PRA January-February 2016 Issue

Page 1


A S l A ’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r t h e p las t l c s and r u b b e r l nd u s t r y

業 界新聞 熱 流 道: 直接側進膠

In this issue

Volume 31, No 219

publlshed slnce 1985

A S l A’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r the plastlcs and rubber lndustry

Features 焦 點 內 容

Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email:

16 熱流道: 直接側進膠 18 Packaging – Chemicals used to make food-contact plastic packaging can evolve into contaminants. Meanwhile, scientists in New Zealand have developed a technology to detect phthalates in packaging

Associate Publisher/Editor Tej Fernandez Tel: +60 3 4260 4575 Email:

materials into valuable materials

Editorial/Production Coordinator Angelica Buan Email:

25 Country Focus – Recovering from economic and political

Staff Writer: Elaine Cotoner Email:

22 Chemicals – Elements called catalysts can transform regular

setbacks, Indonesia’s plastics sector is booming as a result of its flourishing F&B packaging industry

28 World of Plastics – Plastics are here to stay. This is evident in the versatile, design-friendly role the materials take in an array of personal effects and home use items

Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling Circulation Abril Castro Email: Admin & Finance Manager Tean Arul Email:

Regulars 概 要


4 Industry News

MCI (P) 029/08/2015

8 Materials News

Printer United Mission Press

ISSN 1360-1245 KDN PP 18785/08/2015 (034280)

11 業界新聞

is published 8 times a year in Mandarin and English by Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV.

Supplements 副 刊 Singapore moulder Tempco has upped its manufacturing ante with its 100th Arburg machine installation Against the back of falling oil prices, there is no stopping the growth of synthetic rubber worldwide DIGITAL+PRINT

Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this publication is correct, the publisher makes no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the nature or accuracy of such material to the extent permitted by applicable law. © 2015 Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or used in any form, or by any means, without specific prior permission from the publisher. PRA is circulated free to trade readers in the plastics and rubber industry. Airmail subscriptions are available at US$160 within Asia and US$250 to all other countries outside Asia.

On the Cover


Connectivity in the home, communications and transportation is changing how we integrate safety, mobility and security into our lives 業界新聞 熱流道: 直接側進膠

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is a member of ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation)



Industry News

M&As/Investments • German chemicals distributor Brenntag is purchasing 100% equity of South African speciality chemicals distributor Plastichem to enter the Middle Eastern and African region. Plastichem is expected to achieve sales of approximately EUR26.9 million in 2016. • In an epic eclipse to the end of the year 2015, US compatriots DuPont and Dow Chemical announced a merger. The combined company will be named DowDuPont and be separated into three independent, publicly traded companies over the next 18-24 months, following the closing of the merger. The companies to be spun off will include a Material Science company consisting of DuPont’s Performance Materials segment, as well as Dow’s Performance Plastics, Performance Materials and Chemicals, Infrastructure Solutions, and Consumer Solutions (excluding the Dow Electronic Materials business). Combined pro forma 2014 revenue for Material Science is approximately US$51 billion. Another company 2


will be for Speciality Products with a combined pro forma 2014 revenue of approximately US$13 billion. Upon closing of the transaction, DowDuPont would have a combined market capitalisation of approximately US$130 billion and be headquartered in Midland, Michigan, and Wilmington, Delaware. • Dow Chemical is also to hold 100% ownership of Michiganheadquartered Dow Corning, buying out its partner Corning. The two firms, however, will maintain their current equity stake in Hemlock Semiconductor Group. With the new ownership, Dow increases its product offerings in several end-use applications such as building and construction, consumer care, and automotive. • US materials company PolyOne Corporation has acquired solid colour concentrates maker Magenta Master Fibers from German compatriot BASF for US$22 million. • Belgian chemical company LyondellBasell is acquiring the PP compounding

assets of Zylog Plastalloys of India. Upon completion of the acquisition, LyondellBasell will double its automotive customer base in India and become the third largest producer of PP compounds in the country with an annual capacity of 44,000 tonnes. Early last year, LyondellBasell also acquired SJS Plastiblends, a manufacturer of PP compounds located in Maharashtra. The Zylog acquisition includes manufacturing sites in Sinnar, Maharashtra, and in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. • Thailand-based petrochemicals maker Indorama Ventures Public Company (IVL) has acquired Indian PET manufacturer Micro Polypet (MicroPet) to complete what it says was the “missing piece” in its expansion into Asia. Situated in Panipat district, the plant has a capacity of 216,000 tonnes. MicroPet is the sole PET manufacturer in Northern India and has virtual integration with the Indian Oil Corporation for its two major feedstocks PTA and MEG. Currently MicroPet has approximately 12% of the capacity share in India. Indorama owns a production facility in

Kaiping, China, with a 42% share. It also has three facilities in Thailand and two in Indonesia and also acquired Bangkok Polyester last year. • Chinese company, Haier Group, through Shanghai-based firm Qingdao Haier, is buying General Electric’s (GE) appliance business for US$5.4 billion. The acquisition, which is expected by middle of this year, will enable the two firms to expand into healthcare, advanced manufacturing and the industrial sectors. GE Appliances will remain headquartered in Louisville, US. • US-based multiindustrial company Johnson Controls is to merge with Tyco, a global fire and security provider, to create a leader in building products and technology, integrated solutions and energy storage. The deal is valued at more than US$30 billion based on the market value of both firms. Under the terms of the agreement, Johnson Controls shareholders will own approximately 56% of the equity of the combined company and receive aggregate cash consideration of approximately US$3.9 billion. The companies expect that shares of the

INDUSTRY NEWS combined company known as Johnson Controls PLC will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange. It is also expected to maintain Tyco's Irish legal domicile and global headquarters in Ireland while the operational headquarters will be in the US, thus avoiding higher US corporate taxes and annual tax savings of at least US$150 million. • Anellotech, a US sustainable technology company focused on producing renewable chemicals from non-food biomass, has entered into the next phase of its strategic partnership with Japanheadquartered Suntory Holdings, a consumer beverage company, for the development and commercialisation of 100% biobased plastics, such as bioaromatics including bio-paraxylene, the key component needed to make 100% biobased polyester PET for use in beverage bottles. Anellotech’s fully-integrated development and testing facility (TCat-8), which is designed with R&D partner IFP Energies (IFPEN), is expected to be operational this year. Suntory

joins Anellotech’s existing partners IFPEN, Axens, Johnson Matthey, and a multinational corporate investor, which has provided a US$7 million equity investment, the first tranche of a total US$10 million investment.

company. The group of investors acquiring KraussMaffei includes Asian/European private equity firm

AGIC Capital and Chinese state fund Guoxin International Investment Corp, as well as ChemChina.

• Petrochemicals firm China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) has taken up a 10% minority interest in Russia's largest gas processing and petrochemicals company Sibur following the joint signing of a strategic partnership deal during a September 2015 state visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to China. As a next step, both companies are considering the participation of Sinopec in the Amur Gas Chemical Complex construction project. • Private equity firm Onex Corporation has sold plastic processing machines manufacturer KraussMaffei Group to China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) for EUR925 million. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2016. The deal is termed as the largest Chinese takeover of a German JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016


Industry News

• Composites company Hexcel Corporation has acquired full ownership of Formax UK, a manufacturer of composite reinforcements, specialising in the production of lightweight carbon fibre multi-axials and highly engineered glass fibre and aramid fibre fabrics. Hexcel acquired a 50% interest in the privatelyowned company in December 2014. • Blow moulding extrusion machinery maker Graham Engineering and auxiliary equipment supplier Conair Group have agreed on an exchange of equipment that will be used in each company’s extrusion laboratory for development and innovation of technology for medical tubing. • France-headquartered Saint-Gobain has acquired São Paulo-based SG Plasticos, a player in speciality extruded tubing in Brazil. The acquisition is expected to increase Saint-Gobain’s share of industrial assets in High-Performance Materials, in the US, emerging countries, as well as in Brazil's high value-added tubing market, adding local manufacturing capabilities.



• Australian global packaging giant Amcor is purchasing Deluxe Packages, a US privately owned flexible packaging business for US$45 million. Deluxe operates a manufacturing plant in Yuba City, in Northern California, and generates revenues of approximately US$42 million. Amcor is also acquiring BPI China (formerly Xinhui Alida), the Chinese subsidiary of UK-based British Polythene Industries, for US$13 million. It has one plant located in Xinhui, South China, with blown film and flexographic printing lines. Amcor currently has ten flexible packaging plants in China. • Finland-headquartered Huhtamäki has acquired Fiomo, a privately owned manufacturer of flexible packaging foils and labels in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, in the UK, Huhtamäki is investing in new capacity at its moulded fibre packaging manufacturing unit in Lurgan, Northern Ireland. • Magneti Marelli Automotive Lighting division and Chinese investment firm Changchun Fudi Equipment

Technology Development have entered into a joint venture for the production and sale of automotive lighting systems. The new business will be located in Changchun, Jilin Province, and will produce automotive lighting systems based on halogen, xenon and LED

technologies for car makers, particularly in the northeast of China. • France-headquartered Faurecia, one of the largest automotive parts suppliers, is selling its Automotive Exteriors business worldwide to Compagnie Plastic Omnium in a deal worth EUR665 million.

Plant Set-Ups/Expansions • German speciality chemicals firm Evonik is planning further large-scale projects in Germany. One of these is the construction of a new plant for production of speciality copolyesters in Witten by 2018 with an investment in the double-digit million Euro range. As part of the global production initiative for speciality silicones, Evonik intends to invest in production for these products in Essen once again. A new silane research centre is currently being built in Rheinfelden that is slated to be completed in 2016. In Marl, Evonik’s largest site worldwide with a workforce of close to 7,000, a production facility for C4-based raw materials was completed in 2015. In Essen, the company set up a new manufacturing plant for polymeric

dispersants and expanded a plant where speciality silicones are produced. • Germanyheadquartered extrusion machinery maker Coperion (Nanjing) Machinery has opened a new facility in the Nanjing Jiangning District in China. With a footprint of more than 15,000 sq m, the new production will continue to focus on manufacturing the STS and CTE twin screw extruder series. • Austrian recycling equipment maker Erema has opened its UpCentre in Gunskirchen (not far from the company’s headquarters in Ansfelden, Austria). Here it will offer upcycling services, which means that customers now have Corema technology for the sampling of

INDUSTRY NEWS recycling compounds at their disposal. It invested EUR2 million in the centre. • Canadian automotive parts giant Magna International has established a new seating engineering centre in Shanghai, China. It includes a seating testing lab and prototype shop. In December, Magna also started production at two new manufacturing facilities in Gujarat, India. Both plants are located within a supplier park adjacent to the Ford Motor assembly plant. At one of the new Sanand facilities, Magna assembles and provides just-intime delivery of complete seat systems for Ford. At the second new facility in Sanand, the company manufactures body and chassis systems for Ford. • Shell Chemical is increasing its linear alpha olefins (LAO) production at its chemical manufacturing site in Geismar, US, making it the largest LAO producer in the world. LAO is a co-monomer in the production of HDPE, LLDPE as well as synthetic lubricants, drilling fluids and detergents. Shell will construct a fourth LAO unit, adding

425,000 tonnes of capacity, and bring the site’s total LAO production to more than 1.3 million tonnes/year. In China, Shell and joint venture partner China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) are to expand capacity at the Daya Bay petrochemicals plant. The construction involves an ethylene cracker and ethylene derivatives units, including styrene monomer (SMPO) and propylene oxide plants, boosting ethylene production capacity by more than 1 million tonnes/year. • Japan-headquartered speciality chemical company DIC Corporation’s Jakartabased wholly owned subsidiary PT DIC Graphics will build a new blending facility for liquid inks for food and beverage packaging in Surabaya, Indonesia, to which it will shift operations from its existing plant, located on the outskirts of Surabaya. The EUR4.69 million-new facility is scheduled to begin operating in May 2016 and is expected to double the company’s production capacity. • German specialty chemicals company Lanxess has started a second US$15 million production line for high-performance

plastics compounding at its facility in North Carolina, US, to double the site’s production capacity from 20,000 to 40,000 tonnes/year. • DuPont Performance Materials will build the first Zytel HTN polymer production facility in Europe, at its Uentrop facility in Hamm, Germany. It will begin production in the summer of 2016. In 2015, the company also announced a 10% capacity increase for HTN polymer at its US facility, in addition to a 20% capacity increase for Zytel PA66 and PA6 compounds at Uentrop. • US-headquartered Celanese Corporation is expanding its engineered materials portfolio with the addition of PA6 and PA6/6 using differentiated technology developed by it. Some grades of nylon will be available immediately and some will be available in the third quarter of 2016. • Japan-headquartered Polyplastics is expanding its engineering plastics compound plant in Malaysia, with an additional capacity of 9,000 tonnes/year. When expansion is completed, the plant will have a capacity of 35,000 tonnes/year.

The additional lines will produce POM Duracon and PPS Durafide compounds. Polyplastics plants in Fuji (Japan); Dafa (Kaohsiung, Taiwan); and Nantong (China) have a combined compound production capacity of 150,000 tonnes/ year. • Songwon Industrial has started operation of its new joint venture manufacturing plant in Abu Dhabi for One Pack Systems (OPS), which are tailor made blends of additives in a pelletised form that are then packaged in a dust-free environment. With an initial capacity of 7,000 tonnes/ year, the facility is designed to allow for future expansion to meet the increasing demand for OPS products in the Middle East region. The company also has plants located in Greiz, Germany, and Houston, US. • German chemicals company BASF is strengthening its global production network for pigments with an increase in capacity for diketopyrrolopyrrole (DPP) pigments in Nanjing, China. In Ludwigshafen, Germany, BASF will expand capacity for alpha blue pigments by the fall of 2016. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016


Industry News

Staying with bags through thick and thin



n terms of sustaining transitions in materials advancements, weathering the toughest regulations, and yielding to safety standards, we can say that plastic bags have “been there, done that”. Meanwhile, the European Bioplastics (EUBP), the association representing the bioplastics industry in Europe, welcomes the approval of the French implementation decree on single-use plastic bags, which was published by the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy recently. In August last year, France introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags as part of the new law . An implementation decree setting out the requirements and conditions in greater detail has now been approved and will come into effect on 1 July 2016. The decree applies to single-use carrier bags below a thickness of 50 microns, which will have to meet the requirements of the French standard for home composting and feature a biobased content of at least 30%. The minimum biobased content will increase progressively to 40% in 2018, 50% in 2020, and 60% in 2025. Appropriate bioplastics materials have been readily available on the market for quite some time, and manufacturers are eagerly waiting in the wings, says the association. It also adds that the decree will help to revive economic activity for French plastics converters, as 90% of fruit and vegetable bags are currently being imported. Reduction of consumption of disposable bags has been practiced in many countries mainly for reason of environmental protection. Nevertheless, countries differ in tackling this problem, depending on their respective amount of per capita consumption, the number of reuses, as well as the quality of the different waste managements and disposal and recycling systems. As an example, Europe has an amendment of the packaging directive (94/62/EG) that commits EU member states to precise actions. Using bioplastics for bags is considered as a remedy as far as bag bans and taxes levied on polyethylene (PE) bags are concerned. Plastics made of renewable raw materials, including potato starch, soybean oil and citrus oil, have gained recognition as a viable alternative to fuelbased plastics. Nonetheless, composting and degradability issues are still being deliberated on, and thus, bioplastic bags are not considered as a be-all solution despite the advantages they are claimed to provide. But nothing can bring the good ol’ plastic bag down, being the most common carry-all for JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016

shopping for more than four decades now since it was first introduced at retail in mid-1970s. Its versatility enables it to be adaptable for a variety of needs. Thin is in Ultrathin-wall plastic bags, carrier bags with enhanced carrying handle, valve bags, FIBC, standup pouches, disposable sachets: the list of different types of bags grows bigger and bigger. The new study of the market research institute Ceresana expects that the worldwide demand for bags and sacks made of PE, of other plastics, of woven plastic strips, as well as of paper, altogether will grow until 2022 to about nearly 38 million tonnes. PE, especially LLDPE, is the most-commonly used material here. However, individual materials may account for highly different market shares in various applications. Thin wall packaging’s rising popularity has created significant opportunities for growth and developments in the rigid plastics market. In a new report from industry consultants, AMI Consulting, states that with the consumption of 3.1 million tonnes of polymers in 2015, thin wall packaging is a large and relatively stable market in Europe. Nonetheless, the search for higher margins and market positioning is causing the industry to focus on improvements in material and process engineering. The past few years have been particularly productive for the industry and advances in process technology synergistic with polymer science have enabled changes that have facilitated the emergence of new applications. Alongside these aforesaid changes have been the changes in the supply chain. The industry actively consolidated and the leaders attempted to redefine and restructure their businesses to maximise technical competence and to create a stronger negotiation platform, says AMI. This has driven the disposal of non-strategic business units and targeted investments. There has been significant site rationalisation, exchange, production relocation and acquisition amongst the leaders. In 2015, the top ten converters of thin wall packaging in EU28+3 accounted for 43% of the market. Outside the leader base, the supply in Europe remains relatively fragmented and more consolidation is expected. Retailers remain ever stronger customers of thin wall packaging, driving improved quality standards of value products. Brand owners employ a range of packaging solutions to capture discrete marketing opportunities, using multiple formats. This enables



brand owners to monitor and compare costs, alter the packaging mix and spread risk. Over the next five years those suppliers with a focused business strategy are expected to continue to strengthen their market position. Need for strong bags While thin films are showing strong market foothold, thick films are not being left behind. There are a number of industries that cannot do away with plastic bags. Moreover, the heavy duty and the so-called industry sacks have demand in the construction sector, in China and Brazil, according to a report by Ceresana. Specifically in Asia, more than in Europe, heavy duty plastic bags are used for cement packaging. Paper bags, however, are more preferred in animal feed or construction materials sectors, while PE films are also gaining further market shares. Stand-up pouches making their mark Plastic tops in the food packaging trend, compared to metal cans or glass jars. Ready-made meals, a hallmark for rising urbanisation in many economies are benefiting from stand-up pouches (SUPs) that come with value-added features, such as being microwave-ready and biodegradable. According to a report from MarketsandMarkets, SUPs attract wider usage because of the adaptability for varied applications, and hence, they have the potential to reach a market value of US$33.4 billion by 2020. SUPs also consume less storage capacity and have the ability to stand up on shelves, thus adding to the product's visibility. This packaging solution is designed with excellent barrier properties and available with attached accessories like resealable properties, nozzles and zip locks, which are useful for end-users. They are widely used in an array of applications, with the food and beverage sector being the main one as they are made of highly sterilised materials. This enables the products inside the pouches to remain fresh without getting contaminated for a longer period. Other sectors include the healthcare, personal & homecare, nonfood and others such as fertilisers, paints, and coatings.

Thin Wall Packaging - competitive landscape 2015 JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016


Materials News

The future of the plastic bag ban Along with the fireworks and prospects of mixed economic sentiments worldwide, 2016 is greeted with yet a fresh batch of bag bans in some countries. Are we heading for a bag-less future, asks Angelica Buan in this report.

There is simply zero justification for manufacturing any more thin film single-use plastic bags.” This was the strong statement from the United Nations Environment Protection (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner, as cited in a 2009 published article on marine litter. But this is just the tip of the iceberg as regulations for use of petroleum-based plastic bags grows on a pandemic-scale. The first country to ban polyethylene (PE) shopping bags was Bangladesh, starting from 2002, in the wake of severe flooding that submerged large portions of the country. The ban was expected to unclog waterways and sewage systems of waste plastics. Since then, other countries have followed suit. China also began implementing country-wide restrictions on plastic bags from 2008. This included outlawing production, marketing or use of plastic shopping bags less than 25 microns-thick, as well as levying a fee on usage of the bags. Between then and now, the wave of global sentiments against plastic bag waste has not ceased. In fact, 2016 has opened with more regulations enacted on plastic bags in various nations, as marine litter becomes a full blown case. In this regard, plastic bags are not directly indicted in the issue, but marine and land-based activities, such as poor practices of solid waste management, according to the European Commission (EC) on its website. But unfortunately for waste plastics, they have been found to constitute a big bulk of the littering issue than other waste materials, hence the imposition of stricter regulations. New Year, new bans The Malaysian state of Malacca enforced an initiative on the very first day of 2016, which was a Friday. Its “No Plastic Bag Day” campaign runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Supermarket and shopping mall patrons are, thus, ditching plastic bag usage for reusable and biodegradable shopping bags during those blocked out days. Traders found to be infringing the law are fined as high as RM250. In the Philippines, a new plastic bag ban policy will be invoked at the Clark Freeport Zone, a former US military base in the province of Pampanga, starting April. The Freeport houses business consignees, the



The New Year has started off with new bag bans in countries such as Malaysia

Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC), Philippine Air Force (PAF), Clark Special Economic Zone, and other government entities. The use of plastics and non-reusable, nonbiodegradable materials, including polystyrene, will be prohibited inside t h e Fr e e p o rt , t h e C l a r k Development Corporation (CDC) said, adding that the ban will be done in phases. Violators will be fined, plus business establishments will have their business registrations revok ed, upon committing the third offence. I n t h e I n d o n e s i a n c i t y o f B o g o r, a f e e w i l l b e charged on the use of non-biodegradable plastics, starting February. Aside from Bogor, this also applies to 21 other cities across the country, including Jakarta, Bandung, Bekasi, Depok, Tangerang, Solo, Semarang, Surabaya, Denpasar, Palembang, Medan, Balikpapan, Banjarmasin, Makassar, and Ambon.

"2016 opens with more regulations on plastic bags in various nations...." Likewise, welcoming the New Year with a ban, the Dutch government is disallowing the gi ving out of free plastic bags to customers, via a new law that took effect on 1 January. A basic charge of US$0.25 cents per bag will be levied for customers requesting for bags. France also reiterated at the start of the year that it is banning single-use plastic bags starting March.

Materials News Originally, the bag ban law, which is part of France's energy transition bill approved in July last year, was to take effect on the first day of January, but it was deferred. The bill excludes reusable and biodegradable plastic bags from the ban, and also suggests other forms of bag carriers. Another law is due for approval on 1 January 2017, and will cover plastic bags used as food packaging. A plastic bag-less future, not imminent We cannot be certain when single-use carrier bags will finally get a reprieve from the bans, but let us suppose that UNEP’s ultimatum of halting production, sale and use of plastic bags has reached its zero hour. Fortunately, the bans have induced new material developments that can comply with the restrictions on non-biodegradable and non-reusable materials and thus present “greener” alternatives, meaning that a plastic bag-less future may be unnecessary. One such development is the fully biodegradable plastic material created by Colorado State University (CSU) Professor Eugene Chen. He developed a petroleum-free plastic by synthesising a material that, when reheated, can be return to its original molecular state, and thus, can be reused.

"Fortunately, the bans have induced new material developments that can comply with the restrictions on nonbiodegradable and non-reusable materials…”

from fructose. FDME is a high-purity deri vati ve of furandicarboxylic acid (FDCA), one of the 12 building blocks identified by the US Department of Energy that can be converted into a number of high-value, biobased chemicals or materials that can deliver high performance in a number of applications. It has long been sought-after and researched, but has not yet been available at a commercial scale and at a reasonable cost. DuPont says that what it has developed will enable cost-efficient production of a variety of 10 0% renewable, high-performance chemicals and polymers with applications across a broad range of industries. T h e t w o f i r m s a r e g e a r i n g t o wa r d s t h e s c a l e up phase of the project. They are planning to build an integrated 60-tonne/year demonstration plant in Decatur, Illinois. Clay bag, anyone? Chinese bentonite manufacturer Weifang Huawei Bentonite Group has developed a fully biodegradable m a t e r i a l , a b e n t o n i t e - m o d i f i e d - s t a r ch - c o m p o s i t e (BMSC) that is said to exhibit superior performance, according to panellists from a China Packaging Federation-organised national expert review. Bentonite is a natural clay that is rich in minerals, including calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron, and potassium. Bentonite can be used for making packaging material

Chen used the colourless liquid Gammab u t y r o l a c t o n e ( G B L ) , w h i ch h e s u b j e c t e d t o a complex cooling and heating process to create the biodegradable polymer. While the material is still undergoing further fine-tuning, Chen believes tha t h e h a s s t u m b l e d u p o n a s o l u t i o n f or a more environmentally-friendly plastic material. Organic compound creates renewable material American biotechnology company DuPont Industrial Biosciences and US-based global food processing and commodities trading group Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) have developed a technology that they say can help generate high-performance renewable materials, especially suitable for packaging as well as in textiles, engineering plastics and other industries. The companies have developed a method for producing furan dicarboxylic methyl ester (FDME)

The concocted BMSC can be used to make shopping bags as well as food containers, agriculture films and other applications, said Weifang Huawei. It added that the material, which is reported to have recently passed the EU standards in degradable testing for packaging, biodegrades into water, carbon dioxide and nitrogen when deposited in soil. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016


Materials News

PhilMech developed a 6 x 8-inch, 150 microns-thick transparent biodegradable fruit bag from cassava starch and polybutylene succinate (PBS). The materials were processed in a twin-screw extruder and then blown on a film extrusion machine. The material’s tensile strength is within the range of low-density polyethylene (LDPE), and its elongation, within the range of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), it said. Working with the National Mango Research and Development Centre, PhilMech is testing the bags to be used in farms for packing fresh produce as well as for other agricultural purposes, such as seedling bags and mulching. It estimates degradation to occur after 36 weeks.

Potato starch can be used to make biodegradable plastics

Potatoes with a cause A p u b l i c s ch o o l s t u d e n t f r o m t h e J i n d d i s t r i c t o f Haryana, India, has created a biobased plastic from potatoes for a national-level project. It was selected b y s c i e n t i s t s D r A m i t B h a tt a ch a r y a a n d D r Ra j u Sarkar from the New Delhi-sited Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) for further research. Gopal Mittal said that his potato-based project not only could help mitigate the problems of fuelbased plastics waste but that it could also be a way of helping local potato farmers who are not getting good prices for their produce. Biodegradable plastics can be derived from many starch-based materials, according to a thermoplastic starch instructional from the University of Georgia (UGA) in the US. It says that potato starch is a polymer made of long chains of glucose units that are linked t o g e t h e r. P l a s t i c i s e r s c a n b e a d d e d t o s o ft e n t h e derived film or make it more flexible.

A different beanie bag A legume-based material is the concept of the European LEGUVAL project, which wants to utilise by-products of the pulse processing industry (green peas, beans, lentils) as raw materials for packaging and agriculture-use plastic materials, instead of littering the environment. LEGUVAL, a consortium of 12 partners and other European entities, is a three-year R&D project, funded by the EC´s Seventh Framework Programme under the Research for the benefit of SME-associations scheme. The legume-extracted proteins and fibre can be used to prepare plastic material, in the form of films, composites and coatings, for pack aging as well as agriculture and automotive applications, LEGUVAL said in its website. It also adds that the biomass left behind from the extraction can be an excellent source of biogas. The materials that are developed through this project are expected to be competitive with petroleum-based alternatives in the short term, especially considering the rising prices of petroleum-derived polymers and the lower prices of biodegradable polymers, boosted by increased production in emerging countries such as India and China.

"Biodegradable plastics can be derived from many starchbased materials, according to the University of Georgia in the US..." Root crop-based plastics The Philippine Centre for Postharvest Development and Mechanisation (PhilMech) of the Department of Agriculture is betting on cassava starch to make plastic material for packing farm produce.



By-products of the pulse processing industry are being put to good use





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Busting toxic chemicals in food-contact packaging Just when we thought that our neatly packaged food and drinks were safe from contaminants, it has now been made aware to us that the chemicals used in the making of packaging materials could also be a conduit to health risks, says Angelica Buan in this article. Meanwhile, two researchers in New Zealand have developed a sensor that could detect notorious phthalates.


hemicals have earned the notoriety of being, in many instances, toxic. It may be true for substances that require care and precision in handling. However, chemicals are useful components in materials that we practically use in our daily lives. This is more so in plastics packaging, where chemicals are part of the manufacturing process. The worst enemy of packaged food and drinks is contamination by not only organisms causing food spoilage, but also chemicals inherently used for producing packaging materials and to enhance functionality of materials. These can also potentially contaminate the products on contact, studies say. Health risks under the wraps Chemicals in materials used for packaging are found to influence the health of consumers in varying degrees. A study, published in the journal Food Additives and Contaminants, discovered that around 175 legally-used chemicals found in food packaging are linked to cancer, fertility, genital malformations and birth defects. The surprising news is that these chemical-containing food packaging complies with the criteria of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), set by the EU's Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) body. Chemical contamination in packaging can occur if it is in direct contact with food. There are instances also that chemical migration occurs for secondary and tertiary packaging, as well as during the production process.



Early this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scratched off three greaseresistant perflourinated chemicals used in food packaging materials. The Environmental Working Group (EWG), reacted to this stating that the ban undercuts a sound solution to the problem, adding “that there are yet a number of similar FDA-authorised chemicals used in packaging materials.”

“..the US FDA scratched off three grease-resistant chemicals used in food packaging materials…” Other meaningful actions, such as removing Bisphenol A (BPA), another industrial chemical used in the production of food-contact packaging that is linked to a host of health risks such as hormone disruption and cancer, has not alleviated safety concerns according to some reports. The latter point out that BPA substitutes such as Bisphenol F (BPF) and Bisphenol S (BPS) present different risks, one of which is the potential effect to brain development in infants, as cited in a research by the University of Calgary in 2015. As well, there are certain chemicals in packaging that can migrate into the packaged product. Yet, the debate weighs on how much of the chemicals that can be detected. A recently conducted second phase of the Australian Total Diet Study by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) spotted low levels of chemicals in food and beverage items that had leached from plastic packaging. FSANZ tested samples for about 30 chemicals that included BPA, epoxidised soy bean oil (ESBO), perfluorinated compounds and phthalates, as well as printing inks, for migration into food from packaging. The tests showed" no detections of phthalates, perfluorinated compounds, semicarbazide, acrylonitrile or vinyl chloride in food samples". What this means, said FSANZ, is that the amount of the chemicals migrating into the product may pose no safety concerns.


BPA substitutes present different risks, according to University of Calgary scientists

Recalls of products Nevertheless, potential migration of chemicals has resulted in several food products being recalled. French bottled water manufacturer Perrier pulled out its water products from the US market in 2009 after a small sample of the water bottles tested positive for benzene, which is a crude oil component and is believed to be carcinogenic. Likewise, cereal maker Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of cereals in 2010 after reports of an off-putting odour from the product and packaging that ranged from waxy to metallic, which the company said could be due to the presence of hydrocarbons, including methyl naphthalene in the wax and film used in the packaging.

“…cereal maker Kellogg recalled 28 million boxes of cereals in 2010..” Even packaged pet foods did not pass the scrutiny for chemicals. A batch of cat treats in plastic stand-up pouches produced by Blue Buffalo in the US was pulled off the shelves when FDA detected the presence of Propylene Glycol (PG), a chemical used for direct and indirect food applications. While not categorised as carcinogenic, PG could potentially increase the acidity level in the body of animals. Cats that ingest high dosages of PG may display frequent urination and thirst, amongst other reactions. Precursor for innovation to detect DEHP One of the most headlined incidences of chemical contamination is the Taiwan food and beverage

scandal in 2011, which involved the use of industrial plasticiser DEHP in dangerous amounts in a range of Taiwan-made products. Some 965 products were found contaminated with the plasticiser, of which 206 were exported to 22 countries. The incident that took place unleashed the perils of adding chemicals not only in food products but also in food-contact packaging. Moreover, it is also a backstory for a promising innovation that detects traces of DEHP. New Zealand’s Massey University’s Dr Subhas Chandra Mukhopadhyay, Professor of Sensing Technology, School of Engineering and Advanced Technology, and Dr Asif Iqbal Zia have developed a sensor that can detect phthalates. “Illegitimate addition of DEHP as a clouding agent in beverages has been a controversial issue in Taiwan in 2011; and for which, the country faced huge economic loss, when it had to recall all the exported beverages for testing as required by the buyers. The testing lasted for months due to The lack of a reliable the non-availability of rapid testing system to a reliable rapid testing resolve an issue involving system, in addition to the the addition of DEHP as enormous costs of the clouding agent in drinks testing,” Dr Zia said in the inspired the scientists to email interview with PRA. develop this sensor, says Referring to the Dr Asif Zia Rapid Phthalate Sensor, the 2.5 by 2.5 mm device is made using MEMS technology that involves photoresist coating, ultraviolet light exposed interdigital pattern transfer, plasma etching, gold deposition by DC magnetron sputtering by Argon gas plasma and lift-off. The sensor is fabricated on a single crystal 4-inch rigid silicon substrate (525 microns thick) over native silicon dioxide with patterned gold electrodes. A gold layer of 500 nm is sputtered on top of the 20 nm chromium seed layer to provide defect-free adhesion of thin film electrodes on the silicon substrate. Gold is the most preferred electrode material for sensing applications due to its excellent physiochemical stability, bio-affinity, low electrical resistivity and minimal oxidation, according to the engineers. How this sensor catches those inconspicuous phthalates in contaminated beverage, as a sample, is via a selective coating developed based on the molecular imprinting technique. “The sensor is coated with a selective polymer coating that captures the phthalate molecules by creating hydrogen bonds with them and binds them on the sensing surface,” Zia explained. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016


Packaging Molecular imprinted polymers (MIP) are specially designed polymer materials owning valuable target molecules recognition sites, privileged by unique advantages like high selectivity, physiochemical stability, robustness, longer shelf life, reusability and specific recognition of analytical and structurallyrelated compounds. “This molecular recognition selectivity has proven to be an attractive predominant advantage over biological receptors and antibodies for a more number of target molecule capturing sites,” he adds. A special polymer was developed that owned molecular imprints of phthalate molecule or in other words, the polymer contains phthalate molecule recognition sites on the polymer surface. MIP for phthalates is synthesised by suspension polymerisation using methacrylamide as a functional monomer attaching itself to phthalate molecule via hydrogen bonds. N,N-methlene-bis-acrylamide is used as crosslinker for polymerisation reaction and ammonium persulphate, as an initiator for synthesis of the polymer. Additionally, the sensor can also detect other structurally related compounds used in the plastic industry as additives. “We have also done some work on DINP. The sensitive and selective molecularly imprinted polymer coating could be tailored with respect to the target molecule,” said Zia. Protection from the industry to consumers and the environment While the sensors are not novel technologies, the Rapid Phthalate Sensor, which operates on the Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy technique, provides benefits encompassing the industry, consumer and the environment. Zia commented: “Almost all contemporary analytical techniques used to detect phthalates are highly sensitive due to the requirement of measurement of trace levels of phthalates present in food and beverage samples. However, these are time consuming, expensive, complicated, produce laboratory waste, need the expertise of highly trained professionals, in addition to submission of samples to laboratories worth millions of dollars.” Therefore, he says that it is necessary to Mukhopadhyay said that have a rapid assay, which lab prototypes have already may detect the quantity been developed but more of phthalates present in R&D and funding are food and beverages that still needed to come up may be ingested, this with a commercial-ready being considered as a technology



primary means of human phthalate exposure amidst the extensive use of plastics in daily lives. He goes on to say, “The requirement of instant screening of a batch of products manufactured at an industrial set-up still requires a simple test device that only requires minimal training and does not involve bulky and expensive support electronics. The objective of our research was to develop a lowcost real time testing system that could readily be installed in an industrial set-up.” At the time of press, Mukhopadhyay said that lab prototypes have already been developed and tested but commercialisation of the technology still requires further R&D as well as funding to come up with a more robust version of the developed technology. “While there are already a few companies interested in this technology, most of them prefer a system that can be commercialised without any further research,” he added.

“…lab prototypes have been developed but commercialisation requires further R&D and funding…” Yet to be patented, the senor technology aims to simplify defence from chemicals that have become crucial components in our changing lifestyle. When asked how the sensor could be used in the industrial level, Zia replied, “The sensor could be integrated with the quality control of food and beverage products industries that use PET bottles and plastics packaging. On the other hand, this technology could be developed as a commercial hand-held device that could be used by a regular consumer to ensure that the phthalate content of the plastic packageddrink is lower in concentration than the Minimal Risk Level (MRL) limit of 8.0 µg/L as set by WHO and ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry) of the US.” The sensor could also become a helpful precursor for the plastics industry to tap safer alternatives to phthalates, Zia and Mukhopadhyay opined. “This technology could guide the plastic industry to find health-safe replacements for phthalates in order to save the human generations from the carcinogenic and teratogenic effects of these synthetic compounds.” Furthermore, the engineers said that the benefit of this ongoing technology development extends to protecting the environment. “Both consumers and the environment can be protected by way of providing awareness about the health hazards involved in the use of phthalates in plastic products. These efforts could help stop further penetration of ubiquitous phthalates into our ecosystem,” the researchers noted.


Chinaplas to hold three concurrent events to embrace innovation, automation and sustainability


hinaplas will be celebrating its 30th edition from 25-28 April 2016 at the Shanghai New I n t e r n a t i o n a l E x p o C e n t r e ( Pu d o n g ) . T h e organiser, Adsale Exhibition Services, has planned a myriad of exciting acti vities to commemorate this. The show is expected to welcome 3,20 0 exhibitor s and 140,0 0 0 professional buyer s, on over 240,000 sq m of exhibition area. Greenovation for a Smart Future - is the theme for Chinaplas 2016 and three concurrent events will be held to further elaborate around the theme, namely the 2nd Medical Plastics Conference, Industry 4.0 Conference, “Design x Innovation”.

Medical Plastics Conference The global medical products industry has never been more dependent on plastics and rubber supplier s to help them meet today’s healthcare needs. In response to the rapid development of this area, Chinaplas 2016 will organise “The 2 n d M e d i c a l P l a s t i c s C o n f e r e n c e” f r o m 2 5 - 2 6 April in attempts to give visitors insights on new technology breakthroughs and latest development on medical plastics and their applications on medical devices, medical disposables and packaging. Provisional topics include: automation technology for production upgrade, production technology for cleanrooms; medical grade polymer applications for disposables; pharmaceutical pack aging solutions; innovati ve applications of 3D-printing; sterile barrier systems for medical packaging. The conference will be in bigger scale as compared to the last edition.

the conference will invite leading firms and heavyweighted speakers in this field. Some of the topics are: Use of Industry 4.0 Concepts in one company – smart factory by Haier Inc.; Industry 4.0 from the per specti ve of an injection moulding machines m a n u f a c t u r e r b y K r a u s s M a ff e i ; I n d i v i d u a l i s e d mass production by Arburg; Inject 4.0 – solutions for a smart factory by Engel, and many more. “Design X Innovation” Building on the success of “Design X Innovation” at Chinaplas 2015, this event will come around in Shanghai in 2016. The event's Exclusive Partner – BASF – the world's leading chemical company, will join hands with Chinaplas to give new perspectives to visitors on how design and plastics technology can together drive innovation, that in turn helps to mak e customer more successful and leads to a more sustainable future. The event showcases samples of the latest designs on outlook, structure and function designs inspired by high performance materials for different industries. “Design X Innovation” will engage and inspire audience in an array of offer s including display gallery, open forum led by revered international experts, as well as interactive activities. There are two types of entry tick ets – a oned a y p a s s ( R M B 3 0 ) a n d f o u r- d a y p a s s ( R M B 5 0 ) . Visitors who successfully pre-register on or before 12 February 2016, at prereg will enjoy free admission and recei ve a visitor badge in advance.

Industry 4.0 Conference The concept of Germany-led Industry 4.0 has been tak en the world by storm since its introduction in 2014. It had laid down a roadmap of the fourth industrial revolution for realising “Smart Factory” that the world has been pursuing of. As China’s economy matures, the Chinese government has launched “Made-in-China 2025” to promote industrial automation in its own right in a bid to help Chinese enterprises to stay competiti ve in the world. In this light, Adsale has teamed up with the German Engineering Federation VDMA to organise Industry 4.0 Conference. Held from 26-27 April, JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016



Catalysts add the “it” factor in materials Ordinary, almost non-usable materials can be transformed into valuable materials with the help of essential elements called catalysts, reports Angelica Buan.


atalysts are an axial component in many industrial processes helping to transform a raw material into functional products. While there is nothing magical about these substances, yet, they speed up chemical reactions without being consumed themselves, and enable material advances and diversity in applications of these materials. According to research institute Ceresana’s global catalysts market outlook, catalysts are used in a wide range of applications from packaging and cosmetics, to agricultural fertilisers and oil refining. As stated, more than 80% of products in the chemical industry are made using catalytic processes. Meanwhile, bioplastics are becoming a big application for catalysts, expected to drive an average annual growth rate of nearly 20% per year through 2021. Because of their role in the manufacturing, catalysts remain a strong revenue earner in the chemicals sector. Ceresana, in its market reports, says that the global demand for catalysts will grow nearly 5% per year to US$20.6 billion in 2018 and reaching US$22 billion until 2021, with fast growth being earmarked in the Asia Pacific, Africa and Middle East regions. Innovating with silver One example of a catalyst widely used in the industry is silver. According to Washington-based non-profit association, The Silver Institute, silver is a vital catalyst in the production of two major industrial chemicals, ethylene oxide and formaldehyde, which are important ingredients Silver is a vital catalyst in the production of ethylene oxide and formaldehyde that are important ingredients to make plastic



in plastics, owing to silver’s unique chemical properties. Moreover, silver remains unaffected by the reaction, thus it is almost completely recovered after use. Silver is also the selected catalyst for creating borophene, a 2D sheet of boron, which the research team from the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University, and Stony Brook University have been developing. Borophene, which is formed as electricallyconductive sheets of boron atoms, possesses metallic properties and is atomically thin, thus, scientists see its huge potential to rival graphene, a carbon-based substitute to silicon that is widely used in computer chips and electronics. Borophene can be utilised for a range of applications from electronics to photovoltaics. The 2D material can be created inside an ultra-high Borophene, a 2D sheet of boron vacuum chamber created with the aid of silver catalyst may outperform graphene via a non-toxic technique called electron-beam evaporation. This technique vaporises a source material and then condenses a thin film on silver substrate. Although borophene is still in the developing stage, and challenges in making it stable from chemical reactions when exposed to air are prompting for further research, scientists sees the material as a solution for making better electronic products in the future. Clean-up act with earth oxide and silver salts Scientists from Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have developed a reusable nano-composite catalyst using an inexpensive rare earth oxide called Ceria, a soft, silvery, ductile metal that easily oxidises in air and resembles the metal iron in its mechanical properties. In its study, the IISc group found that ceria nanoflakes could be combined with silver bromide and silver phosphate to create the nanocomposite catalyst. All it takes for the catalyst to work is to be suspended in water and in sunlight, the researchers said.

Chemicals The new material, when exposed to visible light, facilitates the formation of hydrogen peroxide, a strong oxidising agent, in water. The material uses the process of photocatalysis – the acceleration of a chemical reaction that takes place in light, in the presence of a catalyst. The hydrogen peroxide results in the breakdown of dyes and bacteria that commonly contaminate water ways. A non-glycerol biodiesel One major breakthrough using palladium as catalyst could address the glut of crude glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel production, which otherwise can be a challenge to tackle. Impurities, such as fatty acids, alcohol and salt, in crude glycerol make the substance of insignificant economic value. It also can be expensive to purify crude glycerol for use in food, pharmaceutical, or cosmetics applications. Researchers from Illinois-based Northwestern University have developed a technique to generate biodiesel without the glycerol. The process Palladium catalysts, when combined calls for a with metal triflate enable production complementary of glycerol-free biodiesel action metal triflate and palladium catalysts. One catalyst breaks the carbon/oxygen bond, whilst the other catalyst hydrogenates the unsaturated product. That catalytic system aids to selectively break down triglyceride esters into organic compound carboxylic acids. The carboxylic acids can be converted to biodiesel, as well as propane and valuable C3-oxygenates, the scientists said, adding that while the technology is still in the development phase, it represents a positive potential for future biodiesel production. Producing grease-to-green fuel In a related development, a group of scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has hatched several environmentfriendly techniques to make biodiesel entirely from waste grease more cheaply and efficiently. Waste grease is a combination of used grease, vegetable oils and animal fats that are usually discharged by homes and food and beverage outlets. The wastes that are accumulated in grease traps of buildings’ sewer systems are collected for disposal by contractors licensed by the NUS. The research aims to simplify the process of waste grease-to-biodiesel in a single step.

Traditionally, the high free fatty acid content in waste grease makes it unsuitable for biodiesel production due to technical issues and current catalysts and requires more than one step to process the waste grease. The NUS team led by Associate Professor Li Zhi developed a one-step approach with specially engineered high-performance catalysts. Besides achieving impressive biodiesel conversion yields under optimal conditions, they can be easily separated from the biodiesel mixture at the end of the transformation process for multiple re-use with little deterioration in performance, Zhi said. A biocatalyst method uses whole-cell Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria. It produced a 97% biodiesel conversion yield in 72 hours. Another method involves specially formulated magnetic nano-sized solid acid particles, which when combined with methanol efficiently catalyse waste grease, yielding up to 98% biodiesel in 24 hours. Meanwhile, the third method is a recyclable magnetic nano-biocatalyst created using an enzyme derived from a fungus. The latter catalyses the waste grease containing methanol into biodiesel, giving a 99% biodiesel yield in 12 hours. The scientists determined that among the three methods, the biocatalyst method shows the most potential, since the biocatalyst can be produced in large amounts at low costs. Enabling sawdust-based fuel In yet another way that catalysts are being used is how to repurpose sawdust for producing fuel. One technique devised by researchers at the Brusselsbased KU Leuven’s Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis resulted into valuable chemicals for fuel and plastics. With a unique process via its patent-pending biorefining technique and a chemical reactor, the researchers are able to convert the lignin in sawdust into aromatic chemicals and plant substance KU Leuven scientists use a biorefining technique and a chemical cellulose into hydrocarbon chains reactor to produce biodiesel from sawdust (but dropping the oxygen bonded to them) that can be used either as an additive in gasoline or as a component in plastics. A catalyst aids to speed up the chemical reaction in the wood that is added to a reactor, to depolymerise the lignin material – a key substance for the gasoline – into the required chemicals. Likewise, solvent is added to extract the lignin out of the solid material; water or some biobased alcohols are also used in the process. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016


Chemicals The researchers explained that with the right temperature and pressure, it takes about half a day to convert the cellulose in the wood shavings into saturated hydrocarbon chains, adding that the method allows them to make a petrochemical product using biomass, and thus, bridging the worlds of bioeconomics and petro chemistry. Safer alternative for PET bottles Antimony, a brittle, moderately hard metal with poor heat and electricity conduction ability, has been widely used in producing polyester-based products such as PET bottles. For industrial use, antimony catalysts cause formation of insoluble particles and the grey discolouration in polyester. Antimony catalysts in industrial use are said to cause discolouration in polyester

In the environment, antimony exposure can cause health risks. According to the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), short-term exposure to the powder substance by inhalation in humans can cause skin, eye and respiratory problems. Hence, product manufacturers are looking for safer alternatives to this catalyst. UK-based chemical technology company Catalytic Technologies says an antimony catalyst is not very active; using it requires around 250-300 ppm in the polymer, thus, likened to sand, antimony particles block filters and fouls production plants. This denotes more shutdown time. Additionally, antimony remains within the polymer after production and processing, and can leach to PET bottles. Thus, the firm offers an antimony catalyst alternative in the form of a more active titanium-based catalyst. Transforming environmentally-friendly ethanol Creating a greener industrial chemical is a breakthrough role of catalysts. In a recent development, researchers from the Institute for Integrated Catalysis, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, Washington State University, with a grant from the US Department of Energy, have developed a mixed-oxides (zinc and zirconium) catalyst that can change biobased ethanol to isobutene or isobutylene used in bioplastics and biofuels. Isobutene, a colourless gas, which is widely used in manufacturing a variety of products from plastic bottles to rubber tyres, is produced from crude oil. The researchers believe that the new catalyst can significantly help wean the industry from relying on



fossil fuel-based chemical. It also enables for lower production costs and faster production times with a one-step production process since it requires the presence of water, thus, allowing producers to use diluted and cheaper bio-ethanol rather than having to purify it first. Bad air into sustainable plastics US biotechnology company Newlight Technologies, known for its carbon-negative AirCarbon innovation, has successfully harnessed the benefits from methanebased carbon emissions (60% carbon and hydrogen) combined with air (40% oxygen) and a high-yield biocatalyst. The result is a high performance long chain thermoplastic polymer that is cost competitive with fossil fuel-based polymers, and is suitable for use in extrusion, blown film, cast film, thermoforming, fibre spinning, and injection moulding applications. AirCarbon is a PHAbased thermoplastic made from greenhouse gas that is used and is being developed for use in a wide range of products, including films, caps and closures, furniture, electronics accessories, bottles and other applications. Newlight’s AirCarbon PHA deal with Texasheadquartered marketer and AirCarbon is a combination distributor of chemicals, of methane-based carbon Vinmar International, emissions and air signals the launch of the PHA-based polymer to world-scale volumes. Enzymes for sugary chemicals Hydrocarbon chemicals present in ice cream and other household items can be produced with a carboxylic acid reductase biocatalyst discovered by a team of Manchester University (MU) scientists. The enzyme enables the conversion of fatty acids into fuels and chemical commodities. This breakthrough could lead to the long-term replacement of fossil-fuel obtained chemicals, they said. Through synthetic biology, an area of biological research and technology that combines science and engineering, the MU scientists who worked alongside Finland’s University of Turku scientists for this study, were able to commandeer naturally existing fatty acids for the production of ready-to-use fuel and household chemicals. The breakthrough allows researchers to further explore how to create renewable energy from sustainable sources, and the advance could lead to more innovative ways of sourcing fuel from natural resources.

Country Focus

F&B packaging strengthens Indonesian economy Rising above economic woes and political setbacks, Indonesia is regaining momentum via its food and beverage industry that is boosting the steadily growing packaging sector, according to Angelica Buan in this report.

Against the back of slower growth for ASEAN For ASEAN nations, the year opens with sombre prospects. The World Bank’s fresh forecast for 2016 suggests an ambivalent year ahead for the Southeast Asian bloc that has recently adopted the AEC integration. A snail-paced GDP growth due to economic contractions has been forecast for Thailand and Malaysia, while the rest of the ASEAN are expected to exhibit strength and resilience. Indonesia’s GDP growth has been downgraded to 5.2% from the 5.6% projected in October 2015, on account of the domestic market reeling with high interest rates and weak exports. Meanwhile, exports of plastics and plastics products dropped nearly 19% year-on-year in 2015 to US$2.25 billion from US$2.76 billion, the year before. Regardless of the fact that the sluggish global demand will weigh in on plastics and plastics product exports, the Indonesian Aromatic, Olefin and Plastic Industry Association (Inaplas) expressed optimism that the country’s export situation will be uplifted this year. This is especially since domestic consumption for important products that require plastic packaging, specifically food and beverages, has remained strong. On another aspect, the manufacturing sector, which is amongst the country’s strong pillars, has ebbed for the 15th straight month in January this year. This at the back of the tail end of the decline in manufacturing production witnessed in December last year due to poor global demand; and a frail rupiah that resulted in higher production costs, according to a recent Nikkei survey. But since the manufacturing sector is pivotal to keeping the country’s economy firmly anchored,

the Indonesian government has launched a series of stimulus packages, unveiling the first instalment the middle of last year to boost consumer spending and foreign investments as well as prop up an ailing currency. It is then expected that the country will rebound and account for nearly 40% of ASEAN growth by 2030, according to a 2013 Asia Consumer Insights Centre report. F&B sector saves the day Undoubtedly, the food and beverage sector is one of Indonesia’s aces in attracting foreign investors. A recent report from the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) confirmed this, as license applications from both local and foreign investors in the food sector from the 12-month period of 2015 was valued at nearly US$14 billion.

Domestic consumption for food and beverage products that require plastic packaging has remained strong

With confidence in Indonesia as a suitable food production base, BKPM opines that the food sector is the country’s major engine of growth for the manufacturing industry. The Indonesian Food & Beverage Association (GAPMMI) views the country’s huge consumer base as a factor, backed by its population of 280 million and fast growing middle class segment. The association said that the turnover for Indonesia's F&B industry almost hit US$88 billion in 2015. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016


Country Focus Indonesia’s strength emanating from the food sector is confirmed by the 2013 IE Insights outlook report, which cited that the country’s expanding middle class, forecast to hit 135 million by 2030, will enable rising consumption spending in food services, packaged food and beverage sectors. Prequel to new opportunities What could be considered as the microcosm of the country’s industry activities is the previous year’s Plastics and Rubber (P&R) Indonesia exhibition, held 18-21 November, in Jakarta. The show, staged on 23,266 sq m floor space, drew the support from various local and foreign industry associations, and national agencies, including GAPMMI, the Ministry of Industry, Indonesian Food & Beverages Association, Indonesian Packaging Federation (IPF), Indonesia Woven Polyolefin Manufacturers Association (GIATPI), Indonesian Packaging Development Board (BPPI), Association of Plastic Converting Industry (APHINDO) and Indonesia Mould & Dies Industry Association (IMDIA). Furthermore, country pavilions were staged by the Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry (TAMI), Singapore Precision Engineering and Technology Association (SPETA), and British Plastics Federation (BPF). With more than 13,000 visitors, 638 exhibitors, nine international group pavilions and 39 exhibiting countries at the event organised by PT Pamerindo Indonesia, it is evident that the country’s appeal as a market and manufacturing base has not lost its lustre. BPF supported the show with its first UK pavilion. It said that Indonesia’s annual rate of growth for plastic consumption of over 6%, owing to its sizable consumer base and growing middle class sector, makes it also a berth for opportunities for both UK equipment manufacturers and skills and process developers. Apart from the successful staging of the exhibition, local-based companies continue to expand their facilities.

PT Hokkan Indonesia commissioned its second Sidel Combi line and since then more than doubled its production capacity



Last year, Bogor-based PT Hokkan Indonesia, a part of Japan’s Hokkan Group, installed the first Sidel dry aseptic line in Indonesia, following its installation of a wet aseptic Combi line, also from the Swiss packaging solutions provider. Hokkan, thus, expanded its production capacity as a co-packer of non-carbonated drinks in PET bottles for the local market. In the same year, New Zealand’s dairy company Fonterra also opened a US$36 million manufacturing plant in in the industrial city of Cikarang for blending and packaging Anmum, Anlene and Anchor Boneeto milk brands. This is considered its largest investment in the ASEAN region over the last decade. The Indonesian demand for dairy products will go up by 5% every year to 2020, said Johan Priem, Fonterra’s Managing Director. Lucrative year for packaging Surely, expansions in the manufacturing front have spilled over into the current year. Research and Markets says the Indonesian packaging industry will reach a value of US$9.6 billion this year. Japanese chemical company DIC Corporation (formerly Dainippon Ink and Chemicals) announced that its Jakarta-based wholly owned subsidiary PT DIC Graphics (which makes inks from raw materials) is building a new EUR4.69 million blending facility for liquid inks for food and beverage packaging in Surabaya. It will then shift operations from its existing Surabaya plant into the new facility, which is scheduled to begin operating in May 2016 and is expected to double the company’s production capacity. The upcoming expansion is bolstered by a rising demand for packaging materials in Indonesia, DIC said, which also pegged the demand for liquid inks for packaging to about 80,000 tonnes in 2015. By 2024, it projects the demand to hit past 120,000 tonnes. Meanwhile, Swedish packaging player AR Packaging Group and Jakarta-headquartered PT Maju Jaya Sarana Grafika have formed a strategic partnership agreement to establish a cooperation in the manufacture, procurement, sale and marketing in Indonesia of packages made out of cardboard or other materials in combination with cardboard. The partnership is expected to drive the European firm’s manufacturing capabilities and market share with its multinational customers. AR Packaging is a merger of A&R Carton, one of Europe's leading carton board packaging groups, and Flextrus, a leader in northern Europe within flexible packaging. Kicking off a healthy drink On a lighter note, a novel foreign-local partnership has taken shape with English football league Manchester United (MU) tying up with Indonesian beverage brand YOU.C1000 in a multi-year regional deal. The Lemon and Orange Water isotonic drink to be marketed by the Indonesian company is expected to attract a following from MU’s growing, fan base in Southeast Asia.

Country Focus an article published by Inaplas, it says that local consumers are making choices towards healthy food and drinks. “This is proven by their preference for healthy isotonic beverages, which can rehydrate their bodies, over carbonated soft drinks that are perceived to be less healthy,” it says.

Manchester United and YOU.C1000 partnered in a multi-year regional deal for Lemon and Orange Water

The more than 54 million MU followers in Indonesia is also testimony to a strong consumer base for this sporty concept. The drink’s packaging will feature images of the famous MU crest and firstteam players. More than a fad, consumption of healthy beverages is a growing trend in Indonesia. In

Modest growth predicted In the midst of this continuing developments in the industry, GAPMMI projects a modest growth of 8% in the food and beverage industry this year, albeit, comparatively lower from the previous year’s growth, which was mainly driven by price hikes in the food and beverage sector. Likewise, Inaplas bears similar anticipation this year for the local plastics industry, in general, on account of improving economic conditions. Based on GDP growth projection of 5.3% year-onyear in 2016, amply increased from the previous year’s estimate of 4.7% year-on-year, Inaplas added that growth in domestic demand this year will be backed by the country's food and beverage industry, not to mention the agribusiness sector. In other words, there may be lingering challenges for the country, but the window of growth opportunities from food and beverage packaging will be bountiful, for a brighter year ahead.

World of Plastics

Plastified Living From pens to building of houses, plastics are unmatched in versatility, cost-effectiveness and designerfriendly edge, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Who’s afraid of plastics? Greenhouse gas emissions, flooding, and marine litter – these are just a few of the issues that are making fossil fuel-based plastics infamous. The US leads in completely phasing out microbeads in personal care products by 2017. Lightweight plastic bags are seeing the inevitable with phase out policies being enforced in many countries worldwide. Europe, where disposal of single-use plastic bags is estimated at up to 200 bags/person/year, has initiated an EU-wide legislation that aims to reduce the use of conventional single-use carrier bags via the amended Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). The law directs EU member states to introduce measures that cut down lightweight plastic bag use to 90 bags/person by end of 2019; and 40 bags/person/year by 2025. Plastics everywhere Plastics, owing to their versatility, are essential to transportation, safety, security, health, shelter, communication, entertainment and the innovations of various industries, the US-based Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) states in its website. The benefits of using plastics are oft-said and almost countless. But to cite a few, plastics contribute to energy efficiency and possess properties that promote durability, longevity and performance of products. Plastics, amid the bad critique they are getting, remain a ubiquitous material in our daily lives and are far from being retrenched. According to a 2014 Sales and Captive Use by Major Market report from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE, PP, PS, EPS and PVC resins are not just utilised for packaging, although this application merits the larger use for plastics (34%).



Knack for concept designs Other markets continue to account for the use and sales of plastics, with consumer & institutional, and building & construction markets at the top range with 20% and 16% shares, respectively; and the industrial machinery markets clinching 1% share. Meanwhile, distribution percentage for the furnishing & furniture, as well as electrical and electronics segments is at 2%. And the more our lifestyles advance, the more we will see plastics being integrated into the objects and products we use on a regular basis. Now, plastics are being used in concept buildings, objects and furniture, not only for the durability and lightweight characteristics plastics can render, but also for their versatility for different shapes and designs: • Luxury Swiss watchmaker Richard Mille introduced a carbon fibre-based RMS05, a mechanical pen that uses watchmaking technology to deploy the nib. The carbon-based material for the pen, the North Thin Ply Technology (NTPT), was introduced by Richard Mille for his timepieces in 2013. The composite material is light yet rigid. The barrel and cap of the pen is made of NTPT, has “remarkable surface that displays extremely regular undulations”. This is because NTPT carbon is composed of thousand layers (having a maximum thickness of 30 microns) of parallel laments obtained by dividing carbon fibres. The layers are impregnated with resin then woven on a special machine that modifies the direction of the weft by 45 degrees between layers, creating this distinctive visual effect. Heated to 120°C at a pressure of six bars, the material is proccessed on a CNC machine.

Richard Mille's RMS05 pen is made of carbon-based material

• Battery-less phony phone – It’s called NoPhone, a non-electronic, non-functioning and featureless hand-held piece of plastic that imitates a smart

World of Plastics NoPhone is a featureless smartphone proxy made of plastic

phone in terms of weight, dimension and appearance. Created by a company also called NoPhone, the flagship product, as the name suggests, is just a “plastic slab” that aims to replace a real phone but does not do anything – not even call, send messages, take selfie shots, or access the Wi-Fi. Priced ranging from US$5 and US$65, depending on the “model” and “plans”, No Phone is, at least, water-resistant (because it is made of plastic!) and requires no charging. The creators of NoPhone say that the product’s concept is beyond mere gimmickry. “NoPhone is a satirical security blanket of sorts, meant to comment on our present addiction to technology." say the creators of the gadget. Ultimately, it is meant to allow a user to take a break from his or her mobile phone life, once in a while.

• Chairs that unseat traditional materials – South Korean industrial designer Sohyun Yun designed a clear plastic chair with slots for inserting decorated sheets to personalise the piece. A chair-cumcreative canvas, Sohyun’s Layer is a customised chair, made of clear acrylic frame and panel. With the plain frames slotted at the back rest and seat, the intention of the designer is to allow the user to self express by inserting his/her design of choice (printed on sheets of plastic, glass, or any material) into the frame. Meanwhile, Hungarian designer Demeter Fogarasi, also created a chair combining biodegradable plastic (PLA) and natural textiles. It is heat-pressed to form a composite material that is reheated and shaped until it cools and sets firm. To create the seat of the chair, Fogarasi used a mould, which rests on a tubular steel framework. It is meant to look like a frozen windswept sheet of fabric. With this design, Fogarasi said that his aim was to make a composite material that not only possessed good technical properties but also emphasised naturalness.

• Plastic on wheels – The common rickshaw, a three-wheeler urban vehicle that is popular in India, is getting a “greener” spin with a rotomoulded plastics version from OK Play India. The New Delhi-headquartered automotive plastic products manufacturer aims to break into the automobile industry with its environment-friendly, zero-pollution E-Raaja. It will produce in its two plants located in Haryana and Tamil Nadu that have a production capacity of 300,000 e-rickshaws/year. Unveiled late last year, E-Raaja has been approved by the automotive testing and R&D centre, International Centre for Automotive Technology (ICAT).

OK Play India has rolled out its e-rickshaw

• Raising the roof of plastic homes – Mexicobased company, EcoDomum, has developed low-cost walls and roof panels using waste plastic materials. It recycles about 5.5 tonnes of waste plastics that vary from soda bottles to old toys that are cut, melted and processed through a hydraulic press to produce the panels. EcoDomum also offers a housing subsidy programme through which families are required to pay only about US$280 for a 430-sq ft home. A low-cost home uses around 80 pieces of plastic panels - about 2 tonnes of plastic wastes - and takes approximately a week to build.

The acrylic plastic Layer chair can be customised to any design

Mexico's Ecodomum has created low-cost walls and roof panels using waste plastic materials JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016


Injection Moulding Asia Hot Runners

Direct Side Gating Mould builders and moulders should

length/diameter ratio, wall thickness), resin type (amorphous or crystalline) and stiffness will influence core bowing and part post-ejection deformation resulting from asymmetrical cavity filling, cooling and packing (see Figure 2). These effects are amplified in long, small-diameter, thin-walled parts moulded Figure 2 - This part, fed on one from soft polyolefin side, shows asymmetrical filling resins. Resin viscosity, and packing wall thickness and injection speed also impact flow behaviour, making it even more difficult to predict the flow-front progression pattern. Gating on one side of a tubular part can also generate a preferential flow opposite the gate. Figure 3 shows two partially filled parts with gating indicated by the red arrows. The part on the right is moulded from polypropylene (PP), and the part on the left is moulded from polyamide 66 (PA66). Note the different flow patterns on each part. The flow pattern in the PA66 example progressing faster on the opposite side of the gate can partially compensate for the pressure gradient between both sides of the core, helping to reduce core bowing. However, it will not change the deformation related to non-symmetrical packing. Different approaches to Figure 3 - These parts made gating also should be considered from PA66 and PP yield depending on how demanding different filling patterns the application is. For example, one approach may involve easing the resin flow around the core as the part begins to fill by slightly increasing the thickness at the base of the part. This helps equalise the flow progression on both sides of the core. This approach will not result in perfect part straightness, however, as it will not address postejection deformation resulting from asymmetrical cavity packing. To ensure symmetrical filling and packing when moulding a resin prone to post-ejection deformation and where part straightness is critical, it may be necessary

carefully consider hot runner selection, as it dramatically impacts an injection moulding system’s speed, quality and uptime, says JeanMichel Cunche, from Husky Injection Molding Systems, in this article.


epending on the application, a fully optimised hot runner solution with direct side gating can provide a variety of benefits over a cold-runner approach. A sidegate system can be an effective option for improving overall mould and hot runner performance, as well as part quality. It can save resin, improve cycle time, eliminate downstream operations (including scrap handling), and provide simplified ejection. Choice applications Direct side gating is particularly well-suited for deepdrawn parts that lack the required surface for optimal top gating, and for small parts that are typically produced using hot/cold runners or full cold runners (see Figure 1). Side gating can be particularly useful for spouts and fliptop closures where there is a prominent orifice or reduced space between the orifice and the part’s edge. For flip-top closures, side gating provides ideal flow development, which eliminates the risk of flow hesitation in the part hinge and increases freedom of orifice placement.

Figure 1 - This mould section shows direct side gating of a deep-drawn part. Images and figures courtesy of Husky Injection Molding Systems

Other parts require gating on the side for aesthetic reasons, so that there is no trace on the top of the part, such as the cover of a powder box or other cosmetic products. Long cylindrical parts such as syringe barrels and pipette tips can be moulded with a direct side gate hot runner system as well. Preferential flow In gating on one side of a tubular part, the filling pattern and the packing pressure will not be identical on both sides of the part. Part geometry (inner diameter, 1 ja n u a ry / f e b r u a ry 2 016

Injection Moulding Asia Hot Runners to gate on both sides of the part (Figure 4). This could potentially reduce the overall cycle time, as it makes it unnecessary for the part to stay in the mould for an extended period of time. There may be an increase in hardware costs and complexity as the number of gates doubles, however. When gating on both sides, it is necessary to Figure 4 - This part was fed on both sides, resulting in symmetrical filling optimise the flow balance with appropriate hot and packing runner channel sizing so that the gates blow open almost simultaneously. Also, it is important to ensure resin purity and cleanliness of the pellet feeding system, although this will not eliminate all contamination risk. Unlike with a cold runner, a contaminant in the hot runner gate will require removal. Lastly, mould builders and moulders should reconsider gating that is too close to the top of the core or near a very thin core, as this can create core bending. A slight pressure difference between both sides of the part may bend the core, particularly if it’s not supported. Part design features, such as a restriction in the flange at the base of a part, can impact flow around the core and help reduce part deformation, however, this will not result in perfect part straightness either. Gating on a flange or very close to the base of the part is recommended and may require an angled side gate tip, as illustrated in Figure 5. Additionally, when integrating a side gate nozzle on a part, the nozzle design should allow enough space for appropriate cooling around Figure 5 - An angled tip (left), instead of a both the part and straight tip (right), may be required for gating the gate vicinity. on a flange or very close to the base of the part This will help with achieving the target cycle time and control gate vestige.

in fewer than 12 months. Aside from the cost of the hot runner system and some added mould design considerations, appreciable cost and time savings can be realised from simplified mould ejection and the elimination of gate fine-tuning inherent to a cold runner. Downstream scrap handling also is reduced. When it comes to processing, a side gate hot runner system can minimise the pressure loss compared to a cold runner and can ensure efficient packing during part cooling without premature gate freezing. This is particularly important for semi-crystalline and crystalline resins. This is important to avoid defects such as sink marks or voids. Ensuring an appropriate packing time will also assist in increasing production quality, as part weight and dimensions will be much less affected by process variations. This is particularly important for the medical market, which often targets the statistical measurement of a process capability index (Cpk) greater than 1.66. Gate quality Gate quality in a well-designed direct side gate hot runner system can be comparable or better than that of a cold runner-fed part, and this gate quality is influenced by numerous parameters, including: • Gate cooling in the vicinity of the gate area. • Gate integration on the part so that a minimum straight portion without draft angle (one time the gate diameter) can be maintained. • Part thickness in front of the gate, especially with soft resins. The thicker the gate area, the more deformation during mould opening, and vestige is torn rather than cut. • Resin and mould opening speed, which is directly linked to material fractural behaviour. Generally, the softer the resin, the higher the risk of smear. The stiffer the resin, the better the gate quality. For coloured applications, such as moulding caps and closures, the colourant will influence the quality of the gate. Usually the darker the colour, the more significant the visual impact will be. This is related to stress whitening on the cutting edge of the gate during mould opening. Similar results would be seen in a cold runner. In addition to engineering considerations, it is important to consider ease of use and maintenance when selecting a side gate hot runner system. The system should not require a specific heating procedure or a nozzle temperature boost for most resins and should provide leak-proof operation. In addition, it should enable tip, nozzle, heater or thermocouple changes from the split line of the tool and then allow them to be put directly into the press without a long interruption. Lastly, it should offer fast gate clean-up and restart capabilities when contamination occurs from blocked gates (see Figure 1). With all of these critical factors taken into consideration, any moulder will be sure to choose the best hot runner system for your application.

Material savings and cycle time gains While the material savings from eliminating a cold runner is straightforward, the gain on cycle time may not correspond directly to its theoretical gain, as a cold runner is often ejected before a complete cooling. Many medical parts that are cold-runnered today, such as luer locks and bag spikes, could enjoy substantial cost reduction. The payback for material savings varies from case to case, but in most instances it can be reached 2 ja n u a ry / f e b r u a ry 2 016

Injection Moulding Asia Processor Report

Tempco stays upbeat; adds on more machinery Last year, 11th of November was a

Tempco is the first in Asia to take delivery of Arburg’s 3D Freeformer machine

significant one for Singapore moulder Tempco Manufacturing. While the double eleven number is accorded “Singles’ Day” in China, a holiday where unmarried Chinese go on a shopping orgy for merchandise, Tempco upped its own tempo with a shopping spree for a machine, its 100th!


n a ceremony scheduled at the auspicious time of 11 am (thus making it triple eleven!), Managing Director Matthew Goh took delivery of the company’s 100th injection moulding machine from German machinery maker Arburg. One of Arburg’s largest customers in Southeast Asia, Tempco has relied on Arburg for machinery since it set up in 1983, according to Goh. “We have a full range from 15 to 500 tonnes from injection to injection/compression, vertical and rotary table types, including the latest Freeformer for 3D prototyping,” he said. “We try not to buy the same model. Each machine has a special screw system. We instead suit the machine to the parts to be produced,” added Goh. It is for this reason that not all the machines run all the time. “About 30% of our machines are idle,” said Goh. “But when there are parts

to be produced, the set up time is minimal and turnaround is faster,” he says. Besides the presses, the 12,000 sq m facility, located in Ayer Rajah Crescent in one of Singapore’s industrial parks, also houses 50 CNC deflashing and three prototyping machinery. Plus, it has an in-house tooling workshop that produces around 30 moulds/month. This makes Tempco an excellent “showroom” for Arburg in Asia, as it showcases machines that are in actual production. Not surprisingly, Arburg has its regional office next door to Tempco. “We are open to visitors coming to our factory. We like to share our knowledge,” adds Goh. BMC, a niche market Reputedly one of the largest BMC (bulk moulding compound) processors in the region, Tempco specialises in moulding parts for the electric/ electronics sector (circuit protection) and for the medical sector (biotech devices) for customers like GE, Schneider, Terasaki Electric and Hager. When asked why he ventured into this sector, Goh says, “It is a niche sector, though it requires high investment since the gestation period for these

Matthew Goh receiving a certificate of appreciation from Arburg’s Hans Zimmermann

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Injection Moulding Asia Processor Report Since Tempco also specialises in thermoplastics moulding, the company is able to “cross sell” its technology and ultimately use its expertise to solve problems. One example is the development of a technology that can increase the flexural strength of normal thermoplastics by more than ten times, without additional costs. “The BMC technology is to get rid of bubbles in thermoplastics so that end products do not have cracks internally and are stronger,” explained Goh. Innovation path The affable Goh certainly has a big appetite – for innovation. Another six Arburg BMC machinery will be added on early this year. “We plan to use the machines for thinwall moulding of circuit breakers, using a hybrid of thermosetting and thermoplastics processing,” he says, adding that this has not been done before.

Goh is proud of the low staff turnover and says that most of the staff in the company are “old timers”

products is usually four years so we need to have the staying power.” A hands-on person, Goh learnt the ropes on the job. After a ten-year stint with GE, he set out on his entrepreneurial path. He says that the full potential of BMC has not been realised yet. “Many plastic engineers do not know much about BMC. It is an industry that is waiting to be exploited.” BMC is a doughy mass that is a polyesterbased, thermoset composite. The BMC part can be produced as soon as the BMC compound has been mixed, with glass fibres and calcium carbonate filler to render strength, flame retardancy, mechanical and electrical/heat insulation and conductivity. While BMC used to be popular as a low-cost drop-in for non-aesthetic, high heat applications, through the use of new chemical additives, it now offers other opportunities.

The stable of Arburg machinery

Already, Goh is planning on taking the company to the next level of processing, to produce parts for renewable technologies like fuel cells and wind/water turbines. “When the prices for energy go up, people will turn to renewable energy, so we have to be ready for it when it happens.” What drives him? “The key to success is to do what other people are not doing yet,” Goh replies, with a broad smile, adding that the way forward for Tempco, which has been growing at 20% a year, is stronger growth.

The company specialises in BMC and in the electrical/electronics sector

“BMC is revolutionary as not only can it replace engineering plastics and die casting, but with innovative mould designs and quality machines, aesthetics can be added on.” 4 ja n u a ry / f e b r u a ry 2 016

Injection Moulding Asia Consumer Electronics

The connectivity of things In the grand scheme of things, everything is

At the show, Detroit-headquartered car maker Chevrolet unveiled its 2017 Bolt EV, which will be available on the market late this year and will carry an affordable price tag starting from US$30,000 (after federal tax credit), says the company. Equipped with connectivity technologies, the Bolt EV will offer more than 200 miles of range on a full charge. Its range of features include the latest mobile app to enable car sharing, advanced GPS routing and gamification. Many of the Bolt EV’s driver-focused technologies are supported by OnStar 4G LTE, which turns the car into a Wi-Fi hotspot, giving owners easier access to apps and services via a high-speed wireless connection. Other connectivity and infotainment features include Bluetooth low-energy to minimise energy draw and seamlessly connect a smart phone to the car while the owner approaches the vehicle. As well, is a 10.2-inch MyLink colour touch-screen display with customisable, widget-based “flip-board style” operation; Rear Camera Mirror that provides a wide-angle view of the environment behind the vehicle; Surround Vision that gives a bird’s-eye view of what’s around the car for improved safety during low-speed driving and when parking; and MyChevrolet MobileApps that render several important owner and vehicle functions. Likewise at the Vegas exhibition, German automotive supplier Continental laid out its range of technologies that represent the company’s “Holistic Connectivity” concept. These include the Dynamic eHorizon, a new usability concept on the next-generation head unit; the Curved Centerstack cockpit, and thin Adaptable Faceplate interior design.

connected. With the advent of the Internet of Things, our cars, homes, communication devices, entertainment appliances, and even the infrastructure in the cities that we live in are now able to communicate with one another seamlessly and wirelessly under Cloud computing, says Angelica Buan.


ith the rising popularity of connectivity-enabled devices, we now know for sure that the Internet of Things (IoT) has finally come out of the realms of mere imagination. While still treading along virtual reality, IoT, a network of smart devices and infrastructures that interact with each other over the Internet, has significantly changed how we manage the different facets of our daily lives. The utilisation of connectivity-enabled devices is forecast to grow. American technology company, INTEL, projected that the number of connected devices will skyrocket to 200 billion by 2020. Over that period, spending for IoT would have reached US$1.7 trillion, according to US-based market research firm IDC. Connected cars on the roll Traditionally, consumers would tick off fuel economy, motor power, interior aesthetics and comfort as vital criteria when purchasing vehicles. But today, with the adoption of connective technologies in automobiles, consumers consider this feature as a key differentiator when buying cars, barring potential issues in security and privacy that accompany cloud technologies. Connected cars are equipped with devices that are connected to other devices (such as infotainment consoles, smartphones, digital dashboards, sensors) either within the vehicle; or linked to outside vehicles (vehicle to vehicle or V2V), devices, platforms, networks and services. The demand for connected cars is growing, according to research by Markets and Markets, projecting the market to be worth nearly US$47 billion by 2020. Over that period, BI Intelligence estimates that 75% of the 92 million cars sold worldwide will be fitted with internetconnection hardware. The recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2016 held 6-9 January in Las Vegas, US, once again showcased connectivity-enabled products and cars.

Continental’s Dynamic eHorizon cloud-based technology results in reducing fuel consumption, safety and automated driving, by using information from the road ahead to directly enhance vehicle electronics

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Injection Moulding Asia Consumer Electronics The Dynamic eHorizon cloud-based technology uses information from the road ahead to directly enhance vehicle electronics. According to Continental, this data allows a reduction in fuel consumption of up to 4% with a 48 V Mild-Hybrid vehicle with Connected Energy Management. In another eHorizon vehicle, Continental used dynamic data to increase the driver’s field of view and warn about dangerous situations much before they become visible. Continental exhibited its new usability concept on next-generation head units and infotainment platforms, which allows shifting content across screen boundaries and over various displays. The core technology, which is the human-machine interface (HMI) server, handles requests of the different applications. It presents this information following an intelligent strategy, not only according to the driver’s needs, but also depending on the driving situation, exactly where the driver needs to see it. The AutoLinQ is an operating system-independent way to integrate applications from the driver’s or a passenger’s mobile device into the vehicle’s infotainment system independently. This technology allows apps to be installed from the smartphone onto the head unit and integrated directly into the head unit’s HMI concept by using HTML5 frameworks. The Curved Centerstack system combines two 12.3-inch active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) touch displays with active haptic feedback, force sensing, and time of flight sensor for gesture detection. According to Continental, while the technology results in an attractive and flexible HMI, it also reduces driver distraction and increases driving safety. The 17 mm-thick Adaptable Faceplate, meanwhile, makes for flexible regional and car line specific design capabilities for infotainment systems. Featuring no mechanical buttons, the faceplate can easily be exchanged by the automotive maker while keeping the background computing hardware unchanged, thus, reducing tooling costs. The entire faceplate is covered by a capacitive surface, which includes an electro-luminescent foil. Additionally, the reconfigurable software buttons allows drivers to create their own HMI by setting shortcuts from apps on the display to software buttons of the faceplate. Keeping eyes on safety Germany’s Bosch Connected Devices and Solutions also offered at the show its Retrofit eCall sensor to detect crashes to improve driver safety. When a vehicle fitted with the eCall system has an

accident, the smart sensor automatically and quickly contacts emergency services. It uses acceleration sensors and intelligent embedded algorithms to detect an accident and then send data to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. This data is sent to a back-end IT system that can determine actions, such as a call centre calling the driver to provide assistance, or in extreme cases making an emergency call. Because it can be plugged into a standard 12V DC socket, the Retrofit eCall can be retrofitted to any type of car. Meanwhile, Connecticut-headquartered Harman International Industries took the floor of CES to introduce an industry-first for advanced safety, the Pupil-Based Driver Monitoring System. The new proprietary technology aids drivers who are tired or distracted by measuring the increases in the pupil dilation as an indication of a driver’s mental workload, thus, signalling the car’s other safety systems to adapt to the driver’s state. The technology represents a major step forward in the domain of Advanced Safety and Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) for vehicles, said Harman.

Harman’s Pupil-Based Driver Monitoring System measures increases in the pupil dilation as an indication of a driver’s mental workload

Adoption of in-cabin cameras is growing rapidly, enabling features such as occupant detection and driver drowsiness monitoring, Harman said in its press release. The eye and pupil tracking technology brings additional value to the driver-facing camera, and eliminates the need for complex sensors built into seats and steering wheels, or biometric sensors that require physical contact with the driver. Bearing the same torch for driver safety is Canadian automotive supplier Magna International with its vehicle-secured connectivity, eye tracking systems. At the CES, Magna featured in-cabin imaging and head-up display technologies aimed at reducing distracted driving and improving driver safety. Magna’s solution uses a camera-based

The Retrofit eCall sensor from Bosch that can detect crashes to improve driver safety

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Injection Moulding Asia Consumer Electronics your home, if a car enters your driveway or your pet is in the yard. What makes it stand out is that it can differentiate between people, pets and vehicles, being equipped with Netatmo’s proprietary SmartSight technology. It also has infra-red night vision and a smart floodlight function to ward off intruders. Moreover, Presence can record full HD video onto an internal microSD card and transmit recordings to an FTP server. Another CES exhibitor, Taiwanese semiconductor manufacturer Realtek Semiconductor demonstrated its smart home and entertainment ware, the Bluetooth LE application (RTL8762A). It is ideal as it requires no directional pointing of the controller device, says Realtek. The Bluetooth remote control can control TV, STB, air conditioning, and other smart appliances. It also offers Bluetooth Voice, which can be used, for example, to voice control a remote toy car, or to voice control a room’s mesh lighting. Another smart home product that Realtek presented during the show is the Motion & Voice Sensor Fusion DSP for mobile devices or RTS3110. It embeds a highspeed, low-power 32-bit DSP core and Realtek Voice Activity Detection (VAD) for motion sensing and voice wakeup/recognition detection. By combining the motion and voice functions into a single chip, system design complexity of always-on motion and voice sensing applications can be greatly reduced Combining the power edge of a smart home and a connected car is what US-based smart home automation systems specialist Control4 showcased at the CES. The smart home app for connected cars utilises the SmartDeviceLink (SDL) technology, an open-source software designed specifically to integrate Internet functionality into vehicles, to unite smart home functionality with connected cars. The featured app demonstrates one-touch smart home integration using an Android phone and a Toyota vehicle head. The Control4 app syncs with the vehicle’s head display unit to enable Control4 users to access and control their smart home devices, such as thermostats, lights, locks and garage doors, right from the driver’s seat. Thus, the age of connectivity has come. And the plastics sector is set to gain advantages from the electronic gadgets as manufacturers seek lighter weight materials.

This driver-safety technology from Magna, in tandem with Argus Cyber Security’s software, monitors suspicious or potential malicious activity for early detection and prevention

monitoring system that detects the driver’s eye gaze and measures levels of drowsiness and distraction. The head-up display projects an unobstructed image from the rear camera, using eye gaze determination to identify when a driver looks up at the interior mirror to get a rear view. Another technology shown at the show was a system that combines Magna’s secure gateway with Argus Cyber Security’s software solution to bring a proactive approach to enhanced vehicle cyber security. The Magna/Argus system monitors for suspicious and/ or potential malicious activity for early detection and prevention. Opening doors for smart homes Smart homes are no longer the four-walled enclaves that support the roof above our heads. They are fitted with connected appliances and may soon become staples in the realty market. Markets and Markets forecast the demand to rake in almost US$60 billion by 2020. Although smart homes are not a relatively new concept, the adoption of connectivity used to be limited to upscale consumers. But that is expected to change. Thanks to rising competition in the sector, prices of connectivity-enabled home gadgets are becoming affordable. With household management functionalities such as securing door locks and turning off lights via remote control, US-headquartered information firm IHS has forecast that cloud-based home management systems installations could reach almost 45 million by 2018. Additionally, IHS stated that many appliance makers have started to veer from low-profit, low-growth traditional or non-smart products toward the emerging high-margin, revenue-oriented smart connected appliance market. Meanwhile, security devices are expected to account for US$7.7 billion share in the connected homes market by 2021, according to RadiantInsights, owing to the growth of replacement of obtainable security systems, automated connected thermostats, 3D video cameras and access sensors. At the CES, consumer electronics producer Netatmo featured its outdoor security camera with intelligent detection abilities. Known as Presence, the gadget detects and reports in real-time if someone has entered

Netatmo offers Presence, a smart home outdoor security camera featuring its proprietary SmartSight technology

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • Belgian supplier of carbon black Orion Engineered Carbons has completed the acquisition of the remaining shares of its joint venture carbon black business Qingdao Evonik Chemical (QECC) in China. It bought Evonik’s 52% stake as well as Deutsche Investitions-und Entwicklungsgesellschaft’s 15% stake for EUR28 million. Furthermore, Orion says it has renewed open agreements for major tyre customers for 2016, and will target markets of North America, Europe and South Korea. • Cooper Tire & Rubber is purchasing 65% of Chinabased Qingdao Ge Rui Da Rubber for US$93 million. Cooper Qingdao Tire (CQT) will serve as a global source of truck and bus radial (TBR) tyre production for Cooper including Roadmaster branded tyres for the North American market as well as TBR tyres for Asia and other markets; and in the near term, passenger car radial (PCR) tyres. It is projected to produce up to 3 million TBR and PCR tyres/ year at full capacity. • Kraton Polymers has acquired Arizona Chemical Holdings Corporation for US$1.3 billion. Arizona is the largest global provider of pinebased speciality chemicals. The acquisition can enable Kraton Polymers to expand its presence in core markets it shares with Arizona, such as adhesives, roads and construction, coatings and oilfield chemicals, while providing non-competing and highly complementary products and technologies. • Trelleborg Wheel Systems has acquired Standard Tyres Group, a Brazil-based

privately owned industrial tyre manufacturer and the main supplier to locallybased, global OEMs of materials handling vehicles. The acquisition, thus, strengthens the presence of Trelleborg in industrial tyres in South America. • ContiTech is investing US$7.2 million in an industrial hose plant in Mount Pleasant, US, in response to the increasing demand for industrial hoses in the NAFTA region. The expansion entails an additional 30,000 sq ft to the floor area and a production line, to increase capacity by 20%. Construction work will be completed by the end of the year. • Freudenberg Medical is expanding and improving its extrusion and moulding cleanrooms, with updated layout and optimised work cells to accommodate future growth, at its silicone operations in California, US. The cleanroom now complies with ISO Class 7 guidelines and has increased the company’s silicone extrusion capacity by over 50%. • Univar, an industrial and speciality chemicals distributor based in the US, is expanding its European distribution agreement for silicone products with Dow Corning to include the UK and Ireland. • Malaysian glove maker Top Glove is investing RM200 million to build more factories and acquire a few companies at the heel of the previous years’ capacity expansion and higher utilisation rate of its natural rubber glove factories. The company is also expecting to boost capacity

up to 52 billion pieces/year by February 2017. Furthermore, Top Glove is eyeing expansions to other markets like Iran while maintaining strong sales from Asia and the Middle East regions. • Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations is expanding its 42-year old Wilson, US, passenger tyre facility as part of a five-year, US$164 million investment. The US$100 million Phases 1 and 2 will focus on the addition of 167,000 sq ft of manufacturing space to accommodate new tyre assembly machines, materials handling systems and curing presses to increase plant capacity by 3,000 tyres/ day, bringing production to 35,000 tyres/days by 2018. The new equipment also will allow the plant to respond to the increase in global demand for higher rim size tyres. In related news, Bridgestone will open its first tyre plant in Russia in the second half of 2016. The plant, built in cooperation with Mitsubishi Corporation, will be located in Ulyanovsk region, will produce 2 million tyres/year and create 800 jobs. • Swedish naphthenic speciality oils company Nynas is taking over the former Shell refinery in Hamburg, Germany. It will have a production capacity of speciality oils of 330,000 tonnes amd offer a wide range of penetration bitumen for customers in Europe. A new bitumen truck loading facility is planned to be operational by middle of the year and will be the final step in improving the refinery infrastructure. • Bluestar Silicones and Başoğlu Kablo have partnered to create a rubber compounding centre in Turkey to serve

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News customers with technical products adapted to local requirements. Both firms sealed a license agreement in silicone HCR compounding. The ready-to-use compounds, a mix of rubber base with special additives, catalyst and pigments, will be promoted under Başoğlu Kablo. • Chinese tyre manufacturer ZC Rubber Group has established its second overseas subsidiary (the first is ZC Rubber America), ZC Rubber Brazil Importation and Exportation in São Paulo. The Brazil subsidiary focuses on the development of premium and green tyres for the local market, as well as after sales service for the South American market. • Versalis Pacific Trading (Shanghai), a, Asian subsidiary of the Italian company, has started distribution of rubber process oils in the Asian synthetic rubber market. Versalis will be marketing extender oils RAE (residual aromatic extract), TDAE (treated distillate aromatic extract) and MES (mild extract solvate), produced at its parent company Eni’s refinery in Livorno, Italy. • PPG Industries is increasing precipitated silica production capacity at its Louisiana, US, manufacturing plant by more than 10,000 tonnes/year in response to growing demand. It will undertake this through debottlenecking projects that are already underway and expected to come online in the second half of 2016. • India’s Usher Eco, a subsidiary of Usher Agro, has been granted a US$28 million loan to develop the world’s

first commercial scale silica extraction plant for producing “green” precipitated silica from rice husk ash. This ash is generated by burning rice husks in the boiler of a rice husk-fired biomass power plant, in a closed system. Furthermore, Usher Eco will use the financing to expand its rice husk-based waste-toenergy facility from 16 to 34 MW. • Munich-based Wacker Group has invested EUR26 million in the expansion of production capacity for functional silicone fluids at its Burghausen site, Germany, by around 70%. Having completed its polysilicon production site in Tennessee, US, the company says it has essentially concluded its investment in full-scale plants for the manufacture of precursors. Thus, it is now focusing on plants for intermediates, sales products and speciality products. • Yokohama Rubber has opened a new winter tyre test facility in Asahikawa City. It is located on a 906,462 sq m site that formerly was used as horse race track and was acquired in March 2015. In addition to a 1 km-long straight snow track, the test course is equipped with a flat ice track, hill track, snow and ice circle, and a handling track. • Omsk Carbon Mogilev, part of Russian Omsk Carbon Group and the largest carbon black maker in Russia with total production capacity of 400,000 tonnes/year, has delayed the start-up of its new carbon black plant in Mogilev, Belarus, which is its third plant. The facility, in the Belarusian Free Economic Zone, will commence

production in August 2016, behind schedule, and is expected to reach its full designed capacity of up to 120,000 tonnes/year in 2019. • Swedish industrial rubber maker Trelleborg is viewing its options to sell its roughly EUR1 billion stake in TrelleborgVibracoustic to buyout group KKR. Trelleborg and German partner Freudenberg last year started preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) for TrelleborgVibracoustic, a Germany-based maker of automotive vibration control technology. While Trelleborg initially expected an IPO to maximise the return on its 50% stake, the group is now looking at selling to a private equity firm as stock markets have fallen. Other private equity groups such as PAI and Bain are also considering buying the stake, according to sources. Freudenberg is not selling its stake in the business and may even slightly increase its 50% stake. KKR also has in its stable Alliance Tire Group, a manufacturer of off-thehighway tyres. • Freudenberg Group is to transfer its 50% shareholding in Enmech Berlin and Enmech Hungary to its longterm joint venture partner NOK Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. Enmech has been a Freudenberg Group and NOK Corporation joint venture since 2002. The Japanese partner company will incorporate Enmech into its subsidiary Nippon Mektron, the world’s market leader in flexible printed circuit boards and its European subsidiary Mektec Europe. The step will lead to the expansion of Nippon Mektron’s automotive business.

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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber

An elastic growth for synthetic rubber Nevertheless, ESBR grades still account for about 76% of total world capacity as of 2015. However, as most new SBR capacity additions today are based on the solution SBR process, the ESBR share will likely decrease to about 72% by the end of the forecasted period in 2020. The tyre industry is the dominant consumer of SBR, accounting for more than 75-80% of total demand in 2015. Apart from this, SBR is also used in non-tyre automotive applications, such as conveyor belts, industrial hoses, various moulded and extruded rubber goods, footwear, and other consumer goods. Some grades of SBR, those that are waterproof and free from impurities, are also utilised in the cable industry.

The oil price decline and weakened economies may be nocuous for a number of sectors, but not for the synthetic rubber sector, which is due for further expansion in the coming years, say Angelica Buan and Elaine Cotoner in this report.


he declining price of oil is a windfall for most sectors. For consumers, the price drop improves their purchasing power, to say the least. At the US$30 per barrel mark for the price of crude oil, with expectations of further price declines, it could translate to lower costs for goods, energy and transportation, and narrowed-down inflation, to cite a few basic benefits. The International Monetary Fund says that a mere 10% adjustment in the oil price corresponds to some 0.2% change in global GDP. However, certain industries are dependent on oil, plus the dull sentiments of major oil producers affected by the low oil prices and further exacerbated by weakened demands from China, Japan, Europe, and the US, are all not a big help to the industry. On the other hand, the decline of oil prices is making fuel-based products more lucrative for manufacturers relying on the commodity. Synthetic rubber (SR), which is a crude oil by-product, is now favoured by tyre and non-tyre segment manufacturers, now that prices of SR are declining. In the second quarter of 2015, it was reported that synthetic rubber prices slid by 15% in Europe and 5% in the US, compared to the same period the previous year. This resulted in an increasing usage of SR. In Europe, for example, utilisation climbed to a ratio of 60% for synthetic rubber versus 40% for natural rubber. This trend is seen to continue, along the still unabated drop in oil prices worldwide.

“Styrene butadiene elastomers constitute the largest volumes of synthetic rubber in the world…” Even though China remains the largest consumer of ESBR, it has exhibited only a comparatively small average annual growth of about 0.6% since 2010. The largest demand growth on a percentage basis was registered in South Korea (6.5%), Taiwan (6.4%), Canada (4.4%), Japan (4.3%), and Africa (4.1%). Decreasing consumption of ESBR was seen in most of the mature markets: the US, Mexico, Western Europe, and the CIS/Baltic states. Overall, the major consuming regions in 2015 were China (accounting for about 29% of global consumption), the US (14%), Southeast Asia, and South America. By far the largest capacity additions have been seen in Southeast Asia (Singapore and Thailand), South Korea, and China, which together accounted for about 64% of the total increase. With a comparatively large average annual growth rate of about 18.5% annually registered for domestic demand in the last five years, China has become by far the largest consumer of solution SBR, surpassing Western Europe and Japan, and is assumed to account for about 24% of the global demand in 2015. Only demand in Taiwan and the CIS/Baltic states has increased at even higher annual rates (27% and 23%, respectively), while declining consumption levels were seen in Mexico and Japan.

SBRs make the cut tyrene butadiene elastomers (SBRs) constitute the largest volumes of synthetic rubber in the world, according to a report by US research house IHS. There are two major types of SBR: emulsion and solution. Emulsion SBR (ESBR) is continuing to lose ground to solution SBR (SSBR), which is better suited to meet the increasingly stringent specifications of high-performance tyres.


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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber SR growth in Asia Pacific esearch company Transparency Market Research projects favourable expansion for the synthetic rubber market. It reported that the global synthetic rubber market is poised to amp at a CAGR of 5.1% during the period between 2015 and 2023. The report estimates the global synthetic rubber market to be worth US$45 million by 2023. The overall market was valued at US$29 million in 2014. German research firm Ceresana, in its report, states that more than 12.6 million tonnes of synthetic rubber is consumed yearly worldwide. More than half of global demand is generated in the Asia Pacific region. Due to above-average growth rates, the market share in this region will presumably rise to approximately 56% in 2022.

This coupled with the strong tyre demand in the country, as well as steady growth of its footwear and adhesive industries, will augur well for SR.


Silicone market growing in construction sector ilicone, another class of synthetic rubber, is growing in the building and construction application segment in Asia Pacific, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets. Asia Pacific and Europe are currently the largest markets for silicones in the building and construction application and accounted for a share of about 40.2% and 29.5%, respectively, of the total market size in 2014. The industrial developments in Asia Pacific are also driving the demand of various silicone materials used in this segment. Despite some production capacities present in developing countries, such as China and India, these capacities have proven to be more export-oriented than in the promotion of domestic growth for the silicone market. China accounts for a significant market share in the global silicone market. However, increasing raw material prices restrict this market’s growth.


“…more than 12.6 million tonnes of synthetic rubber is consumed yearly worldwide…” Additionally, the overall synthetic rubber market has a huge opportunity to grow with the emergence of biobased feedstocks. Major applications for SR outside the tyre sector are in the manufacturing of technical products such as conveyor belts, roll coverings, hoses, profiles, gaskets, cables, mouldings, and roofing films. For the period between 2014-2022, the expected global demand for rubber in the industrial and construction segments will increase by 2.9% per year. Meanwhile, nitrile rubber (NBR), a synthetic rubber copolymer of acrylonitrile (ACN) and butadiene, is forecast to enjoy global consumption growth at 4% annually, according to a report by UK-based Merchant Research & Consulting. Asia Pacific will show the highest growth rates, while Europe and North America will exhibit moderate increase.

“Asia Pacific and Europe are currently the largest markets for silicones in the building and construction sector…” Silicone elastomers are used widely in the building and construction industry as silicone sealants for weatherproofing materials and enable innovative applications. Since structural silicone sealants have long-term adhesion, compatibility, and strength required for structural glazing and protective glazing applications, they are used in making sheet glass skyscrapers. Silicones are inherently waterproof, and they provide greater UV stability, temperature and weather resistance than organic materials, and because they last longer, they can be replaced less often, thus reducing lifetime costs and contributing to sustainability. To meet this growing demand, key manufacturers from Asia Pacific and Europe are now focusing on the North American market. The demand for silicones in this region is projected to register a CAGR of 6.8% by volume between 2015 and 2020. The global silicone market size, in terms of value, is projected to reach over US$20 billion by 2020.

Rounding out demand with tyres pplication-wise, tyres will account for a significant utilisation rate for synthetic rubber, given SR’s high mechanical strength and abrasion resistance, which are just ideal for tyres. It is no surprise then that the most important sales market in 2014 was the tyre segment. Almost 60% of total worldwide demand was generated by original equipment tyres and replacement tyres. Being the world’s largest manufacturer of tyres and a major global consumer of SR, China is forecast to drive consumption beyond the US$12 billion mark by 2020, according to TechSci Research.


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