Your Business in Brief - May 2003

Standardization Comes to Blow MoldsProgressive Components in Wauconda, Ill., a supplier of standardized injection mold components, will introduce a line of blow mold components at the NPE show in Chicago next month.

Standardization Comes to Blow Molds

Progressive Components in Wauconda, Ill., a supplier of standardized injection mold components, will introduce a line of blow mold components at the NPE show in Chicago next month. Progressive Components has also formed an alliance with Hobson Consulting, Ltd. of Shell Rock, Iowa. “He’s back,” says Progressive president Glenn Starkey about Gerry Hobson, principal of Hobson Consulting and former president of the now-defunct Hobson Mould Works. “Despite the closing of his shop in 2001, Gerry has been the leading developer of innovative solutions for blow mold tooling components through the years, and we’re proud to be working with him. We’ve been expanding our product line for injection molds and the potential opportunity for blow mold tooling has intrigued us for some time now.”
Starkey notes that there has not been much component standardization for either industrial or packaging blow molds. As a start, Progressive Components bought Hobson’s 15 patents and four trademarks at auction, including those for an in-mold guillotine and deflashing and quick-change head tooling.

Dow Discovers New Class of ‘Post-Metallocene’ Olefin Catalyst
Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., and chemical research firm Symyx Technologies, Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., have jointly discovered a new class of non-metallocene, single-site catalysts for olefin polymerization. In a couple of months, Dow Plastics is expected to unveil new LLDPE resins produced with this catalyst.

According to James C. Stevens, Dow senior scientist for polyolefins and elastomers, new rapid-screening methods allow Dow and Symyx researchers to analyze large quantities of catalyst candidates and identify the most promising systems in a matter of hours. This process led to the quick discovery of the new amide-ether based hafnium catalysts. “Single-site, non-metallocene catalysts is a developing area and one that holds great promise for polyolefins research and development. Now that we have the ability to analyze these catalysts at the rate of about 1000 a day, new polyolefin catalysts can be discovered and optimized at unprecedented rates,” says Stevens.

While metallocene catalysts are very versatile, the new non-metallocene single-site catalysts provide several advantages. “Their chemical synthesis is much more straightforward than that of the metallocene catalysts. There also more chemical functionalities in what I like to call ‘post-metallocene’ single-site catalysts.”


Owens Corning Sells StaMax Share to SABIC

SABIC EuroPetrochemicals of Geleen, Netherlands, will acquire the 50% ownership in StaMax BV held by Owens Corning of Toledo. The StaMax joint venture was formed in 1999 between OC and DSM of the Netherlands. It produces long-glass polypropylene injection molding compounds. SABIC, based in Saudi Arabia, bought DSM’s engineering plastics business, including its share of StaMax BV, in 2002. SABIC will use OC’s patented process and proprietary glass fiber to produce StaMax P materials under license from OC and will have exclusive sales and marketing rights in Europe. OC will have sales and marketing rights in North America.


Negri Bossi Opens U.S. Sales Office

A new U.S. sales and service center was established in March by Negri Bossi, the Italian injection molding machine manufacturer. The 10,000-sq-ft facility in Newark, Del., is home to Negri Bossi USA Inc. It will stock up to 20 machines and will house a showroom for customer trials as well as spare-parts services and technical and corporate operations. There are six machines in the facility at present. Personnel there include national sales manager Bill Duff, formerly with HPM Corp., and Liam Burns, general manager, previously of Sandretto USA.

The new U.S. facility means that Negri Bossi Inc. in Mississauga, Ont., will now serve just the Canadian market.


Koch/Sulzer Merger In Static Mixers

Sulzer Chemtech Ltd. of Switzerland and Tulsa, Okla., a manufacturer of static mixers and chemical process equipment, has acquired the static-mixer business of Koch-Glitsch, located in Wichita, Kan. All 12 key Koch-Glitsch static-mixer employees will relocate to the Tulsa office. Koch-Glitsch is now out of the plastics market.


Equistar Sells Bayport PP Unit to Sunoco

Equistar Chemicals, LP in Houston has sold its Bayport polypropylene plant in Pasadena, Texas, to Sunoco, Inc. in Pittsburgh. Equistar also made a new long-term agreement to supply propylene monomer to Sunoco. Equistar retains its polypropylene plant in Morris, Ill.


First Production Plant For HFC 365 mfc Starts Up

Solvay Fluor has started commercial production in Tavaux, France, of Solkane 365 mfc, a new, non-ozone-depleting HFC blowing agent for urethane foams. The plant has production capacity of 33 million lb/yr. Since 2000, HFC-365mfc has been produced in a Solvay pilot plant capable of several hundred thousand lb/yr.


Clariant Builds Plant For Exolit OP Flame Retardant

The German parent of Clariant Corp., Charlotte, N.C., has started construction of the first commercial plant to produce Exolit OP flame retardant. This non-halogenated additive is based on a metal phosphinate. It is colorless and effective in small dosages. Applications include glass-reinforced thermoplastics and epoxy circuit boards. The plant in Germany will start up at the end of 2004. It is planned to produce several million lb/yr.


Alcan to Buy Baltek

Baltek Corp., Northvale, N.J., has agreed to be purchased by Alcan Composites USA Inc., St. Louis. After the merger, Baltek will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Alcan Inc. in Montreal. Baltek supplies structural core materials of balsa wood, PVC foam, and nonwoven mat for composites.

Baltek and Alcan Composites already cooperate in marketing and distribution to composites fabricators. Alcan supplies sheet and board materials of plastic foam and aluminum/plastic laminate for sign, display, and architectural uses.


Spartech Buys PEP

Spartech Corp. in St. Louis has continued its program of acquisitions with the purchase of all the stock of Polymer Extruded Products, Inc. (PEP) in Newark, N.J. PEP, the maker of Korad weatherable acrylic film laminates and specialty cellulose acetate sheet, is a major supplier to Spartech’s Custom Sheet & Rollstock group. The new business, to be called Spartech-PEP, will operate as a separate division within Custom Sheet & Rollstock.


Clariant Acquires Canada’s Quality Colour

Clariant Inc. (Canada) Masterbatches Div. in Toronto has bought Quality Colour in Delta, B.C., a supplier of color and additive concentrates and precolored compounds for both engineering and commodity thermoplastics. Quality Colour’s strength in Western Canada and the Northwestern U.S. closes a geographical gap in Clariant’s market coverage, according to a company official. It brings Clariant’s total number of facilities to 14 in North America.


Manufacturing Software For Small Firms

Affordable price, no annual maintenance fees, customizability, and plentiful support service are all said to make a new enterprise-software package unusually attractive to small and mid-sized manufacturing firms. It can help them control inventories and production schedules and supervise process routing, payroll, general-ledger accounting, sales and purchase orders, work orders, accounts receivable, and costing/quoting with one integrated package.

The new Windows-based CF Series software comes from TSG Software & Service, Inc. in Costa Mesa, Calif. One distinctive feature, according to v.p. Jeb Buddecke, is the price—$10,000 to $30,000, depending on the number of modules (from seven to 15) and the service package requested. The cost is independent of the number of users. “We don’t believe any other product can match our functionality at our price,” says Buddecke. He also says that, unlike most competing packages, the CF Series carries no annual maintenance fee, which is typically 10% to 15% of the purchase price.

This package is also said to be unusual in that it can be easily customized by the user or by TSG Software. The company offers installation, set-up, and support services, including data transfer from a customer’s previous software to the new system.


U.S. Equity Firm Buys Mauser-Werke

One Equity Partners (OEP), an investment subsidiary of Chicago-based Bank One Corp., has agreed to purchase the German industrial-packaging specialist Mauser-Werke GmbH & Co. KG. Mauser has 1150 employees and annual revenues of around $300 million. It has 13 business units in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Senegal, and the U.S. (Vanguard Container Corp. in East Brunswick, N.J.). They produce blow molded plastic packaging from bottles to drums and IBCs, metal packaging, and industrial blow molding machinery.


Noveon Acquires ESD Sheet Technology from France

Noveon, Inc. in Cleveland has purchased sheet-extrusion technology from SJM Eurostat S.A. in France. SJM supplies static-control products to the electronics industry in Europe. Noveon says it will immediately begin servicing customers with ESD-control sheet products toll-produced for Noveon by SJM. The sheet-extrusion technology acquired by Noveon covers carbon-filled HIPS, ABS/PC, HDPE, and EVA. Noveon also plans to introduce a new dual-layer HIPS product that combines the conductive carbon-filled technology from SJM with a layer of Stat-Rite inherently static-dissipative polymer technology from Noveon.


More Consolidation In PVC Pipe

PW Eagle, Inc. in Minneapolis, a producer of PVC pipe and fittings and PE pipe, has acquired all the stock of Uponor ETI Co. of Denver, a subsidiary of Uponor Oyj of Finland. Uponor ETI will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of PW Eagle under the name Extrusion Technologies, Inc.

ETI is a leader in North American PVC pipe production. It has plants in Texas, West Virginia, Missouri, and Kentucky. It had net sales of $89 million last year. PW Eagle, also known as PWPipe, is the second-largest U.S. producer of PVC pipe and PE tubing. It had net sales of $246 million in 2001. It has nine plants in the Western states.