3D-Printed Fluidically Sealed Devices
I visited TOPAS to talk about the development of and commercial strides with its Topas cyclic olefin copolymer (COC). Turns out that Dolomite Microfluidics, Florence, Ky. has developed a new 3D printer it calls the Fluidic Factory for making prototypes of fluidically-sealed devices such as chips, sensor cartridges, fluid manifolds, valves and connectors from the material.

 

 

The company opted to use a filament of TOPAS COC due to the material’s unique properties and benefits, including the fact that it’s most frequently requested by biologists and has great acceptance in the microfluidic industry.

 

ABS Compounder Promotes Terpolymer for 3D Printing Filaments
ABS specialty compounder Elix Polymers made its debut at the K. The Tarragona, Spain company has been aiming to develop advanced versions of its terpolymer specifically for 3D printing using Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). Elix is seeking materials that will produce parts with better mechanical properties, including good impact resistance, low warpage, strong dimensional stability and high resolution.

 

Working in collaboration with AIMPLAS Plastics Technology Centre in Valencia, early functional parts target healthcare, appliances, automotive, and electronics industries. The company has just expanded its styrenics polymers business into North America. It includes new food-grade polymers for toys and household appliances.

 

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

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 22. 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'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 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 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. 

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.




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