PRA May 2016 Issue

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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 材 料 : 再生塑料走高端路線

In this issue

Volume 31, No 221

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 12 材料: 再生塑料走高端路線 14 Country Focus – China’s forecast of lower growth this year has not put a damper on companies interviewed at the recent Chinaplas show in Shanghai that are still expanding, against the back of the burgeoning packaging and automotive sectors and the country’s 13th five-year plan

20 Additives – The building blocks for versatility in colour, flexibility and design in plastics have developed into a billion-dollar market

23 Thermoforming – Current packaging trends lean towards the on-the-go and convenient-yet-healthy needs of today’s consumers 26 Aerospace Industry – Owing to the light weight of plastics and cost-efficient value, more plastics are being adopted by space technology

Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email: Associate Publisher/Editor Tej Fernandez Tel: +60 3 4260 4575 Email: Editorial/Production Coordinator Angelica Buan Email: Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling Circulation Abril Castro Email: Admin & Finance Manager Tean Arul Email:

Regulars 概 要


2 Industry News

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6 Materials News

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

Supplements 副 刊 Companies interviewed at Chinaplas in Shanghai were bullish about the machinery sector, since China is no more a “low cost” production workshop and higher quality is expected in the plastics processing sector Malaysian glove makers are holding up against the back of challenges of low demands, safety rules, and wage hikes 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. © 2016 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


Infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, are more and more being made of sustainable materials, such as recycled post-consumer plastic materials

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MAY 2016


Industry News

M&As • US flexible and rigid packaging supplier Bemis Company has completed the acquisition of the medical device packaging operations of SteriPack Group, a global manufacturer of sterile packaging solutions for medical device and pharmaceutical applications. This acquisition includes a facility in Ireland and assets in Malaysia and the US. It recorded annual net sales of US$65 million in 2015. • Belgian chemicals firm Solvay is to sell its 70.59% stake in Solvay Indupa, its PVC unit based in Brazil and Argentina, to Brazilian chemical group Unipar Carbocloro for US$202 million, subject to adjustments. The sale will be subject to antitrust approval. In 2013, Solvay had tried to sell Indupa to another Brazilian chemicals firm Braskem. But the Brazilian antitrust authority blocked the sale on account that the two companies were competitors in the PVC market in South America. • US-headquartered Avery Dennison is to acquire the European business of Mactac from Platinum Equity, 2

MAY 2016

a California-based private equity firm, for EUR200 million. With 2015 revenues of EUR147 million and approximately 470 employees, the business is a manufacturer of pressuresensitive materials, including graphics, speciality labels and industrial tapes, complementing Avery Dennison’s existing graphics portfolio. • German chemical company BASF is selling its global polyolefin catalysts business to WR Grace & Co. Currently, the business is part of BASF’s catalysts division. BASF and Grace intend to complete the transaction in the third quarter of 2016. The targeted transaction includes technologies, patents, trademarks and the transfer of BASF’s production plants in the US and Spain. • Flexible packaging products and labels manufacturer Constantia Flexibles Group has purchased Vietnamese pharmaceutical packaging manufacturer Oai Hung Co. It achieved sales of EUR25 million in 2015. Constantia Flexibles Pharma division is the world’s

second largest flexible packaging manufacturer for the pharmaceutical and Home & Personal Care (HPC) industries. It operates three production sites in Austria, Germany and Spain. • US speciality chemicals firm Valtris Specialty Chemicals, a part of global private equity investment firm HIG Capital, has acquired Akcros Holdings, a provider of speciality chemicals used as additives in the production of polymers, paint, and coatings with operations in Europe, US, India and China. • Australia-based multinational packaging company Amcor is to acquire Alusa, the largest flexible packaging business in South America, for US$435 million. The business has four plants and a broad range of capabilities including film extrusion, flexographic and gravure printing and lamination. • Quadrant, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Plastics, is acquiring Piper Plastics’s global Engineering Plastic Products (QEPP) business unit with facilities in the US and Asia. Piper serves the medical,

semiconductor, aerospace/defence, energy and food packaging industries. • Faurecia is selling its Automotive Exteriors Business to Plastic Omnium for EUR665 million, following the completion of the information and consultation procedures with the relevant employee representatives. The transaction concerns the bumpers and front end modules business of Faurecia, which had sales of EUR2 billion in 2015 and employs 7,700 people in 22 sites. The transaction, which excludes the composite business of Faurecia, is due to close in 2016. • American adhesives manufacturing company HB Fuller has acquired Australiaheadquartered Advanced Adhesives. Based in Sydney and Auckland, the industrial adhesives specialist, which also serves the New Zealand market, will be placed in HB Fuller’s Asia Pacific operating segment. Serving a wide range of industries, including consumer packaged goods, woodworking and product assembly applications, Advanced Adhesives generated US$17 million revenue in 2015.


BOPP film growth aided by packaging demand


modest improvement in margins, along underpinned by population growth, urbanisation and with continuing steady growth helped to rising incomes in developing markets. lift investment confidence in the BOPP film There are also signs of consolidation in the market, industry last year - but not in China. After years, with the ten largest BOPP producers now accounting when 60-70% of new capacity was being installed for 30% of global production. This compares with 25% in China, the focus is now shifting to new markets in 2011 and 27% in 2013. This consolidation is not with capacity to be added on in Europe, Africa, Asia just affecting heritage companies in Europe and North and the Americas. This though will also drive the America, but is also leading to the emergence of new need for rationalisation of old capacity. The situation market leaders in China and South America. AMI is looks particularly risky for Europe's less profitable forecasting the industry will continue to advance at players where the addition of new players in Poland around 5% a year to 2020 giving rise to a demand of and Russia is likely to drive the need for upwards of 9.5 million tonnes. 100,000 tonnes of capacity to go if Europe is to return to the 80% utilisation rate achieved in 2010. This is the equivalent of four or five lines or potentially one or two producers. These are some of the findings from 30% research firm AMI's latest report on the global BOPP film industry, which reports Taghleef Industries Jindal Poly Films that demand for BOPP film grew by 4% Gettel Group in 2015. With potentially a further 37 new Nan Ya Corporation 70% China Soft Packaging lines, adding another 1.5 million tonnes of Treofan capacity in the pipeline for the period 2016Oben Group Biaxplen 2017, utilisation rates are expected to remain Yem Chio at around 70-75%. Jiangsu Hengchuang Utilisation rates are also being impacted by the trend to downgauge to produce thinner films and by more speciality films. The strength of the BOPP film industry stems from the high volumes used in The ten largest BOPP film producers now account for 30% global production primary packaging, particularly for food,

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MAY 2016


Industry News

New Facilities/Office Set-ups • US manufacturer of composite materials and structural parts Hexcel has broken ground on a new US$20 million engineered core facility at the MidParc Free Trade Zone Industrial Park in Casablanca, Morocco. When fully operational in 2017, the facility will convert HexWeb honeycomb materials into engineered core parts that are used for structural reinforcement and light weighting in aerospace applications, including aircraft structures, engine nacelles and helicopter blades. • US compounder A. Schulman has expanded its masterbatch production capacity in China to serve growing demand in the region. It opened a new colour facility in the Changshu High Tech Industrial Park, CEDZ, Jiangsu. This will be its second whollyowned plant in China and it will produce colour additives for packaging, automotive, agricultural, sports, leisure & home customers in China and other growing markets throughout the Asia Pacific. • US-based MonoSol, the world leader in water-soluble films, 4

MAY 2016

has opened its US$95 million production plant in Portage, Indiana. The new plant will expand MonoSol’s manufacturing capacity by 15% to meet increasing global demand for watersoluble films and unit-dose packaging. MonoSol serves its global customer base with eight locations on three continents. At Indiana, one manufacturing line is starting up in 2016, with full-capacity production expected in 2017. A second manufacturing line will be added by 2020. To support continuous 24/7 operation on the two lines, MonoSol will hire more than 150 line operators, maintenance personnel, electricians and mechanics. MonoSol’s parent company is Japanese firm Kuraray. • Masterbatch provider Americhem has launched a new customer concept centre in Suzhou, China, and renovated the laboratory. The facility gives customers a practical and innovative space to develop products and collaborate with Americhem technical experts. • US-based polymer supplier PolyOne Corporation is investing in its GSDI speciality dispersions

business at its Ohio facility, to launch new colourant and additive solutions for silicone and other thermoset applications. It will expand production capacity with new equipment and increase laboratory capabilities. • Machinery company Milacron Holdings Corp has completed another round of expansions at its injection, blow and extrusion moulding machine facilities in Ahmedabad as well as its hot runner manufacturing facility in Coimbatore. At Ahmedabad, it has added an additional 9,304 sq m bringing the total footprint to 65,000 sq m. The additional space will primarily be used for machining and assembly. The plant manufactures a variety of hydraulic, servo and electric injection moulding machines, blow moulding, PET, as well as extrusion machines. Meanwhile in Coimbatore, Milacron’s hot runner brand, MoldMasters, completed a 10,000 sq ft expansion in Q2 2015. It also added a brazed furnace, allowing it to manufacture its proprietary iFLOW manifold technology for applications requiring balanced fill, fast colour changes and complex cavity layouts.

• With a view to expanding its presence in Asia, German injection moulding machine maker Arburg has founded its own subsidiary in Taichung, Taiwan. The company has had an agent there in the form of C & F International Corp. since 1981. Arburg already has customers in Taiwan, and says many of its Allrounders are used not only in medical technology and electronics production, but also in the processing of metal and ceramic powders (MIM, CIM) and liquid silicone (LSR). The new subsidiary's premises cover an area of around 550 sq m and offer space for three Allrounders, complemented by training rooms and a spare parts store room. At the recently held Technology Days, Arburg also opened its new assembly hall, which adds 18,600 sq m to the total floorspace available at its headquarters in Lossburg, bringing it to around 165,000 sq m. The additional space is to meet the rising demand for machines with complex equipment, large Allrounder injection moulding machines with clamping forces up to 5,000 kN and customised turnkey solutions.

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Materials News

Recycled plastics take the high road Recycled plastic is reinventing itself as a sustainable, durable and cost-effective material for building bridges and roads that used to be dominated by materials like bitumen, iron, steel and other metals, says Angelica Buan in this article.


ost-consumer resin or PCR is no more a buzzword. The ubiquitous word may appear on a flap of a cereal box, at the bottom of a take-out salad pack, or on other plastic packaging. Utilising PCR in packaging and even in household goods is common, but now applications extend to larger structures like bridges and roads. Also, there is a rising demand for PCR, which goes back to how valuable plastic is as a resource. In the US, demand for PCR is forecast to rise 6.5% to 200,000 tonnes in 2016, with PET bottles as the leading source, says a report from Cleveland-based market research firm Freedonia. More rapid gains, however, are forecast for rigid plastics, film, and carpet as well as rLDPE, which will benefit from a rebound in the construction market; with growth also expected for smaller volume resins such as nylon, PP and PS. Meanwhile, PET and HDPE were the two leading resins used in recycled plastic products in 2011, accounting for over 70% of demand, says the firm. VinylPlus, the European PVC industry sustainable development programme, says that 514,913 tonnes of PVC was recycled last year, of which window profiles and related profile products accounted for around 45%. The target is to recycle 800,000 tonnes/year of PVC by 2020 in Europe.

Heavy-duty bridges made of recycled plastics In the 1980s, Ohio-headquartered Axion International (which is currently under Chapter 11 bankruptcy) together with Rutgers University’s Advanced Polymer Centre produced a thermoplastic composite material made of 100% PCR and HDPE. Since then Axion’s Ecotrax composite railroad ties and Struxure composite building products can be found in infrastructures like girders, pilings, railroad ties and bridge substructures, as replacements for traditional materials like wood, steel or concrete.

The 100% PCR and HDPE composite material produced by Axion is used for the Fort Bragg bridge, which could carry a 71-tonne M1 Abrams tank and HS25 loads

Raw material from consumer waste is turned into high performance composite material


MAY 2016

Unlike the glass fibre-composite systems, which were commonly used in bridges with decks during the mid-1970s, the TP-based bridge systems have shown to be inherently resistant to rust and spoilage, and require zero to minimal maintenance, says Axion. Trying out the material, the US Army made the first recycled plastic bridge at Fort Bragg in North Carolina in 2009. The bridge could carry a 71-tonne M1 Abrams tank and HS25 loads. The bridge components, including girders, pier caps, decking, railings and pilings, are made from recycled plastics. The following year, the dilapidating railroad timber bridges at Fort Eustis in Virginia were replaced with the TP composite.

Materials News The expert behind the waste plastic road technology is Professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan of Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai. Dubbed as the Plastic Man of India, Vasudevan says that waste plastics can replace as much as 15% of bitumen in asphalt. The first plastic bridge in Europe

Europe has also harnessed the potential of recycled plastics as a replacement for timber and laminated products. In 2011, UK-based Vertech Composites (which was also a partner to Axion in the US for projects), together with Rutgers University, Cardiff University, specialist bridge designer Cass Hayward and Polywood, built a 30-m footbridge across Scotland’s Tweed River. It is known as Europe’s first recycled material heavy goods vehicle (HGV) road-bridge. Some 50 tonnes of recycled plastic waste went into constructing the footbridge that took less than two weeks to complete. India’s green roads India’s economy continues to take off, with 7.3% growth expansion in 2015, which reportedly outpaced China. Along with the rising economy, urbanisation is also peaking, and so is the waste produced. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, as much as 40% of India’s municipal waste remains uncollected and of the waste that is collected, almost none is recycled. The country’s Central Pollution Control Board says more than 15,000 tonnes/day of plastic waste is generated. And although the nation’s per capita consumption of plastic is low compared with that of the US, it is expected to double over the next five years as India continues to develop. This poses huge environmental, social, and economic challenges. To deal with this, the Indian government is utilising waste plastic in roads, which are built within 50 km of the periphery of any city that has a population of over 500,000. The mandate not only eliminates idle plastic waste but also helps lower construction costs.

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Materials News

Waste plastic technology for roads was developed by Professor Vasudevan

Almost all types of plastics ranging from bottles and acrylics to shopping bags and wrappers can be used. Another advantage of Vasudevan’s method is its simplicity. The plastic waste material is first shredded; aggregate heated at 165°C and transferred to the mixing chamber where the shredded plastic waste is added. The plastic waste-coated aggregate is then mixed with hot bitumen, heated to 160°C, and the resulting mix is used for road construction.

A road made of waste plastic in India

This technology has been used by the Indian Plastic Federation (IPF) to spearhead the construction of roads in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra states since 2009. Later, the New Delhi-based Indian Centre for Plastics in Environment came forward to spread the technology across the country. Almost 5,000 km of plastic roads have been laid in at least 11 states using Vasudevan’s technology. Meanwhile, the 780,000-populated Bhutan, a landlocked country at the eastern end of the Himalayas bordered by China and India, is following through with India’s initiative, via the Green Road project, initiated by engineer Rikesh Gurung. He says the project is expected to reduce the amount of bitumen imported from India by 40%, and cut the amount of plastic waste going into landfills by 30-40%. As a result of this project, Bhutan set up its first plastic recycling facility last year, and has piloted its first 500 ft-plastic road near Bhutan’s capital city of Thimphu, using more than 500 kg of plastic waste collected from a local landfill. However, Vasudevan, the inventor of the technology, says it remains to be seen whether plastic roads will suit the country’s high altitude and weather.


MAY 2016

Plastics meet the road in Europe Netherlands-headquartered Royal VolkerWessels Stevin, a construction services business, has developed PlasticRoad, which consists of 100% recycled material and is made out of modular panels of recycled plastic that snap together, which could be more environmentally friendly than traditional asphalt. It also features a lightweight design, faster construction time, is maintenance and corrosion-free as well as resistant to chemicals, extreme temperatures and boasts three times the expected lifespan. Other features are a hollow space that can be used for cables, pipes and rainwater as well as to integrate other elements in the prefabrication phase. For materials, the company says it could turn to waste plastics collected from marine litter or it could collect plastic waste at incineration plants in Germany and the Netherlands. Though it is still an idea on paper at the moment as the company needs to work out how the plastic surface will be safe in wet conditions, Rotterdam city council may pilot the new road surface. VolkerWessels says it hopes to lay its first plastic road within three years.

VolkerWessel's environmentally-friendly-than-asphalt PlasticRoad is made of modular panels of 100% recycled plastic

Closing the loop in a circular economy A post-consumer study from the Berkeley University estimated waste generation to grow by 70% come 2025, driven by increasing population, incomes and urbanisation. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), in its How to Feed the World study, states that by 2050, the world’s population will reach over 9 billion, with about 70% of the population to be in urban areas. A circular economy is restorative and regenerative by design. At a recent conference, Stephan Sicars, Director, Department of Environment, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) said that the shift of emphasis to designing products and processes for sustainability offers the plastics and PVC industry many opportunities to capitalise on innovation, as well as consumer demands. He said that these trends will allow US$3 trillion in potential resource savings by 2030, amidst an emerging US$1 trillion global green market. Hence, the need to recycle plastic waste and put it to good use is growing.

MAY 2016



MAY 2016

MAY 2016


Country Focus

Positive impact of China's automotive/packaging sectors China may have forecast a lower growth rate this year, but companies interviewed at the recent Chinaplas show in Shanghai are still expanding, against the back of the burgeoning packaging and automotive sectors and the country’s 13th five-year plan that will stimulate a new round of consumption and industrial upgrade. The show closed with a total of 3,323 exhibitors and 148,575 visitors from 160 countries and regions.

Automotive sector drives growth for polymer firms With the global automotive market demand mainly driven by China, which has accounted for nearly 35% of global light vehicle sales in 15 years, it is little wonder that German speciality chemicals firm Lanxess is rooting for business in China/Asia. In fact, in 2015, its sales in China represented nearly half of the total in Asia Pacific. “We were successful last year, and this year has started promisingly, driven by the Chinese automotive market,” said Milan Vignjevic, Head of Sales & Marketing for High Performance Materials (HPM) in Asia Pacific. The HPM business unit makes Durethan polyamide (PA), Pocan polybutylene Milan Vignjevic of Lanxess paints terephthalate (PBT) and a rosy picture for the company’s Tepex thermoplastic engineering plastics growth in fibre composites. China


MAY 2016

With increasing mobility, the trend is towards lighter, safer and more fuel efficient cars. Since the use of engineering plastics in cars in China accounts for only 35% of that in Germany, there is further high potential for metal replacement, said Milan. “We are working with Chinese customers in new projects targeting front ends, engine parts and structural parts.” One example of a serial application production in China is of IHU and injection moulding, which is a combination of inner high pressure forming of aluminium tubes and injection moulding using Lanxess’s Durethan PA. “The IHU technology provides excellent stiffness and strength, against side impact, while the injection moulded Durethan is filled with 60% glass fibres and is an ideal choice for metal-plastic replacement,” said Milan. The first use in the automotive industry is for a front end and instrument board carrier in MercedesBenz A-Class and B-Class models. As well, the recent megatrend of engine downsizing and turbocharging has caused increasing thermal stress to components such as air intake manifolds with integrated intercoolers or charged air ducts. Thus, Lanxess offers Durethan XTS (Extreme Temperature Stabilisation), which elevates the continuous service temperature of PA6 and PA66 up to 200°C and is an alternative to high-temperature polymers such as PPA or PPS.

Honda has introduced the world-first development of hybridmoulded rear bumper beam in the hydrogen electric vehicle. It is made of Lanxess’s Tepex fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composites with a PA6 matrix

Yet, another technology is Tepex fibre-reinforced thermoplastic composite sheets, with the company “flooded with enquiries” in Asia, according to Milan. The first use was in brake pedals and more recent applications include seat pans, front end and rear bumpers. A recent example is a hybrid-moulded rear bumper beam for

Country Focus Honda’s FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle) that features Tepex with Durethan PA6, and is made using a one-shot moulding technology. Tepex sheets are produced by subsidiary firm Bond Laminates in Brilon, Germany. Lanxess has compounding capacity of 60,000 tonnes of PA and PBT in China and 20,000 tonnes in Jhagadia, India. It also has an Application Development Centre (APDC) in Hong Kong, dedicated to automotive parts testing. “We were the first ones to have this type of centre in Asia and are committed to upgrading equipment and software. It is very busy,” Milan explained. With China accounting for just 10 kg use of engineering plastics in a car, compared to 25 kg in Europe, Milan says Lanxess is on the right path for further growth in the region. Meanwhile with Asia, accounting for 44% of its business, and China, 25%, polyamides-based performance materials supplier Solvay Engineering Plastics has taken the cue from Lanxess and is setting up an Application Performance Testing (APT) centre for parts testing in Shanghai. To start up end of this year, it is its first one outside Europe (it has a centre in France) and is aimed at accelerating the development and validation of Technyl PA applications said Marilyn Lye, Asia Region Director. Solvay is setting up an APT centre for parts testing in Shanghai, said Marilyn Lye, Asia Region Director

“The market is growing for automotive testing needs, not only in China but also in Asia. Most of parts testing is done in Europe so that is why we have decided to set up in China.” Solvay says its bench tests are developed and customised in collaboration with OEMs and major Tier 1 suppliers. It also includes CAE simulation capabilities with MMI Technyl Design and 3D printing with Sinterline Technyl prototyping. The China facility will initially be equipped with installations for metal replacement applications, like under-the-hood parts on covers, followed by air intake and cooling systems, said Lye, adding that Solvay has invested in Shakers and impact resistance equipment. Another company that is banking on the Chinese automotive sector is Germany-based Domo Chemicals, which recently opened a nylon compounding plant in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, with a capacity of 10,000 tonnes. Another 5,000 tonnes will be added in 2017, and another 5,000 tonnes in 2019. It will manufacture Domamid nylon 6 and 6.6 or high temperature nylon (HTN) functionalised compounds to serve the automotive, electrical and consumer goods industries; with Econamid and Oro engineering polymers range based

Domo's new plant in China

on pre-consumer waste feedstock. The company says it has doubled sales in the past year, with automotive applications, especially under-the-hood applications, driving the increase. Meanwhile, Italian firm Radici Plastics, which has a facility in Suzhou, recorded a growth of 40% last year. “During the last two years we have significantly strengthened our presence in the Chinese market,” said CEO Edi Degasperi. It is also installing its fourth extrusion line, to increase production capacity by about 5,000 tonnes/year and shoring up its sales network in eastern China. “The outlook for 2016 is decidedly positive for us,” Degasperi said. “We are expecting a 20% increase in sales volume compared to the past year, and the automotive sector is going to be the driving force of our growth and new developments.” It was promoting speciality PAs, resistant to high temperatures, and longchain polymers featuring enhanced chemical resistance, at Chinaplas. Growing from strength to strength While some materials companies are consolidating, TPE maker Kraiburg TPE is expanding its business on accord of growth of sales from China. According to Roland Ritter, Director Asia Pacific, the company, which has a facility in Malaysia, will expand its current capacity, to be ready for operation in 2017. “We increased the size of the facility last year to add on another 5,000 tonnes output. By the end of 2017, we will be able to produce 15,000 tonnes/ year of TPEs,” said Ritter. Furthermore, the Germany-headquartered company has doubled its revenue in Asia, over the last five years, with a 20% increase in turnover in the first quarter of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015. Globally, the firm has seen its sales revenue increase by Kraiburg’s Roland Ritter says 13% in 2015, compared to business in China has been 2014. “positively encouraging" MAY 2016


Country Focus

Kraiburg’s booth showcased the products its TPEs are used for

When asked if the slowdown in China had affected sales, Ritter added, “No, in fact, our sales have increased significantly. Perhaps, we can attribute this to the implementation of our R&D and sales/service strategy that are aligned to meet market needs.” He also said that Kraiburg’s business in China has been “positively encouraging.” It has been selling to the Chinese market since 2004. Though there are no plans for a facility in China, Ritter said the company will be expanding its warehouses to increase “logistical efficiency while providing better services.” He also added that more warehouses will be added on across China in the near future. To support its growing sales, Ritter said Kraiburg will be adding on more sales staff and technical service teams in China, South Korea (where it is opening an office), Thailand and Vietnam. It also has sales offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan and India, and works with partners in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the Philippines. At Chinaplas, it was focusing on two new compound series: UV/HF and UV/HF/SF targeting new high flow technology for window encapsulation, for the automotive segment. “We are investing in new product development and lab testing equipment for the automotive sector,” said Ritter, adding that Kraiburg’s TPE compounds have also been globally approved in the Approved Source List for car models produced in different regions. “We also recently launched a colour compound service. Our TPEs can be colour compounded upon request,” said Ritter. Kraiburg commenced operations in Nilai, Malaysia, in 1996, with three staff. In 2002, it expanded and moved to Puchong, and moved again to Seri Kembangan in 2008, when it established a facility. Its initial production capacity was 2,500 tonnes/year. It will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in Malaysia this year, with its current staff force of 80. DuPont Performance Materials is building a new plant in Guangming, Shenzhen, known as Apollo. It will produce the company’s Zytel nylon, Zytel HTN nylon, Crastin PBT thermoplastic resin, Delrin acetal resin, Bynel adhesive resin, Fusabond functional polymers and more. The former Shenzhen plant, which was set up some 18 years ago, will be shut down and production


MAY 2016

will be shifted to Apollo, which will be inaugurated at the end of June, said Philippe Hanck, Business Director, Asia Pacific. “It will be the largest compounding plant for the company globally. The constructed area is quite significant and there is quite a lot of space available for future expansion,” said Hanck, adding that the company does not reveal capacity figures. “Furthermore the new facility will feature new types of extruders and equipment for compounding and will allow for flexibility, stability, quality of materials and faster turnaround time,” he rounded up. Hanck also said that the new plant is essential to service customers in a majority of locally produced products. “China represents at least half of the volumes we sell in this region and we sell in China to serve local customers. Germany, Japan and the DuPont Performance US have many end users Materials’s Philippe Hanck says it is building its largest that specify our materials compounding facility in the for products that are world in China sold in China, so we also serve the global market,” he added. DuPont has a compounding plant in Singapore that also caters to the Asian market. Another company upping capacity at its China plant is German additives maker Baerlocher. The US$5 million investment in the Changzhou facility, which has been producing calcium stabilisers for PVC since 2012, will be completed by year end. Baerlocher’s plant producing calcium stabilisers in Malaysia also supplies to China. In China, the replacement of lead-based stabilisers by calcium-based alternatives is expected to gain momentum in 2016/2017, particularly for rigid PVC applications. China’s own plastics pipes association (CPPA) had targeted the transition for production of pipes and fittings without lead stabilisers as soon as the end of 2017. In addition to the move away from lead, fittings stabilised with methyl tin face scrutiny due to water quality concerns, consequently, replacement by calcium-based stabilisers is expected here as well. Thus, Baerlocher says its sales in China are already in excess of 20,000 tonnes/year. “Baerlocher is by far the largest company from outside China to significantly invest in supporting the Chinese plastics industry during its transition to calcium-based stabilisation,” said Wilson Wang, General Manager of Baerlocher Plastic Additives (Jiangsu). It is also focusing on raw material integration, with the decision to produce metal soaps, raw materials for calcium-based stabilisers. Baerlocher also intends to sell non-dusting and powder stearates in various polymer and non-polymer markets in China.

Country Focus Meanwhile, South Korea’s Songwon Industrial Group, the second largest manufacturer of polymer stabilisers in the world, says its aim is to become a leading stabiliser supplier to the Chinese plastics sector. It currently has two manufacturing facilities in China with its joint venture partners: Songwon Baifu and Qingdao Long Fortune Chemical & Auxiliary. The first one, located in Tangshan, is fully back integrated with a capacity of 8,000 tonnes/year and produces thioester antioxidants for the Chinese market, as well as other key regions. The second facility in Qingdao produces Songnox One Pack Systems. The plant is currently in the final stages of construction and due to be fully operational in Q3/2016. Catering to wider applications in packaging Singapore-based polyolefins maker Borouge is focusing on sustainable plastics solutions for consumer applications, said Laurence Jones, Vice-President for Film and Fibre. A joint venture of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Austria's Borealis, Borouge utilises its Borstar process and catalyst technology to churn out PP and PE grades for flexible and rigid packaging applications. Jones also said it is up to brand owners to ensure end-of-life packaging is recyclable. “We work with brand owners to design packaging that is fully recyclable, such as a lamination process that is manufactured with only one raw material ie. PE, making it easier to recycle.” Borouge’s Laurence Jones shows one of the applications of its materials

Another novelty is a packaging it introduced in China, working together with converter Guangdong Tengen Printing and courier company SF Express, for delivery of frozen food to consumers who place their orders online. “E-commerce is big business in China and the government is worried by the waste it will generate. In a tri-party collaboration, we have designed a courier pack that is recyclable using the Borstar technology,” said Jones. For rigid packaging, Borouge has launched RG568MO, a random PP said to provide absolute clarity. This is the first solution to leverage Borouge’s in-house random technology. “China’s houseware producers can now look forward to offering enhanced aesthetics and ensuring package contents are clearly visible,” said Jones. Borouge’s compounding facility in Shanghai increased its production capacity from 50,000 to 90,000 tonnes/year last year, with the addition of two new production lines. It also recently set up an Application Centre in Pudong. US firm ExxonMobil Chemical used the show to globally launch its Exceed XP performance PE, an extension of its Exceed and Enable portfolios, designed for upgrades in a variety of film applications and to run faster on blown film lines. Developed through advanced catalyst technology, the new PE is initially available in four grades with a range of density and melt index flows, said Larry Gros, Global Polymers Product & Applications Development Manager. Improvements for liquid packaging include integrity, with enhanced dart impact strength, tear resistance and flex-crack resistance, said Gros. “In bagin-box bladders, XP can replace more expensive plastomers in the formulation.” He gave an example of ExxonMobil’s Larry Gros waxed lyrical XP use in bag-inabout the company’s latest Exceed XP box for tomatoes, PE resins to mitigate the risk of pinholes caused by the repeated movement of the tomatoes during production and transportation. This, combined with the film’s sealing performance, can minimise leakage and product waste, Gros said. He also added that a low seal temperature of 95°C, while maintaining good stiffness and flexural modulus properties, makes the new grades suitable for pillow and stand-up pouches. MAY 2016


Country Focus Furthermore, Exceed XP allows converters to produce films for high-volume content food packaging. “The flexible food packaging market continues to drive toward more lightweight, yet stronger and more effective solutions, XP produces tough films with sealing performance, and downgauging levels of up to 30% can be achieved, while helping to extend shelf life and product safety to protect and preserve food longer,” explained Gros. In processing, the polymers offer a range of options for bubble stability and ease of extrusion. “Converters can optimise film solutions through the addition of 20-30% C4 LLDPE to the XP,” added Gros. In a press conference earlier, Cindy Shulman, Plastics and Resins Vice President, said that the China market had grown and developed significantly for ExxonMobil. “Almost 90% of our growth in performance PE is in emerging markets and 50% of that comes from China.” Thus, it’s no surprise the global launch of Exceed XP resin took place in China. Dow Chemical says it is catering to the changing market trends and demographics that are driving increased consumption across a growing middle class in Asia/China. Kiattipong Techavachara, Director for Value Chain Marketing, New Business Development and Sustainability, P&SP, Asia Pacific, said that the company’s PacXpert packaging technology, which enables the transition from larger traditional rigid containers to flexible packaging, is a game changer for the region. “It is a non-bulky flexible stand-up pouch. While flexible, the cube-shaped package is shelf stable and can stand equally well upright or on its side. The uniqueness is when it is empty it is flat so transportation and storage are easy. Plus, it offers a fitment closure and integrated ergonomic dual handles, enabling precision pouring with no glugging, easy reclosing and convenient carrying.”

PacXpert will be introduced to the Chinese market in the second half of the year, through its licensee, flexible packaging converter China Sun. Other licensees are Kyodo Printing in Japan and Takigawa Corporation for Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam. The US firm also introduced at Chinaplas, a new family of PE resins known as Innate, created from a patented molecular catalyst coupled with advanced process technology and launched last year. “Innate allows for up to 50% improved mechanical properties, compared to traditional PE resins, as well as improved tear properties and increases processing speed of collation shrink material,” said Kiattipong, adding that Innate resins represent a new category of ethylene-based copolymers that fit within the range of LLDPE resins. Swiss speciality chemicals firm Clariant’s Christian Kohlpaintner, an Executive Committee member, pointed out that China is a decisive market for the company. “We expect a growth of about 7% per year. There is a clear trend for more consumption driven growth, with increasing consumer demands and a shift towards innovative products and service offerings.”

An artist’s impression of Clariant’s new integrated facility in Shanghai

Dow showcased its resins and solutions for the packaging sector


MAY 2016

In view of the importance of the market, Clariant is planning an integrated facility in Shanghai that will feature a new regional headquarters and innovation centre. The ground-breaking is scheduled to take place end of 2016. Since setting up its first representative office in Tianjin in 1995, Clariant now has facilities and offices in 17 cities in China with more than 1,500 employees. In 2015, total sales in China, Taiwan and South Korea, reached CHF640 million, which is 11% of Clariant's global sales. But the company is not stopping here, it intends to invest “even more aggressively” in China with 40% of its global investments in 2017 set to happen in China, said Kohlpaintner. At Chinaplas, Clariant was promoting AddWorks PKG 902 additive solution for the packaging industry to increase the recycled content in cast, BOPP and blown films, by making it possible to replace virgin PP or PE resin with higher amounts of recycled film or resin.

Country Focus Davis-Standard offers high-tech equipment to Asia With its Asian business having slowed down the second half of 2015, extrusion machinery maker Davis-Standard expects a turnaround this year, said President Jim Murphy. “Growth is ahead of 2014. We expect a 10% growth this year. Business has picked up, especially after the Chinese new year in February.” He credited it to currency corrections and also more packaging/medical projects. “There are a lot of opportunities in flexible packaging, as well as aseptic packaging. Furthermore, there are more investments by MNCs in the medical sector, especially companies looking at improving and developing technology.”

Jim Murphy says the company sets yearly capital targets for its business in Asia, for more service personnel and after market services

Davis-Standard’s 46,300 sq ft Suzhou facility represents a core of its footprint in Asia Pacific, where it has two lines for product development and testing. “In medical tubing, in certain markets, processors are working with new materials, with enhanced properties for more difficult processing, and we work together with them to develop applications. Our systems are built to support extruder outputs up to 315 kg/hour and line speeds up to 240 mpm for materials including PLA, PLLA, PEEK, FPVC, polyurethane, nylon, PEBAX and FEP. To support this, we offer R&D trials at our laboratory in Suzhou,” explained Jim. The laboratory features direct-drive 19 mm and 24 mm single-screw extruders, each with a polymer melt pump, a sophisticated three-layer spiral flow tubing die, PLC line control with data acquisition, precision vacuum sizing tank for both rigid and flexible products, closed loop ID/OD control via an ultrasonic gauging system, a servo-controlled combination puller/cutting system, and a transport conveyer with single-zone air eject.

It also includes a single-layer tubing line designed specifically for the production of FPVC tubing for IV and fluid delivery applications. Davis-Standard’s facility in Pawcatuck, Connecticut, also has a fully equipped medical tubing laboratory. And as the market for antineoplastic devices for internal drug delivery continues to grow, so does manufacturing of micro-bore tubing made from PLLA. A PLLA tubing line sold to a Chinese medical start-up in Tianjin last year, is said to have exceeded customer expectations by successfully producing products ranging from 1.7 mm-2 mm OD with a tolerance of +/-20 microns. “PLLA is a bio-absorbable resin ideal for applications that require a polymer to reside in the body for a controlled length of time before safely degrading and being absorbed internally,” explained Jim. “Very few companies process this material due to the high resin cost and difficulty in achieving a quality end result.” He continued, “To ensure immediate success, the customer relied on us to address their requirement of tight OD/ID tolerances and a smooth, gel-free tube surface when processing PLLA. The high cost of this material requires a fast start-up and no room for error during processing to keep costs reasonable.” The line is capable of processing tubing from PLA and PLLA as well as a variety of other thermoplastic resins at rates up to 50 m/minute. Davis-Standard supplied the entire line, including a flood cooling tank, which has traditionally been problematic for PLLA. However, recent developments in formulations permit water cooling for a limited residence time without compromising the tube surface. Since the technology centre in China has been a boon to business, the US company has added on 25% more personnel. “We are also adding on more service personnel in Asia. We already have 18 and will add on six more to support the growth of the business,” explained Jim, adding that the service team is spread out over Asia, in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines.

In medical tubing, the company caters to the need for turnkey systems that offer material versatility MAY 2016



Adding on value to plastics Additives, the building blocks responsible for plastic materials versatility, have been receiving both good and bad reviews. Nonetheless, the billion-dollar market remains strong and is rising, says Angelica Buan in this report.


lastic materials today will not have been as versatile and diverse in applications as if not for additives. Why plastics are in use in practically every industry sector is because of additives’ ability to transform basic polymers to safer, cleaner, tougher and more colourful materials. The additives that are commonly used today are classified as reinforcing fibres, fillers, and coupling agents; plasticisers; colourants; stabilisers (halogen stabilisers, antioxidants, ultraviolet absorbers, and biological preservatives); processing aids (lubricants and flow controls); flame retardants, peroxides; and antistatics. Question of safety versus the use Toxicity and safe handling of additives during manufacturing and processing of plastic products are the basis for regulations, to ensure that the usefulness will not outweigh the potential risks they could pose to the environment and human health. Leaching of these substances from plastics into the environment or food on contact, when used in packaging, is a major harbinger for safety standards. Concern on the counter benefit of antimicrobial additives to inhibit bacterial colonisation versus the potential of leaching is also being raised, amidst cases of illnesses that are resistant to antibiotics. But that is being addressed with new developments for non-leaching antimicrobials. A 2016 antimicrobial materials study published in the Macromolecular Bioscience journal presented the direct comparison of antimicrobial efficiency between leaching and non-leaching antimicrobial polymers on a highly relevant implant of central venous catheters (CVCs) using a well-established test called Certika.


MAY 2016

Pigment additives add colour to plastics

The study, conducted by German experts led by Joerg Bruenke of QualityLabs, is significant, especially since the use of antimicrobial devices is increasing across medical and healthcare applications. What the study finds is that newly developed non-leaching antimicrobial CVCs are equivalent to conventional leaching CVC systems in their antimicrobial performance. However, the use of new non-leaching antimicrobial polymers represents a different mode of action, which is the aim to prevent infections also with antibiotic-resistant strains and reduced side effects, the team said. Flame retardants (FRs), another additive category, have been the subject of many health risk studies, such as a University of Cincinnati College of Medicine expert-led study in 2013 linking exposure to a halogenated FR class called polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) with behaviour and cognitive difficulties during early childhood and even the development of cancer. Hence, halogen-free FRs are being introduced, such as ones using phosphorus, inorganic substances and nitrogen. And the utilisation rate for halogenfree FRs is growing because of their cost efficiency, environmental compatibility and flame-proofing reliability in the final application. FRs that utilise carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are the focus of recent breakthroughs. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a CNT coating for foam used in upholstered furniture, reducing flammability of the foam by 35%. The CNT coating is fabricated by inserting nanotubes between two commonly-used polymers. Four of these tri-layers are then stacked on top of each other, creating a “clubhouse sandwich-like�

Additives The company said that the formal opinion from EFSA has been included in the draft sixth amendment to the EU plastics legislation (EU 10/2011) and is derived from the extensive additional testing that Addivant has performed on Weston 705 and the associated hydrolysis products. EFSA increases the specific migration limit of its hydrolysis product by a factor of 20 to 1mg/kg, making Weston 705 suitable for most sensitive food-contact applications.

The Deroca project is established to develop alternative, safer flame retardant materials using CNTs

structure. The result is a flame-inhibiting plastic-like coating that is thinner than one-hundredth the diameter of human hair. Along the same vein, the EU-funded DEROCA project, or the development of safe and eco-friendly FR materials based on CNTs for commodity polymers, has presented multiwall CNT as an effective synergist with other common FR additives to produce halogenfree products. The FRs produced are suitable for wires & cables, insulation foams, HVAC, corrugated pipes and consumer goods. Last but not the least is Bisphenol A (BPA), which has in many studies earned its infamy for being linked to a host of health risks including brain and behavioural debilitation in children, disruption of the hormone system, and high blood pressure, to cite a few. On the other hand, scientific literature is available that says BPA is not as harmless as how it is conjured up. Since the 1960s, BPA has been used in many consumer items and in plastic products. Yet, consumer exposure to BPA has been found to be way below the safe intake limits, as cited in recent biomonitoring studies in the US and Canada. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has undertaken large-scale biomonitoring studies on BPA, as well as other chemicals, as part of its National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). It evaluated BPA exposure across the sixyear old and above population group, nixing risk of exposure. Similarly, the Canadian government’s biomonitoring data on BPA exposure in pregnant women ruled that this group is not at risk from real-life exposure to BPA. However, following the stead for safety, additives producers are now offering new ranges that satisfy regulatory requirements. Food contact additives US-headquartered Addivant, a global leader in polymer additive technologies, that offers nonylphenol-free plastic antioxidant Weston 705, recently received a formal opinion from the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) that expands the applicability of the antioxidant to an even broader range of food contact applications.

Market growth pushed by plastics Even as the debate on additives safety rages on, and being an indispensable component in making plastics, demand for additives is continuing to shoot up. Increasing application for plastics supports its billion dollar global market growth. BCC Research, in a latest report, estimated that from the US$48.2 billion market value for additives in 2015, it grew to nearly US$51 billion and may reach almost US$65 billion by 2021 to a CAGR of 5% for the period of 2016-2021. The market success of polymers, such as polyvinylchloride (PVC) or polypropylene (PP) is also attributed to additives, said BCC Research. Grand View Research in its Plastic Additives Forecast to 2022 reports that Asia Pacific was the largest consumer for additives, driving a CAGR of 4.5% from 2015 to 2022. Rising industrial output and economic growth in India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China is projected to propel regional demand over the forecast period. Other developed nations such as US, UK, Germany, and France are also expected to generate high demand for plasticisers, UV stabilisers, flame retardants and other additives, the report said. Enabling less waste with higher recycling Though they may be building blocks to making plastics, but additives may be harmful to the environment, according to a 2009 compilation report by some 60 scientists published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences journal, ranging from marine debris to leaching of chemicals in landfills and groundwater. Yet, additives can also offer a positive imprint for the environment. Identifying plastics for recovery during the sorting process has been a problem for recyclers using automated identification systems to identify polymer types such as the infra-red (NIR) spectroscopy in Material Recovery Facilities and Plastics Recovery Facilities. These NIR detectors are capable of accurately discriminating between items made from different polymers such as PET, PP, PVC and PS. This sorting of polymers is essential to ensure that the resultant recycled material is commercially attractive to processors. However, a large amount of these potentially recyclable items cannot be identified by the NIR systems as they contain colour pigments that are very good infra-red absorbers and are therefore undetectable. MAY 2016


Additives The number of recyclate additives has increased considerably in recent years. The difficulty arising from this for producers is how to develop the best solution technically and economically for the desired property profile. Thus, Fraunhofer LBF says it is continuously extending its knowledge of recyclates.

Irdent pigments from Colour Tone Masterbatch are detectable in the waste sorting process

Thus, patent-pending Irdent is a collection of detectable pigments from UK-based Colour Tone Masterbatch. Tested by UK organisation Waste & Resources Action Programme or WRAP, it offers a solution of being detectable in the waste sorting process and can help recover plastics including rigid black plastic packaging, plastic components in end of life vehicles and WEEE waste. Colour Tone adds that since recyclers are already using the technology that separates the different plastic waste streams and colours, therefore further investment would not be required. Irdent is suitable for packaging, automotive and electrical product applications. Joining the bandwagon for recyclable materials may regain confidence for halogen-free FRs. A threeyear research study is being undertaken by the German Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF, with support from the German Federation of Industrial Research Associations (AiF) and with the participation of member companies of Phosphorus, Inorganic & Nitrogen Flame Retardants Association (PINFA). The new research project on the recycling of FRs is in line with EU regulations to increase plastic waste recycling in quality, and recycling rates to rise to the 70% EU target set for 2020. The research concerns mainly the electrical and electronics industry, construction and transportation sectors. Fraunhofer LBF says companies can be better able to use their own product waste in the case of flameretardant formulations and to save costs. It also says the findings will lead to enhanced quality products with high safety standards, potential hazards of degradation products will be identified and can be eliminated. Recycling additives play an important part in quality improvement in the mechanical recycling of plastics. With the addition of customised stabilisers, compatibilisers and reactive additives, recycled materials achieve qualities that can compete with those of new material.


MAY 2016

Cutting costs for processors All in all, the end purpose of using additives is to reduce costs. Therefore, Fraunhofer also says that with the mechanical recovery of recycled halogenfree plastics, use of raw materials is expected to be reduced, and ergo will also contribute to conserving and using resources more efficiently. With a market volume in Europe of EUR3 billion for halogen-free flame-retardant plastics, Fraunhofer LBF estimates the potential cost saving due to using production waste at EUR150 million a year. The potential value for used plastics is significantly higher. Meanwhile, US-based liquid colourants and additives manufacturer Riverdale Global has launched a new family of liquid nucleating and clarifying agents for PP and HDPE that aims to reduce moulding costs for processors. The +Speed additives offer the ability to reduce cycle times, says the company. These grades include, NUC-138 nucleating agent for PP, which is said to induce a higher crystallisation temperature in the resin. This enables the molten polymer to harden at a higher temperature which, in turn, decreases the needed cooling time and shortens moulding cycles, the company said. The NUC-139 nucleating agent and acid neutraliser reduces moulding cycles for HDPE by adjusting the orientation of the polymer crystals to optimise shrinkage properties and avoid the long mould residence time needed to withstand the internal stresses that cause part deformation. Thus, against the back of reduction of costs for processors, the additive sector is also faced with tightening of regulations on migration limits on all components of packaging, and in food contact applications. Hence, companies are innovating to stay ahead of the industry. As well, the zero plastics-tolandfill directive is the basis of research on halogenfree FRs, to further build up the prospects of FR use. Fraunhofer LBF is investigating the mechanical recycling of halogen-free FR plastics

Thermoformed Packaging

Consumer appeal powers packaging What is in or out in packaging designs depends on consumer behaviour. Rising urbanisation and changing lifestyles are creating a platform of opportunities for packaging that promise convenience, sustainability and freshness, says Angelica Buan in this report.


onsumer trends are shaping the future of packaging industry. These trends not only boost food packaging demand but also household tendency and support the growth of the global plastic packaging market, which is expected to reach US$1.1 billion by 2022, according to Stratistics Market Research Consulting (SMRC). Aiding this growth are technological innovations of packaging, increasing consumer awareness and favourable government policies, the US-headquartered research firm states, further adding that expansion of the food & beverage market, which is the largest application of plastic packaging, is expected to fuel market growth. Food-on-the-run packaging Lifestyles that are getting busier and rising urbanisation are catalysts for growing demand in packaged ready-toeat meals, small or single serves and food-on-the-go. US-based thermoforming machine manufacturer Brown Machine is tapping on the opportunity for ready-to-eat meals with the latest offering in its Quad thermoforming series and its Elite line of trimmers. Brown says its Elite servo-driven, horizontal trim presses are capable of speeds that exceed 175 stokes/ minute and changeover times of less than 30 minutes

The improved equipment from the Quad series features increased thickness and height of the upper and lower forming heads, increased thickness of the platens and redesigned drive arms, resulting in 260 tonne-maximum station strength. Italian firm Amut Comi has introduced the VPK C84 series: off-line or in-line configuration, with three and four stations. It is suitable for handling different materials, such as PET, PP, PS, PLA and PVC, and for producing trays, lids, berry boxes, clamshells, nursery trays and plates. The production speed is up to 35 cycles/ minute and the mould has an area of 840 x 650 mm. The four-column forming Amut’s latest series is able to produce station has a metallised trays clamping force of 24,000 kg (a top mould servo plugs assist is included) and can be extended until 60,000 kg for in-mould cutting. The series is equipped with a servodriven up-stacker (upon request) and an individual heating element control for top and bottom ovens with open zone configuration. The oven can be 1,950 mm or 3,250 mm in length. It is also equipped with a new software with a full diagnostic and easy learning/handling operator interface. Meanwhile, revamping its packaging design into something that offers product visibility to cater to customers who want to see what the packaging contains, US-headquartered Campbell Soup Company packaged its microwaveable single serve soup in Campbell packaged its a translucent bowl microwaveable single serve thermoformed by Silgan soup in a translucent bowl thermoformed by Silgan Plastic Food Containers. MAY 2016


Thermoformed Packaging The soup bowls also feature an over cap, clear PETGmodified label and flexible film-metal ring end, also from Silgan. The ready-to-drink market is UK’s RPC Group’s target, with its introduction of the thermoformed cup for Indian cafe chain Café Coffee Day's Frappe Chill. The on-the-go cup, manufactured in multi-layer PP, with an EVOH layer that prevents oxygen ingress, keeps the quality of the coffee as it maximises ambient shelf life. The cup is retortable and the product is hot-filled and then retorted for 30 minutes at 118°C, RPC explained. The travel-friendly RPC's multilayer PP design offers convenience and and EVOH cup for ease of use for the consumer, Indian cafe chain Café including an integrated telescopic Coffee Day straw in the lid that can be expanded and contracted as required.

Offering packaging solutions suitable for fresh produce, US-headquartered Multivac has innovated the FreshSafe packaging concept based on the thermoformed vacuum packaging machine R105, which is a preconfigured, plug and play machine with several pre-programmed formats. The concept packaging has perforations, created by the machine’s integrated perforator, enabling therefore an exchange of atmosphere and creating equilibrium (EMAP). Meanwhile, UK fresh food packaging manufacturer Linpac and Italy-headquartered Infia, a fresh fruit and vegetable packaging manufacturer, developed the Freshware range, which taps into the growing demand for chilled prepared and convenience food. It comprises hinged and lid sealed containers and tubs for prepared fruits and salads.

Fresh is in: call for barrier packaging The need for balanced diets is revving up the demand for fresh products containing the least possible preservatives; and which call for packaging with excellent barrier properties. Market research group Technavio forecasts that the global fresh food packaging market will grow moderately at a CAGR of around 4% by 2020. Augmented consumption of ready-to-eat food products will lead to the demand for packaging solutions that can extend the shelf life of the products enclosed. This has resulted in the advent of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). Since this technology helps to maintain an optimum oxygen level, its augmented usage during the projected period will result in market growth, Technavio said. The fresh food packaging market is segmented by type to include flexible and rigid plastic packaging, and paper and paperboard. The flexible plastic packaging segment is projected to account for more than 40% of the total market share by 2020. Since this packaging type is used to pack fresh food items, an increase in the demand for fresh food products will lead to its growth during the projected period, according to Technavio.

Infia says it is the first packaging producer in the world to offer full colour printing solution directly on the punnet

Multivac's R 105 is a preconfigured, plug and play thermoform vacuum packaging machine with several preprogrammed formats


MAY 2016

Infia also has new designs for fruit punnets, which include a side ventilation air flow system. It says it is the first packaging producer in the world to be able to apply a printing solution directly on to a punnet. This exclusive technology enables pack personalisation and promotion of customers' brands and logos. Unlike other technologies, such as heat transfer, labels or sleeves, it does not add additional plastic materials to trays resulting in improved cost savings and environmental impact. RPC produces MAP trays, sealing film and tray lidding machines, enabling packing a range of seafood products from fish fillets to shellfish. The thermoformed HDPE trays come in a range of sizes and boast of features such as pyramids, which when used in combination with plastic layer pads prevent discolouration of the fish from residual water and liquid. RPC has introduced a new seafood packing system that provides logistical and sustainability benefits

Thermoformed Packaging Advocates of sustainable packaging Today’s consumers want to be active participants in the environmental drive, thus, preference for sustainable, biodegradable and recyclable packaging is becoming popular. Besides consumer demand, government legislation and technology advances will drive sustainable packaging to a US$244 billion market by 2018, with Asia as the largest market owing to its 32% share of the overall market, Smithers Pira said in a report on sustainable packaging. It said that the most common sustainable packaging trends include downsizing and lightweighting of packaging; increased recycling and waste recovery; increased use of recycled content; increased use of renewably sourced materials; and improvements in packaging and logistical efficiency. Fabri-Kal's Alur On-The-Go Boxes are made from PET and 50% PCR

US thermoforming packaging company Fabri-Kal launched its new Alur On-The-Go Boxes, which are made from PET and 50% Post Consumer Resin (PCR). The 32-oz, 6-in single cell containers come with an outer-fit lid to enable heat-sealing of the food container. Boasting no flavour or odour transfer, the lids ensure freshness of food, says the company. The crystal-clear packaging will allow OEMs to display and sell a variety of meal and snack combinations, according to the Michigan-headquartered company, that also says the stackable boxes offer the option of customisable embossing. Meanwhile, Fabri-Kal has expanded its sustainable packaging programme via a US$50 million facility in Idaho. The company intends to utilise locally produced agricultural fibre for its Greenware packaging line, which includes the on-the-go boxes. Linpac has also unveiled a new addition to its Rfresh Evolve rigid vacuum skin packaging range, manufactured with a variety of label panel designs. The pre-formed trays are manufactured from up to 95% post consumer PET recyclate. Linpac’s Rfresh labelled VSP trays

Mass producing cups Swiss machine maker WM Thermoforming Machines in-line production machine Intec FT 900/3 is able to produce two-colour disposable cups made of multi-layer PP. It consists of an automatic dosing and feeding unit for raw material in granules, including the management and recycling system for the scrap material. It is also equipped with the latest generation of WM’s Next extruders, which thanks to the new screw design, guarantees higher productivity, less power consumption and, at the same time, increases process stability and homogeneity. The WM extrusion line consists of a main extruder with a screw diameter of 75 mm where the regrinded material is mixed with PP-based material and filled with 70% of talc. The two co-extruders with a diameter of 45 mm are used for the outer coloured layer. The total extrusion capacity of the group is 1,500 kg/hour. The flat die head of the extrusion unit feeds a vertical laminating calender with three rolls creating a sheet width of 930 mm and a thickness ranging from 0.2 to 2 mm. The extruded sheet is then sent in line to the transporting system of the thermoforming machine, which uses a tilting lower forming platen and a servo-assisted plugging unit. The forming tool will consist of a 54 cavity mould and can accommodate moulds with a maximum size of 880 x 520 mm, with clamping force of 75,000 DaN. The tilting system of the movable lower platen is developed based on an innovative double Desmodromic system of cams and levers operated by a servomotor. After simultaneous forming and in-mould trimming, the cups are removed from the bottom half-mould through a tilting plate rotating at 75 degrees, which is driven by aspirated spindles. The cups are then transported and unloaded automatically into various rows on the conveyor belt feeding consecutively WM’s in-house developed rimming unit consisting of three rotating screws. This unit folds the upper edge of the cups prior to sending the piles to the counting, packing and boxing units. The waste of the residual perforated PP is sent in-line to a soundproofed grinding mill reducing the scrap into flakes in order to be blown into a dosing/ mixing unit located above the extrusion unit. This creates a WM’s Intec 900/3 can produce up to 120,000 closed loop from the raw pieces/hour of 200 cc cups material to the finished product with the direct in-line recycling of wasted material. The Intec 900/3 can produce up to 120,000 pieces/hour of 200 cc cups, minimising energy consumption using only one operator, according to WM. MAY 2016


Aerospace Industry

Interstellar mission with plastics Space technology is adopting plastics in spacecrafts, owing to its light weight and cost-efficient value, as well as being a hardliner against cosmic hazards, says Angelica Buan.


he US is a trailblazer in space technology, having the world’s largest space programme. It has a hefty budget, too. For the current fiscal year, the US government is channelling an estimated US$18.5 billion to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to undertake its latest projects, which covers the Space Launch System, among others. These billion-dollar expeditions, however, don’t always get the green light. There are considerations like practicality and affordability that are crucial to space flight projects. Hence, light weight is a virtue for cost savings. The drift is that lighter crafts can have smaller, more efficient engines and less fuel. Aluminium has been favoured for space craft because it is light. Yet, space technology continues to seek new materials that can provide high performance properties while reducing the weight and costs of building modern space crafts. Plastic, for now, is a right fit for these criteria on weight, cost and safety of space travel. Polymeric space flight Plastic bags, which are being banned in many countries, hold a key for safer intergalactic space missions! The vital resin used to make most plastic bags and containers, polyethylene (PE), is the basis of space crafts to provide space crew with a better shielding from cosmic radiation, than aluminium space crafts would. NASA scientists have invented a PE-based material called RXF1 that is claimed to be three times stronger, yet more than twice lighter, as well as 50% and 15% more effective as a barrier against solar flares and cosmic rays, respectively, compared to aluminium. Nasser Barghouty, Project Scientist for NASA's Space Radiation Shielding Project at the Marshall Space Flight Centre, says that plastic-like materials produce far less "secondary radiation" than heavier materials like aluminium or lead. Secondary radiation comes from the shielding material itself, and is worse for astronauts’ health than space radiation.


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Particles from space radiation, as they collide into atoms within the shield, trigger tiny nuclear reactions that produce a shower of nuclear by-products, neutrons and other particles that enter the spacecraft. Heavier elements like lead produce much more secondary radiation than lighter elements like carbon and hydrogen. PE is composed entirely of lightweight carbon and hydrogen atoms, which thus minimises secondary radiation. Shielding project researcher Raj Kaul states that RXF1 is a ballistic shield that can deflect micrometeorites; and since it is a fabric, it can be draped around moulds and shaped into specific spacecraft components.

NASA could shield spacecrafts from cosmic rays with PEbased material, RXF1

Currently, further work and research are on-going to make the material flame and temperature-resistant. Meanwhile, the scientists do not guarantee that the material is 100% impenetrable, especially since some galactic cosmic rays are so energetic and no amount of shielding can stop them. However, their initial studies suggest that RXF1 could provide adequate shielding for a 30-month mission to the planet Mars. PE-brick home on Mars Space-trotters will welcome the idea of travelling light, but in consideration of safety, they cannot do away with equipment that is required to protect them from radiation.

Aerospace Industry A space traveller's trek to Mars means being exposed to radiation. The planet does not have a strong global magnetic field to deflect radiation particles. Moreover, its atmospheric blanket is 140 times thinner than that of Earth. Evaluating a solution to the weight issue, Sheila Thibeault, a scientist at Langley Research Centre (LARC) who specialises in radiation shielding, said that there are elements on Mars that could potentially be utilised to create radiation-shielding materials on-site. In this way, astronauts need not lug too much equipment and building material in space. One possible solution is "Mars bricks�, or radiation-resistant bricks, which could be produced from materials available locally on the planet and used to build shelters. Thibeault explained that astronauts, for example, could mix the sand-like regolith, or topsoil found on Mars, with a polymer made on-site from carbon dioxide and water, which are both abundantly available on the planet. Zapping this mixture with microwaves creates plastic-looking bricks that double as good radiation shielding.

An out-of-this-world nose It is not only radiation that can harm astronauts. The chemicals that run through the pipelines inside the spacecraft to make it habitable could also be hazardous.

Mars has abundant water and carbon dioxide to make polymer on-site for radiation-resistant bricks

Working with Thibeault on the bricks are chemists Ryan McGlothlin and Richard Kiefer, from the Virginia–based College of William and Mary. At a NASA laboratory, the scientists experimented on different concentrations of PE mixed with earth-sourced regolith and created small bricks that were then ovendried. Refining the bricks for building shelters to enable extended stays on the planet is a milestone for NASA, which hopes to shuttle people to Mars in the coming decades.

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MAY 2016


Aerospace Industry The ENose mimics a mammalian nose to “smell” leaks or spills of chemical species on board space stations

NASA developed a supersensitive sensor that mimics a mammalian nose to “smell” leaks or spills of analytes (chemical species) on board space stations. Called a JPL Electronic Nose or ENose, the autonomous device, which requires minimal crew interfacing, monitors the quality of the recycled air in the space station by continuously sampling air and documenting events where potentially trained-for chemical substances have been released. By training, it means that the sensors are exposed to the target analytes under various conditions. Data from that training is used to construct the data library. The ENose can also sense when an electrical fire breaks out through the increasing heat that releases a variety of signature molecules. Since it is thus, the ENose “fills the long-standing gap between on-board alarms and complex analytical instruments“, according to NASA. The developers explained that while the device can detect the presence of a small group of chemicals, which could be dangerous if they are present in the air, it is not designed to analyse everything in the air. A PDA, laptop computer or interface unit are used to record and analyse data in real-time. The sensor unit consists of an anodised aluminium chassis, which houses the sensor array and pneumatic system. It also contains the electronics to route power, relay data and commands between the sensor array and the ENose interface unit. For it to work, the ENose uses an array of 16 different polymer films, which are designed to conduct electricity. When a substance is absorbed into these films, the films expand slightly, and that changes how much electricity they conduct. Each of these films reacts differently to each substance or analyte. Some of the polymers used for the ENose sensors include nylon, PE, PVC, and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). NASA selected polymers that respond to targets and make them conductive by adding carbon, thus ensuring that the sensors have a longer lifespan. The first generation JPL ENose flew on the Space Shuttle STS-95 in 1998. Development of the third generation device is underway, NASA said. It is being made especially for use in the International Space Station (ISS). It has the same basic sensor design as the first generation but the developers have found ways to make the polymers more sensitive than the ones used in the earlier model.


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Propylene, a lunar element When the Cassini spacecraft, launched in October 1997, embarked on a seven-year Cassini-Huygens mission to the ringed planet Saturn, it not only uncovered two new moons, Methone and Pallene, but also discovered a chemical on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, that is used in plastics for packaging and household applications here on Earth. Cassini detected a small amount of the monomer propylene, which is used to make PP, in Titan's lower atmosphere through the Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS). This instrument measures the infrared light, or heat radiation, emitted from Saturn and its moons in much the same way our hands feel the warmth of a fire. CIRS can identify a particular gas glowing in the lower layers of the atmosphere from its unique thermal fingerprint. The challenge is to isolate this one signature from the signals of all other gases around it. NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, which made the firstever close flyby of Titan in 1980, was able to identify many of the gases in the moon’s hazy brownish atmosphere as hydrocarbons, the chemicals that primarily make up petroleum and other fossil fuels found on Earth. On Titan, hydrocarbons form after sunlight breaks apart methane, the second-most plentiful gas in that atmosphere. The newly freed fragments can link up to form chains with two, three or more carbons. The family of chemicals with two carbons includes the flammable gas ethane. Propane, a common fuel for portable stoves, belongs to the three-carbon family. Voyager detected all of the one and two-carbon families in Titan's atmosphere. From the three-carbon family, the spacecraft found propane, the heaviest member, and propyne, one of the lightest members. But the middle chemicals, one of which is propylene, remained elusive. The Cassini spacecraft discovered amounts of plastic chemical propylene in Titan's lower atmosphere

As researchers continued to discover more chemicals in Titan's atmosphere using ground and space-based instruments, propylene was finally found as a result of more detailed analysis of the CIRS data, leading to a Eureka moment! Thus, this opens up a whole new horizon for plastic materials in space.

Injection Moulding Asia Machinery Industry

China’s market presents opportunities China’s economy may have slowed down, and

Engel utilised Chinaplas to celebrate its 30th anniversary in Asia. Having founded its subsidiary in Hong Kong in 1986, Asia, today, accounts for 25% of its turnover

even though domestic demand for machines declined by 5%, according to the China Plastics Machinery Industry Association, companies interviewed at Chinaplas in Shanghai were bullish about the injection moulding machinery (IMM) sector. Since the country is no longer a “low cost” production workshop, higher quality is

Austria’s Engel Machinery Shanghai is investing RMB60 million to expand its facility in Shanghai, said Gero Willmeroth, Sales and Service President. The last time the company expanded its facility was in 2012, when it doubled its capacity. By 2017, it will add on another 1,600 sq m space for CNC processing for platen manufacturing and 450-sq m of office space. The workforce is expanding accordingly, with new functions being created and a special department for mould project management has been established. The Shanghai facility currently has 390 staff members; in total, Engel has 500 employees in China. Asia accounts for almost 25% of Engel’s EUR1.2 billion sales, with China its largest market. Willmeroth said there was a “new normal” in China with no more 10% growth rates. “Now it’s more in the range of 6% to 7%, which is healthy.” He also countered that the Chinese economy “is not shrinking, but growing at a slower pace.” He added that the high technology sector is growing in China, with companies investing to improve productivity and technology. Also having founded its automation centre in Shanghai in 2015, Engel is seeing the need for more automation cells, and technical knowhow for robots in Asia. “We might consider building robots in China,” he added. Meanwhile, German machine company KraussMaffei’s acquisition by China’s largest chemicals group, China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina), will allow it to enter new markets in China, said CEO Frank Stieler. “The change of ownership provides opportunities that we did not previously have. ChemChina also operates in the rubber market (it purchased tyre maker Pirelli last year),” said Stieler, who was quick to stress that the new ownership will not have an impact on the way KraussMaffei operates. It has under its group also the KraussMaffei Berstorff and Netstal brands. Stieler expects the advanced manufacturing and lightweight component trends in the automotive industry will provide a huge development opportunity for highend machinery in China.

expected in the plastics processing sector. Thus, this requires high-end machinery and technology, which are plus points for machine makers.

Expansions in store German machinery maker Arburg’s Managing Director of Sales, Gerhard Böhm, who took over from Helmut Heinson as he has retired, is positive of the Chinese market, adding that Arburg caters to high end applications and parts and thus, has not been affected by the slowdown in China. “First quarter sales for China were ahead, compared to 2015 first quarter, and though we are unable to predict sales for the rest of the year, we expect a stable level compared to last year’s intake,” he said. Meanwhile, the company expects to ramp up its capabilities at its warehouse, which offers retrofitting and specification of adding parts to machines from Germany. In China, the company has 78 employees in total with 30 in service and 11 in application technology. “We have also further enhanced our capabilities with training of employees at our headquarters in Lossburg, Germany.”

It may have been wet weather in Shanghai but that didn’t stop the crowds from visiting Chinaplas

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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery Industry In addition to machine manufacturers, the robotics market has also become important. For more than 13 years, Keba has been selling its control solutions for machines and robots in China. Now, the Austrian company is expanding its presence with its fourth office in Jinan, halfway between Shanghai and Keba’s CEO Gerhard Beijing. Keba also Luftensteiner expects further has branch offices in growth from China in coming Ningbo, Guangzhou and years Shanghai, with a total of 60 employees. According to Gerhard Luftensteiner, CEO of Keba, “China is the market that will grow the most in the years to come, aside from the US, Germany and Japan.”

The company has also been successful in Europe. “There are many reasons for Western Europe to accept plastics machines from China,” opined Zhang. “The overall technological level and quality level of Chinese plastic machinery are enhanced and their influence in the global market is also increasing. Now at large international trade shows, promotion of Chinese machines is even stronger than that of Japanese machines. So more European customers know and recognise Chinese brands.” Yizumi purchased the intellectual property of US-based machinery maker HPM Corporation in 2011, when it went bankrupt. New machinery introduced Arburg showcased the Freeformer for additive manufacturing, which was first premiered at the K2013 and launched last year. Böhm said Arburg is working with some materials and will introduce new applications later this year. A Freeformer was producing pill splitters for medical technology use from PC – not in large volumes, like the Allrounder, but in small unit volumes without a mould. “Arburg is the only company able to achieve this,” said Böhm.

Chinese machinery companies expand markets A good indicator of the industry’s disposition would be homegrown IMM maker Haitian International, said to be one of the largest in the world. In 2015, it delivered 26,000 machines globally and recorded a turnover of EUR1 billion, which represents a slight decrease of 3% compared to the previous year. Plus, its domestic sales in China dropped slightly by 4%. In the export markets, Helmar Haitian’s Helmar Franz explains to journalists the company’s performance in Franz, Board Member the IMM market of Haitian, said it strengthened its sales network, with “impressive growth rates in Vietnam, South Korea, India, Europe and Mexico, and sales of EUR324 million, representing a mild drop of 1.6% compared to 2014.” Another homegrown machinery company Guangdong Yizumi Machinery saw its orders jump early this year, according to Deputy Managing Director James Zhang. And while Turkey was Yizumi’s largest export market in 2014, orders declined last year, due to the increasing impact of terrorism in the region, it says. “But it has been replaced by Israel, which was the fastest growing market for Yizumi, with a growth of more than 30% last year,” explained Zhang.

Arburg demonstrated the production of pill splitters for the medical sector using two different processes: in high unit volumes on an electric Allrounder from the new Golden Electric machine series and Freeformer additive manufacturing system. The Golden series is said to be standardised technology, available between 60-200 tonnes, and an extension of the hydraulic entry-level Allrounder Golden edition

Once the supporting structures have been removed in a water bath, the two-piece articulated part can be used as a design prototype or for functional tests. This means that expensive aluminium moulds can be dispensed with and new products can reach series maturity much faster. Using the Arburg Plastic Freeforming (APF) process, the Freeformer manufactures functional parts on the basis of 3D CAD data. It processes inexpensive, qualified plastic granulates and is equipped with two stationary discharge units as standard. This enables the Freeformer to process an additional component in order, for example, to manufacture a part in different colours, with special tactile qualities or as a hard/soft combination. Alternatively, it can be used to build structures from a water-soluble support material, enabling complex part geometries to be realised. 2

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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery Industry moulding that meets the special mixing and metering requirements of low-viscosity thermoset ingredients and is readily retrofitted on standard machines. The Xaloy LSR Package includes a specially designed screw, barrel, seal, valve, and nozzle, along with other components where needed, such as a feedpipe adapter. Nordson recommends the package for manufacturers of seals, gaskets, cushioning pads, medical devices, infant feeding items, ruggedised electronic devices and kitchenware, such as baking pans and spatulas.

Arburg also demonstrated the production of pill splitters in an eight-cavity mould on an electric Allrounder. The cycle time is around 25 seconds and the part weigh is 18 g. The company says that thanks to its precision and speed, as well as its low emissions, the electric machine is ideally suited for the production of medical parts. A Multilift Select robotic system from Arburg is used for demoulding. Wintec, a subsidiary of Engel that was established in 2014 with the aim of making standardised machinery, introduced its all-electric E-win. A 100-tonne E-win 1000170 was shown producing lamp shields, with a shot weight of 14 g per component. The series is also available in 180 tonnes. Wintec says that due to the success of its machines, it has started exporting to ASEAN countries, Turkey and Iran.

Foreign suppliers compete with locals Though 2015 was a difficult year for machinery manufacturers in China, sales rose as Chinese processors preferred to buy locally-made machinery from Taiwanese, Japanese, American, European and South Korean companies operating facilities in the country, from the likes of Engel/Wintec, Demag, KraussMaffei, Milacron and Toshiba. Christian Blatt, CEO of KraussMaffei China, said local manufacturing is an important prerequisite to be able to offer customers more attractive delivery times. “We have a strong footprint in China, with our own sales and facility in Haiyan. Since 2015, we have sold more than 100 machines of the MX series.” Meanwhile, more foreign-owned facilities in China are exporting their machines. “Having seen the current fluctuations in the Chinese market, and with less domestic customers, the factory in Haiyan supplies to not one but at least two regions, allowing KraussMaffei to be cushioned in part to any changes in local market conditions,” said Blatt. Haitian’s Franz expects homegrown machinery suppliers to become more competitive in the global market. “The top destinations for machines from China are Japan, Germany, Taiwan and South Korea.” Despite the large number of domestic-based foreign machinery makers, “Made-in-Germany” still sets standards, says German machinery maker Dr Boy, which showed its XS 100-tonne model that has a footprint of 0.77 sq m. “The trend is for compact, easy-to-operate machines. Equally important for Chinese processors is good and always present local service,” said Wolfgang Schmidt, Export Manager. With two distributors at several locations throughout China, Schmidt says the company has gained a foothold in the Chinese market.

KraussMaffei says its GX series, which is now made in China, is the fastest two-platen in the industry

KraussMaffei premiered its two-platen GX series, which is now being manufactured in Haiyan together with the MX series. Available from 400-900 tonnes, the GX is said to be the fastest two-platen model, boasting a dry cycle time of 2.3 seconds. Features include the compact design, which allows for fast clamping movements, and the modularity that can be used to select the necessary plasticising unit. Furthermore, the GearX locking device and GuideX guide shoe ensure fast locking and part quality, with minimal energy consumption. A GX 450-3000 was shown moulding crates for the transport of seafood, with a shot weight of 240 g and a cycle time of 11 seconds. US firm Nordson Corporation has developed a complete injection unit package for liquid silicone rubber (LSR)

A schematic of the Nordson Xaloy LSR package

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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery Industry Boy showcased its compact XS series

Chinese market an influence globally; brighter future In 2015, the global IMM market continued to grow at a modest rate of 1.8% in terms of volume and is expected to generate a total value of EUR9.8 billion in 2018, says Vienna-headquartered market research firm Interconnection Consulting, adding that in 2016, the market value is expected to surpass EUR10 billion. According to Interconnection, the global IMM market is strongly influenced by the Chinese market, which represents 40% of the total market demand. In the last four years, the value of the Chinese market has grown

mainly due to increasing prices, while the sales volume has stagnated. Over this period, the Chinese market share decreased by 4%. To cope with the challenging market conditions globally, Haitian is pushing its all-electrics and large machinery. “We are converting small tonnage hydraulic machines to electric solutions and large tonnage machines to two-platen solutions,” said Franz. Thus, sales of the all-electric Zhafir Venus series increased by 30%, with more than 1,700 orders, last year, an increase of 46% compared to 2014. Sales of the large two-platen Haitian Jupiter series reached nearly 500 units and rose by 40%, compared to 2014. Quoting Interconnection research, Franz says the large machinery sector will have an annual growth of 8.2%, while 30,000 all-electric units will be sold this year alone in the global market. He also states that the future of hybrid machines is questionable. “Two-platen and electric machines are the way forward,” Franz added. Even with the lower sales in China, there has been a positive shift from quantity and high productivity towards high quality, intelligent machines with an emphasis on resource saving and sustainability, says Interconnection. Thus, machine makers can look forward to charging higher prices, and in conclusion, have brighter prospects ahead.

Injection Moulding Asia Machinery Industry


Borouge showcased two automotive PP grades. It launched in the Chinese market its Fibremod PP carbon composite material and a foam injection moulding glassfibre reinforced PP grade

s usual the automotive sector stole the show, with a number of machinery makers and materials suppliers taking the opportunity to showcase vehicle parts, or actual vehicles in some cases, at their booths

Another South Korean company SK Global Chemical displayed a vehicle with its material used in the instrument panel and grilles, to name a few

Materials supplier EMS Grivory had a BMW model on display, which had utilised the company’s materials in the speaker grille, inner door handle base, fuel tank plug, sunroof rail, instrument panel carrier, booth lid carrier and head lamp bracket South Korea’s LG Chem’s materials, both plastics and rubber, were showcased in this vehicle

South Korea’s LG Chem’s materials, both plastics and rubber, were showcased in this vehicle

German robot maker Kuka showcased its Quantec robot lifting an automotive front end part

Lotte Chem displayed a vehicle with a fuel cell

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd (PCG), partly owned by Malaysia’s national petrochemicals/ oil company Petronas, has cancelled the proposed US$1.3 billion elastomers project at the Refinery and Petrochemicals Integrated Development (Rapid) project in Johor, due to the market outlook and projected return on investment. Last year, PCG acquired from Petronas Refinery and Petrochemical Corporation (PRPC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Petronas, 100% equity in three companies, namely PRPC Glycols, PRPC Polymers and PRPC Elastomers, which are part of the Rapid. The initial total projected investment cost for the polymers, glycols and elastomers segments was US$3.9 billion with a combined capacity of 3.5 million tonnes/ year. The cancellation of the elastomers project will result in capacity reduction of 0.35 million tonnes/year and projected investment cost by US$1.3 billion. PCG said it remained committed to the rest of the petrochemical projects that it had undertaken, namely the polymers and glycols projects, with PRPC Polymers and PRPC Glycols scheduled to start in 2019. PRPC Glycols is building an ethylene oxide/ethylene glycol plant and PRPC: LLDPE and 900 ktpa PP plants. • US private equity firm Arsenal Capital Partners, through its speciality

polymers and additives platform, Polymer Solutions Group (PSG), has acquired Germanyheadquartered speciality chemicals firm Sasco Chemical Group. Sasco manufactures rubber anti-tack agents in North America with its PolyCoat, TechKote and Sasco Cote product lines. Its Georgia R&D centre produces over 1,200 products and distributes them globally. • India’s JK Tyre & Industries and JK Asia Pacific, a wholly owned subsidiary of JK Tyre, have acquired Cavendish Industries (CIL) for US$330 million. CIL houses three tyre business undertakings of Birla tyres in Haridwar that manufacture a range of tyres, tubes and flaps. With this acquisition, JK Tyre will have 12 tyre plants (nine in India and three in Mexico), and will enable the Indian tyre maker to have additional capacity of truck and bus radial tyres. It will also provide JK Tyre entry into the fast growing two and three-wheeler tyre market. • Germany-headquartered Freudenberg Group signed an agreement with its joint venture partner, Trelleborg in Sweden, to acquire its 50% shareholding in joint venture company Vibracoustic. The acquisition is expected to be finalised in the second quarter of this year. Vibracoustic, formerly named TrelleborgVibracoustic, was formed in 2012 as

a 50:50 joint venture. Freudenberg brought Vibracoustic to the joint venture, while Trelleborg, its automotive antivibration business. • Saudi Aramco subsidiary, Aramco Overseas Company, and German speciality chemicals company Lanxess have completed their 50:50 joint venture agreement for synthetic rubber company, Arlanxeo, which will be headquartered in the Netherlands. It will be involved in the sale and distribution of synthetic rubber used in the global tyre industry, automotive parts manufacturing and other applications. Upon closure of the deal, Saudi Aramco’s Dutch subsidiary Aramco received a 50% stake in Arlanxeo, while Lanxess was given a cash payment of EUR 1.2 billion. Lanxess is investing approximately EUR400 million of the proceeds from the transaction in organic growth; allocating another EUR400 million for a further reduction of its financial debt and some EUR 200 million for a share buyback programme. • US-based fluid sealing products maker Garlock has acquired the business of New Jersey-headquartered Rubber Fab Gasket & Molding through its parent company, EnPro Industries, a manufacturer of engineered industrial products. Rubber Fab is a supplier of sanitary gaskets, hoses and

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News fittings for hygienic process industries such as pharmaceutical, bioprocessing and food & beverage. The addition of Rubber Fab is expected to expand Garlock’s presence in the hygienic market and complements Garlock’s existing sealing solutions to provide a comprehensive portfolio. • Michigan-headquartered Unique Fabricating, which engineers and manufactures multimaterial foam, rubber, and plastic components utilised in noise, vibration and harshness management and air/ water sealing applications for the automotive and industrial appliance market, has acquired the business of Intasco Corporation, a Canadabased provider and manufacturer of precision die cut solutions, and purchased 100% of the outstanding capital stock of Intasco USA. It provides adhesive products to the automotive and manufacturing industries, primarily in the US and Canada. • US industrial knives and blades producer Hyde Industrial Blade Solutions, a division of Hyde Tools, has acquired two manufacturing firms to bolster the company’s offerings in the plastics and tyre and rubber marketplaces. Both are located in Massachusetts: D&S Manufacturing, which specialises in the manufacturing of highchrome alloy tool steel granulator and shredder

and recycling knives used to break down plastic material; and PDK Design & Grinding, which provides tungsten carbide rotor knives and bed knives for pelletising plastic before being converted to a final product. • South Korean tyre manufacturer, Kumho Tires, has completed its new facility in the US, its third overseas production base aside from plants in China and Vietnam. The US$450 million facility located in Macon, Georgia, will have a production capacity of 4 million tyres/year and will be producing 17-inch tyres or larger tyres for passenger cars and ultrahigh performance (UHP) tyres. It is equipped with a proprietary system dubbed Automated Production Unit (APU) to boost product quality and manufacturing efficiency; a new lot tracking system (LTS) using radio frequency identification (RFID) combined with laser guided vehicles (LGVs), unmanned carriers that move along pre-determined routes, for a fully-automated movement of products. • Bridgestone Latin America North, through its subsidiary in Costa Rica, and in alliance with Correa Tire Distributors, inaugurated its first Bridgestone Store located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The new service centre is the seventh in the company’s network of Family Channel stores on the island.

• Federal-Mogul Powertrain, a division of Federal-Mogul Holdings Corporation, has added a distribution centre in Thailand for industrial ignition products, thus further strengthening its presence in Southeast Asia. Federal-Mogul, which designs and manufactures OEM powertrain components and systems protection products for automotive, heavy-duty, industrial and transport applications, maintains a worldwide headquarters in Michigan, US. • Belgium-headquartered Wabco Holdings, a global supplier of technologies that improve the safety, efficiency and connectivity of commercial vehicles, has entered into a new long-term agreement with US-based Cummins to manufacture and supply air-compressor technology globally. Cummins, a manufacturer and distributor of diesel engines and related technologies for commercial vehicles, has operated a site in the US with Wabco since 1998. Wabco now becomes the exclusive supplier to Cummins in North America for air compressors applied in trucks, buses and industrial equipment. The deal also significantly expands the volume and variety of demand for Wabco’s air-compression technologies at Cummins facilities in South America, Europe and India, with incremental opportunities for further growth in Asia.

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Rubber Journal Asia Footwear Industry

Putting the best foot forward with TPPA Signed early this year, the Trans Pacific

In 2015, China’s exports slid by 4.7% and exports as a share of industry revenue are estimated at 46.6%. Southeast Asia is getting stronger as a manufacturing destination, and thus adds to the Chinese industry’s challenges.

Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has had mixed reactions from the various sectors of partner countries. Non-member countries that are being urged to join are investigating

Asian footwear industry stepping up s the TPPA unfolds, footwear business is expected to flourish in Southeast Asia. The trade agreement will strike out almost all duties on footwear, a majority of which will be taking effect the first year of TPPA’s implementation and the remaining 18 items will be scratched off over the next 12 years of the agreement. Citing information from PIERS, a database of US waterborne activity, footwear imports from countries like Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia have increased from 2010 onwards, in contrast to China and Hong Kong where imports have declined. In 2014, US imports of footwear from China slid by 3% from 2010, while Hong Kong’s slid by 36%. Vietnam’s exports to the US increased by 86% over the four-year period, thus making it the second largest exporter of footwear to the US, outpacing Hong Kong. The fourth largest footwear supplier to the US, Indonesia, also increased its exports by 82% in 2014, while Cambodia has more than tripled its footwear exports within the same period.


how the TPPA could deliver its promise of wider market reach without jeopardising competitiveness. One sector in consideration is the footwear industry: will a zero-tariff agreement keep the footwear industry on its toes, asks Angelica Buan in this report.

Contending with China’s footwear market omprising 12 countries (US, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Japan, Peru, Canada, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia), the TPPA represents the US’s geopolitical rebalance towards Asia and the heart of its trade policy in the region. It is also expected to help lift the droopy US manufacturing and stunted export growth, owing to soft global demand and fluctuating currencies. While TPPA is heralded as an ambitious pact, representing about 40% of the global economy, it has left out China. This means that half the global economy will wean its dependence off China. With the exclusion of China, the largest global footwear manufacturer, consumer and exporter, observers are wondering how the US-led bloc’s footwear industries will be able to capture a share of the global market that is forecast to reach US$258.22 billion by 2023, based on a report by Transparency Market Research. The global footwear market, the report said, is driven by rising retail culture and demand for both athletic and non-athletic footwear. According to IBISWorld, in its China Footwear Market Research Report, the global footwear industry was sluggish in 2015, with retailers coping with the slow growth and reduced margins. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth slowed further and with weaker consumer sentiment, the sector has floundered. Moreover, operating costs remain a hurdle for footwear retailers, squeezing their profits.


“..the global footwear industry was sluggish in 2015; as the TPPA unfolds, Southeast Asia will flourish…” Malaysia, the ninth member in the TPPA league, is projected to benefit from the elimination of duties on 12.4% of its exports, particularly on footwear and textile and apparel products, which have been levied hefty duties of 37.5% and 32%, respectively, according to the country’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI). Moreover, an additional 11.7% of Malaysia’s global trade will be accorded preferential treatment under the said agreement, thus bringing the total figure to 71.2% of Malaysia’s global trade. Malaysia, which already has an existing trade agreement with the US, will also benefit from the elimination of specific duties on cocoa products, petroleum oils, metal products and clocks and watches under the TPPA. 3

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Rubber Journal Asia Footwear Industry Outsourcing to Asia – generating savings from TPPA he outsourcing of footwear is driven by labour costs and duties. Prior to the TPPA, US footwear importers were reportedly shelling out US$2.5 billion year-on-year for approximately 2 billion pairs of shoes, or an average tariff rate of 10.1% for footwear. With the high duties imposed on footwear, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), the largest footwear trade association in the US representing a broad scope of industry players from small family-owned importers to global footwear brands and retailers, is hoping that the TPPA will significantly cut its members’ costs and up their profit margins. Matt Priest, FDRA President, commented that in 2014 the US footwear industry paid US$2.7 billion in duties alone, or a 6.6% increase over 2013, higher than the footwear industry’s 2014 US sales growth as a percentage. Of that amount, almost US$449 million went to paying import taxes from TPPA countries and that included US$446 million, which went to Vietnamese


Many foreign companies are outsourcing their footwear manufacture to Vietnam

“…the outsourcing of footwear is driven by labour costs and duties…” footwear exports. Moreover, over the last 27 years, the industry has paid US$45 billion in tariffs, impacting the retail costs of shoes for every footwear consumer. With the TPPA, FDRA estimates savings for the industry of more than US$450 million in the first year of the trade agreement’s implementation and over US$6 billion in the next ten years. The Washington-headquartered industry association says that Vietnam is the second largest footwear exporter to the US, after China, accounting for 10% of footwear imports. A few of the shoemakers that have factories in Vietnam include Nike, Wolverine Worldwide, and Payless ShoeSource, Adidas, Puma, Dansu Group and Ever Rite International. Furthermore, US footwear firms are also shifting production from China to Vietnam, resulting in a 19% volume increase in Vietnamese footwear exports to the US in 2014. A majority of FDRA members are sourcing from Vietnam and this trend is expected to continue with plans to increase orders with factories in Vietnam in the near future. By 2019, Vietnam would be supplying 22% of the volume of all US footwear, FDRA states.

Rubber Journal Asia Footwear Industry The footwear sector is driven by rising retail culture and demand for both athletic and non-athletic footwear

Furthermore, the Philippines, which has expressed its desire to join the TPPA, is still evaluating its readiness to comply with the accord’s tax reduction requirements and how that would impact the local industries. The Philippine footwear industry consists of small and medium-size enterprises producing sports shoes, leather and non-leather footwear, slippers, sandals and other footwear products. Larger companies operate in export processing zones, manufacturing footwear under contract from foreign brands, according to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)funded Pearl 2 Project. The World Bank, which projects the country to grow 4-6% in 2016, noted that the country’s apparel and footwear exports could drop by 19% based on increased competition from TPPA members. As well, the Philippine Exporters Confederation (Philexport), the umbrella organisation of accredited Philippine exporters, is of the opinion that the Philippines’ highly labour-intensive footwear sector may not yet be ready for the TPPA.

US shoemakers on unsure footing oston-based footwear company New Balance, which is the only athletic shoe company still producing in the US, has been on the opposite side of TPPA, unlike competitor Nike. While Nike executives have been pushing for TPPA, New Balance has been fighting to keep tariffs in place for Vietnam, since the deal was touted in 2012. It says that the deal will take a toll on the last few footwear factories operating from the US that will lose out to cheaper footwear coming from Vietnam, for example. The TPPA will also give a pricing advantage to competitor shoemakers that source from overseas, where labour costs are lower, making footwear makers like New Balance lose out. FDRA, meanwhile, sees the TPPA as favourable for the US footwear industry since 99% of all footwear sold currently in the US is imported. Consumers will also be able to enjoy footwear from other trading partners party to the TPPA, such as Mexico, the group said.


Challenges facing Asian countries hether Asian countries chose to enter the TPPA, competition is surging against the back of low labour costs and Asian footwear producers are competing head-on with each other, with China remaining a strong contender in terms of production and supply. With its “low wage” tag, Asia has the label of being a “sweat shop”, a stigma that some countries are striving to override with the introduction of minimum wages. One such country is Indonesia, which after introducing a minimum wage packet saw several foreign investments cancelled and investors relocating their plants to lower-wage ASEAN countries like Cambodia and Vietnam. It was partly for this reason, Aprisindo said, that the footwear industry failed to hit its US$5 billion export target in 2014.


Asian non-TPPA members get a leg-up eanwhile, Indonesia, a non-TPPA member is considering joining the trade faction. Ranked among the world’s top six footwear exporters, Indonesia is contending with high import duties of up to 30% to enter the US market. Nonetheless, it posted a 6.8% year-on-year growth to US$4.7 billion in 2015, according to the Indonesian Footwear Association (Aprisindo).


“…Asia’s production sector is not without its problems…” Another challenge is inadequate access to raw materials. Being the second largest rubber producer does not guarantee Indonesia an adequate supply of rubber for its shoe making sector. It also sources for leather and other materials due to insufficient local processing facilities. Finally, unrest amongst workers may also add on to the problems. Last year, almost 90,000 workers at the Vietnamese subsidiary of Taiwan-based Pou Chen Corp. went on strike over a Vietnamese government pension-policy change. The company makes footwear for Nike and Adidas, according to its website. Though the issue was resolved, it shows that Asia’s production sector is not without its problems.

New Balance is proud of its production in the US

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Rubber Journal Asia Glove Sector

Buoyant prospects and overcoming challenges Industry developments offer Malaysian glove

discouraging new rubber plantations and replanting, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC). China represents 40% of global natural rubber consumption; 80% of which, it imports. Thus, this will result in supplies becoming tighter from 2020 onwards, the group said, and not the oversupply scenario as pulling down rubber prices. This oversupply of rubber is “only on paper”, according to Sheela Thomas, Secretary-General of ANRPC, speaking at the 2016 China Rubber Conference held recently in Qingdao. Malaysia, the fifth largest rubber producer and third largest exporter of natural rubber, is witnessing a slowdown in rubber planting as local tappers have lost confidence in the sector due to the almost 70% price drop of natural rubber. As such, local plantations are switching to oil palm as a cash crop. Late last year, the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) alerted the industry on a price increase in gloves. It said that rubber glove producers needed to make up for the adjustments in manufacturing costs, following the 17.2% increase in a tariff on natural gas that took effect in January. The glove manufacturing process requires the use of natural gas, and thus it accounts for 10% of total production costs. The projected cost increase is about RM0.40 to RM0.70 cents per 1,000 units of nitrile gloves and RM0.30-50 cents for latex gloves. Rather than impacting their earnings, Malaysian glove makers pass the additional costs on to their customers.

makers to expand amid the challenges, while the clampdown on powdered gloves by the US FDA will see a switch to non-powdered ones, says Angelica Buan in this report.


lobal demand for rubber gloves is strong. Indian market research firm Koncept Analytics says that with improved healthcare awareness, progressive emphasis on healthcare regulations and rising expenditure in healthcare, the demand for gloves in emerging markets will peak. The demand for rubber gloves will be further driven by other factors including the possibility of governments in developing countries making the use of gloves in the healthcare sector compulsory; recovery of the global economy and consequent rise in the living standards, among others. The global rubber gloves market is poised to grow at a CAGR of around 10% in the next five years to reach approximately US$6.4 billion by 2020, according to a report by India-based Accuray Research. This uptrend could conjecture that the rubber gloves sector is undisrupted by looming global factors. Yet, as in all other industry sectors that are continuously growing, challenges are not far behind. Malaysia has kept its lead as the world’s top source for medical gloves (examination and surgical gloves), with its roster of rubber glove players like Top Glove Corporation, Hartalega Holdings, Kossan Rubber Industries, Supermax Corporation and Latexx Manufacturing, serving half the global demand for gloves. Maintaining a buoyant supply and demand is not the only deal breaker for the Malaysian glove sector to remain globally competitive. Factors such as low rubber output are pressing onto glove makers’ profit margins as well. Likewise, developments pertaining to regulations, wage hikes and duty adjustments are just some of the many intrinsic aspects that the glove industry is facing.

Minimum wages; levy hike for foreign workers eanwhile, the Malaysian government has implemented a new minimum wage scale and increased tariff rates on foreign workers. Effective 18 March, the new levy rates for the First Category, which covers the manufacturing, construction and services sectors, is RM1,850, up by RM600; and the Second Category, covering plantations and agriculture, is at RM640, up by RM50, according to Malaysia-based Affin Hwang Investment Bank. With the increase in remuneration, industries, especially the labour-intensive ones, are advised to undertake corresponding measures like shifting to automation. Affin Hwang states that labour costs account between 9-13% of the operating expenses; and the impact of the new levy hike in earnings is estimated at 0.5% to 1.5%. While the rubber glove sector is labour-intensive, the impact on higher remuneration is minimal. The Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) says that the local glove manufacturing industry has already started


No surplus: tight rubber supply ow oil prices and lower demand due to a slowdown in economies from large buyers, especially China, are triggering a decline in rubber prices, and therefore,


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Rubber Journal Asia Glove Sector automating operations and lessening dependency on foreign labour, thus the new wage structure will not have a significant bearing on operation costs. Meanwhile, Top Glove is reportedly planning to taper its foreign labour by 5% this year to offset the wage hikes. The streamlining will affect its 7,000strong foreign workforce. In a related development, the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) could also affect the sector. The pact will immediately remove tariffs on 85% of rubber products, while duties on the remaining rubber products will be phased out within 16 years from the implementation of the agreement in 2018. The Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council (MREPC) has expressed its optimism on the TPPA as a springboard for Malaysia to overtake its contending ASEAN neighbours like Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka in exporting products to trading partners in the US, Canada, Mexico and Australia. However, the agreement will also bring with it competition, which some opine is unbalanced between locally manufactured rubber goods and cheaper imported ones. Yet, the rubber gloves sector in particular, is expected to gain from the TPPA, albeit, marginally, according to AmResearch. The country’s top exports market of Japan and the US are not levying import duties on medical and surgical rubber gloves, says the research house. On the other hand, it says that the TPPA will reduce or remove import levies for rubber gloves; and that will result in better market access for Malaysian manufacturers. Moreover, the cost savings from the elimination of duties will also be applicable when importing machines and materials needed for producing rubber gloves, says AmResearch.

Glove makers like Top Glove will switch to non-powdered gloves due to the clampdown in the US

have started endorsing the switch to powder-free, lowprotein latex gloves and synthetic gloves. Affin Hwang opines that Malaysian glove makers will not be distressed by the ban since most of the gloves being exported to the US are powder-free nitrile and latex gloves. Top Glove, which specialises in latex-powdered gloves, also welcomed the FDA proposal. It said that while the company is making powdered gloves (constituting about 40% of its product mix), what it exports to the US are for non-medical use. The company is weighing on upping capacity for powder-free and nitrile gloves, should its clientele make a switch for those types. In such a case, it says that it has the capacity to cater to this shift in demand in glove types. Supermax, the world’s second largest producer of rubber gloves, also produces both powdered and nitrile gloves. Latexx Partners, produces medical and industrial powdered gloves, and is not vexed by the proposal while the Malaysian subsidiary of Austriaheadquartered Semperit Group is expecting to expand further its glove production, especially with the commissioning of the new production capacity in Kamunting this year. Other Malaysian glove players like Kossan and Hartalega are in a safe position with the proposed ban since both focus on synthetic rubber gloves. The US accounts for half of the sales for Hartalega, which caters mainly to the medical industry. Based on the Department of Statistics Malaysia data, the country’s exports value of non-surgical gloves in 2015 was over RM11 million, a modest increase from the 2014 shipments of more than RM9 million. For surgical gloves, exports in 2015 were pegged at RM1.1 million, a slight decrease from RM1.2 million shipments value the previous year. Thus, the Malaysian glove sector is able to surmount any challenges and continue to grow, hands-down.

New safety rules versus powder gloves hen the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently proposed that it is banning most powdered medical gloves for sale or distribution in the US, major glove manufacturers responded by promoting more of their powder-free gloves. The FDA proposal identified three types of surgical gloves: powdered surgeon gloves, powdered patient examination gloves, and absorbable powder for lubricating surgeons’ gloves. Exposure to the powder used in the gloves has been associated with occurrence of asthma, latex allergies and other severe complications, as well as presenting risk of severe airway inflammation; wound inflammation and post-surgical adhesions. The FDA, on its economic analysis of the ban, assured glove makers that the rule will not cause a shortage or dent the profits for the industry. Medical glove makers took heed of the ban. Australiabased glove maker Ansell and UK-headquartered Globus, which markets the Showa brand of gloves,


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