Lehigh Technologies Gets 2015 Bloomberg New Energy Pioneer Award

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 20. April 2015

Earlier this month, Atlanta-based Lehigh Technologies, a specialty materials and additives company, was awarded the 2015 Bloomberg New Energy Pioneer award. The award is in recognition for the ten-year old company’s innovations in commercializing a range of micronized rubber powders (MRP) from end-of-life tires that are used as additives in plastics and as raw materials in a range of other markets such as new tires and asphalt. MRP reportedly can reduce feedstock costs by 30% or more, while delivering equivalent or improved performance and an improved sustainability profile.


This award recognizes the top 10 companies globally that are revolutionizing the field of clean energy technology and innovation. Nominees are judged based on the potential to scale the technology, the originality of the technology and business model, as well as momentum and ability to grow the company. Judges include industry pros from U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Bloomberg New Energy Finance and BP Alternative Energy North America. 


Last September, the company got an extra boost in its investor base with the closing of an $8-million strategic financing round to support the company’s geographic expansion and technology roadmap. JSR Corp., a $4-billion specialty chemicals company, participated in this latest round of financing, joining existing investors Leaf Clean Energy; Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers; Index Ventures; and Florida Gulfshore Capital. The company has already made significant inroads into markets outside the United States, but this latest round of financing gives it additional resources to drive growth in Europe and Asia, according to Dr. Alan Barton, CEO of Lehigh Technologies. “Commercial sales of MRP have been growing rapidly—over the past few years alone, we’ve demonstrated annual growth rates of 30 percent,” he notes.


Within the plastics arena, MRP has been getting broader play, starting with PP and PE in a variety of applications, from industrial piping to consumer storage solutions to automotive components.  In its collaborative efforts with industry partners, the company has also shown its MRP products to be effective in nylon systems and other engineering resins. MRP can reportedly lower the part cost, increase throughput and reduce energy consumption in applications using either prime resins or blends with recycle content.  The company also offers masterbatches for easy introduction in the process, eliminating the need to handle micron-scale powders in high-throughput molding operations.  


Among processors who have been benefiting from Lehigh Technologies’ products is CTC Plastics, which offers a line of pallets and also supplies the resin compounds used to make them. Both pallets and pellets contain MRP blended with PP. In addition to making a significant impact on the company’s footprint, company officials cite unbeatable cost and performance.  Yet another is septic tank maker Infiltrator Systems. For over four years, the company has been using MRP with industrial PP regrind to make their distribution chambers and has found it to be an excellent extender—effectively allowing them to reduce the amount of the higher-priced PP required for these injection molded parts.  Other benefits cited include an improved balance of impact strength and flexural modulus, better surface finish and improved variability of the regrind used.    




New Design Standards Present Challenge, Opportunities for Connector Molders

By: Tony Deligio 20. April 2015

The tubes and catheters that carry oxygen, medication, nutrients, and fluids to hospital patients had been connected to delivery systems via universally designed small-bore Luer connectors, with that standardization occasionally leading to misconnections and subsequently, patient injury or death.


In response, an international collection of clinicians, manufacturers, and regulators, including the FDA, worked with the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) and the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) to develop ISO 80369 standards that govern the redesign of small-bore (inner diameter of less than 8.5 mm) connectors, with one goal, according to the Global Enteral Device Supplier Association (GEDSA): “make it difficult, if not impossible, for unrelated delivery systems to be connected.”


GEDSA launched its Stay Connected initiative to support the changeover, calling the new connectors ENFit to differentiate them from the traditional luer connectors. Feeding tubes with the ENFit connector are projected to be available in the second quarter of 2015.  


The new connector design standards will initially apply to liquids and gases in healthcare applications. Eventually they will dictate connector size and shape for breathing systems and driving gases, enteral, limb cuff inflation, neuraxial, and intravascular-hypodermic applications. Once the standards are completed, luer connector will only be used for intravascular and hypodermic applications. All other small-bore connector delivery systems will be changed to ensure they can’t be misconnected to luers.


Proactively Switching Resins
German injection molder and mold maker A. Hopf Gmbh, Zirndorf, recently announced the development of newly designed enteral connectors utilizing Tritan copolyester from Eastman, Kingsport, Tenn., to proactively satisfy the ISO/DIS 2 80369-3 requirements. The company noted that the application of copolyester, versus PC, also satisfies French legislation banning BPA in food-contact materials for children, passed in 2013. That ban expanded to cover all such applications in January 2015.


At the MD&M West show in Anaheim, Calif. this February, Eastman discussed the new regulations in the small-bore connector market and how they’re impacting connecter molders and their material suppliers.


In the past, the use of flexible materials—like PVC, TPE, and TPU—in connectors, could allow a healthcare worker to “force” the connectors together, creating the potential for error. As part of the new design standard, materials must be stiff, with a flexural modulus above 700 MPa. In this space, Tritan will compete with materials including PC, ABS and PMMA. Eastman said that in addition to moldability and toughness, Tritan also maintains clarity, color and functional integrity after ethylene oxide and gamma sterilization.


In a July 2014 letter to its customers, medical device supplier Covidien, which is a charter member of GEDSA, noted that new enteral feeding tubes with ENFit connector would be available in April 2015, with the transition to the new ISO standard connectors completed in January 2016. 

Without Data All You Have Is An Opinion

By: Tony Deligio 15. April 2015

If you’re a plastics processor on the fence about taking the free, anonymous benchmarking survey we’re launching in 2015, I’d encourage you check out the executive summary of the Top Shops survey from our sister publication, Modern Machine Shop, to get a sense of the type of information you can expect to receive.


Survey participants, of course, will get the complete report, not just the executive summary, which will be chock full of data that can not only give you a better perspective on your own plant’s performance, but also help you assess where the industry’s headed (and if you’ll be joining it).


Most plastics processors have seen the light when it comes to tracking their operations, gathering data on all sorts of manufacturing metrics. This has given them much more than an opinion about their own facility, but by completing the survey you can move past ‘opinion’ when it comes to your competitors and get into the facts of how well you stack up.


Take the survey today

Auxiliaries: A New Frontier in Metal Replacement

By: Tony Deligio 15. April 2015

For at least two auxiliary suppliers at NPE2015, the answer was yes. Novatec and the ACS Group both featured new products in their booths outfitted with rotomolded plastics.


In the case of Novatec, its Bessemer Series of downstream extrusion cooling and sizing tanks converted to rotomolded plastic (pictured below). Conrad Bessemer, company president, noted that the rotomolded tanks don’t just allow for faster delivery, but compared to metal they can provide better insulation and aren’t as susceptible to condensation.


James Holbrook, president of the ACS Group, discussed his company’s new rotomolded plastic pump tank, which ranges up to 1000 gallons, and opened his eyes to more plastic-for-metal opportunities.


“Look around the show floor,” Holbrook said at NPE2015. “It’s a plastics industry event but you see a ton of steel. Let’s at least ask where we can use plastics.” Plastics is of course lighter weight and lower cost than steel, but as is the case in many material conversion stories, just because plastics make more sense, doesn’t mean they’ll be applied.


“The reason so much has been steel historically, is that people haven’t looked at other materials,” Holbrook said. “There are applications that still need steel, applications where steel makes sense, but we still want to explore plastics.” 

The Clock Is Ticking: It’s Time to Register for Molding ’15

By: James Callari 10. April 2015
It’s the premier conference for injection molding in the world. And it has been since Amos Golovoy started it 25 years ago. The it to which I am referring is the annual Molding Conference. It’s now owned by Gardner Business Media, the parent of this magazine and sister publication MoldMaking Technology, along with a half dozen other manufacturing-centric publications.
If you haven’t registered for Molding 2015, I urge you to do so. It’s the “can’t miss” technical program on injection molding year in and year out. Click here and you’ll see the agenda laid out in its entirety. This is a conference by, for, and about injection molders, as several processors are among the members of the organizing committee (as are Amos and Matt Naitove, my colleague and executive editor of Plastics Technology). Molding 2015 is being held June 16-18, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill.
Are you interested in medical and LSR molding? What about emerging technologies in molding, like, for instance, additive manufacturing? We’ve got it covered. These days, with shoot-and-ship a thing of the past, many molders are looking to add more and more services to their portfolio, which is why there is a session on value-added molding. And there’s a track on the business of molding as well. Are you up to date on the R&D tax credit? Are you interested in what other molders are doing to attract young talent? You’ll find out all the details about these and other matters at this event.
Over the course of three days, more than 25 presentations and panel discussions will help get you prepared from both a technology and business standpoint to solve the molding problems of today and take advantage of the opportunities presented tomorrow, next year, and beyond.
Learn more and register here.
And while you’re at the conference, try hard to make some time to also attend the neighboring Amerimold exhibit hall. If your molding operation is supported by a toolroom, you can check out equipment and services used in all aspects of mold manufacturing and maintenance. These include machine tools, cutting tools, CAD/CAM, mold materials, mold-repair products and mold components like hot runners.
Amerimold, which is presented by MoldMaking Technology, Plastics Technology, and Modern Machine Shop magazines,  also has its own technical, focusing on process innovations and best practices for designing, building, and maintaining molds.  
I hope you can make our co-located events in Chicago. I think there are more reasons than ever to go, and I trust you’ll be glad you did.

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