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Bayer To Quit Plastics

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 18. September 2014

Bayer AG has announced that it plans to focus entirely on its Life Science businesses—HealthCare and CropScience—and intends to float MaterialScience on the stock market by 2016 at latest as a separate company. The BMS business, with North American headquarters in Pittsburgh, is comprised of polyurethane, TPUs, PC, inorganic chemicals and coatings & adhesives.

 

Bayer CEO Dr. Marijn Dekkers says the company intends to create two top global corporations: Bayer as a world-class innovation company in the Life Science businesses, and MaterialScience as a leading player in polymers. Subsequent to the intended spin-off, MaterialScience will be Europe’s fourth largest chemical company; it had global sales in 2013 of more than $14.2 billion (pro forma figure). The new company will have a new name and a separate identity and be headquartered in Leverkusen, Germany. Employment levels are expected to remain stable over the next few years. It is planned that the new company will have a global workforce of about 16,800, including 6500 in Germany.

 

Dekkers noted that the company firmly believes that MaterialScience will use its separate status to deploy its existing strength even more rapidly, effectively and flexibly in the global competitive arena. A strategy and corporate culture aligned to technological and cost leadership, coupled with the ability to make its own investment and portfolio decisions, would give MaterialScience the best development prospects in a highly competitive market. That, according to Dekkers, includes direct capital market access so that that it would not have to compete with the Life Science businesses for investment funding in the future.

 

It is possible that a similar action might be taken by DuPont, according to a Sept. 17 Forbes article. Activist investor Nelson Peltz sent a note to DuPont’s board this past Tuesday, which said Peltz’s hedge fund, Trian Partners, is urging the company to break itself up. According to Forbes, Trian is one of DuPont’s largest shareholders and discussions have been underway for the past year as Trian feels that it can “no longer be silent as DuPont continues to struggle to execute” what Trian believes is a flawed business plan.

 

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

 

Thermoplastic Composites Prominent At SPE's ACCE

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 17. September 2014

Last week in Novi, Mich., I attended SPE’s Automotive Composites Conference & Exhibition (ACCE) and was impressed by the daily panel discussions, including one on lightweighting and the multi-material car. Moderated by president and CEO Jay Baron of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR), it featured panelists from Ford, GM, Magna, Gurit Automotive, and EDAG Engineering AG.

            Among the highlights of the discussion:

• Lightweighting in automotive is an enabling tool to deliver fuel economy and performance, and not something consumers care about.

• The greatest advantage of plastic composites currently is also their greatest disadvantage: that they are so infinitely tailorable.

• The composites industry would do well to take cues from the steel industry which has aligned itself with the automotive industry and identified the development of new materials.

• The steel industry seems to reinvent itself every 10 years and the third generation steel grades allow for making low-cost parts with tenfold the strength of previous generations. As such, we can expect a rather stable presence of low-cost, high-performance steel in automotive, even in the most composite-intensive vehicles.

• Ford’s new aluminum-intensive F-150 truck will demonstrate a significant step in weight reduction, but this can be achieved by other materials.

• There is great potential for carbon fiber reinforced plastics as new materials are developed, the cost is dropped, and parts are designed for these materials.

• By the same token, we are not likely to see high-volume, composite-intensive vehicles on the road for a while.

Also impressive was the broad range of presentations on developments in both thermoset and thermoplastic composites. A “star” emerging in the thermoplastics composites arena is long fiber thermoplastics (LFT). Advances with LFT were discussed by suppliers of materials like Invista and DuPont, suppliers of glass fiber reinforcements Owens-Corning and PPG, carbon fiber supplier Zoltec, as well injection molding machine maker Arburg, and the Fraunhofer Institute. In the exhibit hall, compounder PlastiComp, which specializes in LFT, showcased a semitruck fender liner made of LFT-PP, which outperformed a failed short glass fiber part and replaced metal, resulting in mass reduction and increased durability (see photo).

Stay tuned for an upcoming article in PT on these and other interesting developments in thermoplastic composites. These include  advances in thermoplastics reinforced with carbon nanotubes (CNTs), high-impact nylons reinforced with a new nanoadditive that are promising for use with FDM additive manufacturing technology, and new generation boron nitride nanotube continuous fibers that show potential to surpass in mechanical properties CNTs and possibly graphite fibers.

 

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

 


 

Plastics Industry Puts Skills Gap in its Sights

By: Tony Deligio 17. September 2014

When you complete an article, sometimes you feel like everywhere you look news related to that topic is popping up.

 

In Plastics Technology’s September issue, I wrote about the so-called skills gap in manufacturing and what plastics companies are doing to address it, so the whole topic is still very top of mind for me. Apparently the issue is top of mind for lots of others as well. On September 16, I received five press releases related in various ways to the skills gap, ranging from a Manufacturing Day celebration to machine donations to schools to plastics education online and in apps. If awareness of the skills gap really is everywhere, that’s a good thing for the plastics industry.

 

Toshiba Machine announced it will host students and their teachers from local high schools, community colleges and universities for its first annual Manufacturing Day celebration. On Oct. 3, more than 600 Manufacturing Day celebrations will take place across the U.S. For Toshiba, celebrating means helping the U.S. “secure its leadership position in the global manufacturing marketplace by inspiring the next generation of workers to pursue careers in the industry.”

 

Toshiba’s event will run from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at its corporate headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Ill.  Guest speakers will include Michael Taylor, Senior Director, International Affairs and Trade, Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) and Omar A. Ghrayeb, Associate Dean, Outreach and Undergraduate Programs, Northern Illinois University. Additional presentations at the event will come from Paulson Training Programs, RJG, Reiloy Westland and Yushin America.

 

SPI and Tooling U-SME launched a new online training program intended to close “the manufacturing skills gap in the plastics industry.” PlasticsU will provide a customized selection of courses and programs for a broad array of plastics related skills. SPI noted that the offerings range from a basic introduction to the most advanced studies, with courses including Interpreting Blueprints; Creating a Milling Program; Principles of Injection Molding; Measuring System Analysis; Rigging Inspection and Safety; and CNC Controls.

 

Milacron announced an expansion of its Education Partnership program, specifically shipping a Magna T Servo injection molding machine to Salt Lake Community College in support of its short-term intensive training program for injection molding. Milacron noted that it has more than 40 machines supporting learning institutions across the U.S.

 

The Salt Lake Community College molding lab currently features three machines, with room for five. The plastics program’s goal is to train up to 15 students every eight weeks. Milacron also noted that Penn State Erie, which offers an accredited plastics engineering technology degree, celebrates the 25th anniversary of its first graduating class in 2014. The multimillion dollar Penn State lab, which has equipment from Milacron and others, provides more than 125 students hands-on training every year.

 

Routsis Training announced the release of its new Injection Molding Reference Guide app for both Apple and Android devices. Routsis notes that the reference guide gives process techs the info they need to troubleshoot and establish a scientific molding process. The app also includes information regarding Routsis’ RightStart and SmartTech training, including video previews from actual training courses.

 

Finally, the first ever International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training was held, an event described as a “global dialogue about the importance of a skilled workforce for economic competitiveness.”

 

Jim Wall, executive director of the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) attended highlighting the NIMS’ Competency-Based Apprenticeship System. NIMS reported that the congress focused on “building a positive image of vocational training, supporting bilateral exchanges between the private sector and policymakers, and presenting best practices in companies and schools.”

 

Toshiba Opens Service Center in Mexico

By: Matthew H. Naitove 17. September 2014

Another indicator of the growing importance of Mexico to North American plastics manufacturing is the recent opening of the first Mexican service center by Toshiba Machine Co. America, based in Elk Grove Village, Ill. Located in the Nippon Express Guanajuato Logistics Center in Puerto Interior, Silao, Guanajuato, the new facility offers local service and support to injection molding and die casting customers throughout the country. Mexico has benefited from the “reshoring” trend as a competitive counterbalance to manufacturing in the Far East. “This is a thriving market for us,” says Toshiba Machine America general manager Tom McKevitt. Manager of the new service center is Robert Kinzel. Contact: +52 472-748-5400.

Helping PET Blow Molders Save Energy & Material

By: Matthew H. Naitove 17. September 2014

Two projects are under way at Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI), Holland, Ohio, a leader in PET package development. One is intended to help PET bottle makers reduce their energy costs by designing custom plans for processors. This involves a careful analysis of all bottle manufacturing stages at the customer. This includes preform and bottle production, supply and quality of compressed air, machine conditions and capabilities, blowing cycle review, oven setup, process development, and package performance validation. “Companies go out of their way to drive weight out of bottles, but they often overlook the significant amount of energy waste that occurs when running the equipment,” says Donald Miller, v.p. of technical services. “Depending on how inefficient energy usage is, this can be a gold mine of ‘found money’ for the company.”

 

A particular focus of PTI’s energy review is compressed-air usage. Miller says, “The key to creating a successful energy reduction program is to consider air delivery and air demand requirements at the same time. In the past, companies have tended to focus on these as separate areas and not in concert with one another. Using a systems approach is the key to optimizing operational improvements.”

 

Another new initiative by PTI is becoming the exclusive U.S. representative for several PET processing technologies developed by Toyo Seikan Co., Ltd. of Tokyo. One of the areas that the two companies will be working together on is new foamed PET bottle technology which produces lightweight containers with good barrier attributes and unusual visual and tactile properties. The companies will unveil more details about the new technology—and its potential impact on beverage packaging in the U.S.—in the coming months. They also will reveal other PET technologies to be marketed here.




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