NAFTA Color and Additives Concentrate Market Continues to Grow

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 20. July 2016

Market is expanding at rates not seen since the 1990s.


The latest research from Applied Market Information (AMI) Consulting (U.S. office in Wyomissing, Pa.) reveals that the NAFTA market for thermoplastic color and additive concentrates continued to have strong prospects for growth and market penetration. At the same time there are new opportunities to profit from increased customer service needs among major brands.


In fact, AMI’s detailed market report “Thermoplastic Concentrates in NAFTA”, indicates that in recent years, this market has seen a period of sustained growth not experienced since the 1990s, with North America increasingly a key center of innovation and global brand developments, making it an ideal place to develop new colors and property enhancing products.


According to AMI, the largest market for concentrates in NAFTA is still for additive types—especially mineral-based products, which account for 47% of demand. The color segment is, however, the most important in value terms in a market which now exceeds $3 billion in sales.


For many years, the concentrate industry in NAFTA tended to outperform the overall polymer industry as plastics processors recognized the technical and business advantages of using concentrates over compounds or other systems. Although in the future, the delta between polymer growth and the concentrate market advance will narrow, with the prospects in value-added areas such as custom color and additive materials still being very good.


The NAFTA market is seeing a considerable volume of new investment both from the traditional major players but also new market entrants. This will only emphasize the competitive nature of the market where there have been clear winners and losers in recent years with some players cutting back their activities and closing plants while others have sought new markets to sustain their business. AMI’s research highlights the way in which a number of new names in the industry are coming to the fore in the color segment.


AMI also notes that NAFTA continues to have a strong export surplus in concentrates of well over 50 million lb. This is further testament, says AMI, to the strength and size of the concentrate industry in NAFTA. The surplus is most significant in additive and color varieties, but all product types show net levels of exports.


The AMI report concludes that the market in NAFTA will continue to grow, albeit at levels much lower than has historically been the case because of much slower growth in the traditional volume market for concentrate in PE film and blow molding. Opportunities will arise in more specialty sectors such as glass yarn and high performance packaging and in the growing use of recycled materials that will require additive packages to modify performance.


Look for a special PT supplement on plastic colorants that will accompany our September issue. It offers tips and best practices on how to avoid typical challenges encountered when choosing, processing, metering and measuring color.


For more on color and additive concentrates, see PT’s additives database.


LLDPE Replaces Paper In Additive Packaging

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. July 2016


The new packaging system replaces paper bags with more robust LLDPE bags.


Among the many times through the years that I have reported on plastic chemicals and additives news, I’d say it’s been less than a handful of times where the topic was about their packaging. Typically, it’s about new and/or improved versions of additives that improve performance of plastics and/or their physical form (e.g., pellets, beads) which allow for easier handling. Some small particle additives, in particular, have traditionally posed particular challenges.


So, I found it interesting to hear that J.M. Huber Corp.’s Huber Engineered Materials division had invested in an innovative, multi-million dollar packaging system, which replaces paper bags with a conversion to more robust LLDPE bags at its precipitated amorphous silica Havre de Grace, Md., production facility. Huber’s silicas and silicates are used in a variety of industries and when targeted as an anti-blocking agent for plastics, polyolefins is a key application.


A Huber spokesman explained that the new filling technology and use of LLDPE bags for small particle materials such as silicon dioxide is just emerging. “Use of plastic bags is more and more common for gardening items and masonry materials….those industries have been converting for many years but are much easier to package than silica because of the large particle sizes and high bulk density. The expertise in the design of the packaging equipment, coupled with the emerging technology in the design of the films used to create the LLDPE bags effectively adapts to handling silica’s unique properties,” he says.


Asked if the LLDPE choice is unusual for packaging these type of additives, the Huber source notes that PP is most commonly used in both Asia, where sacks are reused for other purposes, and India, due to lack of trees/paper. He notes, however, that these PP bags release considerably more dust and are manually filled. Here’s more on Huber’s system and bags:


• Huber’s new packaging platform is being introduced systematically across the globe with automatic filling equipment already in place in select production facilities in the European and American regions, with the intention to do the same in Asia in 2017. (The company is a global leader in precipitated silica with seven manufacturing sites strategically located across North America, Europe, and Asia.)


• The improved LLDPE bags offer stronger tensile strength.

• The LLDPE bags minimize the nuisance of dust.

• They eliminate trapped air within each LLDPE bags, making the packages more easily stackable for more stable pallets during shipment, unloading, and warehousing.

• The LLDPE bags also provide increased printing and labeling options.

• The new packaging is also easily recyclable which is integral to Huber’s commitment to sustainability.


According to the Huber spokesman, the novel packaging’s development was also influenced by customers’ requests for improved performance over paper bags—which are susceptible to moisture, excessive dusting, improved recycling needs, emerging food safety, and employee health exposure regulations.


For more on Huber and additives offered, see PT’s additives database.


Kuraray Celebrates 90th Birthday

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 13. July 2016

Planting trees and a trip to the ballpark just part of the celebration.


I love the company I work for, and nope, no one is twisting my arm. Look, you hear people say they like their jobs but it typically stops short of “I love my company”. For me, I do, and I feel so very fortunate.


What prompted this expression of affection? It was a press release on Kuraray’s 90th anniversary and the accompanying photos. It reminded me of all the Gardner Business Media people I have had the pleasure of meeting through the years and the fact that our company makes sure to bring us together—particularly important to those of us who work remotely.


The fun activities that our company plans for us, the terrific meals, and the company of so many terrific people makes me miss Cincinnati when I leave, or even the big shows, like NPE, when GBM makes certain that we mingle and enjoy each other by planning company dinners each night.


So, here is Kuraray commemorating its 90 years of business in specialty chemicals by doing two pretty cool things: a tree planting at every one of its production sites; and treating its employees to a fun outing at a Houston Astros game.


A leading global supplier in performance-based polymer and synthetic chemistry technologies, including resins, chemicals, fibers and textiles, Kuraray was the world’s first entity to bring EVOH polymers to market.


Today it operates 19 subsidiaries globally, including Kuraray America, which is headquartered in Houston. The U.S. division is leader in barrier materials with products like Eval EVOH and Plantic, a bio-based polymer with barrier properties. Happy Birthday Kuraray!


For more on Kuraray’s Eval and Plantic materials, see PT’s materials database.


New Group Gets Continuous-Fiber-Reinforced Composites Ready for the Road

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 6. July 2016

New team to support partners though all stages of Tepex component development.


Since Lanxess (U.S. office in Pittsburgh) acquired Bond-Laminates four years ago, the company has been ‘nurturing’ and further expanding the Tepex range of continuous-fiber-reinforced thermoplastic semi-finished composites for lightweight construction of automotive components.


And, the company is now further zeroing in on the automotive industry through the formation of a project group that is geared to its needs and support of partners through all stages of Tepex component development right up to production launch. Moreover, by K 2016 in October, the company will have published a brochure on Tepex processing.


It comes as no surprise to us—this increasing thirst for thermoplastic composites in automotive and beyond—as we witnessed full attendance, at each of the 22 presentations of our second “Thermoplastic Composites Conference for Automotive” (TCC Auto2016) which covered topics in Applications & Materials and Machinery & Processes. It took place just last month in Novi, Mich., occurring concurrently with the Amerimold 2016 show and conference, and presented by Plastics Technology magazine and Composites World, sister publications within Gardner Business Media.


So, Lanxess’s new group—Tepex Automotive Technical Marketing & Business Development—essentially brings together the expertise of Lanxess and its subsidiary Bond-Laminates in materials, processes, and the selection of suitable components for automotive lightweight construction with Tepex. This team will act as an interface between CAD concepts, component/process design and simulation, the mold makers and the equipment manufacturers for processing and handling Tepex.


“Our expertise and services are available locally all over the world thanks to the global network of regional product and application development centers that Lanxess has established. We can therefore assist international development partners at all their locations, with everything from first application idea to starting up large-scale production.” Said Martin Klocke, head of the group in the High Performance Materials (HPM) business unit.


Comprehensive processing information on Tepex and the way it works is also underway. Lanxess will showcase this processing guide and K 2016. It will provide information on the advantages of the thermoplastic composite, its potential in lightweight construction and the product families, and will cover in detail the many methods for processing Tepex—such as thermoforming and hybrid molding.


Extensive sections will address techniques for heating Tepex as well as the design and calculation of components for draping and integrative simulation. It will include recommendations on mold design and how to handle hot Tepex inserts. A final section will offer tips on finishing, joining and recycling Tepex components. The brochure is both directed at engineers as well as readers interested in the technology who work, for instance, in marketing or purchasing.


The range of applications where Tepex is being applied has broadened significantly. Initially, it was used to locally reinforce plastic areas in front-ends. By now, it is used to manufacture seat shells, back seats, back rests, brake pedals, battery carriers, infotainment brackets and underbody panels. Just recently, the world’s first, hybrid-molded rear bumper beam went into production for the Honda’s new Clarity Fuel Cell car.


Moreover, the product range continues to expand as we have been reporting since the acquisition. The latest example is multiaxial Tepex, designed to enhance the mechanical performance of components, because the orientation of the reinforcing fiber layers can be adapted to the flow of forces in a component and thus to stress scenarios, according to Klocke. This new structural material is production-ready and will soon be introduced to the market in the first application. 


Bioplastics In Full Bloom: 30% Growth Rate Forecast

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 5. July 2016

A leading market research provider sees a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 30% for the global bioplastics market.


Long-time market research provider BCC Research, Wellesley, Mass., has been following the bioplastics market for over 10 years. The latest report, “Global Markets and Technologies for Bioplastics”, published last month, examined the global bioplastic market and projects a CAGR of 30% for the five-year period, 2015 to 2020.


Author Jason Chen reports that there is even some potential development of bioplastics from animal resources. Chen also reviews plastics that may be potentially made from waste carbon dioxide because of their potential impact on bioplastics, though their data are now included in the report’s forecasts.


Chen further defines bioplastics as polymer materials that are produced by synthesizing—chemically or biologically—materials that contain renewable organic materials. Natural organic materials that are not chemically modified (e.g., wood composites) are excluded. The report includes the use of renewable resources to create monomers that replace petroleum-based monomers, such as feedstocks made from sugarcane that are used to manufacture PET and PE. Ethanol, a major product in Brazil, is one small chemical step from ethylene. The report’s focal point is on the following chemistries:


• Polylactic acid (PLA)

• Themoplastic starch

• Biopolyamides (nylons).

• Polyhydroxyalknoates (PHAs)

• Biopolyols and polyurethane

• Cellulosics

• Biopolytrimethylene terephthalate

• Biopolyethylene

• Biopolyethylene terephthalate

• Polybutylene succinate


Here’s what else the new report offers:


• An overview of the global markets for bioplastics.

• Analyses of global market trends with data from 2014, 2015, and projections of CAGRs through 2020.

• Identification of trends that will affect the use of bioplastics and their major end-use application markets.

• Information on specific end markets for bioplastics by material types, with sections devoted to each type of renewably sourced plastic.

• Analysis of market developments regarding major applications for bioplastics, including packaging, automotive, electrical/electronic, medical, building and construction.

• Profiles of major players.


The report does not include biodegradable and photodegradable polymers made from petrochemical feedstocks. Other renewable resin chemistries are also covered but in less detail, as their roles are an early development stages. Included are collagen and chitosan.


Learn more about bioplastics at Plastics Technology’s online material database.


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