PT Blog

The Extrusion 2019 Conference: Presenting Solutions in Compounding

The Extrusion 2019 Conference will take place Sept. 17-19 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., less than a month away. It is the only conference of its type: sessions devoted to general extrusion—issues that pertain to all extrusion processors regardless of what comes out of their die—coupled with breakout sessions on specific kinds of of extrusion: Film, Sheet, Pipe/Profile/Tubing and Compounding.

In a previous blog I have told you about our sessions devoted to General Extrusion Topics. I define these as topics that apply across the board in extrusion, regardless of the finished or semi-finished product that you are extruding. In another blog I wrote about the topics that will be covered in the Film breakout session. Then I honed in our Sheet program. Then on Pipe/Profile/Tubing.

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The Research and Development Tax Credit, which saves U.S. businesses $10 billion every year, has helped plastics industry professionals, particularly those who work in plastic injection molding, become more agile, and ultimately, more competitive in their marketplace.

Those in the industry who use a cross-discipline approach to testing and production likely qualify for government provided tax incentives that can help take their business to the next level. The plastics industry has seen recent surges in markets such as electronics packaging and automobiles, which is expected to see a 75% growth by 2020. Within the industry, plastic injection molding in the U.S. is seeing the same kind of growth, but the pressure is on to continue the trend. 

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Medical plastics is a hot processing sector, and it seems that everywhere you look, medical cleanrooms are becoming more numerous and much, much bigger. The biggest I’ve seen personally is the molding room at medical contract manufacturer SMC Ltd. in Devens, Mass. Measuring 23,000 ft2, it houses 37 Fanuc Roboshot all-electric presses of 110 and 330 tons (photo). It was installed some two-and-half years ago. Next to it is a similar sized cleanroom with molding machines and automated assembly equipment. As of this writing, a third clean room of similar size is being built to accommodate anticipated customer needs.

Meanwhile, custom molder and contract manufacturer GW Plastics is adding a 13,000 ft2 Class 8 cleanroom capable of housing an additional 30 injection machines at its Royalton, Vt., plant. Those machines could be 55 to 300 tons or even larger. They will be all-electric and hybrid models from Engel and Sumitomo Demag. This will be the company’s single largest cleanroom. Target date for completion is around Thanksgiving.

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Significant changes in the chemistry of additives for plastics typically take years to develop and when unveiled are often likely to be game changers. That may well be the case with the latest developments on anti-fog products for PETG, nylon and biodegradable polymers such as PLA agricultural and packaging film and sheet from Kafrit Industries Ltd.

Last November, the Israeli company (Kafrit Group), a global supplier of plastic additive masterbatches and compounds, further expanded into North America through the acquisition of Polyfil Corp., Rockaway, N.J., one of the largest independent producers of functional additive masterbatches for polyolefins for 35 years, with a specialty in film extrusion. Kafrit is a custom additive masterbatch producer, with operations in Canada, Europe and China. Special target markets have included PC sheet and film and agricultural film and flame-retardant PC injection molding

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It has always been a shared burden among the different sectors of raw-materials and equipment suppliers and processors—and it still is, though I see a changing profile of who’s doing what.

Materials companies, which once led the way in applications and process development across the board, seem to have narrowed their focus to their own materials developments, except perhaps in automotive and some areas of packaging, as well as the newly hot topic of recycling or the “Circular Economy.” A handful of large processors and end-users are still a force in plastics R&D, but mainly in automotive and packaging.

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