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Will Rise of Benzene Prices Impact Those of Nylons, ABS & PC as They Have PS?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 13. July 2015

 

July benzene contract prices settled up by a whopping 80ȼ/gal to $3.05/gal, and polystyrene suppliers were quick to issue price hikes of 6-8ȼ/lb on PS resins, effective July 1. This was a reversal from June, when benzene contract prices dropped by 59ȼ/gal., and PS prices dropped by 5ȼ/lb.

 

This latest benzene price trajectory is due to snugger domestic supply which has resulted from a combination of improved downstream demand for benzene and a sharp drop in benzene imports. Mark Kallman, v.p. of client services for engineering resins, PS, and PVC at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), Fort Worth, Texas, ventures this supply tightness will last through August. He anticipates some relief from higher benzene prices with the potential return of imports.

 

In the meantime, it would not be surprising to see similar moves emerge on prices of some key commodity engineering resins, as was the case with nylon 6 earlier this week. BASF,  DSM,  and Honeywell  have each issued price increases on their nylon 6 resins. Effective dates, respectively, are: July 15, July 24, July 20--or, as contracts allow, Nylon 6 suppliers had been out with a 5ȼ/lb increase for June, but that attempt lost its legs following the drop in June benzene contracts.

 

So far, there have been no official price nominations for nylon 66. Kallman had projected generally flat pricing to continue for nylon 66 from second quarter into the third; this before the July benzene contract increase.

 

Also, while the domestic nylon 66 supply/demand has been characterized as relatively balanced by Kallman, that balance includes nylon 66 materials imported to the North American market by BASF. As previously reported, BASF declared force majeure at its Seals Sands, UK facility on June 17. The company cited production problems and noted that it was not in a position to predict how long this would last. Affected products includes the company’s Ultramid A and Capron PA 66 resins and compounds.

 

Possible actions could be forthcoming from suppliers of ABS and PC. In the case of ABS, suppliers were out with a 4ȼ/lb increase, effective June 1, but that did not materialize due to the decline of the June benzene contract price.

 

In the case of PC, there were some price increase attempts during second quarter; this following a 2-8% decline through first quarter until benzene prices bottomed out.  Those second quarter attempts ended up falling by the wayside. In June, Kallman explained it to me this way: the domestic market is a well-balanced one (including lower-priced imports due to a global PC overcapacity) with feedstock prices well below 2014. This, of course, did not include the reversal of benzene contract prices now taking place.

 

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

 

Addressing Color Management Issues

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 6. July 2015

 

I thought it worth blogging about an interesting new blog recently launched by one of the leading players of color measurement systems, X-Rite Pantone of Grand Rapids, Mich. With color such an integral part of a plastic product’s appeal, having a blog that is devoted to issues of color management can only be a plus. So here, is an abbreviated version of some issues already discussed—or, blogged about, by X-Rite pros:

 

Color Perception: The Impact in Manufacturing

Here, X-Rite takes a detailed look at the science of color in manufacturing and photography. How does an object’s reflective and absorptive properties or viewing technology impact the colors we perceive? The colors an object absorbs and reflects is determined by its material—is it plastic, metal, or fabric? What are the dyes or inks used to “color” it? Changing the material of the object or the formulation of dyes and inks will change the reflective values, and therefore color we see.

 

10 Tips for Visually Evaluating Color

Judging color is more than just measuring samples with a color measurement device—lighting plays a crucial role. Have you ever purchased a new shirt or household item only to discover that the color looked different in the store? This is due to different lighting conditions. Color process controls should include visual evaluation in a light booth. X-Rite says this is especially important if you are producing different parts for the same product, because they need to match in the factory, as well as outside, in a fluorescent-lit store, and wherever else they’ll be seen once they enter the world. X-Rite provides tips on brand owners and manufacturers can get the most out of a visual evaluation process.

 

Using Spectrophotometers for Manufacturing

Color is critical to any manufacturing process. Consumer products are made up of different materials that all have to come together through color. But getting color right isn’t easy. Color moves through the supply chain, among machines, materials, printers and manufacturing sites. As a result, color can quickly shift away from the original intent. Inaccurate color means rework and lost time and dollars. Spectrophotometers allow brand owners to measure and specify color using a universal language—spectral values—and to share the information with their suppliers. Suppliers use spectrophotometers to monitor color accuracy during manufacturing to ensure that it remains exact.

 

Munsell Color Standards for Industrial

Munsell Color Standards are used for more than just design and ‘fine art’. They are also used to ensure safety and reliability, and to maintain compliance with federal regulations. Did you know:

           

  • The USDA and numerous private food processors rely on Munsell’s Color Standards for accurate grading and sorting of food.
  • Aerospace suppliers and wire & cable manufacturers use Munsell Color Standards to communicate with each other, to comply with government regulations, and to ensure the safety and reliability of electrical products.
  • Munsell worked with the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) to develop the NEMA Safety Color Standard family

 

 

First Totally Biodegradable Fishing Lure Soon to Debut

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 2. July 2015

 

What is said to be the first-ever, totally biodegradable freshwater fishing lure will be making its debut at the Convention of Allied Sportsfishing Trade Show (ICAST), being held July 14-17 at Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.

 

Injection molded by Rat-L-Trap of Alexandria, La., the new fishing lures are made from 100% Nodax PHA from biopolymer producer MHG, Bainbridge, Ga., which has plans to give out 150 lures at this event. These lures have been shown to perform as well as its conventional plastic counterparts.

 

The Nodax PHA is reportedly the first bioplastic ever to be Vincotte Certified for Marine Biodegradability. It is also certified to biodegrade completely in freshwater, as well as soil and industrial composting. These certifications pave the way for the fishing industry to convert to using biodegradable plastic for certain products.

 

Says MHG’s CEO Paul Pereira, “As an avid fisherman, I’ve seen first hand the plastic pollution in the ocean. When you think of all the fishermen out there, and how many lures get lost each season, it is hard to think of all that plastic that will sit in the ocean for hundreds of years to come. The same thing applies to fresh water fishing but in a larger scale. With these biodegradable lures powered by MHG, pollution that is a result of the fishing industry can be reduced.”

 

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

 

First Ocean-Cleaning System Set to Deploy in 2016

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 30. June 2015

 

 

For any of you that have attended conferences on plastics recycling over the last few years, I’m certain you have noticed the presentations on the issue of plastics in our oceans…oftentimes accompanied by some very sobering slide shows showing the debri and its devastation on wildlife.

Now, what is certainly the world’s first ocean cleaning-system, is fast approaching its deployment. Invented by Boyan Slat, the 20-year old founder and CEO of The Ocean Cleanup, this system involves a static platform that passively corrals plastics as wind and ocean current push debris through 2000-meter booms.  

Says Slat, “Taking care of the world’s ocean garbage problem is one of the largest environmental challenges mankind faces today. Not only will this first cleanup array contribute to cleaner waters and coasts but it simultaneously is an essential step towards our goal of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This deployment will enable us to study the system’s efficiency and durability over time.”

Plans for the array’s deployment is currently for second quarter of 2016. The feasibility of deployment, off the coast of Tsushima, an island located in the waters between Japan and South Korea is currently being researched.

The system will span 2000 meters, which will make it the longest floating structure ever deployed in the ocean—beating the current record of 1000 meters held by the Tokyo Mega-Float airplane runway. It will be operational for at least two years, catching plastic pollution before it reaches the shores of the proposed Tsushima Island deployment location. Tsushima Island is evaluating whether the plastic can be used as an alternative energy source.

This initial deployment will represent an important milestone in The Ocean Cleanup’s mission to remove plastic pollution from the world’s oceans. Within five years, after a series of deployments of increasing scale, The Ocean Cleanup plans to deploy a 100km-long system to clean up about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California.
 

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

 

 

 

Will BASF's Nylon 66 Force Majeure Impact the Domestic Market?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 23. June 2015

 

Last week, BASF declared force majeure at its Seals Sands, UK facility on hexamethylenediamine (HMD), nylon salt, and nylon 66 polymers and compounds supplied here from Europe under the Ultramid A and Capron PA66 brands.

 

The company cited production problems at its 276-million lb/yr plant for its action, which went into effect June 17. It also noted that it was not in a position to predict how long the force majeure situation is likely to last, but that it would update its customers as soon as possible.

 

I checked in with Mark Kallman, v.p. of client services for engineering resins, PS, and PVC at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), who is a key source for keeping us up to date on resin pricing trends based on major fundamentals such as the balance of supply and demand. Both at the end of first quarter and as we are closing in on the end of the second, Kallman has noted that domestic nylon 66 supply is relatively balanced and that demand has been good, and is already trending to be a bit above 2014.

 

But, he also clarified that when he describes the market as balanced, he includes the nylon 66 materials imported to the North American market by BASF. As such, Kallman ventures that if the plant’s restart is delayed more than a few weeks, the domestic market will be impacted by supply constraints.

 

As for pricing, nylon 66 prices dropped a few percent during first quarter, and have been primarily flat with a bit of a downslide in some cases through this quarter. An attempt by suppliers in mid-April to push through a 15ȼ/lb increase following a force majeure action by Invista, failed as it did not affect resin availability. Prior to last week’s BASF force majeure action, Kallman was projecting a largely flat trend in prices to continue into third quarter. This may now change depending on the duration of this latest industry production disruption, along with factors such as the trajectory of feedstock costs.

 

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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