PRA Nov/Dec 2017 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 : 亞洲的污染水域暗潮洶湧

In this issue

Volume 32, No 234

publlshed slnce 1985

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

Features 焦 點 內 容

Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email:

13 材料: 亞洲的污染水域暗潮洶湧 18 Sporting Industry – The requirements for ease, comfort, safety and performance are a few of the criteria for sports items that are changing how materials used in the sports sector are being developed

22 Composites – Composites materials are increasing adoption in the aerospace sector to allow for more fuel-efficient and economical aircraft

26 Pharmaceutical Industry – Medicine storage is becoming a vital issue in the industry and, thus, plastics provide a healthier alternative

28 Country Focus – Healthcare is a priority in Thailand, and as the connective and digitalised economy heralds a “digital economy”, Thailand has come up with its own Thailand 4.0, a value-based economic model driven by innovation, technology, and high-value trade and services

Associate Publisher/Editor Tej Fernandez Tel: +60 3 4260 4575 Email: Senior Editor Angelica Buan Email: Writer: Mohani Niza Email: Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling Admin & Finance Manager Tean Arul Email:

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Regulars 概 要

Printer United Mission Press Sdn Bhd (Co. No: 755329-X) 25 & 27, Jalan PBS 14/14, Taman Perindustrian Bukit Serdang, 43300 Selangor, Malaysia.

2 Industry News 6 Materials News

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

10 業界新聞

Supplements 副 刊 Industry 4.0 is no more a buzzword with companies jumping the bandwagon to showcase latest offers at the recently concluded Fakuma show in Germany. The era of smart tyres is paving the way for a future of more efficient mobility DIGITAL+PRINT

On the Cover

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.


Composites are touted as top flight materials for the aerospace sector

業界新 聞 材料: 亞洲的污染水域暗潮洶湧

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Industry News

M&As • Petronas Chemicals Group, the petrochemicals arm of Malaysia’s national oil/gas firm Petronas, has sold a 50% stake in its unit, PRPC Polymers, to Saudi Aramco for US$900 million, in what it says is “to share PRPC Polymers' business risk.” The deal includes the divestment of 50% of any shareholder loans held by it in PRPC Polymers, which is developing petrochemicals projects within the Pengerang Integrated Complex (PIC) in the southern Malaysian state of Johor. Early this year, Saudi Aramco also signed a deal with Petronas. • Genstar Capital, a private equity firm focused on investments in industrial technology, healthcare, financial services and software industries that manages funds of approximately US$9 billion, has acquired Tekni-Plex Inc, a manufacturer of components and materials for healthcare, speciality/ food packaging applications, from affiliates of American Securities. Terms were not disclosed. • Luxembourgheadquartered caps/ closures maker United Caps is taking over the plastic closures division of Closures4you, including 28 mm caps for re-usable


glass bottles and for disposable PET bottles. In June 2017, the company took over cap/closure manufacturer Dewit Plastics. Netherlandsbased Cups4you, the former parent company of Closures4you, specialises in thinwallinjection moulded packaging with a capacity of 1002,500 ml for the food industry. United Caps has production sites in Belgium, Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Spain and Hungary; employs more than 500 staff and achieved sales of EUR131 million in 2016. • Sydney-headquartered Pro-Pac Packaging Limited has entered into a share sale agreement to merge with Integrated Packaging Group (IPG). Once the US$177.5 million merger is approved, Pro-Pac says it will become a leading player in the flexible and industrial packaging manufacturing and distribution market in Australia. • Bangkok-headquartered chemical producer Indorama Ventures (IVL) is to acquire DuPont Teijin Films, a producer of BOPET and PEN films with total film/polymer capacity of 277,000 tonnes/year. It includes eight production assets in the US, Europe and China, with a global innovation centre in the UK.


• Effective January 2018, Germany’s Albis Plastic will own Wipag Group, with two sites in Germany. With this acquisition Albis, the Hamburgbased distributor and compounder of technical thermoplastics, has invested further into recycling since Wipag's recycling technology processes waste carbon fibre from the automotive industry into reinforced carbon fibre compounds. • Resin distributor M. Holland Company will acquire T&T Marketing, a distributor of polymer resins and compounds to the wire and cable market. Headquartered in Massachusetts, T&T has annual revenues of about US$40 million and distributes throughout the US and Canada. • FRX Polymers Inc has secured US$12 million in a round of financing led by an unidentified Chinese private equity fund, and plans an initial public offering next year in Australia where it hopes to raise more than US$20 million. It will support FRX’s working capital needs including business growth in Asia and also fund the start of FRX’s Antwerp, Belgium, plant expansion project. • US-based Carlisle Companies, a provider of commercial and industrial building

envelope products through its Carlisle Construction Materials (CCM), is to acquire PU materials supplier Accella Performance Materials from Arsenal Capital Partners for US$670 million in cash. Accella has annualised revenue of US$430 million with pre-synergy estimated transaction EBITDA margins approaching 15%. • German flexible packaging firm Südpack Verpackungen has acquired US-based Seville Flexpack Corporation. Familyowned Seville is a converter and provider of flexible packaging products with more than 40 years of experience in printing and processing. • Composites firm Hexcel Corporation has completed the acquisition of all of the shares of Structil SA, a French producer and supplier of high-performance composites to the aerospace, defence and industrial markets. Structil is a joint venture between Safran Ceramics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Safran, and Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (formerly Mitsubishi Rayon Corporation). • White Tale Holdings has increased its stake in Swiss speciality chemicals firm Clariant in excess of 15%.



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Industry News

In the notice sent to Clariant, White Tale also stated that it maintains its opposition to the merger of equals between Huntsman and Clariant, announced in May this year. The activist investor says the deal runs against Clariant’s focus on speciality chemicals over commodities.

• German pharma/ pesticides firm Bayer has further reduced to just under 25% its holding in plastics materials firm Covestro, which it demerged in 2015, by selling a 6.9% stake for EUR1 billion. Bayer Pension Trust will continue to hold 8.9%. Bayer, which is trying to complete its US$66 billion takeover of US seeds giant Monsanto

by the end of the year, did not name the buyers but said they are bound by a lockup agreement to not sell the shares until 11 December.

• IK Investment Partners, a Pan-European private equity firm, is to buy measuring and process technology equipment maker Schenck Process from private equity funds managed by

Capacity Expansions/Plant Openings • Russia’s petrochemical company Sibur, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco) signed a MOU recently on possible cooperation and investment activities in Russia and Saudi Arabia. The companies will estimate the potential of the petrochemical markets in Russia and Saudi Arabia and explore opportunities for future cooperation. • Speciality materials company Celanese Corporation has debottlenecked projects at its global engineering materials business. It includes GUR UHMWPE at the Texas, US, and Nanjing, China, facilities, that have upped capacity by 10%. • Italy’s Sabo is implementing a capacity expansion for Hindered Amine Light Stabilisers (HALS) Sabo STAB UV 70 4

and STAB UV 91, and related intermediates. The expansion is scheduled to come on-stream during Q3 2018. It did not state the amount of the capacity expansions. Additionally, Sabo says it will increase the capacity of STAB UV 62 in 2019. • Dutch firm AkzoNobel's Specialty Chemicals business will increase capacity at its organic peroxides facility in Ningbo, China, by more than 100% by 2018. It produces dicumyl peroxide (DCP), an organic peroxide used as a crosslinking agent in the manufacture of polymers. Capacity at the site was boosted by 40% in August, following the completion of an initial project, and is set to double to 38,000 tonnes/year. • South Korean firm Songwon has commissioned a second thermoplastic urethane


(TPU) production line, to become operational in the fourth quarter of 2017. The company's plant in Suwon, South Korea, will be extended to increase capacity from 7,000-12,000 tonnes/year. • Swedish size reduction equipment manufacturer Rapid Granulator is investing EUR4.5 million in machining equipment at its headquarters in Bredaryd, Sweden. It will install three highprecision automated machining centres to allow for extra capacity to produce core components. • Hongfa Electroacoustic, China's largest manufacturer of relays, semiconductors, lowvoltage units and contact connectors and a world leader in its field, based in Xiamen, China, has installed its 300th machine from German injection moulding machine maker Arburg.

Blackstone. Germanybased Schenck develops solutions for a wide range of industrial processes including weighing, feeding, conveying and filtration. • US chemicals firm Westlake Chemical Partners is to acquire an additional 5% limited partner interest in Westlake Chemical OpCo for US$229 million. • Belgium-headquartered chemicals firm Solvay is expanding its global production capacity in sulphone polymers due to growth from the medical and water treatment industries. As part of its plan to lift sulphone polymers capacity by more than 35% in the next five years, Solvay is constructing a new polyethersulphone (PESU) unit in Panoli, India, to be commissioned in 2019. Capacity increases are also occurring in the US at its polymer and monomer units in Ohio and Georgia. • Mitsui Chemicals, which has been working on a oneline production augmentation (5,000 tonnes/year) for its Milastomer capacity for cross-linked elastomers and TPV at its wholly owned domestic subsidiary Sun Alloys, in response to an upswing in demand for thermoplastic olefinic elastomers, has started up the line. This will

INDUSTRY NEWS increase the company’s capacity for Milastomer from 20,000-25,000 tonnes/year. • Shin-Etsu Chemical will expand its production capacity of optical fibre ingot (preform), both in Japan and internationally, by investing a total of 18 billion yen. Presently, Shin-Etsu Chemical is producing preform at three manufacturing bases: Kashima, Japan, and its two subsidiary companies in China, in Jiangsu Province and Hubei Province. • US-headquartered Owens Corning will 宗久PRA_12月_FB.pdf 1 2017/10/6 下午 01:53:14 invest US$50 million to rebuild a glass melter and expand

production capacity by approximately 25% at its Chambéry, France, composites facility. The investment will support the growing demand for thermoplastics in Europe. The melter is expected to be operational by mid2018. • Chemicals maker Borealis is moving to the FEED-phase its world-scale propane dehydrogenation (PDH) plant, after concluding a pre-FEED feasibility study in June 2017. It will be located at the existing Borealis production site in Kallo, Belgium. After completion of the FEED, a final investment decision

will be taken in the third quarter of 2018. Start-up of the plant is scheduled for 2022 and will have a capacity of 740 kilotonnes/year, making it one of the largest in the world. • Ineos is expanding its Ethylidene Norbornene (ENB) plant in Antwerp, Belgium, increasing capacity by 7,500 tonnes to 35,500 tonnes, with the capacity being available by the end of 2018. • Teijin’s Aramid Business has completed a new production line at its Technora production facility in Matsuyama, Japan. The investment was announced in 2016 and from now the

extra production line is ready to produce at full capacity. • UK-based Surface Generation, a provider of carbon fibre processing technologies, has opened a new R&D facility for composites manufacturing at its headquarters in Rutland. The 10,000-sq ft is home to a workshop and research laboratory that will be used to develop composite processing technologies and automated production techniques as well as for new technologies, including graphene, 3D printing and nanocomposites.

Materials News

Not smooth sailing in Asia’s troubled polluted waters Industrial pollution, a murky consequence of Asia’s urbanisation and growing economies, is taking a toll on the region’s environment. Can Asia swim above its waste management problem, asks Angelica Buan in this report.


major concern these days is the alarming levels of marine litter. An estimated 150 million tonnes of waste plastics, with as much as 12.7 milliontonne more being added every year, end up in the oceans worldwide. Poor solid waste management, worsened by inadequate infrastructure and lack of environmental awareness, are culpable to the rising rates. Tap water – a cocktail of microplastics Marine pollution has grown so severe that microplastics are not only invading marine life but also contaminating tap water, according to a recent scientific study, Invisibles: The Plastic Inside Us, which says 83% of tap water samples collected from various countries contained microplastics. Some 159 half-litre drinking water samples were collected from 14 countries: Cuba, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Slovakia, Switzerland, Uganda, UK, and the US. The study, conceived by US-based non-profit digital newsroom, Orb Media, was designed by the State University of New York and the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. The researchers also found fibres in some major bottled water brands sold in the US, likewise adding that these fibres are likely contaminating food items, including baby formula.

A new scientific study found that 83% of tap water samples collected from various countries contained microplastics



Molly Bingham, Founder/CEO of Orb Media explained that it is not known how these microplastics reach taps or what the health risks might be. “Microplastics have been shown to absorb toxic chemicals from the marine environment and then release them when consumed by fish and mammals. At the very least, I hope that our work triggers large scale, global research on plastic contamination and the ramifications for human health, particularly that of children,” she said. The study pointed out the sources of microplastics: synthetic fibres from clothes in a wash; tyre dust or styrene butadiene particles washed into sewers and into waterways like streams, rivers and oceans. Furthermore, cars and trucks emit more than 20 g of tyre dust for every 100 km; while paint from road markings, ships and homes contribute to more than 10% of microplastic pollution. Meanwhile, secondary microplastics come from improperly managed plastic utensils, straws, takeaway containers as well as synthetic airborne fibres and microbeads from cosmetics. Asia, major culprit of leaky plastics Asia’s rapid economic growth is causing a tidal wave of pollution, given that an estimated 70% of the region’s population lives along coastal areas and nearby fringes of waterways, which is required for agriculture and fishing – two major livelihoods. Rising industrialisation is also spurring near-shore developments. Urbanisation and changing lifestyles are rallying behind the outstretched use of plastics as a material for packaging, consumer and lifestyle goods. Five countries in Asia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, were found to be major sources of plastic wastes entering the ocean, stated the McKinsey Centre for Business and Environment and Ocean Conservancy report, Stemming the Tide – Landbased strategies for a plastic-free ocean. The report indicated that intervention through coordinated action must be enforced and when that happens, global leakage of plastic waste could be reduced by 45% by 2025. For this reason, the five nations cited in the report made a pledge during the United Nations’ Ocean Conference, held recently in New York, to initiate efforts to prevent plastic leakage.

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Materials News

The conference, UN’s first of its kind that tackled marine issues, had 193 UN-member states responding “to implement long-term and robust strategies to reduce the use of plastics and microplastics, such as plastic bags and single-use plastics,” among other measures. Meanwhile, ten rivers have recently been identified as major carriers of garbage entering the oceans, with eight of these in Asia. The research team led by Dr Christian Schmidt, a hydrogeologist at Helmholtz-Centre for Environmental Research in Germany, evaluated 0-5 mm-sized microplastics collected from 79 sites along 57 rivers. What the team found was that the ten rivers transported between 88-95% of the global volume of debris into the sea. The majority comes from the Yangtze river in China that belches 330,000 tonnes/year of plastics, while India’s Ganges accounts for 544,310 tonnes.

Research identified China's Yangtze river as a major carrier of marine debris, accounting for 330,000 tonnes/year of plastics

In China also, the Xi, Dong and Zhujiang rivers collectively dump nearly 106,000 tonnes/year; and Indonesia’s Brantas accounts for 38,555 tonnes/year; Solo, 32,205 tonnes/year; Serayu, 16,782 tonnes/year; and Progo, 12,700 tonnes/year. The rivers with the highest estimated plastic loads are characterised by high population in countries with a high rate of mismanaged plastic wastes, Schmidt said. Proper waste management is a straightforward solution to reducing plastic pollution of rivers, he emphasised. Asian countries promise clean sweep of pollution Giving voice to the region’s ocean clean-up motives, some Asian countries pitched in their commitments during the EU-hosted Our Ocean conference held in October in Malta. China, which a 2015 study estimates to have contributed 30% to the total global marine wastes (which was tallied at 8 million tonnes during the report period), will be earmarking EUR8 million towards national research projects to develop monitoring and prevention technology for marine microplastics, jellyfish, red tide and pathogenic microorganisms. Moreover, it will also focus on the elimination of plastic waste pollution in estuaries and bays and formulate plans for action against pollution.



Some Asian countries and different companies and brands have manifested their commitment to control marine litter at the recent Oceans Conference in Malta

Tagged as the second largest contributor to marine pollution, Indonesia is laying out a National Action Plan on Marine Plastic Debris to reduce 70% of its plastic debris by the end of 2025. It will invest EUR0.85 billion to develop a national programme for management of waste from landbased sources over the next four years, and incorporate the issue of Marine Plastic Debris in its national education programme. The third in the roster of global marine polluters, the Philippines, is adopting the Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Management Program (CMEMP) using an Integrated Coastal Management approach. These measures are aimed to reduce spot pollution sources by 50%, compared to 2017, and increase by 20% the number of households adopting eco-waste management by 2028. Meanwhile, Thailand is laying the groundwork for a Pollution Management Plan (2017-2021) and adopting the National Master Plan on Waste Management (2016-2021) as well as the National "3R" (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) strategy and a Plastic Debris Management Plan to reduce plastic waste by 2021. The first campaign targets eliminating the use of drinking water bottle cap seals, which is expected to trim 520 tonnes/year of plastic waste/year. P&G has developed Bangladesh has enforced a the Fairy Ocean ban of plastic bags, with a total bottle, in partnership elimination by 2025 and a reduction with recycling expert TerraCycle. To be by 60% by 2019. J a p a n i s i n v e s t i n g i n t o launched in the UK sustainability programmes that by 2018, 320,000 Fairy bottles will be focus on marine debris, ocean produced, made from acidification, sustainable fisheries 10% ocean plastic and a n d a s s i s t a n c e t o m a r i t i m e 90% post-consumer countries. Neighbouring country recycled (PCR) plastic

Materials News South Korea is investing EUR28 million/year for managing the marine environment around its coastline, which includes monitoring the inflow of pollutants into the sea and research on marine litter and collection of marine waste. Materials companies take an interest Different companies and brands have also manifested their commitment to control marine litter. Austrian PE/PP producer Borealis has invested EUR15 million to advance mechanical recycling of polyolefins with its acquisition of Germany-based recycling company mtm plastics. It will invest a further EUR4 million to accelerate waste management improvements in Southeast Asia, to kick off in 2018-2019. Borealis has also committed to zero pellet loss from its operations by investing in “best available technology”.

Soft drink giant Coca Cola produces more than 100 billion bottles/ year and in its 2020 packaging agenda, aims to produce more than 35 billion PlantBottles, a fully recyclable PET bottle made partially from plants

US-headquartered DowDupont will invest EUR128,100 for three new marine litter research projects. Two projects, in Japan and Indonesia, will set up systems to measure the flow of trash into the ocean, and will then propose solutions. The third project will test the use of non-recycled plastic on roadways in Indonesia, to help create a new enduse market for collected low-value materials that might otherwise end up in landfills, said the company.

French beverage companies are earmarking EUR15 million by 2019 to implement the Chaque Bouteille Compte initiative to up recycling rate of PET bottles

Brands taking a stand: US$150 million for Southeast Asia At the Malta conference in October, major brands, nonprofit organisations and industry groups pledged to raise US$150 million to boost the collection and recycling of plastics in Southeast Asia. Supporting the effort will be Ocean Conservancy and its partners, including the Trash Free Seas Alliance, Closed Loop Partners, PepsiCo, 3M, Procter & Gamble, the American Chemistry Council, and the World Plastics Council.

PepsiCo reportedly produces 765,000 tonnes of bottles/year and is credited in rolling out in 2012 what is said to be the world’s first 100% plant-based, fully recyclable PET bottle

The new funding mechanism will be operated by Closed Loop Partners, an investment firm that invests in technology and recycling facilities to turn waste into value and advance the circular economy. It will catalyse new investments from the private sector, governments, and development finance institutions; demonstrate eco-system solutions; and build a pipeline of bankable waste management projects to demonstrate investment viability and maximise recycling profitability. Meanwhile, in France, some 50,000 FMCG companies/ retailers of packaged products are contributing to the national target of recycling 75% of household packaging, adding on additional capital of EUR113 million from 20162017 and a further EUR150 million from 2018-2022 in view of boosting selective waste collection. Along the same vein, France-based beverage companies are earmarking EUR15 million by 2019 to implement the "Chaque Bouteille Compte (Each bottle counts) programme". It will improve the recycling rate of PET bottles, starting with two pilot projects in Paris and Marseille. The outpouring of investments and initiatives show a snowballing support to end the marine litter menace. Yet, at the end of the day, what is fundamental to the solution is tackling the problem at source through efficient waste management. It is hoped that Asian countries will take the necessary action to do so. NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017














New Venue • New Breakthroughs • New Experience CHINAPLAS 2018 moves to Shanghai’s new National Exhibition and Convention Centre


HINAPLAS 2018 will be held for the first time at the National Exhibition and Convention Centre (NECC) in Hongqiao, Shanghai, China, next April 24-27. The exhibition area is expected to exceed 320,000 sq m – 30% more exhibition space than that of the 2016 edition of the show in Shanghai. CHINAPLAS will bring together 4,000 exhibitors from around the world, who will be allocated over a series of meticulously well-organised theme zones. The plastics and rubber industries can anticipate an international, professional and distinctly high-tech platform at CHINAPLAS next April. A New Leap – To Expand & Reorganise the Show Floor Since China has implemented reforms and a more open policy, its economic and technological sectors have developed and changed rapidly. The country’s plastics and rubber industries, which are fundamental sectors, are growing significantly. New materials and processing technologies continue to emerge, and propel the expansion of upstream and downstream industries. Exhibitors and visitors alike have been demanding more and better exhibition services at CHINAPLAS, the leading plastics and rubber trade fair. This has driven Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd., the show’s organiser, to continuously expand the event’s scale and upgrade its quality. “From 2012 onwards, CHINAPLAS has faced the problem of space shortage,” according to Adsale’s General Manager, Ada Leung. “Previously, when we held the show at the Shanghai New International Expo Center in Pudong, we had used up all the indoor exhibition halls. We even

built outdoor temporary exhibition halls, but still couldn’t meet the huge demand from our exhibitors. By moving to the new venue, NECC, Adsale can fulfill the strong demand for exhibition space immediately. This relocation to the new venue is also good for the long-term development of CHINAPLAS,” Ms. Leung continued. The shape of the NECC is like a blooming “four-leaf clover". With a total construction area of ​​1.47 million sq m, it is the largest single block building and exhibition complex in the world. There are 400,000 sq m of indoor area, which consists of 13 large exhibition halls and three small exhibition halls. There are conference rooms with different specifications and settings among the halls. The central area is a commercial plaza providing abundant catering services. "CHINAPLAS 2018 will not only accommodate more exhibitors, but will also have better management in the set-up of theme zones, country/region pavilions, and concurrent events. We believe that visitors will have a new, high-quality visiting experience,” Leung said. A New Challenge – Massive Relocation Project Relocating an exhibition is similar to “moving house” – but on a whole other scale. The massive CHINAPLAS 2018 relocation project is equivalent to moving 4,000 houses to a new place at the same time. This is not a minor issue for any show, but is a particular challenge for the huge, technology-oriented CHINAPLAS. As organiser, Adsale is carefully considering the overall layout, the arrangement of on-site services, the contracting of various, third-party service providers, etc. “We’re lucky to have a very experienced team,” said Leung. “Starting in 1978, Adsale has organised trade shows and become a leader in the trade show industry. We hold about 20 trade shows each year.” Some two years ago, Adsale formed a special team to prepare for this relocation project. This team has done a lot of site visits, and conducted extensive assessments and analyses. The CHINAPLAS team is in full swing, preparing for the huge transition. New Theme Zones – Enhancing Visitor Convenience To bring visitors a good and convenient experience, the show organiser is rearranging the overall theme zone layout. Extrusion-related technology will be in the eastern part of the NECC, injection moulding technology will be in



Advertorial the west, and blow moulding technology will occupy the southern part of the complex. Adsale is also arranging exhibits of the same category in nearby locations, for example, “film technology and plastic packaging machinery” and “injection moulding technology and smart manufacturing equipment” etc. And different European pavilions, which were scattered among different halls in the past, will be gathered in Hall 2H at CHINAPLAS 2018. 3D Technology Zone In response to rising market demands, CHINAPLAS 2018 will also introduce a “3D Technology Zone” and a “Thermoplastic Elastomers & Rubber Zone”. To cater for the demands of customization and small-batch production, with the aim of shortening development cycle time and reducing costs arising from Industry 4.0, CHINAPLAS will set up a “3D Technology Zone” to group together the vendors and providers of 3D printing (additive manufacturing) technologies. The new theme zone and the concurrent event “The 3rd Industry 4.0 Conference” will complement each other, providing a comprehensive experience for the enterprises interested in 3D printing technology and “smart manufacturing”. Exhibitors that have reserved their exhibit space include Autodesk, Ureal, Cang Ming, dMac, ZWSOFT, and more. Thermoplastic Elastomers & Rubber Zone In recent years, the market is accelerating for energysaving, environmentally friendly and lightweight thermoplastic elastomers. They are widely used in the automotive, electronics and electrical, medical and footwear industries. The coming edition of CHINAPLAS is introducing the "Thermoplastic Elastomers & Rubber Zone" to the “Chemicals & Raw Materials Zone”, and is expected to attract about 70 suppliers to showcase the latest development in this field. Exhibitors that have reserved their space include Huntsman, Momentive, SIBUR, Top Polymer, Dawn, Huafon, and so on. A New Experience – NECC in a Prime Location NECC enjoys a unique geographical advantage. Located in the west of the core business district of Hongqiao, the linear distance from NECC to the Hongqiao traffic hub is only 1.5 km. It is closely linked with the Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station. Flights take only two to three hours to reach major cities in the Asia-Pacific region, while it takes one hour by rail to arrive to the Yangtze River Delta Urban Agglomerations and it takes just 30 minutes by subway to the Shanghai business districts. NECC opened its doors in 2015, and has been in full operation since 2016. Supporting facilities have also been gradually improving in the area near the fairgrounds. In terms of public transport, Metro Line 2 directly links to the NECC; Metro Line 17, which is connected to the northwest corner of NECC, is expected to be operating by year’s end. Many restaurants will operate in the “four-leaf clover” to provide a wide range of food and beverage options. Some hotels near NECC are already open, and several more hotels along the Metro Line 17 will be open soon.

A New Vision – Strong Demand for Exhibit Space The global economy is gradually recovering, and the plastics and rubber industries are growing strongly. This positive trend has been clearly visible since the beginning of 2017, with a record-breaking number of visitors attending CHINAPLAS 2017 and strong business being generated during that show. Many exhibitors said the orders they received during CHINAPLAS 2017 in Guangzhou enabled them to meet their entire year’s business target. Exhibitors also said that many visitors came with a clear purchasing plan, and those visitors were particularly interested in new technologies and total solutions.

So far, Adsale has received more than 4,000 exhibitor applications for the coming show. Compared to previous years, exhibitors are more enthusiastic. They are quicker to confirm their booking, and many intended to expand their booth area. Furthermore, visitors can expect more from the country/region pavilions, as there will be greater numbers of high-tech, innovative materials, equipment, and even entire production lines. All these indicators reflect that exhibitors are strongly confident about the relocation of CHINAPLAS to the NECC. “Our team has always upheld the spirit of continuous innovation, which is very important for the plastics and rubber industries,” said Leung. “We believe that our exhibitors and their advanced technologies, combined with the show’s concurrent events and on-site services etc., will bring an extraordinary new experience to visitors. We urge you not to miss the show next year.” About CHINAPLAS 2018 CHINAPLAS 2018 will be relocated to National Exhibition and Convention Centre (NECC) in Hongqiao, Shanghai, PR China, and run from April 24-27, 2018. To further enhance the exhibition’s service level and quality, attendees will be charged RMB50 for a one-day pass and RMB80 for a fourday pass. Visitors can enjoy admission discount through online pre-registration from now till April 18, 2018, at an early-bird rate of RMB50 for a four-day pass. To pre-register now, please visit www.ChinaplasOnline. com/prereg. For more information about CHINAPLAS 2018, please visit NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017


Sporting Industry

Sports sector in the running for plastics Ease, comfort, safety and performance are a few of the criteria that are changing how materials used in sporting goods are being developed, says Angelica Buan.

Evonik's Vestamid CW1401 is used for the UPZ brand ski and snowboard boots



growing participation in sports activities is giving the sports goods market a leg up. By 2020, the sports goods market is expected to reach the multi-billion dollar mark. The global sports apparel market, according to data by Allied Market Research, is projected to reach US$184.6; while the global sports equipment market is expected to be valued at US$8.18 billion during the forecast period, citing Persistence Market Research’s assessment of the market. Sports activities demand optimum performance whether from serious or leisure athletes. Thus, gears and attires must match the users’ need for speed, comfort and unbridled movement. As well, sports equipment is required to be durable yet light weight. In this regard, innovating materials is high up in the agenda of manufacturers to develop sports products that deliver performance – from shoes, caps, tops and pants to goggles, gloves, and protective equipment such as helmets, and knee and elbows pads, to prevent injuries. Industry aims for innovation Major industry players are always darting for new technologies and adapting their products to global industry trends. German speciality chemicals company Evonik, which has been supplying its Smart Materials concepts to the sporting industry for 30 years now, has developed a new plastic for demanding applications in professional sports. Its Vestamid CW1401 is an impact modified polyamide 12 (PA 12), which combines elasticity and stability at temperatures as low as -40°C. The new PA12 moulding compound boasts low-temperature impact strength, which at 101 kJ/m² is twice as strong as other materials. This means that it can be used in applications where extreme pressure is applied and where stable properties are required from the materials at low temperatures. This combination makes Vestamid CW1401 suited for the new ski and snowboard boots of the Austrian professional brand UPZ. The boot parts that are subject to the greatest pressure are manufactured from Evonik’s latest nylon using an injection-moulding process. The firm says the boots ensure optimal power transfer during a race, while allowing the greatest possible flexibility and maximum comfort. Meanwhile, US-based Lubrizol Corporation's Engineered Polymers business is offering its latest non-yellowing thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) materials for improved durability of sports gears. The new TPU, which was among the company’s showcased technologies at the recently held Fakuma exhibition in Germany, is an addition to Lubrizol’s aliphatic TPU technology portfolio. It is said to provide improved weatherability and UV resistance, compared to other elastomeric materials. The aliphatic range includes the Pearlthane aliphatic TPU materials, which are said to offer added value performance including haptics for demanding moulded applications in sports and recreation, consumer and industrial markets, while colour-stable Pearlcoat Activa D198K TPU, a soft low-gloss material, can be applied in white and light-coloured parts as a thermoformed and co-extruded solution. The latest development, Pearlbond 960 EXP, is said to add a combination of features including softness (69 shore A), durability (UV stable and resistant to fungi and microorganisms) and bonding strength to various substrates. It is also suitable for bonding delicate fabrics such as silk, linen and cotton.


Sporting Industry New materials step up to sneakers The development of aesthetics and quality of today’s athletic footwear has led to a market gain expected to reach U$114.8 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 2.1% from 2016 to 2022, according to a global industry analysis of Allied Market Research. Top brands such as Nike and Adidas are at the helm of upgrading their products based on consumer trends. US global brand consultancy Interbrand’s Best Global Brands 2017 report named Nike and Adidas as the leading footwear brands that hold a majority share of market, forecast to be worth US$84 billion by 2018.

Nike's Flyweather has a durable but light “super” material that is made with at least 50% recycled natural leather fibre

Adidas has made waves in sustainable sports shoes, especially with its collaboration with Parley for the Oceans to produce the UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley footwear, and its other innovative concept shoes like the biosteel fibre-based Futurecraft Biofabric.

Adidas's EQT Support ADV will be using upcycled plastic fibres sourced by Parley Ocean Plastic

Adidas’s latest offering includes EQT Support ADV, a remake of the 1990s EQT runner. Only this time, the EQT Support ADV will be using upcycled plastic fibres sourced by Parley Ocean Plastic. The shoes, released in mid-October, feature a Parley knitted upper with decorative “wave” stitching, The moulded heel counter is also made from recycled plastic, and features an EVA mid-sole and recycled rubber outsole. Another major brand Nike has innovated with Flyweather a durable but light “super” material that is made with at least 50% recycled natural leather fibre and water power. The Flyweather sneakers are expected to contribute to the company’s target of curbing its carbon footprint while at the same time reduce the amount of waste cow hide leather headed for landfills. Nike collects the discarded leather scrap from tanneries and turns them into fibres. The recycled leather fibres are then combined with synthetic fibres and a fabric infrastructure via a hydro process, and afterwards

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Sporting Industry undergo the finishing process. In a nutshell, Nike enumerates the benefits of using recycled leather fibres, such as using 90% less water with an 80% lower carbon footprint than traditional leather manufacturing. Because Nike Flyleather is produced on a roll, it improves cutting efficiency and creates less waste than traditional cut-andsew methods for full-grain leather. Meanwhile, a strong brand contender in the market, American running shoes and performance wear company Brooks Running, has rolled out its new Levitate shoe with DNA AMP mid-sole technology. It releases energy straight back to the runner, thus, “making the experience so fun they might feel like running forever,” according to Carson Caprara, Director of Global Product Line Management of Brooks Running. Brooks Running's DNA AMP mid-sole is made with a PU-based cushioning system from BASF's Elastopan Sports Light material

The company’s DNA AMP mid-sole, created in partnership with German chemicals group BASF, comprises a new polyurethane (PU)-based cushioning system made from a new blend of Elastopan Sports Light material from BASF. By refining the formula and making modifications to PU on a molecular level, the mid-sole offers enhanced comfort and durability and provides runners with the most energy return of leading performance running shoes, say the partners. To deliver an amplified experience, Brooks encased the foam in a TPU skin that resists horizontal expansion to deliver energy directly back to the runner. The result is an engineered compound that provides not only energy return but also an eye-catching chrome-like finish. Furthermore, the Brooks Levitate features an integrated Fit Knit, which utilises a circular knit process to create an engineered upper that provides breathability and structure. A flexible, arrow-point pattern on the outsole of the shoe helps runners move quickly from heel to toe, without losing energy. Outfits spun in smart fabrics Sensor-enabled clothing has made today’s sportswear more high-tech. Smart fabrics or smart textiles, which have embedded electronics and digital components, are being made into a variety of garments suitable for a range of applications, including sports and fitness, as well as medical and healthcare, transportation, defence and more. The smart garments can perform tasks like real-time data monitoring, to cite but a few.



In July, DuPont Advanced Materials (DuPont) launched its new generation of stretchable electronic inks and films for smart clothing. The DuPont Intexar smart clothing technology transforms ordinary fabrics into active, connected, intelligent garments that provide critical biometric data including heart rate, breathing rate, form awareness, and muscle tension. Intexar is also said to offer superior stretch and comfort and is easily integrated into garments to make smart clothing. Athletes can benefit from smart clothing, which not only looks good and can make wearers feel good, but can also help boost performance, Michael Burrows, Global Business Manager of DuPont Advanced Materials commented, in relation to Intexar as a game-changing technology in smart garments. “Available as a suite of premium and highperforming stretchable electronic inks and flexible substrates, Intexar is seamlessly embedded directly onto fabric using standard apparel Dupont's Intexar is easily manufacturing processes integrated into garments to to create thin, form-fitting make smart clothing circuits. Garments powered by Intexar can endure over 100 washes, and continue to perform through repeated stretching and demanding performance, “ Burrows said. Likewise, Italian chemical producer RadiciGroup has unveiled a smart (and eco-friendly) fabric solution. Radici’s polyester yarn is no ordinary yarn because it is made from recycled PET, thus adding sustainability value to athletic wear. Known as r-Radyarn, it is said to render lightness, comfort and sun protection (UPF+50).

Radici’s r-Radyarn, made from recycled PET, is suited for latest-generation warp-knitted fabrics, such as the uniforms worn by Giro d’Italia cyclists this year

Sporting Industry The polyester yarn is suited for latest-generation warp-knitted fabrics used to make technical, functional garments for a wide range of sports, including cycling, skiing, running, triathlon and swimming, as well as outdoor activities, in general. Technology takes a shot at safety gears Sports protective equipment designed to prevent injuries is also securing a strong spot in the sports goods market, and poised to gain a CAGR of 3.7% from 2017-2025, according to a report from Indiaheadquartered research firm Factor & Equilibrium. In 2016, pads, guards, chest protectors and gloves held the largest share in the market, cornering more than 30% of the sports protective equipment market, the report said. “Promoting and guaranteeing safety in dynamic sports“, is a motto that is the basis of Italy-headquartered manufacturer of protective wear for dynamic sports Dainese. Its founder, Lino Dainese, is a motorcycle enthusiast so it is not surprising that his company specialises in clothing, sportswear and protective gear for biking as well as equestrian and winter sports. Dainese’s D-air is a protection technology platform that uses an intelligent system to detect danger situations and inflate special airbags developed for motorcyclists. The smart system features the 3D Airbag with a microfilament construction that ensures uniform inflation for maximum protection. It also features the D-Air control unit that monitors the sensor signals 1,000 times/second using a sophisticated triggering algorithm that analyses and combines the data from the sensors, to decide when to inflate the airbag. Encouraged by the potential of D-Air technology, D-Air Lab, a startup formed by Dainese’s founder; and Enel, an Italian multinational manufacturer and distributor of electricity and gas, have recently developed an airbag for workplace safety. The safety jacket, currently being tested at Enel power plants, will allow for the protection of workers in case of a fall or impact when working at a height. The protective jacket, which is based on Dainese’s D-air technology, was designed and will be developed in collaboration with experts at Bologna’s Università Alma Mater and Policlinico of Sant’Orsola. “The first prototype is currently in the testing phase at company power plants, where its ergonomics and functionality can be verified in real-life situations. Once finalised, the jacket will find application not only in the utilities sectors, but also in many other industrial fields,” according to D-Air Lab. The Safety Jacket is composed of two elements, namely the electronic part, which recognises fall conditions and sends an activation signal; and the pneumatic part, which protects the worker against impact by inflating special airbags around the body. The two components derive from the D-air architecture that was specifically designed for sports competitions. The electronic system is equipped with three accelerometers and three gyroscopes, which send a continuous stream of data to be analysed by the device’s electronics through a sophisticated algorithm. The system is able to identify fall conditions and activate inflation in a matter of milliseconds, significantly reducing the probability of physical injury following impact. The design of the safety jacket has been optimised to ensure maximum protection of the body parts exposed to trauma in the case of a fall from a height of up to 2 m or more, whether or the use of harness is required, D-Air Lab furthered. The sporting circuit is as challenging as its demand for high performing sportswear and sports equipment; and satisfying this demand with innovative materials is the industry’s winning formula.


Composites are taking off in the aerospace industry Opportunities to build safer,more fueleconomical, and more cost-efficient aircraft structures and parts are on the horizon with composites, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Stratolaunch is the largest all-composite aircraft by wingspan




he aerospace industry has witnessed an increasing use of composites in aircraft structures, including wings, fuselage, aircraft interiors, and other parts that are required to withstand survive extreme operating conditions such as high stress, shocks, and impact loads, according to a market report by Markets and Markets. The report indicates that the aerospace industry sustains the continuing growth for advanced composites and is expected to hit US$38.41 billion by 2022. The requirement for high strength, low weight and corrosionresistant materials for use in the manufacture of new generation aircraft, such as Airbus A350 XWB and A320neo, and the Boeing 787 and 737 MAX, is instrument to the growing demand for advance composites. Composites can reduce weight of aircraft between 20 to 50%. However, what could hamper the growth of the market is the high processing and manufacturing costs of advanced composites, as well as the lack of standardisation in advanced composite manufacturing technologies, the report disclosed. To date, the largest all-composite aircraft by wingspan, measuring 385 ft, is the Stratolaunch. Utilising six Boeing 747 engines for a payload capacity of over 227 tonnes and an operational range of approximately 2,000 nautical miles, Stratolaunch is capable of delivering payloads to multiple orbits and inclinations in a single mission. In May this year, Stratolaunch conducted its first fuelling test; and in mid-September, it completed the first phase of engine testing. Stratolaunch is slated for its first launch demonstration as early as 2019. Pushing the envelope with carbon fibre Aluminium has been the primary material used in aircraft construction, taking up nearly 80% of the total weight of modern aircraft. The advent of advanced composites in aircraft, debuting in US fighter planes in the 1940s, ushered in the use of light weight yet robust materials such as carbon fibre. The man-made composite materials, carbon fibre-reinforced (CFR) composites and glass fibre-reinforced plastic (GFRP), which typically consist of strong fibres in a tough resin matrix, offer the benefits of high strength, stiffness, toughness and low density.

Composites Carbon fibres are almost five times stronger, yet three times lighter, and twice as stiff as steel, but have better yield strength, according to Frost & Sullivan. Adoption of carbon fibre in the aerospace industry leads to lightweighting and fuel efficiency. However, high costs of producing carbon fibre, as well as time and energy-intensive phases of the manufacturing process are discouraging mass adoption. At any rate, aerospace specialists are on a materials development spree to latch onto the efficiency of carbon fibre. Connecticut, US-headquartered Hexcel Corporation has launched a EUR8.35 million R&D project called Multi Axial Infused Materials (MAXIM), and is expanding its manufacturing facility in Leicester, UK, with a state-of-the art machine for carbon non-crimp fabrics development as well as laboratory equipment for research into this technology. The four-year project, backed by the UK Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) and match-funded by the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, will enable Hexcel to develop new carbon fibre fabrics for aircraft parts. Hexcel manufactures structural materials including carbon fibres,

Hexcel's MAXIM project enables development of new carbon fibre fabrics for aircraft parts

speciality reinforcements, prepregs and other fibrereinforced matrix materials, honeycomb, adhesives, engineered core and composite structures for use in commercial aerospace, space and defence and industrial applications. Commenting on MAXIM, UK’s Business Minister, Richard Harrington, said that it will enable composite structures such as aircraft wings and car bodies to be manufactured faster, greener and more cost-effectively.

Composites “Composite structures are around 25-30% lighter than metal equivalents, delivering positive environmental benefits. For example, by making aircraft lighter, less fuel will be used and fewer CO2 emissions will be produced,” according to Hexcel. The company, which will be working closely with Bristol-headquartered National Composites Centre, also explained the intricacy of making large aerospace composite parts. “Most large aerospace composite parts are made from prepregs where the carbon fibres and resins have already been combined. Converting this material into solid parts requires huge pressurised ovens, known as autoclaves. The MAXIM project will explore the manufacture of new carbon fibre fabric forms and resins that can be made into parts without using autoclaves.” The aim is to enable complex metal structures, such as aircraft wings, to be manufactured from composites more cost effectively and at faster production rates, plus it will also develop composite parts for passenger cars, added Thierry Merlot, Hexcel’s President – Aerospace, Europe/MEA/Asia Pacific. Segueing to a relevant development, cited in an aerospace composites market report by Global Market Insights (GMI), an emerging trend is seen in the segment of fibre recycling, which may be worth exploring. The significant potential demand of reclaimed fibres, especially that of carbon fibre, can be attributed to the high value, recovered high strength, and high modulus aerospace grade fibres that retain better properties, says GMI’s report, which pegs a US$5 billion aerospace composites market by 2024. Demand up for thermoplastic composites Thermoplastic composites are replacing metal to meet the demand for energy savings, recyclability, and costefficiency. It is predicted that the industry, spooled up by the advantages offered by thermoplastics, will be increasing its use by manifold through the coming years. Among the recent innovations in thermoplastic composites is a collaboration between Tods Aerospace and Technical Fibre Products (TFP), a UK-based high performance nonwoven materials manufacturer. The collaboration has yielded a solution for the dissipation of electrostatic charge in composite structures, specifically to overcome the limitations of current state-of-the-art products available in the market, and is tailored for composite applications in commercial and military aircraft fuel systems. Tods Aerospace, a Unitech Aerospace Company, says it is at the forefront of the UK supply-chain for thermoplastic composite aerostructures and interiors. Sean Cooper, Materials and Manufacturing Development Manager for Tods Aerospace, explained that electrostatic dissipation is a requirement for nearly all glass-based composite materials used in fuel systems for modern composite-wing aircraft.



Tods Aerospace and TFP collaborated on a non-woven material for electrostatic dissipation in commercial and military aircraft fuel systems

“Low-level electrical conductivity is required to prevent a build-up of static charge in the structure and prevent the propagation of electrical effects through the fuel system during an external lightning strike. This process of electrostatic management is an absolute necessity to ensure the safe operation of the aircraft.” The newly developed material is compatible with aerospace qualified composite prepreg and provides high levels of sheet resistance (~0.1 to 5 MΩ/Square) on a normally insulating glass fibre based composite structure. The material is porous so it can be fully wetted by a prepreg resin system and is flexible so it can be incorporated either into the composite surface or placed inter-ply throughout the thickness of a complex composite layup. Tods Aerospace said that it is undertaking further development to design and manufacture specific composite fuel system components and assemblies that incorporate this new and innovative technology. In yet another thermoplastic composite exploit, Belgium-based EconCore’s thermoplastic honeycomb technology is expected to create a buzz. EconCore, the honeycomb sandwich panels and parts manufacturer, is extending its latest technology to develop next- generation solutions for aircraft interior modules. Working with Germany-based Diehl Aircabin, a division of Diehl Aerosystems that specialises in cabin modules, crew rest compartments and air ducting, for a European Commission-funded project called InCom, EconCore’s thermoplastic honeycomb technology enables a new cost-effective process for creating modules by thermoforming and functionalising mono-material sandwich panels in a single step. Both EconCore and Diehl Aircabin belong to the InCom project consortium that consists of leading European institutes and universities in biocomposites and processing technology and sol-gel development, together with a range of industrial participants from seven European countries. The aim of the project is


A prototype of an aircraft stowage unit was produced using EconCore’s thermoplastic honeycomb technology

to develop economical viable production methods for lightweight structures based on sustainable materials for lightweight structural applications used in packaging, land vehicles and aerospace. The partners have produced a prototype of an aircraft stowage unit, which was showcased during the a composites exhibition held recently in September in Stuttgart, Germany. The project highlights EconCore’s honeycomb production technology with a special grade of polycarbonate that has fire-smoke-toxicity performance. Test reports confirm the fire resistant behaviour of the final sandwich structures, which are said to cost significantly less than aramid and other conventional honeycomb solutions. Commenting on the collaboration with Diehl Aircabin , Tomasz Czarnecki, COO of EconCore, says he anticipates further development of mono-material thermoplastic honeycomb sandwich panels that could be efficiently one-shot thermoformed and functionalised into final aircraft interior modules. Super material graphene making waves in the air Modern aircraft are aiming for ideal lighter, faster, and fuel-efficient flights. Achieving these with graphene increases adoption of 2D material in manufacturing aircraft components. The so-called super material (also called a wonder material), graphene has a single atom thickness, yet is more than hundred times stronger than steel, and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. The first aircraft wing built with graphene-enhanced carbon fibre was test flown in July last year. Prospero, the 3 m-wide unmanned airplane, is pioneering research collaboration between the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute. Evidently, graphene composites are starting a trend in the aerospace field. Sizing up its market potentials, research company GMI forecasts that the number of large commercial aircraft is expected to reach over 1,680 units, and be valued at US$200 million in 2024, from 1,430 units in 2016.

Meanwhile, a new project has been launched to research the viability of graphene-based composite materials. The “smart composites” collaborative project of Swinburne University and Imagine Intelligent Materials (Imagine IM), an Australian developer of graphene-based applications for industrial textiles and fibres, will develop graphene-reinforced smart composites. These will be able to provide real-time information on the condition of large structures, enabling productivity gains by communicating requirements for service on an as needed basis in the transport sector and leading to significant commercial potential. The project partners reason that graphene can ensure integrity of large composite structures that can degrade over time, affecting equipment performance and safety without being easily detectable.

Imagine IM will develop graphene-reinforced smart composites for aerospace applications

“The impact of graphene-enabled smart parts will be profound in the automotive and aerospace industries where composite wear and tear can be monitored on a continuing basis and servicing response can take place as a result of real time monitoring,” say the partners. The US$20,000 grant-supported project will develop graphene ink coatings for glass fibres embedded in an epoxy matrix. The graphene composites used are highly conductive and sensitive to strain. “Lightweight construction and function integration are the current major trends in the global mass transport sector, and this can be optimally realised through the clever design of fibre-reinforced composite materials,” according to research leader, Dr Nishar Hameed, noting that the integration of graphene is an efficient and viable way to achieve functionalities in composites to record and report the state of the component in service. The project is expected to provide insights into the opportunities graphene composites will offer aerospace industries, as well as other industries that can use the “wonder” material’s performance. NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017


Pharmaceutical Industry

Keeping pills protected After the food and beverage industry, which has been a primary demand driver for plastic packaging, the pharmaceutical industry contributes to the growth of the packaging sector as well.


harmaceutical packaging calls for excellent protection against contamination, damage, and assurance of longer shelf-life for products. Given plastics’ high adaptability and costeffectiveness, this segment holds the highest share in pharmaceutical packaging. Blister packs, an end market for pharmaceutical packaging, are widely used for the convenience in dispensing drugs especially those in tablets, capsules and other unit-dose formulations, thus ensuring patient compliance, which is a vital reason why blister packaging technology has been introduced and is increasing in adoption. Coherent Marketing Insights in its market report covering 2017-2025 cited that blister packaging has the key advantages of enabling product safety, however, it is non-biodegradable and non-recyclable, which means that it raises environmental concerns regarding its large scale use. Nevertheless, blister packaging is comparably cost-effective, tamperproof and durable; and has improved shelf life, and lower risk of contamination. A hard material that protects from mechanical damage, blister packaging is versatile and can be designed to suit specific needs, such as child-proof seals, individual pouches and calendar packs. Fabricating via cold forming and thermoforming Blister packs contain cavities or bubble-like pockets made from a formable film, usually a thermoformed plastic or cold formed aluminium film. Both segments have advantages and a few disadvantages. Thermoformed packaging is versatile, lightweight and visually attractive, while cold formed packaging has more tensile strength and stiffness. Further, cold formed blister packaging offers longer shelf life of products and optimal barrier protection against light, moisture, oxygen and other gasses, and delamination, which, according to a report by Transparency Markets Research (TMR), factor largely in the market’s growth. It adds too that cold form’s slower speed of production and owing to the larger size of blister packs, when compared to thermoforming, as well as the lower transparency of the packaging may slowdown the adoption rate of the cold form blister packaging products in the near future. Nonetheless, emerging technologies are creating positive shifts in this segment, and thereby increasing utilisation rate. Thus, the cold form blisters market is expected to reach US$8.63 billion by 2024, driven by growing disposable income, improved medical facilities and governmentinitiated healthcare programmes, according to a 2016 report by Grand View Research.

Latest solutions with improvements Germany-based Klöckner Pentaplast will introduce LiquiGuard, the latest inventive addition to the Pentapharm line of pharmaceutical blister films, at the upcoming ASEAN Pharma Packaging Conference 2017 in November. With this solution, hot and cold-fill liquids and semi-solids can be formed and packaged directly in a crystal-clear, thermostable laminate film that protects sensitive products from package leaching and moisture gain or loss, says the firm. It also provides an advanced option for unit dose packaging of liquid or semisolid medications that require resistance to extreme temperatures from hot (120°C filling) to cold (-183°C and lyophilised) during processing. Rollprint Packaging Products’s Autobahn Tear-Open Flow Wrap film is promoted as an extremely fast sealing, easier opening version of aluminium foil flow-wrap films already in the marketplace. Rollprint achieved this using a proprietary process that "harmonises the barrier and sealant layers" for maximum performance. The material is said to permit line speeds approaching 400 packages/minute while maintaining seal integrity and easy opening. Rollprint’s objective for this product in 2018 is to partner with Autobahn material is a customers wanting to push the speed barriers in flow wrapping new generation of flow wrap to the maximum. This technology is designed for a variety of packaging purported to be an commercial applications including packaging blow-fill-seal vials, ultra-fast sealing version with the diagnostics devices, IV overwrap and surgical devices. added benefit of being easier to open



Pharmaceutical Industry Meanwhile, Clariant Masterbatches has a new amide/ amine-free anti-static masterbatch concentrate, Mevopur Peam 176045, for PE films used in pharmaceutical applications. The new anti-stat is timely due to coming regulatory changes, specifically the need to comply with the new USP<665> regulation by 2020. The rule will limit the acceptability of many of the currently used films that rely on “food-grade” amide and amine-based antistats. At that time, USP<665> will require plastics used in pharmaceutical manufacturing, including anti-static films, to comply with the same standards as plastics packaging used for finished pharmaceuticals. Polymers as alternatives to metals Biopharmaceutical manufacturers are increasingly drawn to the greater flexibility and faster time to market made possible through single-use technologies and systems. But the shift toward single-use systems requires higher performing polymers that offer viable alternatives to traditional re-usable metal parts. With this in mind, Belgian chemicals maker Solvay has unveiled a broad portfolio of medical-grade speciality polymers for single-use biopharmaceutical manufacturing applications. Encompassing select grades from five of its most recognised product families, Solvay says its portfolio aims to support the industry’s shift toward single-use peripherals, filtration, bioreactors and containment. In more practical terms, it will help biopharmaceutical manufacturers achieve flexibility, faster product development, reduced capital costs and increased speed to market, it says. Solvay’s Udel P-1700 PSU polymer enabled sensor firm PendoTECH to innovate biocompatible, transparent housings for a family of sensors targeting single-use biopharmaceutical applications, such as discrete, inline measurement of pressure, temperature, conductivity, ultraviolet absorbance and turbidity

The five product families from which Solvay assembled its new manufacturing portfolio include: Radel polyphenylsulphone (PPSU), Udel polysulphone (PSU), AvaSpire polyaryletherketone (PAEK), KetaSpire polyetheretherketone (PEEK) and Ixef polyarylamide (PARA). In qualifying materials for single-use applications, Solvay evaluated the effect of gamma irradiation up to 50 kGy on each polymer to ensure it would retain mechanical performance and other application-critical properties. All materials are certified under USP Class VI test standards – before and after gamma irradiation. Controlling moisture in packaging Swiss speciality chemicals firm Clariant has introduced new solutions for controlling moisture in pharmaceutical packaging and new anti-static masterbatches for

pharmaceutical films. The company has an expanded line of EQ-Pak packets, which join other solutions including EQ-CAN canisters, EQ-Stopper caps, and the EQ-Bag for bulk packages containing empty capsules, powders, or other moisture-sensitive product ingredients. Clariant also says that plastic containers, combined with desiccants, can actually provide a longer shelf life for many moisture-sensitive pharmaceuticals than cold-form, foil-foil blister packages. Clariant’s latest “While cold-form, products maintain foil-foil (aluminium) moisture equilibrium in blister packaging is pharmaceutical packaging considered the most moisture-protective packaging available, in fact, plastic containers such as bottles and tubes, when combined with desiccants, such as silica gel canisters and packets, will often provide lower internal relative humidity for long time periods,” says Valère Logel, Innovation Manager at Clariant. “Because the water activity of the desiccant is generally lower than that of the drug product, the desiccant will actually draw moisture away from the soliddosage form and preserve it even longer. This is a unique benefit of using desiccants that cannot be matched, even using impermeable foil-foil blisters,” he adds. Keeping drug counterfeiting at bay Even in a world that has become increasingly virtual and digital, safeguarding the physical integrity of some products has never been more important. The need to protect the safety of pharmaceutical products has risen in recent years, and Avery Dennison has developed a portfolio of materials designed to reduce packaging falsification and tampering in the pharmaceutical sector. “Drug counterfeiting is a major global problem. Patient safety is compromised by product manipulation and substitution, and manufacturers can experience damage to their brand image, sales, and revenue,” explained Gabriela Gregor, Avery Dennison’s Project Manager for pharmaceutical labelling. One key product range in the portfolio is the Tamperevident Seal Range, which, when combined with newly formulated adhesive S799P, makes tampering with cartons more difficult, and eases compliance with the EU Medicine Directive 2011/62/EU, which is designed to prevent “falsified medicines” from entering the legal Avery Dennison has developed prescription supply a portfolio of materials chain, and also applies designed to reduce packaging to some over-the-counter falsification and tampering in the pharmaceutical sector products. NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017


Country Focus

An era of digitalised and high-tech healthcare in Thailand Healthcare is a priority sector of Thailand, with 14% of its total budget allocated towards the industry, which accounts for 4.6% of Thailand’s GDP, considered to be the highest among ASEAN countries. Against this backdrop, Thailand is becoming a model for healthcare solutions with its technologydriven approach, says Angelica Buan in this report.



n 11 May, Thailand became the first country in Asia to perform a robot-assisted brain surgery on a 77-year old brain tumour patient. According to medical personnel at Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok, the robotic technology enabled them to complete the rather delicate procedure with less injury and risk of complications, and shorter downtime because incision is a lot smaller. The technology is costly, and quoted to cost around 40 million baht, while the procedure costs 100,000 baht more than regular brain surgery. Apart from Thailand, Vietnam also has the capability to perform such procedure using robotic technology, but it was Thailand that first clinched the claim to fame.

Thailand became the first country in Asia to perform a robot-assisted brain surgery on a brain tumour patient

Medical robots for rehabilitative care Medical robotics is just one facet of Thailand’s healthcare paradigm. In a latest undertaking, the Thailand Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (TCELS) and the Ministry of Science and Technology crafted an advanced medical robotics programme to upgrade the competitiveness of the country’s healthcare system and its global position as Asian leader in advanced medical technology. Medical technology is Thailand’s response to the widening access gap in healthcare across its demographics. Citing from the 2016 Technology Development Roadmap for Medical Robotics in Thailand, by building technological capabilities the country may be able to address challenges in healthcare accessibility among the Dr Natchanapong Vajiravongburi (centre) at the opening of the rural population and among patients MFT event, hosted by Gernot Ringling (3rd from right) of MDA debilitated with age-related illnesses. “Rehabilitative care and connected healthcare are fast growing sectors within the medical and healthcare industry,” according to Gernot Ringling, Managing Director of Messe Dusseldorf Asia (MDA), the organiser of Medical Fair Thailand, held in Bangkok this September. An ageing population and the growing connective technology adoption are growth drivers. Setting the pace for Thailand 4.0 Thailand’s advancement into a more connective and digitalised economy heralds shifts in areas like healthcare is part of the country’s ambitious plan – to model a “digital economy”. Following Europe’s Industrie 4.0, Thailand has come up with its own Thailand 4.0, a valuebased economic model driven by innovation, technology, and high-value trade and services. The implementation will be done in four phases, spanning 20 years. The piecemeal goal will integrate innovations such as digital and smart devices, robotics and mechatronics, connective and embedded technologies into services and across socio-economic activities. Thailand is prepped for digitalisation. It has the adequate information technology and communications (ICT) ecosystem, braced by international gateways through landlines, underwater cables and satellites. Data from the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC) and the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC), indicate that ICT adoption is increasing.


Country Focus “Technology and innovation iare crucial for sustained economic growth for the medical and healthcare sector,” said Dr Natchanapong Vajiravongburi, Inspector General, Ministry of Science and Technology, Thailand, speaking during the Medical Fair Thailand opening ceremony. He said that technology is “an enabler and facilitator of widespread change in the industry and the Internet of Things (IOT) allows digital healthcare to become an integrated part of our lives. Digital transformation is taking place globally. Digital technologies are disrupting existing products and services, while bringing about new possibilities and opportunities.” The country’s broadband subscribers in the latter quarter of 2014 reached more than 5 million, totalling nearly 27% broadband penetration/household. Mobile phone use reached 120% in the country in 2015, with Thai mobile subscription reaching 40 million. This number is likely to double and increase 160% by 2021, according to a 2016 ICT report by Swedish mobile devices maker, Ericsson. With mobile use comes the widening adoption of applications or apps. Aside from banking, shopping, and communication apps, healthcare apps are becoming a focus for regional apps adoption as well as development, the report found. Lifestyle diseases drive technology innovation At the heart of the digital economy are priority sectors that are Thailand’s growth drivers, including agriculture, tourism, trade and healthcare. The spotlight is increasingly on the latter, especially since the country is also pushing for the enforcement of a Universal Healthcare Coverage (USC) framework, which means that over 70% of Thailand’s 69 million population have access to free medical treatment. It is more than timely, as the country is beset with rising incidence of non-communicable diseases (NCD), aka lifestyle diseases, which includes cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer and chronic respiratory illnesses. NCDs, a leading cause of mobility-related disability worldwide, are preventable, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). It stated that “cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer and diabetes can lead to impairments related to amputations, blindness, mobility and speech. Such disabilities can reduce productivity, increase demand on the social and health systems and impoverish families”. The prevalence of NCDs is a downside to the rising affluence, urbanisation and ageing population. Much like in other emerging economies in Asia, Thailand also carries the burden of surging healthcare costs, shortage of medical and health workers, and rising demand for new medical technologies. The Swiss non-profit organisation, World Economic (WE) Forum said that almost 8 million people or 55% of all deaths every year in Southeast Asia are due to NCDs. It then recommends adoption of technology in healthcare to effectively manage and curb NCDs. The Jakarta-headquartered Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), also endorses “digitisation of health service” to help improve the quality of and access to care while reducing costs in emerging markets where NCDs are becoming rampant.

Medical devices, a market driver Dr Preecha Bhandtivej, President of the Thai Medical Device Technology Industry Association (THAIMED), remarked during the recently concluded medical fair that there are over 160 local manufacturers of medical devices in the country. He said that most of the devices produced are lower-end devices such as disposable test kits and syringes, as well as latex products including surgical gloves and catheters. Over 80% of domestic production is exported. On the other hand, there is also a wide variety of medical devices manufactured, and a substantial number of which are high-grade and sophisticated medical devices. These are imported to meet the rising demand in the global market, Bhandtivej said. Bhandtivej, providing a glimpse of the Thai medical sector, commented: “Within the Asia and Pacific region, the medical and supplies market could potentially reach US$43 billion within the next three years. This augurs well for the Thai industry. Despite escalating growth in both regional and domestic markets, Thailand is dependent on importing products, with approximately 87% of medical device equipment and accessories coming from other countries.” The 8th edition of Medical Fair Thailand held in Thailand garnered a record exhibitor participation of 830 companies from 66 countries

Nevertheless, it is no doubt that the current market demand is high, and this opens up vast opportunities for Thailand to latch on, Bhandtivej said. “The strong market demand offers broad opportunities for new investment in Thailand , as far as manufacturing of high-end medical devices is concerned; as well, it further strengthens Thailand’s position as a cost-effective production hub and a major player in the region,” he added. The 8th edition of Medical Fair Thailand, held at Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre from 6-8 September 2017, was the largest of its kind in the Southeast Asian region with a record-breaking exhibitor participation (830 companies from 66 countries) and international representation led by 18 national pavilions and country groups. As the country advances towards the remaining phases of its Digital Economy roadmap, it expects to cover healthcare demands more affordably and more efficiently. Specifically, technology adoption may be able to address the issue of healthcare access amid the persisting income inequality despite the country’s decline in poverty, from 67% in 1986 to 7.2% in 2015, according to World Bank’s economic report. Notwithstanding is the urban-rural divide, that has already reached equal proportions, according to a 2016 healthcare report by London-headquartered PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC); and which is a harbinger for widespread adoption of connective medical technology. NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2017


Injection Moulding Asia Machinery

Industry 4.0 takes production processes to a new level Industry 4.0 is one of the strongest growth

be accessed by anyone. “Transparency is very important to us at this point to gain a broad acceptance amongst the machine manufacturers and the software providers, as well as the users,” says Dr. Harald Weber who leads the technical Euromap working groups. All the large injection moulding machine manufacturers were involved in the development of the new interface in the European umbrella association Euromap. Besides Arburg, companies involved were Engel, Ferromatik Milacron, KraussMaffei, Netstal, Negri Bossi, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag and Wittmann Battenfeld. For MES manufacturers, Euromap 77 offers the big benefit that a machine that supports the standard can be connected via plug-and-play and deliver a reliable basic set of information with which the basic MES functions can be represented, according to Euromap. Euromap 77 is just the beginning. It is already being worked on a further interface – Euromap 79 to establish a secure connection between injection moulding machines and robots. The biggest challenge there is to make some signals available in real-time, so that it does not come to collisions between the machine and the moving robot. Since OPC UA itself is not capable of real-time, it uses Time Sensitive Networks (TSN). However, it will not stop at Euromap 79. The connection of periphery devices is already in the planning, for material flow control and for extrusion facilities. The growing number of interfaces finally requires a uniform, superordinate structure. It is worked on such a structure already, so that the interfaces for different plastics and rubber machinery will follow a unified pattern.

drivers for machine makers, as seen in the

presentations by companies at the recently

concluded Fakuma 2017 show in Germany. Development of an interface As one of the first industries, the European injection moulding machine manufacturers, led by German machine group VDMA, worked on an internationally uniform interface for the exchange of data between injection moulding machines and master computers or MES, known as the Euromap 77. This was presented at the K show in Düsseldorf last year. A demonstration showed how several machines that were set up in different halls exchanged data with each other. Euromap 77 is based on the communications standard OPC Unified Architecture (OPC-UA), which has been established by the non-commercial OPC foundation and has already been used in many industries as the basis for the communication between machines of different manufacturers. The independent industry association also was involved as a consultant in the development of Euromap 77. “The big advantage of OPC UA is that it is manufacturer independent. It is a technology that is available to everyone and is not dependent on a control unit manufacturer. This is a main reason why OPC UA is increasingly becoming the standard of Industry 4.0,” said Jürgen Peters, Head of the software development department at German machine maker Arburg. In September 2017, Euromap 77 released a second Release Candidate, i.e. a sort of beta version, which can

Practical showcase of Industry 4.0 At the Fakuma show, of the ten exhibits at its booth and ten at other booths, machine maker Arburg aligned itself to Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation and Smart Factory with products such as the Arburg host computer system (ALS) as well as the integration of IT solutions into the production process. As a third highlight, Arburg presented a new practical example of Industry 4.0 that was tailored specifically to the requirements of the injection moulding sector. In this regard, customer requirements were integrated into the running injection moulding process for multi-variant high-volume production. A compact turnkey system featuring a vertical Allrounder 375 V produced flexibly tension straps in various lengths, colours and end piece combinations on demand from shot-to-shot – without any need for conversion.

At Fakuma, Arburg showcased a practical example of Industry 4.0 with tension straps “on demand”

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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery Visitors could enter the desired tension strap variant directly at the terminal, causing the order to be transmitted directly to the central Selogica control system via the OPC UA communication protocol. The tension strap was automatically cut to the selected length, both ends spliced by means of a plasma process and placed in the cavities of the four-cavity mould in accordance with the order. Handling was performed by a six-axis robot housed within the installation area. The inserts were optionally overmoulded in hook/ hook, hook/eyelet or eyelet/eyelet combinations and the finished tension strap then removed from the system. In industrial practice, this kind of high-volume production with multiple variants is ideal for cable assembly in the automotive industry, for example. Arburg also presented numerous smart solutions in the service area, such as condition monitoring, predictive maintenance, the remote maintenance tool for fast, efficient and reliable online support, the new “Mobile Maintenance” ALS module for maintenance and repair and machine connectivity via various OPC UA interfaces.

The MaXecution system, which KraussMaffei designed in collaboration with German MES developer MPDV Mikrolab, offers KraussMaffei customers a plugand-play solution that is tailored to their specific needs. Based on MPDV’s popular Hydra MES, MaXecution is offered in three versions, so that processors can decide on the basis of requirements how many functions of an MES they need. Sister company of KraussMaffei, Swiss machine maker Netstal, meanwhile, unveiled its e-service and the cloud-based production monitoring platform AnalytiX, both of which will be commercialised in the second quarter of 2018. Furthermore, Netstal machines can also be linked via standard Euromap interfaces to KraussMaffei’s new MaXecution MES system. Netstal’s cloud-based analysis tool AnalytiX is an integral component of the new e-service portal and will also be available as an independent app for smartphones and tablets running the iOS and Android operating systems.

Companies roll out new solutions for Industry 4.0 Machine maker KraussMaffei unveiled at Fakuma its MaXecution MES, specifically designed for small injection moulding companies. The new software creates more transparency in production by means of productivity indicators, for example regarding the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), the management of moulds and resources and the statistics on machines and rejects. In total, using this software means better capacity utilisation of the machinery pool, fewer rejects and higher overall equipment effectiveness, says the firm.

Netstal launched its e-service and the cloud-based production monitoring platform AnalytiX

AnalytiX enables customers to monitor their machines at any time regardless of location and benefit from automated analysis of the processes and machine conditions, saving time and increasing employee efficiency. Supported by intelligent stability and productivity ratios, the user can recognise negative trends or performance deviations of individual machines at a glance. Stability specifications of individual machines or the entire production process involves a newly developed ratio based on an intelligent algorithm. Overall performance is detailed as a single percentage after taking into account ten crucial process parameters. In addition, the productivity coefficient determines the efficiency of overall production and individual machines, also returning this as a percentage. Another possible option is continuous online monitoring of the power consumption per cycle. AnalytiX analyses over 60 different production parameters available for each individual machine. This enables, for example, the cycle times, metering stroke and injection time to be remotely monitored in real time and used for independent analyses.

In KraussMaffei’s MaXecution, the programme function for the graphic planning of manufacturing orders provides a better overview in production planning

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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery Customer portals from machine makers Engel introduced its e-connect, the new customer portal, at Fakuma. Engel says it will also integrate future service products for the smart factory into the customer portal. Meanwhile, the Austrian machine maker has also opened an inject 4.0 hotspot in its technology and automation centre in Hagen, Germany, “to very clearly communicate the new opportunities of digitalisation and networking,” and to offer live demos of all its inject 4.0 products.

year in succession. For 2018, we expect the level to be as good as 2017,” said Managing Director Sales Gerhard Böhm. For Engel, Germany continues to be one of the highest revenue markets in Europe, with sales having increased by 50% over the last five years. Dr Stefan Engleder, CEO of the Engel Group, also said, “In the current financial year, we are expecting revenues of approximately EUR1.5 billion. This is a significant increase as compared to the previous year’s revenue of EUR1.36 billion.” At 55%, Europe represents the lion’s share of revenue for the Austrian firm, followed by 24% in America and 20% in Asia. KraussMaffei also anticipates another record year, as orders and sales for 2017 have upped by 10%, compared to the previous turnover in 2016. Meanwhile, China, according to Group CEO Frank Stieler, is the machine maker’s driver of growth. “China and other Asian markets will increasingly become more important for us in the future. Through our new owner ChemChina, we now have even better access to the markets than before.” In view of this, KraussMaffei has doubled production volume at its plant in Haiyan, China, and expects an additional increase in 2018. Meanwhile, in cooperation with an international leasing group, KraussMaffei and Netstal are testing the waters in Germany to determine the feasibility of leasing rather than selling standard injection moulding machines. Customers can lease machines for four years, after which they can extend the lease, purchase the machine by paying its residual value or simply return it. KraussMaffei will offer its CX ClassiX machines for the programme. Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery says it is set to achieve its highest-ever sales volume in 2017, with revenues to increase by 17% to EUR273 million, beating its previous record year of 2015. A 20% increase in orders is anticipated for the current year, it said. The main reason for this positive trend, it says, is the take up of its El-Exis high-speed and InElect all-electric machines. Companies have also been investing in their facilities to meet demand growth. Wittmann Battenfeld’s EUR15 million expansion of its Kottingbrunn plant will be completed by December 2017, with further extensions expected in 2018. The company also expects the expansion of its Czech Republic facility to be completed in 2018, and will expand its facility in Nuremberg, Germany, next year, too. Engel also announced comprehensive investments into its worldwide production sites, the continued expansion of its sales and service teams, and the reinforcement of local application-technical, automation and industry expertise. Some of the EUR375 million expansions include a new facility in St Valentin, Austria, and the expansion of its Shanghai plant to commemorate its tenth anniversary of operations in China.

Engel introduced its new e-connect customer portal at Fakuma

Sumitomo (SHI) Demag Plastics Machinery has developed a web-based software solution to provide its customers with a central platform for a wide range of services. The modular myConnect system will open up access to a full range of online services from the injection moulding machinery manufacturer. From the second quarter of 2018, the company plans to deliver all its machines with network-compatible equipment, and also with the option of wireless connectivity. The standard package of modular service products in myConnect contains five modules. These comprise online support for request help from Sumitomo (SHI) Demag at any time from the machine’s control system, a PC or a mobile device’ myDocumentation that allows customers to call up all the documentation about their machine at the touch of a button; myPartsShop that allows customers to order spare parts online. The last two are myLifeCycleLog: that records all key events and provides customers with a complete history of every single machine and myConnectApp that allows customers to track their production from any location. Machine makers bask in glory of high sales European machine makers had much to gloat about with most of the companies participating at Fakuma scaling higher heights in terms of machine sales. For the fourth year running, Arburg expects record sales, as well as projecting continued growth in 2017. “In 2017 we are set to exceed our 2016 consolidated turnover of EUR636 million, breaking the record for the fourth 4 N OV E M B E R / D E C E M B E R 2 017

Rubber Journal Asia Latex Industry

Asia cultivates an efficient rubber production The region’s rubber sector has a blueprint of strategies to hedge it against falling prices

and struggling output, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Prices under the weather orld demand for rubber has outpaced production, according to the latest Trends & Statistics released by the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC). This is not unprecedented as rubber is one market commodity that fluctuates more often than is stable. “During January 2017 to September 2017, the world output of natural rubber (NR) stood at 9.240 million tonnes while world demand of NR accounted for 9.637 million tonnes. As a result, a shortfall in world supply reported close to 400,000 during this period,” ANRPC’s Secretary General Dr Nguyen Ngoc Bich stated recently. This trend, characterised by demand outstripping output, has been witnessed in the first eight months of 2017, said ANRPC. It adds that the world consumption of NR during that period reached 8.54 million tonnes against the global production of almost 8.04 million tonnes. It was obvious that the strong demand has not quashed the negative sentiments in the market, such as rubber inventories in the region, development in the oil industry, currency strength, and current geopolitical tensions. In other words, “the NR market is anticipated to continue struggling due to plunging prices,” ANRPC deduced. Ajith Kumar, ANRPC’s President, speaking at an annually-organised rubber conference held in Vietnam recently, said “rubber prices will continue to hover at low levels”, adding that this imbalance could impact millions of rubber farmers. Meanwhile, a Price Stabilisation Fund (PSF) will also be created to secure prices as well as provide income support to rubber growers during price declines. Six major rubber exporters will be pitching contributions to fund the initiative.


The rubber sector has faced demand outpacing production

and China – the latter also being the world’s largest consumer of rubber. The region, with its capacities, is the first to be hit when prices go haywire. The International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC), formed by the region’s main rubber players of Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, which cumulatively account for 70% of the global rubber (to increase to 80% once Vietnam comes on board), has been working at stabilising and shoring up prices by either cutting back on exports or on outputs to mitigate oversupply of rubber. However, of late, ITRC has failed to stabilise rubber prices when Thailand and Indonesia did not comply to the 615,000 tonnes Agreed Export Tonnage Scheme (AETS), according to Malaysia’s Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur. Representing the International Rubber Consortium (IRCo), which was formed under the framework of ITRC, the three countries met in November to tackle the current supply and demand situation of NR. Demand, in the recent quarters, has been on the upswing according to IRCo. At its recent discussions, it identified a few strong sentiments favouring demand for NR including improved global GDP in 2017, pegged at 3.6% against the previous year’s 3.2%; the improvement of automobile sales in major markets of China, EU and Japan, which grew by 4.8%, 3.7%, 7.1%, respectively, from January to September, compared to a year ago. This has had positive impact to tyre production, it said. Additionally, strengthened crude oil prices and other commodities as well as increasing usage of NR for roads and highway construction are seen as favourable for demand.

ITRC: not measuring up? sia dominates global rubber production, accounting for 93% of the total global output: Thailand remains the largest producer, followed by Indonesia and Vietnam. Other large rubber producers in the region include Malaysia, India,


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Rubber Journal Asia Tyre Market Latex Industry On another hand, IRCo determined that “prices are not reflective of market fundamentals”. What it means is that there are yet other factors that account for the unstable rubber prices. The group said that the La Niña, which is expected from November 2017 to January 2018, would bring heavy rains and would affect NR production. In addition, the wintering season, beginning in the last quarter of 2017, would contribute in supply reduction of NR to global market. Capping the discussion, IRCo said that it will collectively monitor and consider measures to strengthen NR prices to also protect the interest of small holders who manage the majority of rubber planted areas, because any reduction in prices has direct impact on their income and welfare.

The board is also seeking to increase plantation acreage and by 2020, it targets to cultivate an estimated 500,000 ha of rubber in Sarawak and in Sabah, 300,000 ha. Cloning technology has also been eyed as a fertile solution among rubber producing countries. In 2015, the Kuala Lumpur-based International Rubber Research and Development Board (IRRDB), an R&D network of NR research institutes, shared some 49 rubber clone varieties among its associate institutes under its sharing system. One such country is the Philippines, owing to its ample rubber cultivating areas, while developing its own clones, such as the high-yield USM 1 clone developed by Dr Romulo L. Cena of the University of Southern Mindanao. In August, the Philippine Department of Agriculture announced that it was allocating nearly US$147,000 to trial the performance of the rubber clones shared by other rubber producing countries from the IRRDB network, to help increase its annual yield to 3 metric tonnes from the current less than 1 metric tonne. Rodolfo L. Galang, Philippine Rubber Research Institute (PhilRubber) Executive Director, said that the country received rubber clones from Thailand, China, India, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Indonesia. The clones will be tested in various locations in the country with different planting environments to determine which would be suitable for adoption. In India, a new high-yielding clone called Thadathil has been developed to double profit in terms of growth and production. With the clone, for example, 1.5 kg of dry rubber can be produced from ten trees, twice the yield of the commonly cultivated variety RRI-105. The clone, developed after more than three decades of research and trials, is a prodigy of Father Thomas, a priest who hails from Cheenikkuzhi at Udumbannoor in Thodupuzha. He said that his clone will produce trees with thicker bark and latex that is more consistent. The Indian Rubber Board has been at the forefront of developing NR clones, and in 2016 released its first high-yielding clone suitable for a low temperature region. The RRII 208 clone, developed by the Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII), is for exclusive cultivation in the North East. It can resist low temperatures and diseases associated with such climatic conditions. Another clone for high temperature zones is also being developed. India, as well as all other rubber producing countries in the region have their development strategies in place to improve outputs because at the end of the day, an efficient rubber production is an important barometer to clinch a fair NR price.

Genomic solutions hit home alaysia, which produced above 300,000 tonnes of NR in 2016, according to the Malaysia Rubber Board (MRB), has provided assistance to its small holders and rubber tappers. Recently, the government has allocated RM200 million for programmes for rubber shareholders. A modern infrastructure will take the cue, among other initiatives to make latex production more efficient. An important gist in the government’s strategy is incorporating cloning technology in rubber production. It introduced the use of the highyielding 1Malaysia rubber clones and latex timber clones, developed by the MRB. A rubber clone provides higher and faster rubber yield.


Cloning technologies have been adopted by countries to improve the productivity

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • French tyre maker Michelin has acquired US speciality materials company Lehigh Technologies, which uses patented cryogenic turbo mill technology to transform rubber from end-of-life tyres and industrial goods into materials for new tyres and other products. The firm produces a highly engineered raw material called micronised rubber powder (MRP) used by tyre companies, as well as companies in construction materials, asphalt modification and other markets. • Malaysian glove maker Top Glove is to pursue a spending spree to fuel earnings growth and keep its investors happy. It is also exploring what potentially could be its biggest takeover to date, costing more than RM1 billion. The target firm might be a Malaysia-based surgical and examination glove maker. • State-run Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG) is putting 25% of its shares up for sale in an IPO, worth an estimated US$563 million. The sale is part of Vietnam’s plans to trim stakes in stateowned enterprises, which picked up pace after a new government took office last year. VRG plans to sell 11.8% to the public and another 11.8% to a strategic investor, according to its share sale plan. The group has not chosen a strategic investor yet. The company also plans to sell 1.21% and 0.03% to its employees and trade union, respectively. Vietnam’s government will own the remaining 75% of the shares.

• India-headquartered Apollo Tyres is again vying for the purchase of South Korea’s Kumho Tire after its sale to Chinese tyre giant Qingdao Doublestar collapsed. The latter signed a definitive agreement with Kumho’s creditors to acquire a 42% stake but the deal was called off mainly due to the South Korean government’s opposition. The previous deal was for US$830 million and Apollo’s previous bid was at around US$775 million. However, the latest deal could be in the range of US$750800 million. If successful in its second attempt, Apollo could break into the global top seven tyre makers with a strong presence in the US and Europe. • Germany-based Freudenberg is further expanding its household products business area by acquiring Playtex Gloves business from Edgewell Personal Care. Freudenberg is the global market leader in consumer household gloves. It said the acquisition will mean continuing its growth strategy in the US market. • Thailand’s Indorama Ventures has completed its purchase of DuraFiber Technologies México, a producer of technical textiles for industrial, tyre reinforcement, and speciality applications. It is the sole domestic tyre cord fabric producer in Mexico, and has a broad customer base with major tyre companies. • UK speciality chemicals company Synthomer has acquired BASF Austrian Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR business) and assets for EUR30 million. The SBR is

used in the paper industry, usually in packaging endmarkets. It operates from one site in Pischelsdorf, Austria. The acquisition is expected to enhance Synthomer’s SBR business and production network for paper/packaging applications as well as increase the group’s access to new opportunities across Europe. • South Korea’s Hankook Tire recently launched its Tennessee plant, its first in the US and its eighth plant worldwide. The 1.5 million sq ft facility will produce 5.5 million tyres/year for passenger cars, SUVs and light trucks. In Europe, Hankook Tire has made extensive investments, with an indoor testing facility at its production plant in Hungary as well as a test centre and proving ground for winter tyres in Finland. • The world’s largest tyre maker Bridgestone is investing EUR266 million into three key European production sites in Burgos (Spain), Poznan and Stargard (Poland). The funds will be used to expand plant production capacity, purchase equipment and optimise existing production lines, to boost output capacity by 20%. The investment will be phased over the next five years, with all upgrades being completed by early 2022. • Rubber equipment systems manufacturer Mesnac is building a Digital Plant Industrial Park in Qingdao, China. The site will host a variety of technology, including the Internet of Things, FID, automation package solution, MES, big data, and smart logistics.

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • Michelin is doubling up the capacity of its truck tyre plant in Chennai, India, from 15,000 to 30,000 tyres/ year by the end of 2018. The quantum of investment for this doubling of capacity was not disclosed. The company will recruit another 150 persons to add on to the 850 employed now. • Singapore’s Giti Tire Group has opened a 1.7 million-sq ft facility in the US. It is expected to create 1,700 local jobs as part of retail chain Walmart’s commitment to purchase US$250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023. Giti will invest US$560 million in the US over the next decade. It already operates eight manufacturing plants, serving more than 130 countries worldwide. • German chemical company Wacker has opened a new representative office in Yangon, Myanmar, to distribute products of the chemical business divisions Wacker Silicones, Wacker Polymers and Wacker Biosolutions. It will cater to customers in the construction, coatings, personal and household care and food industry, among others. • Toyo Tire & Rubber is expanding its tyre production facilities in the US and Malaysia. The North American facility in Georgia will cost 14 billion yen to expand, to allow a production capacity of 2.4 million passenger vehicle tyres/year. In the initial phase, Toyo Tire will produce half this volume, with production to start

in 2019. Meanwhile, the expansion to the Malaysian facility in the state of Perak will cost 21 billion yen, with a capacity of an additional 4.8 million passenger vehicle tyres/year from the 5 million it produces now. In the initial phase, it will produce half the volume by 2019. This is the second expansion for the plant that uses Toyo’s proprietary A.T.O.M. production technology, and serves markets in Asia, Europe, Japan and North America. • HF Mixing Group is expanding its mixing room capabilities through a strategic co-operation with B&K Wäge & Anlagentechnik in Germany with a focus on weighing, storage, feeding, dosing of raw materials and liquids that are tailored to system requirements. Meanwhile, HF has also acquired Mesabi Control Engineering, a systems automation company, since this sector is one of the fastest growing in the rubber compounding industry. • Chemical companies Cabot Corporation and DowDuPont have launched a world-class fumed silica plant in the US, coinciding with the 50thanniversary of the Dow site in Carrollton. The plant was announced in May this year and is expected to start operation by 2020. Meanwhile, Cabot has opened its Asia Technology Centre in Shanghai, China. The 4,500sq m centre is co-located with Cabot’s regional headquarters and features analytical and application testing equipment to

support product lines including rubber and speciality carbons, fumed metal oxides, masterbatch and compounds, activated carbon and inkjet colourants. • Cabot Corporation is to purchase Tech Blend, a Canadian producer of black masterbatches, for US$64 million. The acquisition is said to extend Cabot’s global footprint in black masterbatch and compounds; provides a platform to serve global customers and grow in conductive formulations; and offers Tech Blend resources and capabilities to support growth. Tech Blend currently produces black masterbatches (also known as concentrates) for applications in the automotive, infrastructure and agricultural industries at its manufacturing facility in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec. Currently, Cabot operates four black masterbatch manufacturing facilities located in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. • Sweden’s Trelleborg has, through its business area Trelleborg Wheel Systems, finalised the acquisition of White Baumaschinenreifen. The company specialises in the service, fitting and repair of pneumatic and solid tyres for construction vehicles in Germany. The acquisition is said to further strengthen and enlarge Trelleborg’s European distribution network for tyres for materials handling and construction vehicles. The acquired company is located in Duisburg, Germany. Its sales amounted to approximately SEK90 million in 2016.

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Rubber Journal Asia Smart Tyres

Smart tyres come of age Smart tyre developments are driving forward

that unveiled its first airless tyre in 2011 and has since developed it for various applications, including an airless tyre concept for bikes, which the company expects to commercialise by 2019. Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) has its smart tyre prototype, Gyroblade airless tyre, which it showcased in 2015. It is notable for its resin spokes (in place of a pneumatic air chamber) and a tyre sealant that prevents air loss in the event of a puncture. The Japanese tyre company is also fitting Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Fine-Comfort Ride concept car with airless tyres to fulfil Toyota’s aim for light weighting its car tyres by 30%. Toyo Tires, meanwhile, has also forayed into nonpneumatic tyres, which it dubs as “noair”. The Japanheadquartered tyre manufacturer has been conducting research since 2006 on noair, which is described as “a neo-futuristic airless concept tyre that does not require any filling of air”.

the future of the mobility ecosystem, says Angelica Buan in this article.


onnected cars are nothing without smart tyres. Dramatically having evolved from the 19th century pneumatic rubber tyre, smart (or intelligent) tyres, which have been developed to meet fuel economy demands and strict emissions criteria, communicate with the road, with the driver, as well as the other like-connected cars and networked service providers. Fuel efficiency, light weighting and further sustainability with electric vehicles (EVs) are demand drivers for the segment, which is expected to garner a significant share in the projected 2.5 billion unit-strong global markets for tyres by 2022. Gaining traction, around 414 million units of smart tyres are expected to be rolled out by 2025. It is also predicted that smart tyres will become a vehicle staple in the years to come.

Airless tyre’s promise of no blowouts magine a tyre that does not go flat so there is no need for tyre changes or spare tyres. The hackneyed inflated pneumatic tyres may soon find a tough rival in airless tyres that offer a myriad of advantages. A jack of all trades, the airless tyre has been described to be eco-friendly, with reduced carbon emissions from lower rolling resistance as well as being recyclable at its end-of-life. It also has potential for use in personal cars and industrial trucks; and is practically maintenance-free as it does not get punctured or run a flat tyre. French tyre maker Michelin aced in the airless tyre advancement with its Tweel–a portmanteau of tyre and wheel range, which has come a long way since it was first proposed in 2005. This year, Michelin introduced X-Tweel variations, such as the 3D printed smart tyres built with recyclable materials, including wood chips, straw, orange peel, and sugar byproducts. Other tyre makers have jumped onto the airless tyre bandwagon. One of these is Tokyo-headquartered Bridgestone


Toyo Tires developed the “noair” concept tyre with the section between the spokes and rubber tread reinforced with CFRP

In 2012, Toyo Tires introduced a prototype as a reference exhibit at a show, with the aim of demonstrating some of the technological developments that had been amassed up to that point. The noair concept tyre has the basic tyre structure for the inner core side, which comprises special high-rigidity resin spokes to ensure sufficient strength to support the load. Basic tyre performance, namely “drive, turn, stop” is also achieved by using a rubber material for the outer tread that comes into contact with the road surface. The section between the spokes and rubber tread, the outer diameter ring, is reinforced with carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) that serves to reduce the load imposed on the spokes. Toyo Tires disclosed that there are still some outstanding issues to be resolved before it enters practical use, with R&D continuing on this front.

Bridgestone has developed an airless tyre concept for bikes that will be available in the market by 2019

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Rubber Journal Asia Tyre Market Smart Tyres Sensor tyres for EVs ith a focus on automated driving and EVs, Germanyheadquartered Continental introduced two new tyre technology concepts during a German motor show recently. Known as ContiSense and ContiAdapt, the technologies ensure “greater road safety and comfort in the future”, to meet the needs of automated driving and electrification. ContiSense is based on the development of electrically conductive rubber compounds that enable electric signals to be sent from a sensor in the tyre to a receiver in the car. These continuously monitor both tread depth and temperature and if the measured values are above or below predefined limits, the system alerts the driver. If anything penetrates the tread, a circuit in the tyre is closed, also triggering an immediate warning for the driver – faster than the systems used to date, which only warn the driver when the tyre pressure has already begun to fall.


Goodyear is equipping Tesloop’s fleet with wireless sensor-equipped tyres to improve overall tyre management and maximise uptime for its growing fleet

Tesloop is a city-to-city mobility service that exclusively operates a fleet of Tesla EVs that average up to 17,000 miles/ vehicle/month. Goodyear has been working with Tesloop since January 2017 to study the effect of autonomous technologies on tyres. Chris Helsel, Goodyear’s Chief Technology Officer, explained that the wireless sensors continuously measure and record tyre temperature and pressure, which is paired with other vehicle data and connected to Goodyear’s cloud-based proprietary algorithms to enhance overall fleet operations and predict when the tyres need service or replacement. “Goodyear’s effort with Tesloop builds on its successful commercialisation of Goodyear Proactive Solutions for truck fleets, using advanced telematics and predictive analytics technology to allow fleet operators to optimise fuel efficiency and precisely identify and resolve tyre-related issues before they happen,” Helsel said. In addition to its fleet management offerings, Goodyear is also working with automotive makers to provide tyre information to vehicle control systems to enhance safety and performance.

Continental’s sensor-based tyre technologies, ContiSense and ContiAdapt meet the needs of automated driving and electrification

In the future, the ContiSense system will feature additional sensors that can also be utilised individually. Thus, information about the road surface, such as its temperature or the presence of snow, can be sensed by the tyre and passed on to the driver. The data can be transmitted to the vehicle electronics or via bluetooth to a smartphone. On the other hand, ContiAdapt combines microcompressors integrated into the wheel to adjust the tyre pressure with a variable-width rim. The system can thus modify the size of the contact patch, which under different road conditions is a decisive factor for both safety and comfort. Four different combinations allow perfect adaptation to wet, uneven, slippery and normal conditions. The system also permits very low tyre pressures of below 1 bar to be set, to help ease the vehicle out of a parking space in situations where driving can become difficult. Steering innovation toward semi-autonomous EVs, Ohiobased Goodyear Tire & Rubber is equipping the Californiabased start-up Tesloop fleet with wireless sensor-equipped tyres to improve overall tyre management and maximise uptime for its growing fleet.

Leveraging on connectivity for safe farm machine operations he ever increasing world population requires efficient food production, and hence demands agricultural machinery to operate in their optimum. Operating key farm machinery at the lowest safe pressure is a key challenge, according to Trelleborg Wheel Systems, which offers its ConnecTire to manage tyre pressure, and maintain the safety both of farm machine and operator. The sensor-based smart wheel, which enables data sharing at multiple levels, reduces the risk of tyre slippage on the rim. It allows farmers to leverage the Internet of Things (IoT) for safer and more efficient operations. “Farm machinery is exposed to many variables throughout a working day, all of which can impact upon efficiency: ambient temperature, humidity and soil conditions. Being able to be in control of these allows farming operations to reduce inefficiencies,” said


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Rubber Journal Asia Smart Tyres SRI is not new to developing smart tyres, as it has previously introduced tyre technologies, such as the Sensing Core, which is able to detect slipperiness and other road conditions as well as tyre conditions such as wear, load and air pressure when its proprietary algorithm in the ECU (Engine Control Unit) in a vehicle’s brakes. Others are the Active Tread technology, which responds to changes in road conditions by actively changing the functionality of tread rubber to optimise performance for the current road surface and temperature; and Tyre Lifetime Simulation technology that is able to predict how performance will change as a tyre undergoes wear and tear.

Trelleborg Wheel Systems offers its ConnecTire to manage tyre pressure, and maintain the safety both of farm machine and operator

Piero Mancinelli, R&D Director at Trelleborg, adding that ConnecTire’s communications functions enable fingertip control. Information pertaining to tyre pressure and temperature will be relayed to both tractor and farm mainframes via Bluetooth and wireless connectivity. Operators set their target tyre pressure and can then monitor how tyre pressure deviates from that target and act accordingly. Through an app, the ConnecTire automatically sends an alert for any required corrective action. Moreover, an inbuilt GPS capability identifies the live position of the tractor helping to keep lone workers safe and even safeguarding the tyres and machine against risk of theft. In addition, with the help of precision farming software, farm managers are able to track the number of machine passes over every square centimetre of land, helping to limit soil compaction and erosion as much as possible, to help soil to rapidly recover fertility and yield potential, says the Swedish firm.

Tapping a personalisation strategy dopting a “tailor-made” strategy, Italian tyre maker Pirelli’s take on a sensor-based coloured smart tyre is breaking the norm of plain black and metal tyres. At a motor show in Geneva, Pirelli showcased coloured editions of P Zero and Winter Sottozer tyres that feature special materials that act as protective barrier to maintain the vibrancy of the colour and avoid fading caused by time and use, without affecting performance. Moreover, the tyres are equipped with a monitoring system called Pirelli Connesso, which communicates with the driver via an app. The Pirelli Connesso is a digital platform using a sensor integrated within Pirelli’s high end tyres to expand on the information already available from each car’s on-board computer. It provides data about the status, use and maintenance of every tyre, also offering localised and personalised services to provide bespoke mobility for the needs of the most demanding drivers. The lightweight sensor is embedded in the tyre connected to the Pirelli Cloud and to a smartphone app, providing an interface that allows drivers to constantly communicate with tyres. The driver can also “personalise” their tyres, with the option of combining preferred colours and sensors. Thus, these emerging developments of concepts for smart tyres are giving the green light for a smarter future of mobility.


Taking a spin on environment and safety ore manufacturers are adopting an environmentfriendly culture and tyre makers are no exception. One of the more recent tyre innovations with vista for environment and safety is SRI’s Smart Tyre Concept, unveiled at a motor show held in October in Tokyo. Under SRI’s Smart Tyre Concept, which consists of three major technology categories, a line-up of new tyres will be commercially produced. In 2020, SRI said it plans to commence mass production of a new tyre that incorporates Performance Sustaining Technology to maintain the “as good as brand new” performance of a tyre for longer time; as well, the tyre maker may introduce a concept tyre that incorporates LCA, adopting new materials designed to enhance environmental performance throughout the entire lifecycle of a tyre, from raw materials and tyre production to shipping, usage and even recycling. In 2023, another concept tyre, which incorporates its Active Tread Technology, will be introduced, and will demonstrate the same high level of performance regardless of whether driving on dry roads or under any other type of road condition.


Pirelli’s coloured editions of P Zero and Winter Sottozer tyres offers personalisation with colour and sensor combinations

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