Foreign PE Investments Underway in North America

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 1. December 2015

Over the next two years, new back-integrated PE plants will be brought on stream by foreign companies who have sought to benefit from the U.S. shale gas economics. Included are South Africa’s Sasol Chemical and Thailand’s PTT, each of which have opted to utilize the Innovene S slurry process technology, which produces  mono and bi-modal HDPE, from Switzerland’s Ineos Technologies.


Meanwhile, Brazil’s Braskem is starting up production at its major PE petrochemical complex in Mexico this month, and is scheduled to bring its first North American UHMWPE plant on stream within 2016.


At the recent Global Plastics Summit (GPS2015), co-hosted by IHS Chemical and SPI, presentations made by key sources from Ineos, Sasol, and Braskem provided some further details on these happenings as follows:


Sasol Chemicals North America and Ineos Olefins & Polymers USA, both Houston-based, will see their 50/50 joint venture come to fruition within third quarter 2016. To be operated by Ineos at its Battleground Manufacturing Complex in LaPorte, Texas, the new plant will produce 940-million lb/yr of bimodal HDPE using Ineos’ Innovene S process.


PTTGC America LLC, a newly-formed affiliate of PTT, Thailand’s largest petrochemical and refining company, recently selected to use Ineos’ Innovene S HDPE process for a new complex near Dilles Bottom (Belmont County), Ohio. Included in this project is a 2-billion lb/yr ethylene cracker and a 1.4-billion lb/yr HDPE plant with two lines that will produce a wide range of PE grades to serve growing demand in the U.S. and export markets. Timing of startup of these units is not yet available but is likely to commence nearer to 2017.


Braskem is still on schedule with starting up its first North American UHMWPE plant at its LaPorte, Texas site within the second half of 2016. Although the plant’s capacity has yet to be disclosed, the company has said that it will complement its existing UTEC UHMWPE product line it has been producing at its Brazil site and which has been provided to clients in the U.S. and Europe for over 10 years.


Braskem-Idesa (B-I) major new petrochemical complex, which includes an ethylene cracker and three PE units, is slated for startup this month, although its impact on U.S. PE imports to Mexico will not be felt until second quarter 2016. There are two--882-million lb/yr and 772-million lb/yr—HDPE units, both of which will use Ineos’ Innovene S technology. There is also a 661-million lb/yr LDPE unit which will use LyondellBasell’s Lupotech T process, said to allow for production of a broad range of film grades--from hygienic/pharmaceutical to heavy-duty shrink and stretch construction and agricultural films. About 60% of these plants’ output is slated for the Mexican market with 40% slated for exports to the U.S., Central and South America, Europe, and Asia.


First Renewable Capa Lactide for New Bioplastic Compounds

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 27. November 2015

Sweden’s Perstorp has introduced what is said to be the world’s first renewable Capa for bioplastics. The concept builds on the company’s Capa Lactide technology, with a focus on developing copolymers for thermoplastics that can be used to make new bioplastic compounds.


Essentially, Capa is a biopolymer enhancer which enables a high renewable content in combination with many opportunities to develop products in the three fast-growing bioplastic segments--bags and films, packaging, and paper coatings. It has been shown to offer stability and compatibility, improved mechanical properties, flexibility at low temperatures, and biodegrability.


According to Linda Zellner, project manager for bioplastics, the renewable Capa concept enables freedom to design polymers that are flexible or hard, transparent or crystalline, tough or rigid and with a targeted melting point and polarity. “Market indications show that these products are likely to deliver what many customers are looking for in terms of bio-based content and performance. The challenge on the market has been to combine performance and biodegradability of the end applications. With our renewable Capac concept, we are redrawing the map by enabling products with high performance properties without compromising sustainability,” she says.


This effort will now be supported by Perstorp’s full industrial production and pilot facilities in Warrington, U.K. and its modern Swedish innovation center in Perstorp for bioplastic formulations, with global availability planned. “With these capabilities, we can develop and test concepts and scale up production to an industrial level”, says Zellner. The company’s initial step is to team up with industry partners to develop these products jointly to ensure the right performance is achieved that meets their needs.


Renewable Capa has been evaluated both in terms of compostability and bio-based content and is also certified as bio-based by the independent Belgian certification body Vincotte. At its 2015 conference, the European Bioplastics Association put the estimated annual growth of the bioplastics market at 20%. 

Sneak Peek at Molding 2016

By: Tony Deligio 24. November 2015

Over two-and-a-half days next March, experts from across the injection molding supply chain will gather in New Orleans offerings insights into the latest trends and technologies in this dynamic industry. Molders, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and more will be there.


Primary tracks at Molding 2016 (March 29-31; Westin New Orleans Canal Place) currently include:


Establishing/Monitoring/Maintaining Robust Processing

Adding Value Via Automation, Assembly and Packaging

Material Drying/Handling



Emerging Technologies


In addition to those, special breakout sessions are in the works specifically for automotive and medical injection molding. In the automotive track, presenters will address liquid color advances, effective automation, the potential for mid-sized all-electrics, preventative purging, and lightweighting batteries via molded conductive plastics, among other issues.


On the medical side, presentations will cover running Tritan in multicavity hot runner molds; using ERP software to maintain documentation and certifications; whitewall medical molding; and more.


Machine manufacturers (Arburg, Engel, Husky, Milacron, Wittmann Battenfeld, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag) will be on hand, as well as auxiliary suppliers (Conair, Novatec, UnaDyn) and material companies (Eastman Chemical, Covestro, Momentive, PolyOne). Plenty of established molders will be there (Extreme Molding, Henkel, Makuta Technics, Noble Plastics, Nypro, Tessy Plastics) as well as a newer player in Proto Labs.


Specific topics currently include:


Injection molding design of experiments

Lights out injection molding

LSR Molding

Industry 4.0

Smart packaging

Digital manufacturing

Recycled resin

Automation (collaborative, value added, automation in automotive)

Inspection (3D and predictive)

Induction heating of tools

Multi-component molding

Measuring melt temperature in real time

Automatic temperature control

Predictive maintenance

Liquid color

Process development

LED lighting Applications


Columnists from Plastics Technology magazine are also on tap, including:


Pete Stoughton

Randy Kerkstra

Suhas Kulkarni

Robert Gattshall


Save the date and wait for more updates as we get closer to Molding 2016!

Molding 2015 Conference and Exhibit

Two Dow Flexible Packaging Technologies Among 2015 R&D 100 Awards

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 24. November 2015


Earlier this month at the 2015 R&D Awards and Technology Conference in Las Vegas, two advanced flexible packaging technologies from Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics business, were among the winners.


The 53-yr-old R&D 100 Awards, sponsored by R&D magazine, Rockaway, N.J., recognizes advances in testing equipment, chemistry, biomedical products, consumer items and more. Dow received an award under the Mechanical Devices/Materials category for its novel PE Stand-Up Pouch. It also received an award under the Green Technology category for PacExpert bottle technology for which the company is the exclusive global licensee through an agreement with co-developer Smart Bottle, Inc., Asheville, N.C.  


I checked in with key Dow sources following the awards announcement for some clarification and a bit of an update as to the direction to which these technologies are headed. Here’s what I learned:


PE Stand Up Pouch: This technology is targeted to packaging of both frozen and dried foods, and is suitable for recycling in communities with existing PE film recycling streams and eligible to use the How2Recycle label. The PE stand-up pouch consists of several layers of Dow’s high performance PE grades that offer stiffness, high temperature, toughness, and sealability—a combination that is necessary to duplicate the performance of the traditional multi-material, multi-layered pouches. The big advantage is the recyclability of the PE stand-up pouch with existing PE film recycling streams such as the grocery store drop-off, stresses global development leader Lamy Chopin.


Chopin further explains that Dow Packaging & Specialty Plastics is focused on developments that extent the performance of PE into areas where PET or other material are often used, most specifically by enabling the creation of products that are recyclable. One example, is Opolux XGT, a high-temperature, high-gloss varnish applied to surface-printed PE film, which broadens the processing window of the films—and, as such, expanding the PE film performance while maintaining the recyclability. In a recent trial, Dow was able to demonstrate an increase in upper temperature limit for pouch-making equipment of 100˚F. In fact, according to Chopin, the film coated with Opulux HGT sealed at the highest temperature the equipment would tolerate, and made stand-up pouch formats at up to 200 pouches per minute.


Chopin also acknowledges that aside from temperature resistance, PET in laminate films can offer barrier and stiffness. However, Dow has recently equaled and exceeded the barrier performance of PET laminate with a new barrier adhesive technology, which is said to allow reverse-printed, all-PE packaging designs which have aroma barrier and are still viable for store drop-off recycling programs.


Dow has also developed new options to make traditional PE+EVOH barrier structures compatible for use in the store drop-off recycling programs. The company is also exploring options to increase the film stiffness using Dow’s new Innate Precision Packaging Resins, a new family of polyethylene resins that is aimed at addressing key challenging performance gaps in flexible packaging, most notably: unmatched stiffness/toughness balance, processing ease and improved sustainability profiles.


PacXpert Packaging Technology: This is the flexible, lightweight alternative to rigid packaging bottles that requires less material to manufacture and allows for more efficient shipping, for which Dow obtained the global license in early 2014. Dow sources confirm that the PacXpert ‘bottles’ may be made from numerous flexible materials including PE, nylons, and/or foils or a combination of these materials and bonded together with laminated adhesives or functionalizes tie layers.


The technology is fast gaining significant play in the market. Dow has sub-licensed the technology to several converters, and is assisting them to commercialize the packages and work with them to create broad pull-though demand from brand owners. They include:


O.Kleiner A.G, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in Europe. Company will produce packages enabled by the technology and will sell the packages to their customer base under the “Brainypack” name.


Ampac, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in North America. Company will produce packages with this technology and sell them to their customer base under the Ampac CubePak name.


China Sun, a flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in The People’s Republic of China.


Darplas, a leading producer of liquid and barrier packaging in Latin America, is authorized to produce packages in Colombia, to sell to its customers in the Andean region, Central America, and the Carribean.


Camada, part of the Grupo Embalo and one of the largest producers of flexible packaging in Brazil, is authorized to sell in Brazil.


KRW Machinery, is authorized to sell in North America.


Lord Plasticos, a privately-owned company with more than 40 years in the Brazilian market is authorized to sell in Brazil.


Valifil, a flexible film and packaging converter, is also authorized to sell in Brazil.


Leygapack, flexible packaging converter, is authorized to sell in Europe.


Kyodo Printing Co., Ltd., is authorized to sell in Japan.


3D Printing Offers Much Promise For Materials Scientists

By: Heather Caliendo 19. November 2015

During the 3D Printing USA Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., hosted by UK-based IDTechEx, it was proclaimed that thanks in part to 3D printing, this is the “golden age for material scientists.” This statement from John Hornick, partner of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, and intellectual property law firm that has a focus on 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM).


He was not alone in those thoughts. Throughout the two-day 3D printing conference, much conversation centered around materials.


“We need materials optimized for additive manufacturing,” said Hemant Bheda, CEO and founder of Arevo Labs. “In absence of that, we have to take those current materials that are available and modify to make them suitable for additive manufacturing. That in combination with our process, goes hand in hand in getting the optimal performance out of material.”


Arevo Labs recently made headlines when it announced it’s offering AM service to make 3D-printed composite parts using PEEK and PAEK polymer-based formulations.


“High performance materials are required by industries such as aerospace and oil and gas,” he said. “There’s been a long dream of polymers replacing metal – and we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”


While 3D printing is a “powerful” industry, Kenneth Church, president and CEO, of nScrypt Inc., a manufacturer of micro-dispensing and 3D printing systems, says it’s not complete as there are still both material limitations and compatibility issues. This is why diverse materials are crucial, he said.


Stratasys, which offers a range of additive manufacturing materials, gave an overview of some of its materials as well as a look into what’s on the horizon as far as R&D. The company recently announced that it now offers ULTEM 1010 high performance FDM thermoplastic for the Fortus 400mc and 450mc 3D production Systems. The material had been previously available for the Fortus 900mc 3D Production System.


Ken Burns, materials business manager with Stratasys, said that in regards to the thermoplastic landscape, the company’s goal is to start using lower cost materials, however, not as “low cost” as HDPE. The company is also interested in the “high range,” including thermoplastic composite film.


Some other key takeaways:


—About 35% of engineering job postings today require 3D printing skills. (NinjaTek)


—Lightweighting‪ is a growing area in 3D printing (IDTechEx)


—The global 3D printing market is estimated to reach at least $7 billion by 2025. While traditional applications such as prototyping continue to grow, it will be augmented with a variety of new applications. (IDTechEx)


‪—nScrypt, however, believes ‪3d printing will be a $20 billion industry.


Pictured: A part printed from Stratasys's Ultem 1010

Stratasys Ultem 1010 3D Printing



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