Your Business in Brief - February 2003

BASF Buys Honeywell’s Engineering PlasticsBASF in Germany has agreed to purchase the engineering plastics business of Honeywell International, Morris Township, N.J.

BASF Buys Honeywell’s Engineering Plastics

BASF in Germany has agreed to purchase the engineering plastics business of Honeywell International, Morris Township, N.J. In return, BASF will sell its nylon carpet fibers business to Honeywell. The sale includes Honeywell’s Capron nylon 6 and nylon alloys.

Honeywell retains its nylon films and Aegis nylon nanocomposites. BASF gets its first major nylon 6 resin capacity in North America, balancing its leading position in Europe. Also, BASF’s strength in U.S. automotive and electrical-electronic markets will now include a leading role in appliances, lawn/garden equipment, and consumer goods.


PolyOne to Sell Techmer PM Stake

PolyOne Corp. in Cleveland will sell its 51% interest in the joint venture Techmer PM, LLC to TPM Holdings, LP, which owns the remaining 49%. TP Holdings is headed by John R. Manuck, who will continue as Techmer manager and president. Techmer PM produces masterbatches in California, Tennessee, Georgia, and Kansas.


Growing Share of IP Skin Market Seen for TPOs & Slush Molding

Consulting firm Robert Eller Associates in Akron, Ohio, predicts major shifts in materials choices and processing methods for auto instrument panels across the globe. Thermoformed PVC/ABS skins will keep losing ground to thermoformed TPO as well as slush-molded TPO, PVC, and TPU and spray-on urethane coatings, according to Robert Eller, president. He estimates that 36% of North American cars had PVC/ABS skins in 2002, down from 50% five years ago. “Demand for accurate and uniform grain retention and the emergence of IPs having sharper angles have favored alternatives to ABS/PVC,” Eller says.

Nevertheless, slush molding of flexible PVC skins may oppose the general trend away from PVC in the next few years. Adoption of “invisible” airbag covers and tougher requirements for low-temperature airbag deployment favor PVC slush molding and other alternatives to formed PVC/ABS, Eller says. Audi recently developed a mechanical method for producing slush-molded PVC skins that allows them to break more cleanly for easier airbag deployment, Eller says.

He also sees a growing role for TPO skins. Three emerging technologies are likely to support that shift, one being negative-skin vacuum forming—developed by Visteon Corp. of Dearborn, Mich.—that improves grain retention of TPO skins. In addition, Benecke-Kalico in Hannover, Germany, has developed a method for radiation cross-linking of TPO skins to enhance their grain retention and strength. Finally, slush molded TPO skins have emerged in Japan and will appear in the U.S. on some 2003 models.

Another projected winner is spray-on PUR skins made with technology developed by Recticel North America, Inc., Auburn Hills, Mich. Eller foresees big gains for this approach in the next five years in the U.S. and Europe due to its ability to deliver excellent grain retention and accommodate sharper angles in IP design.


Van Dorn & Demag Form New Group

Demag Ergotech GmbH of Schwaig, Germany, and Van Dorn Demag Corp. of Strongsville, Ohio, have merged to form the Demag Plastics Group. The two firms had already agreed to close cooperation after their previous stint as separate, competing entities within the former Mannesmann Plastics Machinery Group. The new group is intended to achieve synergies in manufacturing, engineering, and marketing. Neither Van Dorn Demag nor Demag Ergotech will lose its brand identity. The Group will be represented by sales forces in the U.S. and Europe.

U.S. molders will now benefit from greater access to European developments, such as Demag Ergotech’s multi-component presses and high-speed electric-hybrid El-Exis S machine. The two sister firms will also cooperate closely in development of new products, such as a basic hydraulic machine line starting at 28 tons. The El-Exis S high-speed machine has proven sufficiently popular that the Group plans to extend the size range beyond 462 tons to 1100 tons. Van Dorn’s all-electric IntElect series will become a full line from 50 to 385 tons. Also, both companies’ vertical machines will be blended into one line of presses from 30 to 400 tons.


New HQ for Leister

Swiss-based laser-welding equipment supplier Leister Technologies, LLC has moved its U.S. headquarters from Schaumburg to Itasca, Ill. Its new address is 1253 Hamilton, Parkway, Itasca, IL 60143 (630) 760-1000.


Nova Buys PS Business From Deltech Polymers

Nova Chemicals Inc., Pittsburgh, has purchased the polystyrene business of Deltech Polymers Corp. in Troy, Ohio. The sale includes Deltech’s crystal PS and methylmethacrylate-styrene copolymers, Deltech’s customer base, and associated technology. Deltech’s production facility in Troy has ceased production of these polymers. The plant has nameplate capacity of 140 million lb/yr. Deltech says it will now focus on its core business of specialty styrenic monomers and other resins.


Dow Discontinues Blox Thermoplastic Epoxies

The Epoxy Products & Intermediates business of Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., is discontinuing production of its Blox thermoplastic epoxy resins. A team at Dow is currently evaluating divestiture or licensing options for Blox resins and the company’s reactive extrusion technology.

Introduced in 1999, Blox resins offer the adhesion and durability of epoxy resins with the flexibility and processability of thermoplastics. Some versions also have good gas-barrier properties. Blox resins are used in specialty applications such as powder coatings, loose-fill packaging, and concrete fibers.


Nanocor Teams Up with PolyOne in Nanocomposites

Nanocor Inc., Arlington Heights, Ill., has forged a strategic alliance with compounder PolyOne Corp. of Cleveland in order to speed market penetration of polyolefin- and PVC-based nanocomposites into automotive, appliance, wire/cable, and other durable-goods markets. The latest alliance is one of several recently initiated by Nanocor, a supplier of nanometer-size clay particles. Nano-clays give thermoplastics higher strength, stiffness, gas barrier, and fire resistance while adding little to part weight.
PolyOne would contribute its compounding know-how, far-flung production assets, and broad access to end-use markets. The partners also plan to coordinate R&D activities on nanocomposites based on polyolefins and vinyl. PolyOne will take control of sales, marketing, and manufacturing of nanocomposites, including concentrate forms.
For Nanocor, this alliance represents one more move to accelerate nanocomposite commercialization. In mid-2002, the company formed an alliance with Mitsubishi Gas Chemical of Japan (U.S. office in N.Y.C.) for use of MGC’s high-barrier MXD6 nylon resin in combination with nano-clays.
Last year, Nanocor also formed an alliance with Gitto Global Corp., Lunenburg, Mass., a supplier of flame-retardant compounds. Gitto will develop FR polyolefin nanocomposites for automotive, appliance, electronic, and wire/cable uses.


Dow Creates Specialty Polyolefins Market Team

Dow Plastics, Midland, Mich., has formed a new Specialty Polymers Team in Houston to develop and market specialty polyolefins. The team is part of the North American Polyolefins and Elastomers Business Group. It combines material-science expertise from Dow with technologies and production capabilities from the former Union Carbide Corp. Says Bob Beil, North American commercial v.p. for the group, “This team will develop a full portfolio of functionalized polyolefins.”
Products of the Dow Specialty Polymers Team include ethylene acrylic acid (EAA) copolymers, ethylene ethyl acrylate (EEA), ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), grafted polymers, and Flexomer VLDPE. The EAA, EEA, EVA and grafted resins will be given a new trade name in the second quarter. Tel: (800) 441-4369


Evalca & Kuraray Open Detroit-Area Office

Eval Co. of America (Evalca) in Houston has opened a new application-development office in Livonia, Mich. The new office will offer sales support and application-development services to automotive customers. This office will support applications for Eval EVOH barrier resins in fuel tanks. Sales and technical support will also be provided for automotive products provided by Evalca’s parent company, Kuraray Co., Ltd. in Osaka, Japan. Those products include Septon TPEs and the new Genestar polyamide for high-temperature under-hood applications. Tel: (734) 542-9650.


New SPI Committee on Magnetic Mold Clamps

The SPI Machinery, Molders, and Moldmakers Divisions are forming a joint committee to study development of a safety standard for magnetic mold clamps used on injection molding machines. The standard will address safety warning signs, safety requirements, an electrical interface for molding machines, and proper use of magnetic mold clamps. The first committee meeting is planned for April 10 in Columbus, Ohio, and will include molders, moldmakers, machine builders, and magnetic mold-clamp manufacturers. For more information, contact Walt Bishop at SPI, (202) 974-5230.


Software Integrates QC & ERP

New IQ Quality software from IQMS in Paso Robles, Calif., allows plastics processors to manage their quality control within the same integrated database as their ERP system. IQMS, a provider of ERP software for plastics processors, says this is the first example of such QC integration with ERP.
IQ Quality is designed to help manufacturers meet quality standards such as ISO and QS and to give them real-time access to quality information as it relates to other business functions such as inventory, finance, and manufacturing. Users usually must patch stand-alone quality-management software into their ERP systems, creating potential interface issues and loss of data. The alternative is entering data twice into separate systems.
IQ Quality is integrated into the EnterpriseIQ ERP II system and encompasses web-based document control, advanced product-quality planning, corrective-action requests, engineering change orders, SPC, part-dimension set-up, and gauge R&R. Tel: (805) 227-1122.