Nylon, PBT Play Key Role in New Energy-Conserving Tankless Water Heaters

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 14. June 2015

The next-generation Supercharger tankless water heater units from Houston-based Seisco International utilize DuPont’s engineering thermoplastics in several key components and have been designed to help homeowners meet the newly updated National Appliance Energy Conservation Act (NAECA) requirements.


Seisco’s president David Seitz says the new standards could drive up the cost and size of tank-type water heaters because efficiency technology will have to be added to the tanks that are 55-gal or larger. “A Seisco Supercharger coupled with a 40-gallon tank matches the performance of a 60 to 80 gallon tank with significantly lower energy use because you heat less water all day. Thousands of gallons of water are wasted each year waiting for hot water to travel through cold pipes. Heating at the use point can significantly reduce water waste and save energy.”


The Supercharger unit is small enough (15” x 7” x 6”) to be placed near the use point. It features an internal heating chamber, which is injection molded of DuPont’s Zytel nylon for high-heat resistance, thermal stability and compliance with NSF and UL requirements. DuPont’s Crastin PBT delivers impact resistance and compliance with UL flammability requirements in a one-piece protective exterior housing.


A microprocessor control manages on/off when flow starts/stops. The water heater’s patented mixing chamber provides a small amount of heated water and the patented “Power-Sharing” technology helps ensure elements heat evenly. These innovations are said to protect against scalding, scaling and sediment build-up. The single-chamber Seisco models can be used as a back-up for both new and existing hot-water storage tanks in single-family homes. Multifamily water heaters allow building owners eliminate storage tanks in each unit. 


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


Continued Optimism, Job Satisfaction Shown by Plastics Salary & Industry Survey

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 14. June 2015


There is continued optimism and a high-level of job satisfaction among employees in the plastics industry, according to the latest Plastics Salary and Trends Survey conducted by Gros Executive Recruiters and the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE). The results show that average base salaries in the U.S. grew 0.7% from 2013 to $104,722 in calendar year 2014, and job confidence and growth expectations have remained high for both managers and non-managers.


The 2015 survey of 1,250 plastics professionals, which tracks earnings during the full calendar year 2014, showed a continuation of a five-year trend of confidence in both the plastics industry and individuals’ personal job security.


 In the 2014 survey, 75% of participants expected their employers to deliver a salary increase, with most expecting a raise of 1-3%, according to Dennis Gros, president of Gros Executive Recruiters. “The 2015 survey shows a slight increase in base salaries—so at least some employers gave raises. Total compensation, however, was down by about 2%.” The decrease is attributed to the fact that average cash compensation—which includes base salary plus incentives such as bonuses and commissions—fell by 2.5% from last year. In 2014, participants reported $122,301 total cash compensation, but he figure in the 2015 survey was $119.576.


Still, optimism prevailed, with an overwhelming 85% of managers surveyed indicating they expect an increase in compensations this year, as did 77.2% of employees, according to Gross. Moreover, plastics employees indicate confidence in their job security with 76.9% of this year’s respondent saying they are “very” confident that their jobs will exist in 12 months, and another 19% were “somewhat” confident.


Advice to managers on employees: ‘Keep the Ones You’ve Got’


The survey results show that job confidence expands into job loyalty and high morale, with only about 7% describing their job situation as ‘unhappy’. “Manager can expect challenges in finding new employees, because only 16% expected to be active in looking for a new job. For managers this means ‘Keep the Ones You’ve Got!,” says Gross.


Once again this year, employees surveyed said they expect pay raises of 1 to 3% or more. Meanwhile, 55% of responding managers expected their companies to increase the number of full-time employees.


Ventures William De Vos, CEO of SPE, “There will be a continuation of growth opportunities over the next several years within the plastics industry. This year’s polling again shows improvement in the perception of job stability, and anticipation of higher earnings. We should continue to see a healthy turn in the plastics industry, especially in the Unites States.”


Age & Education Level Are Factors in Compensation


Respondents in the 21-34 age group reported an average base salary of $71,394. The average jumps to $99,318 for the 35-44 age group, continues to climb to well over $100,000 for the 45+ age groups, and reached a maximum of $131,587 for those over 65. Total cash compensation reflects an even higher gap by age, with the 21-34 age group reporting $76,911 on average compared to the 65+ age group reporting almost double at $149,375.


Education plays a significant role in determining pay. Respondents with a post-graduate degree reported an average base salary of $115,873 and average cash compensation of $131,847, whereas those with a high-school level education reported an average base salary of $77,557 and average cash compensation of $92,500.


Respondents in executive management reported higher base salaries and total cash compensation than all other job titles. The average total cash compensation for job titles grouped as “Executive Management” was $158,489, followed by titles grouped as “Sales, Marketing, Customer Support” at $137,734.


A detailed report of the full survey will appear in the September issue of SPE’s Plastics Engineering magazine. SPE member can obtain a copy, with detailed information by logging into their accounts on SPE site.


Coca-Cola Debuts First 100% Biobased PET Bottle

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 11. June 2015



In the race toward an all-biobased PET bottle, it looks like the Coca-Cola Co. is ahead; last week, it debuted the world’s first such beverage bottle at the World Expo 2015 in Milan.


With its PlantBottle packaging strategy—which entails the conversion of natural sugars found in plants into the ingredients for making PET, the company made its first foray in 2009 when it began to produce PET bottles based on 30% plant-based renewable material (monoethylene glycol made from sugarcane ethanol).


The new 100% biobased PET bottle is based on technology developed by biofuels and biochemical company Virent, Inc., Madison, Wis., which enables the company to produce its BioFormPX (paraxylene) from beet sugars vs. fossil fuels. Paraxylene is the key raw material used to produce DMT/PTA (dimethyl terephathalate/purified terephthalic acid) monomers, which account for 70% of PET’s composition.


Virent produced the plant-based paraxylene at its demonstration plant in Madison. Taiwan-based Far Eastern New Century then worked with Virent and Coca-Cola to convert the paraxylene into a renewable PET resin. Virent has been working with Coca-Cola since 2011, and the latter’s major investment in 2014 is supporting the expansion of Virent’s demonstration plant. “Coca-Cola’s support of our plans for the BioFormPX material in the next-generation of PlantBottle packaging is critical in attracting manufacturing investment from the PET supply chain,” stated Virent’s CEO Lee Edwards.


According to Edwards, Virent is pursuing construction of a commercial-scale plant to help Coca-Cola scale up production of the 100% renewable content bottles. But there is nothing further to announce at this time, he said in a statement released at the June 3 debut. “We’ve had several sales of the material to other companies for them to go through the same kind of ‘validation’ testing of the material for use in other PET products, such as apparel.”


To date, Coca-Cola has produced 35 billion bottles that are 30% plant-based, and its aim it to have commercial production of the 100% plant-based bottles by 2020. Nancy Quan, Coca-Cola’s global R&D officer said,“This is a pioneering milestone within our company’s packaging portfolio. Our vision was to maximize game-changing technology, using responsibly sourced plant-based materials to create the globe’s first fully recyclable PET plastic bottle made entirely from renewable materials.”


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


Solvay Launches New Thermoplastic Lightweighting Materials for Aerospace

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 8. June 2015


They keep coming—advances in thermoplastic composites, and the degree of their success in ‘unseating’ traditional thermoset composites, metals and metal alloys in major markets such as aerospace and automotive appear to be very much linked to key industry partnerships.


Take Solvay Specialty Polymers, for instance, which late last month send out a press release on its launch of “Tegralite Thermoplastic Lightweighting Solutions to Improve Time and Cost Efficiencies in the Aeronautics Industry”, with three alliance partners.  I quickly scrambled to find out what these “solutions” might be exactly because Solvay, in my humble view, is quite the company in terms of advanced materials’ innovation. I was nicely rewarded with clarifications to my questions, helped along by a hard-working account executive at a very reputable marketing communications firm. So, let me share:


Q: Are these foamed materials?


A: Tegralite is not a specific material but describes a new family of semi-finished thermoplastic lightweighting materials for aerospace applications that Solvay Specialty Polymers develops and commercializes together with its alliance partnersAonix Advanced Materials, JSP, and 3A Composites, including foams, composites and sandwich materials manufactured out of Solvay’s extensive portfolio of polymers.


            Product examples include Tegracore PPSU foam (formerly Radel foam) that have found use in the cabin of the new Airbus' A350 widebody jetliner  and Stemme AG's new S12 motorglider, and thermoplastic sandwich materials made of Tegracore and sulfone-based prepregs manufactured by Aonix. Such sandwich materials have been used recently, for example, in a new generation of highly damage resistant and tolerant airline service trolleys.


 To sum up: With Aonix, Solvay is propelling the development of innovative high- and ultra-performing prepreg systems as well as new sandwich materials and structures. Its partnership with JSP, pioneer of three-dimensionally molded expanded polypropylene (EPP) foamed parts, opens up fast and easy access to 3D foam parts, a technology already widely used in the automotive sector. And, its alliance with 3A Composites makes available for the first time and in large quantities a new generation of aerospace foams. This is all further complemented by Solvay’s range of functional and decorative films.


Q: Is this the first commercialization of new materials that utilize Aonix’s prepregs made of unique amorphous thermoplastics as we have reported previously?


A: Sandwich materials made of Tegracore PPSU and Aonix prepreg have been commercially introduced only lately. For example, in the June 2015 issue of Aerospace Manufacturing magazine, we describe this new generation of airline service trolleys that can best be described as “non-electric fridges on wheels”. The same technology concept can be applied to many other systems in the cabin because Tegracore PPSU resists Skydrol (Eastman Chemicals’ fire-resistant aviation hydraulic fluids). Also, Aonix’s prepregs have been finding additional uses beyond aerospace.

Q: Is this materials technology transferable to automotive, other transportation, and non-transportation applications?

A: A priori yes! That said, today our focus is to roll out our business in a very controlled manner…to not over-promise and under-deliver to our customers. Another thing to add is that rather than extrapolating our technology to automotive, we try to do the opposite: bring automotive technology to aerospace to overcome decades of long-supply-chain inefficiencies. As an example, we are working closely with JSP to advance their technology from EPP foamed parts to aerospace applications by establishing pathways to three-dimensionally molded PVDF foam parts. As aircraft OEMs and airlines strive to build more planes and create more part-commonality to improve operational effectiveness, this certainly is a very promising way to go.


Q: In this initial push, what “heavier plastics” (as noted in the press release) and which metals would the Tegralite materials replace?


A: We see a trend to replace big molded plastic parts by lighter composites. Also, we receive requests to replace aluminum structures. Details are confidential.


Q: Anything on cost that can be said--from upfront costs to processing, energy and/scrap savings?


A: Tegralite sandwich materials can win on multiple ends:


• Compared to incumbent honeycomb-based sandwich structures, they economize on labor costs for primary and secondary operations to make parts. The savings are greater the more complex parts are—such as S-shape panels vs. flat panels. This opens up new avenues in making mass-customized parts.


• The completely thermoplastic nature of these materials further opens up avenues related to on-board repair (e.g., on-board welding) in contrast to incumbent thermosets.


• In short, costs can be cut both in part making and in reducing costs of maintenance. Note that 3D molded PVDF foam parts allow for the production of integrated parts without scrap—i.e.; the fly-to-buy ratio is 1. In general, we assist our customers in cost studies and quantify the benefit of our materials.


Q: Anything else that can be said at this point about Tegralite materials?


A: Tegralite is a growing family of products that will be released step-by-step as they become market ready and application proven.


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




Solvay's Advanced Thermoplastics To Star In Polimotor 2 Car Engine

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 31. May 2015


While it’s taken 25 years to remerge, work on an all-plastic automotive engine is well underway. In fact, the Polimotor 2 engine will make its debut in a race car next year and several advanced thermoplastics from Solvay Specialty Polymers are an integral part of the design.  The four-cylinder, double-overhead CAM Polimotor 2 engine will be installed in a Norma M-20 concept car that will compete at the 2016 racing of Lime Rock Park, Conn.


First, a bit of history. Some of you might remember hearing about Polimotor 1 back in the late 80s--a joint project of New Jersey-based Polimotor Research and Ford Motor. Although that engine was never installed, the ambitious project resulted in an engine based on Ford’s 2.3-liter Pinto engine and weighed 153 lbs vs. 415 lbs for its then cast iron counterpart. It comprised metal cylinder sleeves, metal combustion chamber tops, metal piston crowns, bearings, valves and seats, and a stock 2.3L Pinto crankshaft. Nearly everything else—including the block, rods and piston skirts—were made of Torlon PAI (polyamide-imide) then made by Amoco Chemical and now one of Solvay’s key advanced polymers.


Fast forward to Polimotor 2: Solvay is aiming for an engine that will weigh 138 to 148 lbs, or about 90 lbs less that today’s standard production engine. Of course, the company is hoping that this development will translate to further innovation for future commercial cars. In their press release, Solvay noted that at least ten engine components—including the intake manifold (plenum), air duct (runner), cam sprockets, throttle body, water pump, oil pump, and fuel rail—will be made of at least seven of its materials.


In my recent inquiry, Solvay officials offered some further details starting with this: “Polimotor 2 is the evolution of Polimotor I where new polymers and technologies will be introduced that were not commercially viable in the 1980s. Additionally, Polimotor 2 uses carbon-fiber reinforcement while Polimotor 1 used fiberglass reinforcement. Polimotor 2 takes several cues from Polimotor 1 including the return of the four cast combustion chambers and the four machined cylinder bores which are mechanically incorporated into the engine.” 


My sources also noted that Solvay’s global leadership in automotive has had a long history of supplying high-performance polymers which improve powertrain efficiency, enable electrification, and reduce vehicle emissions. They list the following polymers offered for this project, Torlon PAI, Amodel PPA, Ryton PPS, Radel PPSU, AvaSpire PAEK, KetaSpire PEEK, Tehnoflon FKM, Technyl PA66, and additive manufacturing materials Sinterline and Technyl Powders. They say they will provide more detailed information on the specific components as they are designed and a final material selection has been made. Some new materials and technologies will also be highlighted by the company as the Polimotor 2 engine design progresses.


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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