PRA June-July 2015

Page 1


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

業界新聞 化工 行 業 :


In this issue

Volume 30, No 214

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 14 化工行業: 亞洲石化業蓄勢待發 17 Medical Industry – With the continued persistence of antimicrobial resistance, plastics manufacturers are offering new preventive alternatives in the form of antimicrobial or antibacterial plastics 20 Country Focus – At the PlastMilan exhibition in May, a new business incubator initiative known as the Start Plast showcased start-up companies with innovative solutions

22 Extrusion Technology – Davis-Standard is riding high on the back of a year that has started off well, said newly appointed President/ CEO Jim Murphy, speaking at the Chinaplas show in Guangzhou, in May

24 Chemicals Industry – Regardless of the oil prices, the Asian petrochemicals sector is gathering full steam

28 Waste Management – The adoption of a circular economy is vital in the conversion of waste into useable resources

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

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11 業界新聞

Supplements 副 刊 China’s economy may have slowed down, but machine makers that exhibited at Chinaplas 2015 are still reaping the benefits With the growing spate of earthquakes around the world, rubber is in play in the structural reinforcement of buildings DIGITAL+PRINT

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A circular economy is restorative by design to promote zero waste manufacturing practices 業界新聞 化工行業:


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Industry News

M&As/Investments • International investment manager, 3i Group, has invested EUR250 million in Germanyheadquartered Weener Plastic Packaging Group (WPPG). The former shareholder Lindsay Goldberg Vogel has sold her stake in WPPG. It designs, develops and manufactures caps, closures, roll-on balls, jars and bottles for the personal care, food and beverage, and home care market. It operates in 24 locations in 15 countries and has 2,000 employees. • From 1 September this year, Bayer’s MaterialScience business will be known as Covestro. Bayer intends to float Covestro on the stock market by mid-2016 at the latest. The plan for Bayer MaterialScience to become a separate company was announced in September 2014. The letters C and O come from collaboration, while Vest signifies the company is well invested in facilities. The final letters, Stro, show the company is strong in innovation, strong in the market and with a strong workforce, said the Germanyheadquartered firm. • Maag Pump Systems is discontinuing the PSG brand. It will liquidate Dover Pump Solutions Group (Europe) and will with immediate


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effect be trading on the Swiss market as Maag Pump Systems AG. At the same time, it has completed the merger between Maag Pump Systems GmbH and Automatik Plastics Machinery GmbH in Germany and will be operating under the new name Maag Automatik GmbH. Maag Pump Systems in Switzerland and Maag Automatik in Germany, are both business units of Maag that is part of the Dover Corporation. • Sun Plastech, a subsidiary of Japanese Asahi Kasei Chemicals, has completed its acquisition of US firm Novachem, a supplier of chemical purging compounds. This acquisition will further bolster Sun Plastech’s purging compounds to a wide market of injection moulders, extruders, compounders, and blow moulders. • Chicago-based packaging solutions provider Coveris Holdings has acquired Elldex Packaging Solutions, a New Zealand-based company, to expand into Australasia. Elldex, previously owned by Hellaby Holdings, is a manufacturer and importer of HDPE and LDPE flexible plastic packaging, and provides products that serve the meat, dairy, seafood, horticulture, and agricultural sectors.

• Texas-headquartered chemicals firm Westlake Chemical Corporation, has acquired Ineos ChlorVinyls Holdings's 35.7% interest in Suzhou Huasu Plastics (SHPC), a PVC joint venture based in China. Westlake now owns a 95% interest in SHPC that operates a PVC resin production plant, along with speciality film and window profile operations. • Akron-headquartered compounds supplier A. Schulman has completed the previously announced acquisition of Chicagobased Citadel Plastics Holdings, a portfolio company of private equity firms HGGC and Charlesbank Capital Partners, for US$800 million. Citadel operates 21 manufacturing facilities worldwide, including ten thermoplastic facilities in the US and Canada, and 11 thermoset composite plants comprising seven in North America, two in Mexico, one in Germany, one in Brazil, and a joint venture consisting of two plants in China. • Tokyo-headquartered machinery manufacturer JSW has acquired 80% of Korean twin-screw extruder manufacturer SM Platek (SMP). • ZF Friedrichshafen has completed the

acquisition of TRW Automotive, a US global supplier of automotive systems, modules and components to automotive OEMs and related aftermarkets. The latter will be incorporated into ZF as a new division called Active & Passive Safety Technology. • US-headquartered Danaher has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Pall Corporation for US$13.8 billion. Pall, a provider of filtration, separation and purification solutions that remove contaminants or separate substances from a variety of solids, liquids and gases, has generated US$2.8 billion of revenues with US$1.5 billion from its Life Sciences segment and US$1.3 billion from its Industrial segment, in its fiscal year ended July 2014. • South Korean additives manufacturer Songwon Industrial Group and Qingdao Long Fortune Chemical & Auxiliary are partnering for the production and sales of Songwon’s One Pack Systems (OPS), and the sale of polymer stabilisers in China. The joint venture will be based in Qingdao and will set up an OPS plant, to be sited in the Pingdu County industrial park. The plant is expected to be fully operational by 2016.



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Industry News

• DSM and Chinabased chemicals company Zhejing NHU are forming a new joint venture company for the manufacture of compounds based on polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) produced by NHU.

All sales, including those in China, will be handled by DSM’s Marketing and Sales organisation with the brand name of Xytron PPS. DSM NHU Engineering Plastics Zhejiang, in which DSM will hold 60% equity and NHU

40%, will be located at Zhejiang. • DSM Dyneema, the Netherlands-based producer of Dyneema Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) fibre, has purchased Cubic Tech Corporation,

a privately-owned company, based in the US. Cubic Tech is a customer of DSM Dyneema and specialises in the production of ultralightweight flexible laminates and fabrics, most of them based on Dyneema.

Plant/Office Set-Ups • BASF SE's 100,000tonne/year nylon polymerisation plant in Shanghai has started operation. The whollyowned facility, which makes Ultramid nylon 6 and 6/6 resins, is located in the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park, which also is home to a world-scale facility for integrated isocyanates operated by BASF and partners. • Italian extrusion machinery maker Bandera recently launched its new R&D Centre at its headquarters in Busto Arsizio. A 3,000 sq m area is dedicated to the R&D, with annexed offices’ building to host customers and the possibility to organise in-house workshops and open houses. Bandera’s industry milestones include its EUR4 million investment, over EUR70 million revenue in 2014 and an annual growing trend of 5% for 20152017 period, with 90% of its business volume being well-established on foreign markets; as well as 170 employees.


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• German chemicals firm Evonik Industries has doubled its production capacity for Visiomer MAAH (methacrylic anhydride) at its site in Worms, Germany. Visiomer MAAH is a building block in the production of speciality methacrylates, which are used in concrete additives, paints and colourants, electronics applications, and plastics. In addition to MAAH, Evonik produces and markets a wide range of speciality methacrylates as well as MMA, GMAA, n-BMA, i-BMA, and hydroxy methacrylates under the Visiomer brand. • Spain-based integrated global energy company Repsol is starting construction of its new manufacturing unit for metallocene linear polyethylene (mPE) at its Tarragona Petrochemical Complex. This will be the first plant to produce this material outside the US with Chevron Phillips Chemical’s technology,

as a result of the technology licensing agreement reached between both companies in 2014. This may enable Repsol as a European producer to compete against HDPE imports from areas with access to lower-cost raw materials. In 2014, HDPE accounted for over 40% of consumption in Spain. • US-based composite materials and structural parts manufacturer Hexcel recently held a launching ceremony at its new French site in Roussillon where it will invest US$250 million in the construction of a carbon fibre plant. The material will be supplied to Hexcel customers including Airbus for the A350 XWB and Safran for the CFM LEAP engine. • Injection moulding machine maker Sumitomo (SHI) Demag will consolidate its production sites in Schwaig and Wiehe,

Germany, to boost the efficiency, including newly created competence centres for sales. The production site in Wiehe focuses on small and mediumsized hydraulic and all-electric machines. As part of the new production unit, Wiehe will be responsible for the production of control cabinets and electric components. Medium-sized and large hydraulic and hybrid injection moulding machines will be manufactured at Schwaig. It will also operate a competence centre for die cast processing and plasticisation. • Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) is constructing a new production line for producing carbon dioxide for plastics in its Domagen site in Germany, expected to come on stream in 2016. A chemical reactor weighing some 25 tonnes has now been put in place at the heart of this line. The last major part - a CO2 tank - is due to be installed in the fall.

INDUSTRY NEWS BMS intends to use the new production line as part of the "Dream Production" project, integrating CO2 as a raw material for polyols on a commercial scale. The line is designed for a capacity of 5,000 tonnes/year. The polyol, which contains approximately 20% CO2, will initially be used in the manufacture of polyurethane foam mattresses. • Austrian machinery company Wittmann has implemented a two-stage plan for further production capacity. The first

stage of development was completed in mid-May 2015, for an overall production output of 4,200 robots a year. Also, the assembling and start up capacities for small devices in the Hungarian Wittmann production plant in Mosonmagyaróvár was increased. The second stage of development involves the whole-scale enlargement of the robot production at the group’s Vienna headquarters, planned for completion by January 2016. This will result in an overall annual production output of 4,500 robots.

• UK-headquartered provider of processing technology Surface Generation has opened demonstration facilities in the UK and Taiwan, after trials showed improvements in parts created using its patented Production to Functional Specifications (PtFS) technology. PtFS provides injection moulding manufacturers with multi-zonal temperature control in the mould, allowing molten materials to be channelled and cooled more precisely throughout the process. Trials have been done for large

consumer electronics and automotive manufacturers using PtFS with Engel injection moulding machines. • Wisconsin-based Phillips-Medisize has opened a development centre in Suzhou, China, for patientadministered biologics and pharmaceutical drug delivery and diagnostics device design and development services. • Honeywell Resins and Chemicals has broken ground on its new nylon resin production line at its Chesterfield facility.

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Industry News

It can produce multiple grades of Honeywell Aegis nylon 6 resins, as well as copolymer nylon 6/6.6 resins, both of which are used in food packaging films and other applications. When the line starts up in the fourth quarter of 2015, it will become the first and only North American supplier of both resins. It will expand the capacity of the Chesterfield facility by 40,000 to 200,000 tonnes/year. • Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) has commissioned a second line for production of Thermoplastic Polyurethanes (TPUs) in Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu, India. With the investment, the capacity will increase from 2,500 to 6,000 tonnes/year. • Belgium-based chemical group Solvay opened in Brazil its first fully dedicated Industrial Biotechnology Laboratory (IBL) to boost the development of new processes and molecules derived from biomass, which is mostly plant or vegetable based. • Corbion has signed letters of intent for one-third of the volume of a 75 kilotonne/year PLA polymerisation plant. In order to further accelerate market acceptance of PLA, Corbion has already begun to test, validate and sell pre-marketing volumes of PLA. The


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pre-engineering is in full progress and is expected to run till end of the year.

enclosures, sockets, terminal blocks, circuit breakers, switches and relays.

• Perstorp recently opened a major extension to its capacity to produce PVC plasticisers and key chemical intermediates. The oxo plant in Stenungsund, Sweden, began producing material soon after its startup in January. It is the single largest investment in Perstorp’s history, significantly boosting the company’s output of valeraldehyde and 2-propyl heptanol (2-PH), two key raw materials for Perstorp’s PVC plasticisers, Emoltene 100 and Pevalen.

• Texas-headquartered Huntsman Corporation has acquired Tecnoelastomeri, a manufacturer of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI) based hot-cast elastomer systems and processing machines, based in Modena, Italy. 2014 sales revenue for Tecnoelastomeri was approximately US$12 million. The purchase price was not disclosed. Hotcast PUs are used in many downstream applications, including bumper pads, coated conveyor belts, gears, rollers and wheels. These applications are used in the automotive, rail, oil and gas, mining and steel industries. Tecnoelastomeri markets its diverse product line globally under Tecnoelastomeri engineering urethane elastomers, Tecnothane and Rithane speciality PU systems, Castech PU machines and Linthane TPUs.

• DuPont Performance Polymers has increased production capacity of DuPont Zytel PA 66 and PA 6 at its Uentrop facility in Hamm, Germany, by 20% to meet growing demand primarily in the global automotive industry. DuPont says it is the largest, most globally networked nylon manufacturer focused on the engineering polymers market, and Uentrop is its largest nylon production facility in Europe. It is used in automotive components, such as air ducts, engine covers, charged air coolers, transmission components and radiator end tanks. In electrical and electronic systems, Zytel nylon is used in

• Germanyheadquartered machine maker Arburg's US subsidiary recently inaugurated the new premises for the US headquarters in Rocky Hill, Connecticut. The 2,500 sq m building has a showroom, for seven Allrounder injection moulding machines that can be

used for testing and training purposes, and complete turnkey systems, which are experiencing rapid growth in demand in the US. The building also features a spare parts/machine store as well as a special area for the Freeformer industrial additive manufacturing system. The US subsidiary was established in 1990 as part of Arburg’s efforts to expand international sales activities. Arburg also has technology centres in Elgin, Illinois, and Irvine, California, for its customers in the Midwest and on the West Coast respectively. • Having first announced its Slentite insulating panels breakthrough at the K2013 show, German chemicals firm BASF has commissioned the pilot plant for the manufacturing of Slentite panels that will initially serve the optimisation of the performance profile and will subsequently be supplied to selected cooperation partners. This insulating material, based on a PU aerogel, is thus the first to be available in the form of a heavyduty panel as an insulating material for both new construction projects and renovation. The new plant at the Lemförde location went into operation after 18 months of planning and construction.

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Materials News

How do we solve the problem of marine litter? Marine litter, a growing political issue deliberated recently during the G7 global forum of policy makers and economic leaders, is also a moral issue that needs to be addressed from its source, says Angelica Buan in this report. G7 pinpoints waste management On June 7 and 8, the Group of 7 (G7) convened at Schloss Elmau, Germany, to discuss economic agenda, and address a number of critical global issues, including climate change and the environment.

Economic leaders discussed key issues including marine litter and climate change during the recent G7 summit in Germany

The G7, comprising economic leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, with the addition of the European Union (EU), concluded its two-day summit with a declaration that plots out action plans for identified key issues under global economy, foreign policy and development as well as climate change, energy, and environment. Under environment, the G7 outlined its commitment to combat marine litter, “from land-based and marine sources, address debris removal, and focus on education, research and outreach,” according to a press release from the US Press Secretary. Further, the press release cited that waste management activities will be fused into the international development assistance. Support will also be given towards implementing pilot projects to reduce waste entering water streams; and for developing sustainable packaging, and promoting best practices across the plastics manufacturing value chain. Growing global concern Marine litter is a global concern according to the European Commission (EC) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The scale of the problem is escalating day by the day, with millions


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of tonnes of garbage ending up in the oceans. As a consequence of inadequate waste management infrastructure, waste plastics, especially those types which break into tiny pieces, contribute significantly to the marine litter woes. Since negligent human activities also play a vital role in this issue, human interference through individual projects and collective campaigns, also figure in the overall solution. Thus, highlighting this issue at the G7 summit is considered by environmentalists as a monumental move to influence national policies on the environment, and to broaden public awareness. Meanwhile, amongst the active groups crafting solutions for marine litter, is the World Plastics Council (WPC), an organisation of 50 top executives from plastic resin producers across the globe formed in 2013, and initiated by Germany-headquartered PlasticsEurope and the plastics division of the American Chemistry Council (ACC). It has launched the Operation Clean Sweep programme, which involves the industry’s value chain. The programme takes credit for the reduction of loss of plastic pellets, according to WPC. The group says that it decries the scenario of waste plastics infiltrating the marine environments. PlasticsEurope also upholds initiatives focusing on the marine litter solution, such as the “Zero Plastics to Landfill by 2020,” to name but a few.

The World Plastics Council, an organisation formed in 2013, has also launched a programme that involves the industry's value chain

Materials News Cleaning up plastics in the ocean Already, various solutions are being offered, with new innovations being developed and introduced to curb marine litter. One of these is a 2,000-m floating structure, claimed to be the longest of its kind in the world. It can passively clean up plastics pollution from the world’s ocean, and is expected to be deployed by the second quarter of 2016, according to Boyan Slat, the 20-year old founder and CEO of Ocean Cleanup.

The 2,000-m floating barrier developed by Ocean Cleanup

Founded in 2013, Ocean Cleanup develops technologies to extract, prevent, and intercept plastic pollution via long floating barriers to let the ocean currents concentrate on the plastic waste itself. It reports a 2014 feasibility study confirming that the passive system is a cost-effective method to remove half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in ten years’ time. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean. Marine debris is litter that ends up in oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific trash vortex, spans waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan. The patch is actually comprised of the Western Garbage Patch, located near Japan, and the Eastern Garbage Patch, located between the US states of Hawaii and California. In lieu of its project timeline, the feasibility of deployment of the array off the coast of Tsushima, an island located in the waters between Japan and South Korea is currently being researched. The array will be operational for at least two years, retrieving plastic pollution before it reaches the shores of the proposed deployment location of Tsushima Island. The latter is evaluating whether the plastic can be used as an alternative energy source. The scale of the plastic pollution problem, whereby in the case of Tsushima Island being 1cu m JUNE / JULY 2015


Materials News

of pollution/person washed up each year, has led the Japanese local government to seek innovative solutions to the problem. The deployment will represent an important milestone in Ocean Cleanup’s mission to remove plastic pollution from the world’s oceans, according to the group. Within five years, after a series of deployments of increasing scale, Ocean Cleanup plans to deploy a 100 km-long system to clean up about half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, between Hawaii and California.

Scouring the seas for more solutions Amongst the number of initiatives undertaken to study further the debacle of ocean debris is the eXXpedition, an all-women series of voyages. The team’s mission is to explore the issue of chemicals, endocrine disrupters and carcinogens in the personal and global environment that can cause disease, in particular raising awareness of those linked to the rise in breast cancer rates.

Up against the tide of litter A group of UK surfers is not only challenging the waves but also the tonnes of litter that are now proliferating the seas. The West country-based environmental charity group, Surfers Against Sewage (SAS), has embarked on a goal of reducing by half the amount of litter found on their beaches and surfing habitats by 2020.

The all-female crew embarked on the first voyage of eXXpedition across the Atlantic in 2014 Sewers against Sewage launched a campaign, Return to offender, that sends back litter to the manufacturer of the item

For 25 years now, SAS has been involved in marine conservation issues. It has launched several initiatives including the “Return to Offender”, which is sending back the branded litter item to the manufacturer to raise the issue of more sustainable packaging options and taking accountability of educating their consumers of proper item disposal. It has also launched a campaign called, “Pledge to Prevent Resin Pellet Loss”, which prompts plastics manufacturers to enable responsible handling mechanisms for plastic pellets (also known as mermaid’s tears in the marine environment) and prevent these from entering the waterways. Its round-up of activities also include training and mobilising 10,000 to 15,000 coastal volunteers; and demanding for restrictions on the sewage discharges from the UK’s network of over 30,000 combined sewer overflows, to cite a few.


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The first voyage, which took the 14-women crew across the Atlantic, was in mid-November last year. The female researchers are tasked to collect environmental debris samples, such as plastics and other pollutants, feeding in these samples to wider studies investigating the impacts of toxics and plastics pollutants and linking this sampling to narratives of ecosystem health, personal health and the products consumed. For the second voyage, the eXXpedition team is sailing to one of the five ocean gyres where there is a heavy concentration of debris, a voyage from the Ivory Coast to Brazil via Ascension Island on a 22-m boat. Up to this day, teams of experts continue to measure and evaluate the extent of the marine litter problem, basically its causes and effects to the environment and human safety, with more assistance and launching of more programmes and policies expected in the future.

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Medical Industry

Plastics as agents of protection Antibacterial plastics are taking the infection defence to the “surface� level, says Angelica Buan in this article.


odern medicine continues to combat emerging diseases and modify available management modalities for identified diseases, because new strains are developing and showing resistance against known therapies. In the recent years, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has persisted even within healthcare settings and known potent antibiotics are no longer effective to neither treat nor prevent infections. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has addressed the increasing incidence of AMRs globally. Together with partner sectors, WHO has undertaken a surveillance report to appraise the extent of AMR as well as track new trends and threats, and the efficacy of healthcare interventions. While this situation is reminiscent of the pre-antibiotic era, or when infections that are now treatable used to cause mortality, experts would still advice that prevention is better than cure. First line of defence Integral to modern medicine is advancement in technologies to speed up access and delivery of care. Amongst the new preventive innovations are the antimicrobial or antibacterial plastics, which find use for a wide variety of applications, including medical devices, food packaging, textile, construction parts, automotive, sports equipment and more. Now that antimicrobial resistance is on the rise, demand for antimicrobial plastics has shot up. MarketsandMarkets (M&M) in its report estimates the market to reach US$3.6 billion by 2020. The Asia-Pacific market, led by China, is expected to drive this growth. On one hand, the US, which primarily is the largest global consumer for antimicrobial plastics, is being outpaced by the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries. As a result, key market players in this segment are shifting their production and distribution business in the APAC region as well as in South America, M&M said, adding that packaging, healthcare, and automotive applications are top market segments for antimicrobial plastics. For healthcare and most other applications, the growing innovations are aimed at proactively inhibiting microbial growth in plastic devices and products. Moreover, the heightened awareness regarding health-related infections, also imitates regulations in North America and Europe to use products and devices of antimicrobial coatings to prevent contamination and re-infection.

Clearflo Ag-47 antimicrobial tubing has silver ions and is used for fluid transfer applications

Protective technologies Regular plastics can attract microbes, which cause it to be discoloured, develop bad odour or promote degradation. To provide the germicide property, resins are either added or coated with antimicrobial compounds during compounding or moulding. Silver, which has been a widely used antimicrobial for centuries, reacts electrochemically with moisture on contact, and releases ions. The silver ions inhibit the growth, function and proliferation of the microbes. American flexible plastic tubing and hose maker NewAge Industries offers its Clearflo Ag-47 antimicrobial tubing that is suitable for a variety of fluid transfer applications. JUNE / JULY 2015


Medical Industry The REACH and RoHS compliant Clearflo Ag-47 is made from phthalate-free clear, flexible PVC compound and contains a silver ion additive that has been proven to safeguard against microorganisms, including E. coli, listeria, salmonella and pseudomonas. The transparent tubing handles temperatures between -40°C and 52°C. Illinois-based colourants and additive masterbatch manufacturer Plastics Color offers antimicrobial formulations for polymers. The MicroBlok antimicrobial technologies are engineered into the resins during the compounding process. There are several types of antimicrobial additives for polymers that have been tested and proven effective in impeding the growth of microbes. MicroBlok S contains silver ions that dispersed uniformly throughout the polymer matrix, creating a high-efficiency antimicrobial action. MicroBlok can be custom blended in a wide variety of polymers including TPU, PC, ABS, PP and PE, and can be custom formulated for moulding or extrusion applications. Silver’s antimicrobial function is also utilised by Connecticut-based Galazin Products, which launched Slivver, a slim credit card sleeve made of conductive plastic. Measuring 3.44 in by 0.5 in, Slivver gives twofold protection: it spares the users to physically touch screens that are likely contaminated with microbes and the sleeve itself is antimicrobial.

Slivver, a credit card sleeve made of conductive plastic, harnesses silver's antimicrobial function

Meanwhile, another metal, copper’s antimicrobial potential has also been explored and applied in plastics. In 2011, a study published in Letters in Applied Microbiology on PP embedded with copper metal or copper oxide nanoparticles was undertaken by researchers from Universidad de Chile, who said that copper is an outstanding material for biocide applications. With the advancement in nanotechnology, a new generation of copper-based nanoparticles (CNP) that exhibit biocidal properties can be produced. In the study, copper metal or copper oxide nanoparticles were set into PP, producing an antimicrobial polymer composite. The team also found that “copper oxide particles were more efficient in killing E. coli than copper metal nanoparticles.”


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Safer alternative for natural biocides There is no question about the usefulness of silver, especially in the case of its antimicrobial function. However, the catch with silver is that when this metal has been broken down to nanoparticles, it can penetrate a cell wall, such as a human cell, and thus may alter the cells, according to a finding by Professor Frank Kjeldsen, and Dr Thiago Verano-Braga of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Southern Denmark. Needless to say, these compounds may somehow pose safety risks to humans and the environment. The Swedish chemical inspection agency echoes these findings and has ruled that silver poses a danger to human cell and embryotic development. A European firm Parx Plastics launched in mid2014 what it claims is the world’s first biocompatible and non-toxic, non-leaching antibacterial plastic. The material, Sanipolymers, utilises Parx Plastics’s biomimetic technology, and does not rely on silver or nanoparticles. It is biocompatible since Sanipolymers make use of an essential trace element found in food, responsible for a healthy immune system. It attacks gram+ and gram- bacteria by rupturing their cell walls. According to Parx Plastics, the product’s surface wards off bacteria by means of a mere physical and mechanical action. It says, “laboratory tests prove it kills up to 99% of the bacteria within 24 hours.” The system is suited for a variety of polymers, including polyolefins, nylon, copolyester, ABS and PC, said Parx Plastics. If biocompatibility is the key to safety, nothing else could be better than food-derived antibacterial benefits. A recent study by the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences (UGC), published in the Journal of Applied Polymer Science, found that bioplastics from protein sources, such as whey, soy and egg, have high antibacterial properties. Of the three bases for bioplastic material, the most outstanding is the egg albumen. This, according

Egg albumen and lanosol from red algae have been found to contain high antibacterial properties

Medical Industry to the researchers, exhibits significant antibacterial properties when blended into glycerol, a plasticiser. In fact, a complete inhibition of bacteria on the albumenspiked bioplastic is seen, the researchers said. This breakthrough finding, while it is in cue for more in-depth study, already provides basis for antibacterial options for the biomedical and packaging sectors. Meanwhile, another innovation has sprung from researchers at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology, led by Professor Mikael Hedenqvist. The team has produced antibacterial fibres that combine biocompatible plastics with the antimicrobial compound commonly found in seaweeds of the Rhodophyta family. Lanosol, sourced from red algae and found to be a good alternative to particle-based antibacterial, is combined with the plastics using a process called electrospinning to produce an ultra-thin thread, or about one-hundredth of a human hair, according to Hedenqvist. He adds that the lanasol-blended thread does not clump up like fibres using silver or other antibacterial particles, which could otherwise adversely affect the thread’s mechanical properties. The material has potential application in hospital settings: from clothing and bandages to air filters. Hedenqvist furthered that the antiseptic property of the algae has been shown to kill almost 100% of the

staphylococcus aureus bacteria, the most common cause of skin and wound infections in hospital environments. Meanwhile, a collaborative study by researchers from Israel’s Agriculture Research Organisation and the Southern Illinois University on the microbe-fighting properties of curcumin, a turmeric compound, has explored its potential for food-safe antibacterial surfaces such as countertops. In the study, nano-vesicles consisting of fats and sugar, were filled with curcumin and were attached to a glass surface. This resulted in bacteria being eliminated by curcumin on contact. Other natural food compounds with known antimicrobial properties, such as those found in grapes and olives, were also tested. But curcumin exhibited the highest antibacterial power in inhibiting e-coli growth. Further tests need to be carried out for foodbased antimicrobials if these will be utilised commercially, to determine if the treated surfaces work on a long term and do not leach onto the food or are able to curb the formation of biofilms, the researchers said. While all of this is still in the infancy stage, the platform has been set for further use of alternative additives in the medical sector for plastic equipment.

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Country Focus

Italy’s show hatches new ideas At the May-held Plast show in Milan, Italy, apart from the usual prospects, the exhibition highlighted a new business incubator initiative known as the Start Plast. Termed as a “seedbed for new projects”, the exhibition space was given free to some 30 start-up companies, run by young entrepreneurs, with a focus on 3D printing and biomaterial products, to regenerate the flagging Italian plastics manufacturing sector.

The triennially-held Plast was held in May this year but will take place 26-30 September 2017, so as not to overlap with other exhibitions in 2018

Revitalising the wine-in-pouch concept One of the exhibitors included Italian/ Dutch design agency Reverse Innovation that has innovated a wine pouch. With current flexible packaging for wine having a mediocre image of the quality of the wine filled in it, Reverse Innovation Amsterdam (a spinoff of the Italian agency Reverse Innovation) wanted to overcome the negative image of wine sold in pouches or as a "bag in a box". It also set out to target the wine packaging segment that is Reverse Innovation’s traditional and not open to changes. plastic wine pouch


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The design was born from a partnership with wine maker Gigante and Dutch packaging firm Dackla Pack. The result is a graphic and structural pack that reinterprets the classic Bordeaux bottle. "The contours of the bottle shape are emphasised with gold foil while the terroir of the wine is retold through the use of blind embossing and UV varnish to reproduce the specific shape of the vine leaf which is characteristic of the area," said Mirco Onesti, Reverse Innovation's Creative Director/Partner. "Our intention was to create a high quality product, in order to offer an unconventional and alternative pack for the wine sector.” Wine bottles are intended to be touched and handled so consideration of the aesthetic, tactile and functional experience was essential. Thus, a simple black pouch is wrapped in a paper sleeve that defines the shape of the product. The patented plastic pouch is made of METPET (metallised films coated with aluminium) and BOPP. It has already been in the market for a year, according to Onesti. "We are 95% ready to launch it." Onesti said the company was speaking to some Australian wine makers and also olive oil producers. "The benefits are easier handling since the packaging is light and easier to ship as well as produce since a standard filling machine can be used." When asked about the life span of the wine filled in the pouch, Onesti said it would be two years. "Basically, our intention is to target higher quality wines that range up to EUR15 currently and make them more marketable as well as the transition of bottled products to flexible pouch solutions in other sectors." Already, the wine pouch has won five international design prizes. Orthopaedic therapy made easier Launched a year ago, Siena-located Proteo has been busy promoting its solution for producing customised orthopedic braces, for the hand and wrist, through digital fabrication. According to co-founder Federico Papi, "We offer custom solutions (platform win/iOS, instruments) with b-2-b software and hardware solutions for orthopaedic devices that involve 3D scanning and printing.” He explained that the customised hardware helps a technician to realise better scanning, adding that the technician is usually not an Proteo’s hand wrist expert in operating CAD modelling device that is fabricated and thus, Proteo has made it easy by 3D printing

Country Focus with its solutions. “A technician can easily define the geometry of a medical device then send it to a printer.” The solution consists of a scanner and a software programme. The company is also working with collaborators to develop the 3D printer. A technician can either scan and input all the data and later print the device, or allow Proteo, via a dedicated Internet server, to produce the printable template of the device using SLS technology (nylon) or Proteo displayed a “corset” fused deposition technology for injuries to the body (PLA). The whole process takes less than a minute unlike CAD that will take up to an hour, according to Papi. “We are speaking to all private and public health and orthopaedic centres that want to take the business advantages from a digital process of production. Digital fabrication is the future and we are looking at collaborating with medical professionals.” Currently, it has tied up with a public hospital in Florence to study the feasibility of the hand/wrist orthopaedic therapy devices. Biomaterials from waste Another company EggPlant (not to be confused with the vegetable!) that was incubated in 2013 has innovated a technology for producing PHB (Polyhydroxybutyrate) bioplastics using wastewater from the agrifood industry, currently obtained from the production of olive oil. “The bacteria eat the nutrients in the water and produce the PHB, which we harvest. In this way, we address two big problems: wastewater disposal and pollution caused by the manufacture and use of traditional hydrocarbonsbased plastics,” said co-founder of the firm, Domenic Centrone. Having filed two patents for the technology, the company is now ready for the pilot stage of the PHB. The pilot plant will be located at the Parco Tecnologico Padano, the engine of Lodi Cluster, a Science Park that promotes innovation within the agro-food and biotech sectors. Besides that, the company has also developed proprietary smart technology platforms based on its bioplastic, such as a soft bio-compound, conductive bioplastic for high-tech electronic devices, active packaging and medical devices. Integrated recycling/3D printing Also concerned with the waste produced is management consultancy Alot. It is convinced that digital manufacturing can be once again crucial to mark a revolution in the recycling of waste. According to a partner in the firm, Matteo Brambilla, “The present business proposal has as a basic idea to use post-consumer plastics as raw material in an integrated recycling-digital manufacturing system.” The biomaterials targeted are from PET bottles.

Brambilla said the company is planning to launch its integrated recycling/3D printing machine on a wider scale, and to egg on local authorities to adopt bottle-to-bottle recycling to produce rPET for producing small items from the 3D printer, like furniture. “We have already done a prototype and are now doing the testing in Calabria and are planning to undertake a second test in a bigger city like Lombardia in Northern Italy.” Alot has spun-off the EDM (Eco digital manufacturing) laboratory to undertake the testing of the machine. But Brambilla does agree that PET material is not the best for 3D printing, unlike PLA and nylon, adding that the company is building a special cover to contain the smell and chemicals released when undertaking 3D printing using rPET. “This integrated recycling-digital manufacturing solution will enable disposal and recycling at the level of urban communities and small family groups, saving costs and the environmental impact of transport of waste and avoiding the need for large temporary storage of waste with associated costs for maintenance and CO2 emissions,” he said.   Baby products from bioplastics With the stringent rules in Europe on the use of lead paint and flexible plastics containing plasticisers for baby products, companies are resorting to the use of bioplastics. Ekoala (a typical Italian firm and nothing to do with koalas from Australia!) had displayed a range of baby and children’s products made from Italian chemical firm Novamont’s MaterBi bioplastics. Ekoala intends to retail a range of children’s toys, cups, plates in attractive, bright colours

According to the firm’s co-founder Daniele Radaelli, “We believe it is high time to start building a world for our children that truly is a Wonderland. Made in Italy has always been linked to the idea of high quality, beauty, creativity and passion and hence our designs.” Though the company, that was established in November last year, has not started producing the products yet with the displayed items being the first showcase, the target of Ekoala is a range of children’s toys, cups, plates in attractive, bright colours. Besides the bioplastics used, Radaelli said that the pigments used are also biobased, from Swiss firm Clariant's compostable Renol line. Plus, Ekoala is working on obtaining food contact certification, with Radaelli stating that once all the certifications are in place the company will launch its products, with a target of hitting retail stores at the end of the year. JUNE / JULY 2015


Extrusion Technology

Catering to the needs of Asia Global plastics and rubber extrusion and converting systems machinery specialist Davis-Standard is riding high on the back of a year that has started off well, said newly appointed President/CEO Jim Murphy, speaking at the Chinaplas show in Guangzhou recently. Furthermore, the company is adding on more resources at its technical facility in Suzhou to cater to the demands.

Jim Murphy was recently appointed President/CEO. He has been with Davis-Standard for 25 years, progressing through various leadership roles in sales and engineering management

The FPVC medical tubing line at the Suzhou plant


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On a roll with new projects Headquartered in Pawcatuck, Connecticut, US, DavisStandard is seeing interest in new projects, according to Murphy, who has been with Davis-Standard for more than 25 years and was leading the Sales and Marketing efforts, prior to his promotion. “We are expecting a 10% growth increase in orders this year. We already have a backlog of orders from our worldwide sales,” he commented, adding that the growth is expected from all regions. “North American markets are improving, Europe has turned the corner and we expect orders to pick up, while opportunities are growing in Asia, in countries like India, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and South Korea.” Catering to the needs of regional customers The company has manufacturing and technical facilities in the US as well as subsidiaries with facilities in China, Germany and the UK. In China, Davis-Standard has a laboratory facility in Suzhou, which is building up its capabilities every year, said Murphy. “The Suzhou facility has been a game-changer for Davis-Standard due to regional manufacturing capabilities and the ability to serve every major converting and extrusion coating market in Asia.” In April, it had an open house and welcomed nearly 60 industry leaders from different companies throughout China. “This event was the first of many to be planned at this location,” said Murphy, adding that the company plans on having regular open houses to share new technology and processes with customers. “This is all part of Davis-Standard’s commitment to offering The Global Advantage to customers in the region.” Presentations were made on feedscrew and extruder design, microbore tube processing, extrusion of FEP resins, ultrasonic technology, parts and aftermarket services, PEBAX extrusion for medical tubing, and a live demonstration on the laboratory’s FPVC and Micro Bore tubing lines.

Extrusion Technology Davis-Standard representatives from the US and China as well as representatives from Arkema, DuPont and Zumbach were involved in the presentation. To allow for customer trials, the Suzhou laboratory is equipped with a high-speed FPVC extrusion system and multi-purpose microbore tubing line to support the continued growth of China’s medical industry. The FPVC line is capable of line speeds from 5 to 100 m/minute for processing 2 mm to 8mm OD tubing with accuracy of +/- 50u. Line components include a 63 mm extruder, 8 m water cooling, precision internal air supply, OD gauge and combination puller-cutter. The multipurpose Micro Bore tubing line is designed for single or dual layer tubing, and single lumen tubing with or without a stripe. It is equipped with two extruders, OD/ID wall thickness measuring and controlling system, close loop control via vacuum sizing tank and puller, and a high level central control system. Both lines are available for customer trials and R&D applications. Future product lines in China Murphy says that most equipment in China is imported for high technology manufacturing but Davis-Standard is able to cater to the needs locally. “We are able to offer the solutions locally, and meet the requirements in terms of speed, uptime and quality.” As such, the main products being manufactured in Suzhou and sold throughout the region include extruders up to 90 mm, feedscrews, PLC control systems as well as high speed FPVC systems for medical tubing. Furthermore, Murphy says the Davis-Standard’s extrusion lines are distinguished in terms of quality production, and the company has the technology and machine designs to deliver that. “The melt processing, wide lines, web handling at high speeds and control technology all tie in to offer a quality product.” Additionally, the Suzhou facility can assemble and refurbish gear boxes and control panels, and there are plans to add fabrication and assembly of downstream equipment to service the China and Asia markets, said Murphy. “We have added people and process support for future developments.” The company will also be keeping a close watch on food packaging solutions, since the trend is for flexible packaging. “The middle classes are driving growth in the distribution of food.” He also shared that the company plans to start the production of a low-voltage wire insulation extruder line in Suzhou. “We are planning to start this up by the end of the year.” This should bode well for the company since China’s building and construction market has great potential due to economic development and further urbanisation, according to the China Real Estate Research Committee. Even against the slower GDP growth in the country, it is expected that over the next ten years, China’s urbanisation will reach 65-70% and the urban resident

population will increase by another 300 million. This will, thus, require for the need of 800 million sq m of residential housing in order to accommodate the urban population. Hence, Murphy says the company is working on other developments and “will keep adding on capabilities, products and support in Suzhou.” New cell for elastomer applications Meanwhile, tying up with German rubber extrusion solutions provider Uth, Davis-Standard has recently introduced a new technical cell for elastomer applications at its laboratory at its headquarters in Pawcatuck. The cell features Davis­Standard’s signature DSREV multipurpose elastomer extruder and a Uth gear pump to support processes ranging from hose, automotive seals, and architectural gaskets to in-line straining and pressure stabilisation applications. Davis-Standard has set up an elastomer R&D cell at its headquarters in the US

The firm says it has already conducted several trials since completing the installation earlier this year. “Feedback from customers has been extremely positive. We offer various options for customer trials to address existing processing challenges, as well as future projects. This includes improving output rates, reducing extrudate temperatures, isolation of pressure for effective vacuum venting, and fine mesh straining of various materials,” according to Murphy. The DSREV extruder in the technical centre is Davis-Standard’s flagship design. It is a preconfigured machine with feedscrew and head zone direct injection temperature control units, a compact base, and simplified cooling and wiring systems. Other advantages include touch-screen controls, process data acquisition, and easily accessible machine components. When coupled with the Uth gear pump, processors are able to isolate high pressure and achieve pressure stabilisation. The gear pump is equipped with a Uth two-roll feeder (TRF) for cold feeding or to be used as a stand-alone device for fine mesh straining. Other gear pump advantages include improved filtration, reduced material retention time and small footprint to easily integrate into existing lines. JUNE / JULY 2015


Chemicals Industry

Asian petrochemicals gather steam The petrochemicals sector, a significant contributor to the Asian economy, is overriding challenges against the back of a steady demand, says Angelica Buan.


he lingering low price of oil bodes well for petrochemicals demand, according to experts. And it will take a while, or maybe never, for oil prices to revert to the US$100/barrel base target. Citing the World Bank (WB) report on global economic prospects, the oil prices are projected to remain low this year, and could rise slightly next year. The price slump was drastic in the second half of 2014, yet it translated to more brisk demand for petrochemical products. For example, the low oil price has seen a reduction in the cost of naphtha – a feedstock needed by the plastics industry. IHS Chemical also pointed out that lower oil price is resulting in lower chemical product prices, being that oil sets the production cost and price for many chemicals, plastics and synthetic fibres. A report from Transparency Market Research (TMR) has reiterated this demand hike for petrochemicals in major end-use industries, including construction, plastics, textiles and healthcare. The increase in demand is projected through 2030, amidst the favourable operating conditions in regions such as the Middle East and Asia. While oil price cuts are a welcome respite for the plastics industry that has survived the impact of global economic crisis, the price volatility of natural gas has an inimical bearing on the petrochemicals market. Nevertheless, analysis for the sector indicates that market revenue will continue to kick in, as it is forecast to reach more or less US$800 billion in 2018, according to TMR and BMI Research in their respective reports. China’s balancing act China remains the largest petrochemical market in Asia, and the third largest globally. It accounts for 25% of the global consumption, despite the growth slowdown. India follows China in terms of demand volume. As a whole, the Asia Pacific (APAC) region represents approximately half the global consumption volume, according to BMI Research. An earlier study by Japan's ministry of economy, trade and industry, noted that new facilities are coming up in China and India, as well as in the Middle East. The Dutch consultancy group, KPMG, has estimated China’s growth rates to be around 10% yearly for the last ten years, owing to the demand for Chinese manufactured goods. It is also for this reason that key customers of the chemical industry have shifted their manufacturing and production to China. However, industry players are observing slower increase of petrochemical product imports by the country. At the recent Asia Petrochemical Industry Conference (APIC) held in May in South Korea, the delegates discussed how China’s imports of major petrochemical products, such as PP, remains either slow or flat amidst the high requirement in China for such products. Meanwhile, Managing Consultant Mazlan Razak of Thailand-based energy consultancy firm, Nexant, in his presentation during the Chemorbis Asia Petrochemicals Conference held in June in Kuala Lumpur, said that China will continue to rely on imports to meet its PE and PP demand. But it is only a matter of time that the country achieves self-sufficiency, particularly in these materials, and as a result could soon be exporting to other Asian countries Slow but steady growth is how the American Chemical Council (ACC) describes the developments in China’s chemical industry. In another report, ACC cited that this year, China’s chemical production increase will be a little off at 8.5% against the 8.8% in 2014.


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Chemicals Industry More at stake for India India, another Asian forerunner in the petrochemicals market demonstrates vigorous growth that is faster than the global growth rate of 6%, according to a study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM). It revealed in its study on the Indian petrochemical industry that a likely turnover of US$100 billion is expected for the domestic sector by 2020. Petrochemicals account for 30% of India’s US$120 billion chemical industry, and comprise olefins, ethane, propane, aromatic compounds, synthetic fibres, rubber, and polymers. About 6.2 million tonnes of polymers are being consumed by India, according to ASSOCHAM. Furthermore the local petrochemical industry will be benefitting from over US$25 billion worth of investments due to the increasing demand. This year holds bright prospects for the sector with investment offers coming from the likes of oil and gas giant Royal Dutch Shell, which is planning to expand its retail outlet network in the country with some 2,000 fuel stations in addition to its currently operational 75 stations, utilising its existing marketing licence, according to reports. The Netherlands-based firm supplies crude products, chemicals to oil firms and has interests in lubricants and bitumen businesses. It is also setting up an information technology centre in Bangalore. Chennai-based Manali Petrochemicals has also invested Rs100 crore to triple polyol production from the current 50,000 tonnes/year to 1.5 million tonnes/ year.

New APAC prospects China’s new normal growth pace and economic rebalancing are setbacks for global industries, especially those that lever on exports to China. Despite this, the rest of APAC’s growth remains steady, according to the 2014 global chemicals industry review of Standard & Poor’s. However, chemicals supply in the region is another story. S&P noted that the APAC region’s chemical supply is short. From 2013 to the first quarter of 2014, the sector’s performance has not been impressive, particularly in the segments of refinery, polyester chain, and agro-chemicals, with challenging statuses for the olefins/polyolefins and mining segments. For the succeeding 12 months from the forecast period, improvements were attributed to the refinery, olefins/ polyolefin and agro-chemicals segments. Malaysia, based on data from the Malaysia Petrochemicals Association (MPA), has gained from its strong exports to China, as well to other Asian countries, since its polyolefin industry depends on exports. But now the country has to strategise to compensate for the slowdown in China. Also, it has been bogged down by the weakened ringgit, which recently slipped to a nine-year low against the US$. The shaky currency situation encumbers the purchasing power of domestic chemical players. Nonetheless, its petrochemicals sector remains robust with new developments, including the newly launched U$565 million thiochemicals plant of French chemicals firm, Arkema and South Korea’s CJ CheilJedang.

Manali Petrochemicals is tripling its polyol capacity in India

A new thiochemicals plant in Malaysia is set up by Arkema and CJ CheilJedang

The investment is spread out in phases, with the first phase to be completed by March 2016, adding on about 25,000 tonnes/year to the production. The remaining phases, commissioned every 12 months, will each add 25,000 tonnes/year. Manali projects that the additional capacities will produce cost-effective propylene oxide (PO) in manufacturing products like glycol and PU foams used in automotive, construction, and other industrial products.


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Recently, German chemicals firm BASF and Malaysia’s state-owned oil company Petronas’s subsidiary Petronas Chemicals Group (PCG) broke ground at the BASF Petronas Chemicals site in Kuantan for a 2-Ethylhexanoic Acid (2-EHAcid) plant, which is expected to churn out a capacity of 30,000 tonnes/year, when it comes on stream by 2016. Petronas also has a 300,000 barrels/day petrochemicals refinery and the 7.7 million tonnes/year petrochemicals integrated development (RAPID) steam cracker project in Johor, to produce speciality chemical products such as synthetic rubbers and polymers. Its subsidiary, PRPC Refinery and Cracker, and Japanese

Chemicals Industry construction firm Toyo Engineering Corporation have embarked on a large-scale ethylene steam cracker Complex (SCC) project, which will be part of the RAPID, to be completed by mid-2019. Thailand’s petrochemical sector is also looking to brighter prospects. According to reports, PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) is investing US$200 million for a new metallocene linear low density polyethylene (MLLDPE) plant at Map Ta Phut. The plant, which is expected to commence construction middle of this year and start operation by 2018, will have a capacity of 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes/year In Indonesia, a refinery and petrochemical complex will also be constructed in the Riau province, with the ground breaking scheduled in 2016. The US$7 billion investment is initiated by Oman. State-owned oil company Pertamina will be buying the oil products. Vietnam is also targeted for a 200,000 barrels/ day refinery project. Japan’s JX Nippon Oil & Energy is undertaking a feasibility study for a joint venture refinery project in Khanh Hoa province, Vietnam, by mid-2016. The study follows the MOU signed late last year between JX Nippon and state-owned Vietnam National Petroleum Group (Petrolimex) for the construction of the refinery to be sited within the planned Nam Van Phong Petrochemical Refinery Complex. Depending on the outcome of the study, the plant could come on stream by 2024, said JX Nippon. The Japanese firm is also upgrading its Balikpapan refinery in East Kalimantan in Indonesia. With an MOU signed with Pertamina, JX Nippon is looking at increasing its capacity from 250,000 to 360,000 barrels/ day. Heavier crude feedstocks from the Middle East will be used by Pertamina, instead of the low sulphur crude sourced from Indonesia or Australia. Meanwhile, reports also indicate that strong performing sectors like the automotive, construction and transportation continue to revitalise the region’s petrochemicals industry. Philippines’s sector growth In the Philippines, the automotive and construction sectors are poised for strong growth, prompting petrochemicals manufacturers to ramp up capacities. According to a latest BMI Research report, the country’s petrochemical industry dealt with poor performance in 2014. This year, however, a rebound is taking place as economic conditions improve and capacities increase starting from PP and PE producer JG Summit Petrochemicals Corporation (JGSPC) bolstering capacity utilisation at its new cracker complex. The additional capacity is expected to augment the country’s petrochemicals supply. Last year, chemicals output dropped 15.6% while plastic production slid 7.2%, according to BMI Research. Business Monitor International reported that import of petrochemicals is a major factor for the development of the local industry, complementing planned expansions of domestic petrochemical operations.

Knottical Power says that plastics are amongst the sectors pushing the demand for petrochemicals

Philippines-based Knottical Power, which specialises in trading and making markets for petroleum and petrochemical products, said that it is importing its petrochemical products from Italy, but sources its petroleum products locally. Ira S Kiener, CEO of Knottical Power, told PRA in an email interview that the Philippines as a market base is “ripe”. He explained, “Demand for products requiring polyethylene and elastomers will show a positive relation with disposable income and GDP growth rates.” The country’s GDP grew by 5.2% in the first quarter of the current year, according to the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) data. The firm, which operates in the Philippines is tapping into the other markets by “starting to initiate steps to begin selling products in the US and in the ASEAN region, mainly in anticipation of the ASEAN integration.” According to Kiener, the sectors that are pushing the demand for petrochemicals include plastics, intermediates, styrenics, and elastomers for the automotive, tyre, footwear, mechanical goods, sheeting, flooring, adhesives and extruded goods. Although the country’s petrochemical market evidences huge growth potential, the aspect for production competitiveness seems to be its Achilles’s heel. Knottical Power, which caters to the aerospace, marine, transportation, construction and power generation segments, does not see itself setting up production in the country, as yet. “Our level of technological advancement and sophistication just cannot compete with the status quo. (But) that could change very fast, though, if investments are made into both technology and human capital,” said Kiener. So what will it take for the country to become fully competent in this segment? “I would say investments in technology to allow for more efficient domestic production and investment in human capital to innovate novel ways to produce finished products from raw material in the most efficient way possible so as to be able to compete in the global arena,” he said. Hence, the rise in disposable incomes and GDP rates will be a major factor to the build up of further chemical complexes in the region, to cater to manufacturing of plastic products. JUNE / JULY 2015


Waste Management

Circular Economy: coming to a full circle with waste-to-resources Resources used in manufacturing are depleting at a rate faster than they are being replenished. Unless utilisation mind-set shifts to producing less to zero waste, this situation could become detrimental, says Angelica Buan in this report.

When recycling is not enough Ever since industrialisation began, the production of goods has been using up resources, most of which would eventually end up in landfills at the product’s end of service life. It is only a matter of time that scarcity of resources becomes irreversible; and so changing the way resources are utilised can make a difference. The concept of sustainability is an industry game changer. However, more often than not, the industry continues to move along the linearity of a “make, use and dispose” economy. Known as the linear economy, it underpins an end-of-life concept, which ultimately produces wastes. And within the context of sustainability, businesses mind no more than resource footprints and energy efficiency. On the flipside is the circular economy (CE) model that embodies a restorative economy, whereby wastes are resources. The World Economic Forum (WEF) explicitly defines a circular economy that is beyond the popular notion of oft-said sustainability in lieu of recyclability, for example. It said that within the CE’s premise, “products are designed and optimised for a cycle of disassembly and reuse”. This, thus, distinguishes CE from mere recycling or disposal, “where large amounts of embedded energy and labour are lost.” Since CE is “restorative by intention and design”, all other components associated with it must not hinder recovery or restoration of resources, such that renewable energy must be used and toxic chemicals must be cancelled out. Adopting this model has manifold benefits, one being the opportunity to innovate materials with restorative design. UK-based charity Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) projects that CE will open up a trillion dollar business opportunity for businesses that adopt it, while the European Commission (EC) takes stock of using resources efficiently as a harbinger for new growth and job opportunities. Along the context of the Europe 2020 Strategy, resource efficiency across the value chains can reduce material input needs by 17% to as much as 20% by 2030, and could represent an overall savings potential of EUR630 billion/ year for the European industry. The CE is gradually gaining foothold across manufacturing sectors worldwide. The EC is formulating strategies for Europe to make the region’s economy more competitively resource-efficient. It has hosted a stakeholders’ conference specifically to discuss CE-relevant Circular Economy embodies a restorative economy, policies. The body is also targeting to release its revised whereby wastes are resources proposal late this year, after an initial proposal was shelved last year, reflecting policy options that more than highlight waste management, intelligent product design, sustainable consumption and use of raw materials.


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Waste Management As the EC puts it, “resources must be managed more efficiently throughout their life cycle.” Staying in the loop Adopting CE also calls for staying on its axis. A new assessment tool is offered by EMF and materials information technology specialist Granta Design, following the release of the Circularity Indicators Project findings. The web-based tool can be utilised by businesses to monitor where they are at in the CE loop. According to EMF, while businesses have already acknowledged the significance of adopting the CE model, they require a standard metrics to keep track of their performance in transitioning from a linear to a circular economy. The EC’s Life-funded two-year research initiative Circularity Indicators Project yielded a set of indicators that assess how well a product or company performs in the context of a circular economy. The developed indicators consist of a main indicator, the Material Circularity Indicator (MCI). It measures how restorative the material flows of a product or company are, including the amount of virgin material recycled and recovered materials used; and complementary indicators that allow additional impacts and risks to be taken into account. The indicators can be used by product designers, but might also be used for several other purposes, including internal reporting, procurement decisions and the evaluation or rating of companies, according to EMF. The assessment system also facilitates the use of optional complementary risk and impact indicators, and company level indicators. The complementary risk and impact indicators can be used alongside the MCI to offer insights into potential risk in relation to business priorities and how changing circularity impacts other areas of business interest. Company level indicators are an aggregation of the MCIs for all product types within that business. The MCI and accompanying indicators, according to their proponents, are a set of unique tools that can be utilised in the design, reporting and evaluation phases of a product or collection of products. The company-level indicators and potential extensions might also be used in research, rating and evaluation of companies, policy-making or education. Plastics industry takes a stand Plastics manufacturing takes up 4% of the global output of oil from fossil fuel, a depleting resource. The British Plastics Federation (BPF), in its 2008 the statistical review for the oil market, estimated the oil reserves, at the prevailing production rates, to be around 1.24 trillion barrels or to last for only about four decades. Hence, the plastics industry is expected to benefit from CE, and thus, it is fast-tracking its adoption.

The packaging sector, a leading user for plastics, is also a leading waste producer. It is also becoming a major stream in solid wastes due to its quantity. Plastic waste is the third major constitute at municipal and industrial waste in cities, after food and paper wastes, according to a 2009 assessment report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The bulk of plastics turning to wastes have increased over time. According to the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA), in 2013 alone, the US generated about 14 million tonnes of waste plastics, made up of containers and packaging, with only 9% of the total plastic waste generated that period recovered for recycling. Globally, the market for plastics packaging is forecast by Transparency Market Research to reach US$370.25 billion by 2020. Just imagine how much of this packaging will potentially end up as waste! Targeting an increase in recovery rates, UK-based plastics organisation Plastics 2020, comprising BPF, Packaging and Films Association (PAFA), and Plastics Europe, together with the Wastes and Action Programme (WRAP), has recently launched a recycling action plan. The Plastics Industry Recycling Action Plan (PIRAP) enables the plastic packaging supply chain to involve itself in the UK’s target of 57% recycling of plastic packaging by 2017, recycling being a vital component sustainability, according to BPF. PIRAP also highlights the areas that need to be enhanced to develop end markets for plastics recyclate, such as increasing collection rates, adopting best-in-class collection methods, and optimising sorting infrastructure and design, to cite a few. Meanwhile, Belgium-based plastics association Plastics Recyclers Europe (PRE) finds that the current developments in the PET packaging market may ruin recycling streams. PRE cited that the milk packaging, home and personal care markets are planning to shift from using HDPE to PET based on costs, marketing and sustainability. And because, aesthetically, these markets require colourful packaging, PRE says, the switch could result in additional production of more than 300,000 tonnes of coloured, and black and white PET. PRE said that currently, the PET recycling markets are unable to undertake recycling these additional colours, citing further that these coloured packaging require extra sorting at the recycling plants. Pigments like titanium dioxide, may also contaminate the recycler’s end product. The resulting recycled PET (rPET) could also pose problems with food contact. This could lead to rPET losing its appeal in the market, PRE explains. The group suggested potential solutions such as using full body sleeves that are detectable by near infra-red sorting systems. Most importantly, producers are urged to not break the circular functioning of these recycling streams. JUNE / JULY 2015


Waste Management Managing e-waste responsibly The growth of information technology is also stirring concern on the increasing output of high-tech trash. With the advent of advanced material components in electronic goods that are engineered to be reused, recycled or upgraded, the potential for them being disposed is high, giving rise to electronic waste or e-waste. In a report by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the consumer electronics industry recycled an estimated 281,000 tonnes of electronics in 2013, an increase of 15,875 tonnes from 2012. E-waste scraps may also pose hazardous risks during recycling or disposal, with safety practices recommended. Texas-headquartered PC maker Dell has recently banned the export of defective computers and parts (except for plastics or unleaded glass that can be reprocessed) to developing countries, amidst situations of inadequate facilities, and environmental and work-safety regulations. In countries where e-wastes are shipped, people become exposed to toxic chemicals that are present in electronic parts, when dismantled or burned. Dell’s move, according to environmental groups, is a step in improving e-waste practices among electronics companies. Dell’s “Legacy of Good Plan” is a take-off point for responsible e-waste management.

The days of the linear economy are numbered, says Crystynna Ewe, Asia-Pacific & Japan Director of Global Take Back, Dell

In an email interview with PRA, Crystynna Ewe, Asia-Pacific & Japan Director of Global Take Back at Dell, said that the company has embarked on sustainability initiatives to convert waste to resources. “From the beginning, Dell has viewed waste as inefficient. That set us on a path toward making sustainability a part of all that we do,” she said, adding that the company is currently the world’s largest technology recycler with take-back programmes in 78 countries. “Since 2008, Dell has recovered around 645,000 tonnes of used electronics. Through our innovative sustainable packaging alternatives, like wheat-straw, we have avoided 14,000 tonnes of packaging since


JUNE / JULY 2015

2009, while helping support local farmers and reduce pollution in places like China. We’ve used nearly 10,000 tonnes of post-consumer recycled plastics in our products,” Ewe stated. In view of its 2020 goal, Ewe said that the firm has reached 44% progress toward its target of using 22,700 tonnes of recycled-content in its products. In 2014, Dell had used more than 4.5 million kg of recycled-content plastics in its monitors and OptiPlex desktops, sourced from used water bottles and CD cases, according to Ewe. “Building on this approach, we have also begun an industry standard closed-loop programme, using plastics recovered from electronics collected through our recycling efforts to make new computers. The plastics are from recycled computers recovered via the Dell Reconnect recycling partnership with Goodwill Industries International (an American nonprofit organisation). These plastics are shipped to our manufacturing partners who mix the recycled plastics with some virgin materials. To date, Dell has shipped 18 new product models (desktops, All-in-One, displays) using the closed loop recycled plastics with plans to add more in the future,” Ewe said. The company has also teamed up with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to implement e-waste management models in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, by developing up-scale facilities complying with international standards for e-waste recycling. As part of its circular approach to curb e-waste, the firm also uses sustainable materials for its packaging. “Our carbon-negative Air Carbon Plastic is made from air and greenhouse gases, unlike almost all other plastics, which are developed from oil. We’re turning carbon, that would otherwise be part of the air we breathe, into plastic packaging that will hold our Latitude series notebooks,” said Ewe. Dell collaborates with California-based biotechnology company Newlight Technologies that has developed an enzyme that efficiently converts carbon from air into long-chain polymers that can be used as substitutes for oil-based plastics, according to Ewe. “Our vision is to scale up use of this plastic globally across the packaging and product portfolio. Through this innovation, we will reduce our use of oil, empower a sustainable start-up and help our customers be more green,” she said. Ewe also says, “The days of the linear economy are numbered. Leading companies are already rethinking their business models to engage a circular approach that puts a premium on getting the most out of resources.” According to Ewe, Dell is making this shift by way of transforming the way it designs its products and services, looking at the whole system for efficiencies and extended, sustainable use. In fact, managing e-waste through the circular approach is the way forward.

Injection Moulding Asia Country Focus

China’s “slow” economy not a damper on growth from Gero Willmeroth, President, Engel China. “In recent years, we have enjoyed huge growth in China but we cannot see it growing that much now. We view the declining market dynamics as a new “normal” positive sign that markets are maturing,” he said, speaking at the Adsale-organised Media Day event before the start of Chinaplas.

The slowing down of the economy in China is not necessarily a bad thing, according to exhibitors at the May-held Chinaplas show in Guangzhou.

Chinaplas surges ahead with number of visitors/exhibitors espite the bad weather that caused flight and train disruptions during Chinaplas, the organiser Adsale Exhibition says that Asia’s largest and the world’s second largest plastics and rubber trade fair attracted a total of 128,264 visitors. The show this year also welcomed 35,090 overseas visitors, representing 27.4% of the total, from 137 countries with India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Iran, Malaysia and Japan as the top ten countries.


Gero Willmeroth of Engel China says China’s slower growth is a new “normal” positive sign

Companies still benefiting from moderate growth hether the growth is slower, Willmeroth added that machine maker Engel is benefiting from the quality requirements, since it is in the premium segment of the market that is growing, with companies investing in higher quality and focusing on efficiency and productivity, to compete in the market on a higher level now. Another machinery maker KraussMaffei Group has also had “an excellent year in China” and will grow above the country’s GDP, according to CEO Christian Blatt. Having set up a second production hall at its facility in Haiyan last year to meet the demand, the German machine maker says growth has come from the automotive, construction, beverage packaging and medical sectors. “Our made-inChina machines that are adapted to local requirements and cost-saving features are appreciated by our Asian and Chinese customers,” he said, speaking at the Media Day event. Meanwhile, German engineering plastics maker Domo Chemicals is counting on further growth to come from China, and has invested in a nylon compounding plant, as part of its global expansion of its engineering plastics unit, said Ludovic Tonnerre, Managing Director. The new plant will be located at the company’s Jiaxing facility in Zhejiang province. As part of the total investment, Domo will have a step-bystep expansion at the plant starting up with 10,000 tonnes in 2015; 15,000 tonnes in 2016 and a total Ludovic Tonnerre of Domo capacity of 20,000 tonnes Chemicals outlined the firm’s plans by 2020, said Tonnerre. to invest in a compounding plant


This year’s Chinaplas had more visitors

Compared with the show held in Guangzhou in 2013, this year it registered a 12.4% growth in visitors, while overseas visitors rose by 14%. This year, the show also had 3,275 exhibitors, surpassing the number of exhibitors at the world’s largest plastics show, K in Germany. What do all these numbers really say, against the backdrop of a slowing economy in China? Even with the country’s GDP expected to “slow” to 7% this year, after having a good run of 9-10% in previous years, the exhibition floors at Chinaplas showed brisk activity. Possibly the best summing up would have been 1 J U N E / J U LY 2 0 1 5

Injection Moulding Asia Country Focus “The plant is now being built with four extrusion lines and will be up and running by the end of the year,” said Tonnerre. The new plant will serve Asian customers with Domo’s variety of products including Domamid nylon 6 and 6.6 as well as high temperature nylon compounds and Econamid and Econamid Oro engineering polymers based on post industrial recycled (PIR) waste feedstock. In China, the company is focusing on the automotive industry since China has become the largest vehicle maker. Cincinnati-based machine maker Milacron, which recently announced an IPO, is also investing US$10 million to double output at its hot runner factory in Kunshan, according to CEO Tom Goeke. “2015 is an important year for us. We are expanding our subsidiary Mold-Masters’s facility. The change is driven by customers and the need for new technology,” said Goeke, Tom Goeke of Milacron spoke adding that the expansion at the ten-year old facility will be about the Mold-Masters expansion completed by next year. Last year, Taiwanese machine manufacturer Fu Chun Shin Machinery Manufacture (FCS) broke ground on a new plant it is building together with medical devices maker Shengguang Group in Henan. According to FCS’s Area Manager John Hsieh, the plant will target to produce 500 machines/year, mainly for the medical devices sector. FCS already has two plants in Ningbo and Dongguan, which manufacture around 2,000 machines/year, but it is unable to expand at those sites due to lack of space, said Hsieh. Meanwhile, one of the world’s largest manufacturer of injection moulding machines Haitian International opened the first stage of a new plant in Chunxiao, Ningbo, solely for producing its all-electric Zhafir Venus machines. Spanning 120,000 sq m, the facility has a capacity of 5,000 machines/year. Total area for the plant is planned for 300,000 sq m, with a maximum production capacity amounting to 10,000 machines/year.

plant and will start up in 18 months. “In the current market situation, it is how fast we are able to adapt to market needs that is vital. The utilisation of our factories is also important and since we adopt a flexible production, all our factories are 100% utilised,” claimed Franz. He also added that around 80% of the machine output was for the domestic market, with machinery being used by foreign companies setting up in China as well. Another Chinese machine maker Tederic expects to focus its attention more on the Southeast Asian markets, in view of the “China slow down”, said a company spokesperson. “We have already been selling for three years in Southeast Asia and also export our machines to the US.” Guangdong-based injection moulding machine maker Yizumi Precision Machinery, to support its strong sales growth of 30-40% last year, expects to build two more factories. One is in Wusha, Shunde, with a land area of 81,117 sq m, and the other is in Suzhou, with the first phase comprising a land area of 33,213 sq m. It also intends to further develop the HPM heavyduty die casting machines, HPM presses and auxiliary automated equipment. Yizumi purchased the intellectual property of US-based HPM Yizumi’s improved A5 Corporation in 2011, when it machine went bankrupt. Set up in 2002 with a facility in Shunde National Hi-Tech Industrial Zone, Yizumi also plans to set up another overseas factory either in India, Brazil or Poland, said a company spokesperson. Machine makers expand machinery offerings aitian, in an effort to shift its small machine focus to all-electrics and having sold over 5,000 Venus all-electric machines worldwide since the launch, is now working on a new 1,000 tonne Venus machine that will be available at the end of the year. Franz from Haitian also announced that the company will launch a two-platen Jupiter II Plus in the second half of 2015, also a strategy aimed at shifting its large machinery focus to two platens. The upgraded machine will feature an enhanced speed and injection pressure, and is targeted at the export markets of the US, Europe and Japan. Last year, Haitian sold 211 Jupiter machines, up from 150 in the previous year, and 1,062 Venus all-electric machines, up from 994. Another company that has entered the all-electric machine market is Tederic that was showing its DE series, available in clamping forces from 50-450 tonnes. Last year, the company invested in a 150,000 sq m facility in Hangzhou, where its new product line is made.


Robust growth from Chinese machine makers verall, the Haitian Group delivered around 26,839 machines in 2014, with a turnover of RMB7.56 billion, a 5% increase compared to the previous year. Export sales grew by 13% and reached a new record of RMB2.3 million. The key drivers of growth were attributable to gaining market share in high-level machinery markets such as US, South Korea and Thailand, where double-digit growths were recorded, said Helmar Franz, Chief Strategic Officer. In fact, the company has had a CAGR sales growth of 10% over the past nine years, which Franz said was “remarkable.” In Germany, it is doubling its process capacity at its


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Injection Moulding Asia Country Focus Future of the IMM market ith the call for higher efficiency growing, Haitian’s Franz expects future injection moulding machines to incorporate more digitalisation, reduce the weight of moving parts (moveable platens, clamps and toggles) and to have more energy-efficient drives. He also said that more “cross applications” are expected, such as those that blend injection moulding with other processing techniques like say thermoforming. Looking further into the crystal ball, Franz expects that hardware manufacturers might adopt a different business model, where customers pay not to own a manufacturing machine but to use it. He gave an example of mobile phone network providers that give away free phones to buyers willing to sign a long-term contract. Another company that has undertaken R&D on the market is Yizumi. It says its findings show that smalltonnage all-electric machines and large-tonnage two-platen machines are the future directions of the industry, “but upgrading will take time because the technology and priceperformance ratio of all-electric machines and two-platen machines still have a long way to go.” Though the trend for general purpose machines is still strong, Engel’s Willmeroth says that market volume in China is decreasing due to a shrinking market share or machines lasting longer, hence there is no need for constant replacement. “The daily bread and butter business may need to be repositioned to some extent,” said Willmeroth.

Also jumping on the bandwagon of the all-electric machinery line is Ningbo Liguang Machinery with the Flower press, featuring technology from injection machine maker Ripress in Italy. Germany-headquartered Arburg used the Chinaplas show to have the Asian launch of its Freeformer additive manufacturing of one-off parts and small batches. Helmut Heinson, Managing Director Sales, Arburg, said the machine offers two significant advantages: lower raw Liguang’s new all-electric material costs and the production of “real” parts with same physical machine properties as parts from an injection moulding machine. “The launch of the machine is indicative that Arburg will become a systems supplier for the digital factory of tomorrow,” he said, adding that it will be targeted at the automotive sector. KraussMaffei’s two-platen MX series has been manufactured in Haiyan since 2012, and this year the company extended it to two clamping sizes of 2,700 and 3,200 tonnes. It also introduced the new model in its CX series, CXV for multi-component moulding. Subsidiary company Netstal Arburg’s Freeformer made showed its latest PET-Line 5000 its Asian debut for moulds up to 144 cavities. Also showcased at Chinaplas was Yizumi’s A5 hydraulic series, an improved version of its A5 servohydraulic series, with a larger and stronger clamping unit to allow for bigger tooling. FCS displayed its latest horizontal rotary table twocomponent injection machine. Meanwhile Wintec, a fairly new kid on the machinery sector in China that was set up by Engel last year, has started making two-platen machines in Changzhou. The 22,000 sq m facility, with a capacity of 300 machines/year, is making the t-win series in six clamping forces between 450-1,750 tonnes. Furthermore, Peter Aulinger, President of Wintec, speaking at the Media Day, said the machinery showed productivity increases of 23%, due to reduced cycle times, and 63% less energy consumption, according to independent testing by the National Quality Supervision and Inspection Centre of Plastic Machinery. The twoplaten machines also require 22% less floor space.


Automation playing a big role eanwhile, closer to home in China, machine makers expect automation to take off in a big way, due to increasing labour costs. It is for this reason Engel Shanghai has started up an automation centre with five engineers. “We see the degree of automation increasing because of higher demands on efficiency and precision and also higher labour costs in the country,” said Willmeroth. He said further enquiries are seen in the six-axis robot sector, with assembly and insert functions also growing. “Some parts require automation, such as bumper parts for vehicles and pipes with insert parts. Automation is needed here to reduce the cycle time,” added Willmeroth. KraussMaffei’s Blatt says, “There are a multitude of customers investing in automation in China, especially global key accounts producing in a similar way that they are producing anywhere else in the world. We see a trend of automation with customers that previously invested only in stand alone machines, now adding on a higher degree of automation.” Chinaplas also took the opportunity to dedicate an area with a special robot parade for machine makers to showcase the automation. Overall, the conclusion from Chinaplas is that China is still a global growth engine, with companies in the process of developing further their resources, building up additional sales and competence.


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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery News

Negri Bossi, Sandretto unfurl new developments Negri Bossi on fresh start; eyes Indian expansion resh from its split from Sacmi, Italian machine maker Negri Bossi Group displayed a brand new image at the May-held Plast show in Milan, Italy, with the Sacmi name missing from the Negri Bossi branding. Sacmi sold Negri Bossi to Kingsbury NB LLC, a jointventure between Kingsbury and the private equity company AuSable Capital, last year.

According to Ward, expansion in the US is logical, “because everyone wants to be in that market.” At Plast, it showcased five, fully integrated, injection moulding machines, focusing particular attention on energy consumption and multi-material moulding. It exhibited a 1,100 tonne machine from the eVector series that was moulding a frame of a car light in PMMA; the eCanbio series with Smartflex clamping unit and hydraulic system Smart Energy was moulding a snorkelling mask in tri-material, including LSR. The whole system, developed in cooperation with Guzzini Engineering, allows a complete product to be achieved without post production. Others were the eCanbimat 330 with a vertical injection unit and the e500, with Smart Energy device, with a two-cavity mould for the production of a bi-material automotive part in PP and thermoplastic rubber. The rubber injection was made through an independent injection unit directly linked to the mould.


Sandretto turns a new page with 3D printer nother Italian machine maker that has also undergone a management and ownership change is Sandretto, which is now owned by public-listed French company Photonike Capital. As a result, it has a new management team that is enhancing its production facility in Pont Canavese, Turin, which spans 40,000 sq m, with 25,000 sq m roofed and which is undergoing extensive restructuring. The company that was founded in 1946 by the Sandretto brothers has had its fair share of upheavals. In 2008, Romi purchased Sandretto but downsized it in 2011, and in 2013 disposed of a facility where Sandretto machines were previously produced. At the Plast 2012 show in Milan, some Italian employees of Sandretto staged a protest at Romi’s booth on the company’s restructuring plan. Late last year, Romi issued a statement that starting from 2015, it would adopt the Romi brand. Hence, Sandretto is starting off on a new chapter. Traditionally a manufacturer of injection moulding machines, Sandretto launched a range of heavy-duty industrial 3D printers at the Plast show. This makes it the second injection moulding machine manufacturer to enter the additive manufacturing sector. The first was Germany-based Arburg that has launched its Freeformer in Asia at the May-held Chinaplas show in Guangzhou. According to Luigi Sorice, Sales Director, “After four bad years, we are now back on track. We have developed some new machines, including the 3D printer.”


Craig Ward is confident of turning around the company

Meanwhile, since Negri Bossi’s Indian subsidiary is the hub for the Asian market, it is expanding in the country in a big way. “We are currently renting a facility in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, that has a production capacity of 100 machines but since we expect to sell more than 100 machines and since the capacity will fill up by next year, we are now to going to buy a piece of land and develop a greenfield facility,” said the company’s CEO Craig Ward, who is new to the management team. According to Ward, the company will confirm by September the land purchase and building of the new facility in India. With the exception of the controllers, all the machinery parts are made in India. When asked about its product lines, Ward said, “We will review our machinery lines in the longer term, to develop new products. Currently, we are ensconced in the mass market product line and not in any specialist markets.” With its order books full and expectations of double digit growth, Negri Bossi is also reviewing sales in the regions, especially in Europe that takes up 25% of its turnover, followed by the US and Asia. Ward said, “We are looking for growth through customer satisfaction, which is sensible growth. We have increased our sales networks and invested in the US and in India.” 4 J U N E / J U LY 2 0 1 5

Injection Moulding Asia Machinery News

Sandretto launched a 3D printer at the Plast show

Sorice says the 3D machine was based on a “commercial decision and will not substitute Sandretto’s injection moulding machinery range but provide another alternative. If a customer needs to produce 10,000 products or more, then they will have to use injection moulding. But if a customer cannot wait for a mould to be produced, then 3D printing is an option.” Sorice explained that the 3D printers have been specifically developed for heavy-

our headquarters in Italy and cooperating with national partners, we are blending design and manufacturing skills together,” said Sorice. Plus, by the end of the year, Sandretto expects to set up branches and technical assistance centres in 15 other countries, apart from 40 countries it is already present in.

duty industrial products. The Delta printers introduced at Plast use 1.73 mm filament and have been tested with PLA, ABS, TPU, HIPS, SEBS, PET and PETG and are currently available in three different sizes. “We have had good feedback on the machine. All the components were developed in-house in six months.” Sandretto has set out an “aggressive” marketing plan for its 3D printers, aiming to capture markets from hot wire deposition for plastic materials to polymerisation of loaded resins and sintering of metal of powders. “The era of additive manufacturing solely for prototypes is drawing to a close and 3D printers will tend more to move from a design element to manufacturing,” says the company. The company expects to cover the whole 3D printer range and will launch it by the end of 2016. It is also building a new testing laboratory, known as the Sandretto Skunk Works Lab, in Latium, Italy, to focus on the new development. When asked about its focus on Asia, Sorice, said that the big markets for Sandretto are South Asia. “Yes, the Chinese market is an important one but at the moment we are focusing on selling in South America, Europe and Asia,” he said, adding that the company is represented in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Vietnam. While expansion into China may not be on the cards soon, India is. “We are looking at tying up with a few agents in India, to cover both the north and south of the country,” said Sorice. “We would like to maintain the high quality branding that goes with our made-in-Italy concept for our machinery. By keeping

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • UAE-headquartered Masharie, the Dubai Investments’s private equity arm, has divested its 51% stake in the UAE’s International Rubber Company (IRC) and Saudi Arabia’s Techno Rubber Company (TRC) for US$10 million, thereby generating an internal rate of return (IRR) of 18%. The move is expected to free up capital to pursue new acquisitions within the infrastructure, healthcare, and hospitality sectors targeted to range up to US$27 million of investment. • Outsole and shoe company Vibram has acquired Quabaug Corp, its US manufacturing and distribution partner for rubber soling products since 1965 to form a merger firm Quabaug Vibram Innovation. Vibram plans to invest in QVI with new and advanced manufacturing technologies and equipment.

• North America’s second largest rubber compounder, AirBoss of America, through its whollyowned US subsidiary, will acquire Immediate Response Technologies (IRT), a privatelyowned US firm providing personal protection and safety products, for US$37 million. The acquisition is expected to close during the third quarter of 2015. • Chinese tyre maker Shandong Linglong Tire’s Thailand subsidiary, Linglong International Tire, has added radial truck tyres to its US$115 million factory in Chonburi, Rayong Province, for an additional 1.2 million units/year, to go with 12 million units of car and light truck tyre capacity, which came on stream a year ago. • In lieu of the EUR2 billion-worth of investments for its Vision 2025 strategy, Continental is increasing tyre production at its Hefei plant in China, in a gradual ramp-up of the current production capacity of 5 million car tyres/year to 14 million units by 2019. Increase is also eyed for bicycle tyres from the current 2 million to 13 million tyres by 2025.

• US-based Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company (GTRC) and Japanheadquartered Sumitomo Rubber Industries (SRI) have agreed to end their tie-up with Dunlop and Goodyear brands dating back to 1999. The US tyre maker is set to pay US$271 million to SRI, in addition to a pre-existing debt of some US$55 million. Moreover, control over rights to the Dunlop brands will be split between the firms, which have joint ventures involving Dunlop and Goodyear brands in North America, Europe and Japan. In view of the separation, SRI will acquire GTRC’s 75% stakes in North America; while GTRC will take over the joint venture in Europe, by acquiring SRI’s 25% stake.

• Sweden-based Trelleborg Sealing Solutions has started production of seals at a new facility at Conde sur Noireau, France, to reinforce its position in the European aerospace sealing market. The 3,000 sq m facility was built in a US$5.6 million investment funded by Trelleborg in conjunction with the Calvados council and the community of municipalities of the county of Condé.

• US-headquartered manufacturer of products for the rail industry Wabtec Corp has acquired Metalocaucho, a Spanish manufacturer of rubber-metal components for rolling stock suspension and vibration used on high-speed, inter-city passenger transit cars.

• German speciality chemicals firm Evonik Industries has commenced construction of a new world-scale production plant for precipitated silica for rubber and tyres, located in the South East of the US and in close proximity to major American tyre production sites. Expected to be completed by 2017, the

facility has been earmarked with investment valued in the upper double-digit million euro range. • Micronised rubber powders producer Lehigh Technologies launched Lehigh Spain, a wholly owned subsidiary based in Barcelona, to serve as its marketing arm to cover Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Meanwhile, the Spanish subsidiary is also engaged in the preparation of a new production line in the country. • US-headquartered West Pharmaceutical Services has broken ground for a new pharmaceutical component manufacturing plant in Waterford, Ireland. The facility, which will span about 8,826 sq m with space available to expand to 23,226 sq m, will produce elastomeric sheeting for insulin injector cartridges and other highvalue packaging components for injectable drugs. • Saint-Gobain’s Performance Plastics division is expanding its manufacturing facility for medical devices in the US with an US$11 million investment. The additional estimated 4,459 sq m of manufacturing and warehousing space is the fourth expansion for the facility since it opened in 2001 and is expected to be completed in mid-2016. Meanwhile, the company says that it is on track to relocate its North American headquarters in Philadelphia to a new 65-acre campus in Malvern. • Philadelphia-based distributor of commercial and industrial grade rubber products Rubber Sheet Roll (RSR) has opened an all-purpose office in Arizona to provide recycled rubbers, in addition to its other rubber offerings including Viton, GP, and silicon rubbers, especially for its West Coast customers.

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Rubber Journal Asia Materials News

Playing safe with turf fields Sports and recreational activity promote

The 3G turfs have been improved to offer low impact and softer feel. They consist of a pile (or the artificial grass blades) of up to more or less 60 mm height, placed atop a base layer of sand and infill of crumb rubber (from recycled tyres).

healthy physical well-being. But what if the sports field and playground that are made of a rubber base (comprising crumb rubber from recycled tyres) become potential lair

Hidden costs make them expensive ontrary to the low cost linked to artificial turfs, these are now found to be far from being less expensive, according to the University of Arkansas (UA) Division of Agriculture website. It said that the turfs periodically require additional infill; irrigation during high temperatures on warm days; chemical disinfectants; sprays to reduce static cling and odours; drainage repair and maintenance; erasing and repainting temporary lines; and discarding of organic matter accumulation. UA also mentions that the longer term cost of synthetic turf field is higher compared to a natural turf field; not to mention the disposal costs that would be incurred by a synthetic turf field, with the crumb rubber component. “When artificial turf needs renovating every 8-10 years, there is a hidden cost of disposal. Because the field is filled and top-dressed with a crumb rubber material (typically made from ground automobile tyres), the material may require special disposal,” it said.


for danger, asks Angelica Buan in this report.


he terms “artificial turf” and “crumb rubber” are currently being frequently mentioned over the news, but not quite in a positive way. Circumstances have been linking these materials, used in sports fields and playgrounds to a host of potential safety risks, including injuries and cancer. Artificial turf is synthetic-fibre-based surface that mimics the look of natural grass and is often used in a sports arena or in playgrounds and even in residential lawns. It is preferred mainly for its lower maintenance, requiring no irrigation or trimming and weeding, compared to having grounds with real grass. At the same time, artificial turfs are durable for heavy use. Covered recreation areas can also make use of artificial turfs where absence of sunlight cannot grow healthy grass. Artificial turfs have been around since the 1960s, and have evolved to third generation (3G) turf systems, which are widely used today.

Drawback on safety omprising rubber pellets, the concern on them is that they are laden with carcinogenic and toxic chemicals, including benzothiazole, carbon black, and heavy metals, which render them even unsuitable for landfills. They may also be potentially hazardous when accidentally ingested, inhaled, or if a user comes into contact with them. Notwithstanding that these materials can leach into groundwater and are prone to temperature build up on warm days, unlike real grass, which is designed by nature to stay cool on hot days through soil moisture evaporation. In a study by researchers at Brigham Young University, it found that fields containing crumb rubber often reach unsafe surface temperatures, averaging 47.2°C, with a daily high of 69.4°C. Meanwhile, artificial turfs have also been accounted for diseases inflicted on users. A report on cases say that antibiotic-resistant infection, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) from 2003 to 2005 involved 276 football players in Texas, or a rate of 32 for the general population of 100,000, according to the US Centre for Disease


The third generation synthetic turfs consist of artificial grass blades on top of a base layer of infills like crumb rubber from recycled tyre

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Rubber Journal Asia Materials News Safer organic alternative he use of natural fibres, albeit at a higher cost, such as coconut husks, cork and old shoes, are some of the materials being eyed to replace crumb rubber as infill in turf fields. Some schools in the US are already either replacing the rubberised turfs with or implementing organic turf fields. Although the crumb rubber infill turfs may be around for a while in some places, this new study could pave the way for new solutions to make the rubber base turfs more “safe”. According to a study by the Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Centre (PPRC), the ultraviolet C (UVC) light can effectively disinfect artificial turfs against antibiotic-resistant MRSA and other infections. The method employs the C-band, a shorter wavelength of UV light that kills germs. The study suggested that UVC treatment, when properly administered to the artificial turf surface, is an effective, eco-friendly method to eliminate the disease-causing organisms.

Control and Prevention. While there has been lack of data to establish the rubber-base turfs with the prevalence of infection, findings show that infections often occur at the site burn and are misdiagnosed. Incidences of blood cancer cases have also been reported among contact sports players. Since 2009, after learning about two goal keepers contracting cancers, associate head coach of the University of Washington, Amy Griffin, rounded up a list of players stricken with leukaemia, lymphoma and other blood cancers. She found that there were 38 US soccer players with blood cancers, including 34 goalkeepers. According to her, the one thing in common shared by these players was that they often played on artificial turf made with crumb rubber.


Connecting the dots tudies are ongoing to establish the link between exposure to rubber in artificial turfs and cancer; and opinions are mixed on what some experts say are “anecdotal evidences” thrown against the turfs. These include a 2013 study published in the scientific journal Chemosphere, which revealed elevated levels of toxic substances on surfaces containing recycled tyre rubber. Other studies, meanwhile, suggested that the crumb rubber do not pose significant risks. In 2009, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study suggested that concentrations of crumb rubber in turfs monitored in the study were below levels of concern. The study also found that levels of air samples measured for particles, metals and volatile organic compound concentrations in the monitored turf fields and areas away from these fields (background levels), were the same. Moreover, there were no tyre-related fibres observed in the air samples. As well, more than 90% of the lead in the tyre crumb was tightly bound and unavailable for absorption by users of the turf fields; and the levels of zinc, a tyre additive, were also below levels of concern, according to the EPA report. However, as health concerns mount, especially that which associate crumb rubber in field turfs to cancer, EPA is reportedly taking a softer stance on promoting crumb rubber, being a recycled tyre by-product, which the agency has been vested to do since the early 1990s to reduce the US’s scrap tyre stockpile. It also clarified that its earlier 2009 crumb rubber safety levels study was limited in scope, hence, inconclusive. It said that more testing on crumb rubber should be carried out; and using rubber crumbs will remain a prerogative of a state or local agencies.


The UV light may be able to disinfect rubber crumb-base turfs

The UV light, also known as ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, which is also effective in eliminating bacteria in food, water, air, and various surfaces, attacks toxins by rupturing the nucleic acids of micro-organisms, rendering bacteria inactive. The rate of success depends on certain factors such as application time on the surface; beam strength and use over time positioning relative to the treated surface. Another advantage of using UVC is that the process releases no harmful toxins onto the field or surrounding areas, the study stated. 3

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Rubber Journal Asia Materials News

Rubber in seismic technologies The damaging impact of earthquakes to life

MRB has also helped the Philippines’s Department of Agriculture (DA) in developing NR seismic bearings. The Philippines lies on an earthquake prone zone within the Pacific Ring of Fire. The DA’s Bureau of Agricultural Research, together with the Philippine Rubber Industry Association (PRIA), collaborated with MRB in 2011 on R&D for local application of seismic bearings. According to MRB, deployment of rubber seismic bearings can save up to 20% of construction cost as that eliminates extra materials for reinforcements. Plus, rubber bearings produced in Malaysia are usually given 50-year warranty.

and property prompts for new technologies to be incorporated into design and construction of buildings. These include using rubber polymers for structural reinforcement, says Angelica Buan in this article.


he major quakes that jolted Japan in 2011, and this year in Nepal as well as the Malaysian state of Sabah, tested the integrity of structures against seismic forces and sparked a lesson or two on preparedness and thoughtful structural planning. With the tremblors, the extent of damage in the aftermath would leave anyone wondering if there was anything that could have been done to, at the very least, mitigate the impact. In the case of Nepal, experts said that while the timing of the earthquake, which is endemic to the country owing to its geology, was predictable, yet most, if not all, of the residential, commercial and corporate structures were not quake-proof. According to Professor GR Reddy, Head of the Structural and Seismic Engineering section, Reactor Safety Division, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, India, factors resulting in failure of structures could be due to increase in seismic demand; gaps in structure design; and reduced structural capacity with time. He also said that design concepts (in villages and towns), have been “based on thumb rules and not technical basis”. In Malaysia, after the tremblor in seismic-active Sabah, designs of buildings and other structures have been revisited to check how they could withstand seismic impacts. Reports quoting Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Prof Dr Azlan Adnan, said that the country, for the time being, has no quake-proof design provision for buildings, adding that although seismic technology, such as base isolators and dampers, is also available in the country, the issue of cost is a hurdle to implementation.

Technology take from Japan dvanced technologies in seismic retrofitting and designs are now being developed to dissipate or offer resistance to vibratory impact of earthquakes. Japan, a leader in seismic technology, has buildings that survived the 8.9 Richter scale earthquake in 2011. The country sits on a seismic zone of at least four lithospheric plates. Apart from a stringently adopted building code, deepfoundation structures sit on shock absorbers to dampen seismic energy; or on an isolated base that “sways” independently from the rest of the structure during ground motion. Japan utilises the levitation and seismic isolation technologies. With the levitation technology, an airlift system employing airbags that are triggered by seismic activity would “lift” homes up from the ground to protect them from damage, until the tremblors stop. The developer of this technology by inventor, Shoichi Sakamoto, was Japanese firm, Air Danshin Systems; it was launched in 2012. It is designed with mechanisms to be installed around the building and a sensor that reacts within 1 second of an earthquake. This activates a compressor, forcing air from a storage tank to fill the chamber and lifts the entire structure up to 1.18 in. A valve controls the air and keeps the building steady as it floats. When the earthquake stops, the building is lowered back onto the reinforced base. Emergency batteries are provided to ensure operation even during power outages. Similar to this concept is California-based Air Pax’s newly patented hoverboard technology. Known as the Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA) Structural Isolation, it is utilised in combination with existing early warning systems like University of California (UC) Berkeley’s ShakeAlert early-warning software. Air Pax said, on its website, that the three-part foundation system acts by decoupling an object or building from the earth to provide protection against earthquakes, floods and rises in sea levels.


Malaysia’s rubber seismic technology he country, one of the world’s largest natural rubber (NR) producer, has been developing rubber seismic technology through the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB). The agency has a facility capable for testing rubber bearings on compressive strength, shear stiffness, and damping value; it also has a research centre in the UK.


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Rubber Journal Asia Materials News Meanwhile, seismic isolation, which is also widely used for earthquake-proofing, enables structures to resist displacements during ground motion.

response to ambient temperatures). This technique has also proven effective in isolating buildings from seismic and other forces of vibrations. Later rubber bearings with suitable modifications were used to isolate buildings from earthquakes. Such bearings have already been developed and are in use for seismic isolation in several developed countries, especially Japan and the US.”

Good old rubber carries the bearing load he base isolation technique is not new. The concept, used in monuments in Pasargadae (now in the Southeast of modern day Iran), goes back to 6th century BC, according to research on earthquake smart technology by Emma Keaney of Liverpool John Moores University. The two-foundation concept consisted of the lower solid base made of stone, and was cemented together using lime and ashes/sand plaster; while the second foundation, laid out of wide slabs of polished stones, was fastened together with metal bars and clips to form a large plate, enabling it to slide during an earthquake. According to Keaney, the first recorded isolation system (after the first official isolation system was registered and received a patent in the 1800s), was the lead rubber bearing (LRB) system; while a high damping rubber (HDR) system was developed in the 1980s, and first used in the US. Then, the HDR paled in elasticity as it was prone to deformity after an earthquake and unable to return to its original state. Nonetheless, rubber has been a widely used material for this purpose. Sheela Thomas, Indian Rubber Board Chairperson and Secretary-General of the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC), told RJA in an interview: “Rubber has long been recognised as a useful engineering material for vibration isolation and relieving from stress and strain of major buildings and other constructions. Rubber–metal laminated bearings have been used in bridges since the 1950s to protect them from damaging stresses and strains as a result of bridge expansion and contraction (in


Base isolation takes the brunt or base isolation, Thomas said that the commonly used material is a rubber bearing, preferably made out of NR. “Research and development work on NR bearings for isolating seismic vibrations was started in 1976 at the Earthquake Engineering Research Centre (EERC), now Pacific Engineering Research Centre, of the UC Berkeley. The work was undertaken as a joint effort of the EERC and the Malaysian Rubber Producers Research Association (MRPRA), UK (now known as the Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre). The technology that goes into the making of rubber bearings ensures that these are unaffected by time and are resistant to environmental degradation.” Thomas also went on to explain that the bearings are made by vulcanisation-bonding of compounded rubber to thin steel reinforcing plates. “Rubber bearings have been very successfully used for tall buildings since the 1980s. Research is still going on for further improvements and innovations,” she explained, Meanwhile, in another research, Dr SK Thakkar, ex-Professor Railway Chair and Professor of Earthquake Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, said that bridge bearings are also subjected to deficiencies, associated with “inadequate seat width and to accommodate displacements in earthquakes”. He suggested that possible retrofit solutions would include, “replacing steel bearings by elastomeric bearings; by base isolation bearings, by bearing seat extension; or by provision of stoppers and devices to prevent jumping of the girders.” This implies that, with the critical function of bearings in the integrity of mega-structures like bridges, rubber material provides the seismic-energy dissipation performance that is required. “Experience and research show that use of rubber-based bearings in bridges and buildings will certainly save lives even if the structures are damaged during an earthquake. Use of seismic/vibration isolators should be made mandatory for all sensitive and important installations such as nuclear and other power stations, hospitals, schools, high rise buildings, and defence establishments, especially in seismically active regions,” Thomas told RJA, in conclusion.


Rubber has been recognised as a useful engineering material for vibration isolation, says Indian Rubber Board chief and ANRPC sec-gen, Sheela Thomas

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Events 2015

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