Polymer Technology Innovations To Star At 'NPE2015 Startup Garage'

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 12. January 2015

SPI is expanding its NPE2015 Startup Garage, the program it developed in partnership with the new-venture tracking firm Startup.Directory to provide startups with prominently located exhibit stations at the upcoming show this March.


There are already twelve such startups exhibiting with innovations in bioplastics, recycling, 3D printing, polymerization, resin processing, and antimicrobial polymers. Three of these have developments in the burgeoning field of graphenes—two-dimensional carbon-atom nanostructures that can be used to formulate plastics composites with dramatically enhanced properties.


 Originally the plan called for the selection of a limited number of startups by the partners, but with these twelve already on board and additional demand from the marketplace, SPI will expand Startup Garage space and accept more applications. Brad Williams, SPI’s director of trade show sales & marketing, noted that there has been an enthusiastic response by new companies doing exciting things at the forefront of polymer technology. “While some of these startups propose new ways to address pressing issues involving renewable resources and waste reduction, others offer enhancements of plastics manufacture and product performance. The quality of the exhibitors so far has led us to extend the call for more.” Here are the current twelve startups and their technologies:


Aguas Pristinas S.A. Patented zero-waste beverage container and packaging system, with products designed to be recovered for re-use in other forms. One example, is roofing products derived from bottles. (web address not yet available).


Biobent Polymers. “Bio-composite” polymers with up to 40% renewable content from soy or other renewable agricultural products.


cycleWood Solutions Inc. Compostable and sustainable resins produced from lignin in tree byproducts generated during papermakeing, LDPE-like film grades are 100% compostable. Injection molding grades are available in either compostable or sustainable (blended with polyolefins) versions.


Formlabs, Inc. 3D printing systems for engineers, designers, and artists. One system uses SLA (stereolithography) to produce high-resolution prototypes. The company also develops materials for 3D printing and 3D-printing software.


Garmor Inc. Graphene priced for high-volume plastics applications. The company also has developed methods for incorporating graphene into plastics and shares this information with customers.


iQLPE LLC. Development of polymer materials and manufacturing processes for polymer suppliers, converters, and end users. Solutions highlighted at the show will include semiconductor packaging, film and laminate extrusion, and structural polymers.


Plastics EQ Corp. Web marketplace where companies post offers of and requests for recycled plastics online. The company integrates the full-sales cycle, including paperwork, payment/collection, freight management, credit check, etc.


Productfast Automation. Technology for monitoring a manufacturing operation that replaces the Andon light system with wireless audio and visual effects.


Smart E2 Solutions, LLC. System for producing fuel products from non-recyclable plastics. About a gallon of fuel is produced from 8 to 10 lb. of unwashed, unsorted waste plastic at a cost of less than $1.


TiFiber Inc. Antimicrobial polymers that exhibit broad-spectrum activity against bacterial species, including drug-resistant strains such as MRSA. Among potential applications are medical devices and disposables, synthetic textiles, and consumer goods.

Zzyzx Polymers. New “mechanochemical” process for compatibilizing, encapsulating, and fully dispersing materials into plastics, with a pilot plant established in Pennsylvania. To be highlighted at the show: graphene conductive PP; HIPS; and a polycarbonate-like PP.


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



Highlights Of Interior Applications' Finalists of SPE Auto Innovation Awards

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 7. January 2015

In our January 2015 issue, I reported on the award winners of the eight categories of the 2014 SPE Automotive Innovation Awards and noted that just about all other finalists are newsworthy. Here are three innovations in the interior applications category that grabbed my attention.


Door-Trim Local Reinforcement With Tapes: This is featured in the 2014 Ford Transit Courier B460 van and was produced by Turkey’s Fompak Automotive Plastics and Interiors. The injection molded part is produced using Celstran CFR-TP PP-GF 70-13 glass/PP tapes from Celanese. To improve mechanical properties in select locations on this door-trim panel, unidirectional glass/PP tapes were added locally late in this program. While contributing less than 1% to part mass, the tapes improved impact, stiffness and strength by a factor of five without need to change tooling. Tapes are inserted into the tool via automatic fixation and held in place prior to ovemolding via magnet or glue. The technique can be applied to either injection or compression molding and is very universal, so it can be transferred to other OEMs, vehicle lines and systems. Also notable are that crack propagation during crash tests is stopped and there is a reduction fuel consumption resulting from weight savings compared to the previous use of glass-fiber reinforced PP or nylon which increased weight by about 20%.

Instrument Panel (IP) Top Storage Bin and Device Dock: This is featured in the 2015 Ford Figo subcompact car and was injection molded by Mitchell Plastics, Kitchner, Ont., using SABIC’s Cycoloy LG8002 PC/ABS, Celanese’s Celcon UV90Z POM, and BASF’s Ultramic A3WG7 Nylon 6. This personal electronic device docking with spring clutch provides IP storage as well as charging capability and is a new feature for improved utility and customer satisfaction. This patent-pending device also facilitates hands-free phone usage for reduced driver distraction when having a conversation, listening to music, or using satellite navigation. The application can be translated to other vehicle lines.

Temperature Averaging Discharge Air Sensor: This is featured in the 2014 Ford Fusion mid-size car and was injection molded by Germany’s TDK-EPC AG, using Bergamid A70H nylon 66 and B70G30 nylon 6 GF30 from PolyOne Th. Bermann GmbH. This all-plastic air sensor performs the averaging of duct-air temperature without use of a metal plate. By using an optimized “Christmas tree” mounting system, a wide range of duct wall thicknesses can be accommodated without need of a rubber O-ring, saving cost of about 12% and weight of about 38%. Since it directly measures air temperature, the patent-pending system offers faster sensor response time, which in turn translates to improved fuel savings. It also incorporates a poka-yoke feature to ensure proper installation, and can be transferred to other vehicle lines.


SPI Launches Sustainability Benchmarking Tool

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 6. January 2015

This month, SPI is launching the plastics industry Sustainability Benchmarking Tool and will be hosting a webinar for members on Thursday, January 15 at 1 pm ET. The announcement was made in late December by Fred Daniell, SPI’s chairman of the board of directors, and president of Kureha America.


Daniell noted that as the U.S.’ third largest manufacturing sector, the plastics industry has a great economic story to tell, but has an important environmental story to tell as well. “The industry is achieving environmental success through the sustainability benefits of our products and the strides the industry is taking to ensure the manufacturing of those products are done in a way that is efficient and minimizes the environmental impacts where possible.”  


The information gathered through the new Sustainability Benchmarking Tool is expected to provide SPI with the data needed to both “tell that positive environmental story and shape the conversations about our industry,” according to Daniell. Noting that SPI’s advocacy is based on sound science—which is based on data, he implores members to help build the database needed in order to turn the industry’s anecdotal debate into data-driven policy. He adds that in addition to supporting this industry effort, member companies will also be afforded numerous benefits, including:


• Benchmarking your company’s sustainability practices.

• Undertaking an inventory of sustainability activities if your company has not yet done this.

• Generating varying levels of reports through the tools to share with customers, or being the critical first step in generating your own corporate sustainability report.

• Identifying areas of success and opportunities for improvement.

• Having the information to tell about your own sustainability activities to your employees, community and customers.

The information collected, as with all SPI surveys, will remain confidential by a third party. Only aggregated industry information will be publicly shared.


Meanwhile, SPI will dedicate a special sector of the exhibit floor at NPE2015: The International Plastics Showcase to serve as a “Zero Waste Zone” focusing on the industry mandate to reduce, reuse, and recycle plastics. Reflecting SPI’s commitment to pursuing zero waste, the Zero Waste Zone will present recycling demonstrations, multiple displays of products made with post-consumer recycled material, a cradle-to-cradle education experience, and special events.


 Surrounding the Zero Waste Zone will be the Recycling Pavilion, with exhibits by recycling companies and suppliers of recycling technologies, and the Sustainability Pavilion, featuring technologies that benefit the environment. The entire sector will be located in the South Hall of the Orange County Convention Center, the venue for NPE2015 in Orlando, Florida.   Among the programs already planned are:


Recycling demonstration by Rapid Granulator Inc., which will process PET products into reusable flakes.

Products made from recycled plastics, displayed by companies such as Dell, EcoStrate, Green Toys, Preserve Products, Seventh Generation, and TerraCycle.

PET recycling / sustainability van provided by the HB Media publication PETplanet Insider.

‘Pursuing Zero Waste’ Wall’, where NPE2015 attendees can pin their business cards to show their commitment to zero waste (and become eligible to win a motorcycle).

• International Beer Garden, an attendee networking spot opening at 11 A.M. daily, where special events will be held.


“The reuse and recycling of plastics, as well as the reduction of plastics waste, are top priorities in our industry and for SPI and its industry partners,” said Gene Sanders, SPI’s senior vice president of trade shows and conferences. “The Zero Waste Zone and the surrounding Recycling and Sustainability Pavilions will provide attendees with concentrated access to companies and technologies that have made it their business to address these themes and develop workable solutions.”   

Ecover Bottles Feature 'Green' HDPE And Some Post-Consumer Recycled Material

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. December 2014

With a focus on furthering sustainability beyond the use of recycle-content material, along with efficacy and best-practice manufacturing, Sonoco and Ecover are in a packaging partnership for the latter’s cleaning products that uses plant-based HDPE.


One of the largest diversified packaging companies in the world, Sonoco, Hartsville, S.C., has begun producing the new extrusion blow molded bottles for the home-care products line from global ‘green’ cleaning products manufacturer Ecover. With the 2012 acquisition of San Francisco-based Method Products, Ecover Belgium NV made its entry into the North American market and became the world’s largest company of ‘green’ cleaning products, including domestic detergents, cleansing agents, and personal care.


The two companies partnered in the development of Ecover’s Plantplastic blend of bio-sourced HDPE and post-consumer recycled HDPE. Brett Turner, senior marketing communications specialist at Sonoco, confirmed yesterday that 75% of the molecular weight of the bottles comes from the sugar-cane-derived ‘Green’ HDPE produced by Braskem, Philadelphia, and 25% from post-consumer recycled material.


The resin blend is said to use up to 90% less energy, to emit 75% lows greenhouse gases compared to petroleum-based virgin resin, and is recyclable in most curbside recycling programs.


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



PE Prices Drop Further

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 18. December 2014

Polyethylene contract prices have dropped by 4ȼ/lb this month, for a cumulative price decrease of 7ȼ/lb since November, the first decreases in two years. Mike Burns, v.p. for PE at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), says this latest move has been confirmed by several PE suppliers.


Burns, for one, says it’s very reasonable that an additional drop of 7ȼ/lb can be expected within the first quarter 2015, as suppliers aim to meet global price benchmarks. This is providing that crude oil prices remain below $65/bbl and feedstocks are at current levels. He adds that spot prices dropped further this week, with multiple car offers of all PE resin grades ranging from 63-70ȼ/lb, down from an 80ȼ/lb range in August. He says, cumulative PE supplier inventory is now at the highest levels in at least five years.


Nick Vafiadis, senior director, global polyolefins and plastics at IHS Chemical, also believes that domestic PE prices will have to come down more to meet China’s prices in order not to lose exports and risk finished goods imports. He does note that significant planned and unplanned ethylene production outages this year kept prices up for both monomer and PE. He projects 2015 to be “less of a hard year” and maintains that the question is: will ethylene supply build up now taking place be enough to cover the upcoming scheduled spring maintenance shutdowns, starting in March and ending in May.


Looking ahead, Vafiadis says IHS believes that North American PE prices beyond 2016 will more competitive with global PE prices. IHS also projects that North American plastics processors will increase finished goods they export across the globe, and Vafiadis notes that many processors are already fortified with new and improved processing equipment in anticipation of this…becoming more and more globally competitive as China has been.


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


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