PRA April 2012 Issue

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

業界 新 聞 色母 粒 : 晶体化聚酯母粒









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4:58:28 PM

In this issue 20


Volume 27, No 189

publlshed slnce 1985

IMA 3 A S l A’ S L E A D l N G maga z l ne f or the plastlcs and rubber lndustry

Features 焦 點 內 容 20 Cover Story

Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email:

24 German Machinery & Technology

Executive Editor Tej Fernandez Tel: +60 3 4260 4575 Email:

18 色母粒:晶 体化聚酯母粒 With polymer demand building up in Asia, petrochemicals mogul ExxonMobil Chemical rises to the occasion with its wide offerings Highlights from German machine makers at the Chinaplas show, to be held from 18-21 April in Shanghai

30 Extrusion Machinery

Updates from machinery makers like Davis-Standard, Macro, Macchi and Omipa

34 Masterbatch

Staff Writer Lyn Cacha Email: Editorial/Production Coordinator Angelica Buan Email:

Enhanced IRD with infrared radiation for drying PET masterbatch

Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling

36 Chemicals Industry

Circulation Tean Arul Email:

38 Composites

“Green” composites are expected to take-off in the aviation sector, said presenters at SAMPE’s conference in Malaysia

Singapore Office Contact: Anthony Chan Tel: +65 63457368 Email:

40 Compounding


The volatile olefins sector is neutralised by shale gas discoveries in the US, said presenters at ChemOrbis’s conference in Malaysia

A round-up on the latest offerings from Steer, Leistritz, Coperion and B&P Process Equipment

42 Country Focus

Vietnam’s plastics sector is aiming for maturity to achieve competitiveness

Regulars 概 要 4 Industry News 8 Materials News 12 業界新聞

Supplements 概 要 Energy and time-efficient machines are trending in this year’s Chinaplas With natural latex in short supply, alternatives are being offered

On the Cover ExxonMobil Chemical’s range of polymers covers the automotive, flexible packaging, agriculture film and nonwoven sectors

ISSN 1360-1245

MICA (P) 134/08/2011 KDN PPS 1700/12/2012 (028142) Printer KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd PRA is published 8 times a year in Mandarin and English by Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this publication is correct, the publisher makes no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the nature or accuracy of such material to the extent permitted by applicable law. © 2012 Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or used in any form, or by any means, without specific prior permission from the publisher. PRA is circulated free to trade readers in the plastics and rubber industry. Airmail subscriptions are available at US$160 within Asia and US$250 to all other countries outside Asia.

PRA is a member of ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation)


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Industry News

BASF keeps busy with new projects


erman chemicals firm BASF is increasing its cyclohexane oxidation capacity in Antwerp, Belgium, by 50,000 tonnes/year. According to the company, the EUR10 million investment will help reduce its dependency on external suppliers of cyclohexane oxidation. The latter are intermediates for caprolactam and adipic acid as well as starting materials for PA6 and PA6.6. The expansion will be implemented as part of two long-term planned turnarounds and will be completed by 2014. BASF is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of polyamide and its intermediates and operates cyclohexane oxidation units in Germany, Belgium and the US. In other news, Malaysian petrochemicals firm Petronas and BASF have taken the next step in the development of the previously announced EUR1 billion investment to expand their partnership in Malaysia. These involve projects at their existing venture in Kuantan and at a new site in Petronas’s proposed Refinery & Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) complex in Pengerang, Johor. These projects are to be implemented between 2015 and 2018. A new joint venture (BASF 60%; Petronas 40%) has been formed to construct facilities for isononanol, highly reactive polyisobutylene, non-ionic surfactants, methanesulphonic acid


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and plants for precursor materials, all to be sited at Petronas’s RAPID project. Meanwhile, Petronas, through its subsidiary Petronas Chemicals, and BASF are also conducting a feasibility study to expand BASF Petronas Chemicals’s operations in Kuantan. These include expanding the C3 value chain with a new plant for superabsorbent polymers as well as expanding the existing glacial acrylic acid unit. BASF Petronas (BASF 60%; Petronas 40%) was founded in 1997 and currently operates an integrated complex with acrylic monomers, oxo products and butanediol facilities in Kuantan. The chemicals to be produced at the new facilities will be for the Asia Pacific region. Nonionic surfactants are used in technical processes, methanesulphonic acid in electroplating and chemical synthesis while isononanol is a plasticiser feedstock. Superabsorbent polymers are used to make disposable diapers and adult hygiene products. Furthermore, to expand its PET foam business, BASF has purchased Italian foam maker BC Foam. The acquisition includes production facilities and intellectual property rights as well as a special extrusion process that enables the production of highdensity PET foams. These are used in wind turbine rotor blades, thereby increasing the firm’s share in the global wind energy market.

M&As from around the world


rom Asia and Australia to the US and Europe, firms have been busy with mergers and acquisitions. Thai PET supplier Indorama Ventures is acquiring 100% equity in Indonesian PET supplier PT Polypet Karyapersada’s facility. The 100,800 tonne/year-facility is situated adjacent to Indorama’s purified terephthalic acid facility in West Java, which it acquired last year. Polypet supplies half of its output to the Indonesian market. According to Indorama, integrating the two plants will help create greater efficiencies in terms of costs, shared services and logistics. In Australia, packaging firm Amcor is buying competitive flexible packaging supplier Aperio Group for US$125.2 million. The two companies believe there are limited overlaps between their operations and the deal will not result in significant market concentration. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), however, believes it will create a company with 30% share in the Australian flexible packaging market and has yet to approve

the sale. Amcor said the acquisition will add 13 sites to its Amcor Flexibles Asia Pacific (AFAP) business’s existing 21 sites. AFAP is expected to generate US$1.27 billion in annual sales. German chemicals firm Evonik Industries is selling its global colourants business to US private investment firm Arsenal Capital Partners. The business develops colourants for decorative coatings used for industrial applications including maintenance, marine and wood coatings. It generated sales of EUR130 million last year. Meanwhile, to strengthen its product offering of conductive compounds in Europe, US-based compounder RTP has acquired the conductive compound line from Swiss chemicals firm Clariant. The transaction includes technology and equipment that the companies will work to transfer. RTP will relocate production equipment to its facility in Ladenburg, Germany, which it opened last year. The expansion, RTP says, will enable it to service its customers in Europe.

Industry News

Shale gas boom to drive down PE prices


eologists have long known about the existence of shale rock formations in the US, mainly in the Marcellus Shale (a region covering parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia). However, the ability to extract this energy resource is a new development, said Jim Becker, Managing Director of Chevron Phillips Chemicals Asia, speaking at ChemOrbis’s conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, recently. Two technologies – hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling – have helped to successfully and economically unlock this resource, with more than 50% of drilling rigs in the US using these technologies. Becker shared how this newfound discovery can impact the PE market and says that its development has caused a major increase of feedstocks in the US, allowing the country to have strong demand in export markets in the coming years. Global demand for PE is expected to be stronger, creating significant profits for PE makers in the US. With the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, shale gas production registered an exponential growth of 114% from 2007 to 2011, says Becker. The boom will continue as midstream companies make aggressive investments valued at US$15 billion for


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Jim Becker, Managing Director of Chevron Phillips Chemicals Asia says the newfound discovery can impact the PE market

building new pipelines and increasing fractionation capacity. The American Chemistry Council says that ethane supply growth in the US will result in US$132 billion in economic output At present, the magnitude of shale gas resources in the US may not be comparable to the large natural gas reserves in Poland (more than 100 trillion cu ft) and China (75 trillion cu ft). Yet, estimates from recent studies point that technically recoverable resources are increasing as significant learning and activity expand. In-depth studies and exploration are currently under way to fully assess the shale potential in Europe, Asia and Australia, said Becker. Chevron Phillips is constructing a 1.5 million tonne/yearworld-scale ethane cracker and ethylene derivatives facility in Texas. Early this year, the company won the license for the extraction of shale gas in Bulgaria. The rights however banned the use of hydrofracking technology unless

Chevron Phillips provides sufficient evidence and means to control it from harming the environment. Moreover, the firm has recently forged ties with Sinopec to explore shale gas potential in China. Increased natural gas supply is also the main reason for Taiwanbased Formosa Plastics plan to invest US$1.7 billion to expand its

petrochemicals site in Texas. The expansion includes an LDPE plant with a capacity of 300,000 tonnes/ year; a 820,000-tonneolefins cracker and a 600,000 tonne-propane dehydrogenation unit. Shell Chemical is also setting up a new petrochemicals site in Pennsylvania which will develop a cracker unit, to process natural gasbased ethane and make ethylene feedstock, with future possibility of PE and monoethylene glycol units, to help meet increasing demand in the US. Shell already produces ethylene and related feedstocks in Texas and Louisiana; and hasn’t been involved in the PE market since it sold off its stake in Basell in 2005.

News In Brief LG Chem wins IPR case South Korea-based LG Chem has won a lawsuit in which US firm Dow Chemical claimed violations of technology used to make ethylenebased elastomers. Dow claimed that LG had violated intellectual property rights on metallocene catalyst technology used to make the materials. Dow says it is “disappointed” by the decision and is considering options for appealing the Korean court’s decision. Dow uses

the technology to produce its Engage polyolefin elastomers. RTP sets up R&D in China US compounder RTP will open a technology centre in Shenzhen in April. It will house engineers and technical support staff for its product line. The centre will support the company’s expansion outside the US and enable it to be closer with customers. RTP has 11 manufacturing plants in the US, Europe, Asia and South America.

Industry News

China growth plan for DuPont


S materials firm DuPont expects to continue the growth of its Performance Polymers business at double digit rates in China over the coming five years. To support that growth, it has invested in the Automotive Centre in Shanghai to meet the needs of the market, in the application areas of powertrain, thermal management, chassis, electrical and electronic, interior and exterior. Compared to cars in Europe, the penetration of plastics, in terms of kg/vehicle for comparable car models in Asia is significantly lower, the company says, adding that its working with major Chinese automotive OEMs to close this gap. “Electrical vehicles, for which light-weighting is a higher imperative, represent an exciting opportunity,” said a company spokesperson. Aside from the automotive sector, DuPont is making inroads to new

applications such as LED, wire and cable, healthcare and sporting goods and will also introduce a new Electrical Insulation Systems Selector site at the Chinaplas show this April in Shanghai. Its other focus is on the building industry in China. “Infrastructure represents major opportunities, in which DuPont is actively participating in railways, photovoltaics or components for telecom equipment,” adds the spokesperson. With the demand for more environmentally friendly solutions on the rise in Asia, the company is introducing its Hytrel material as an alternative to PVC in electrical cables. Furthermore, it expects to achieve its sustainability goal by 2015 through the development of photovoltaic materials, advanced biofuels, lightweight plastics and renewably sourced materials, according to the spokesperson.

Sabic buys PU raw material technology


n line with its plan to expand into the PU sector, SABIC has acquired licenses to manufacture TDI and MDI from Japanese firm Mitsui Chemicals. Moreover, the company believes this will enable fast development of PU applications in Saudi Arabia, especially in

thermal insulation. The agreement requires Mitsui to provide manufacturing technology for producing TDI and MDI, both raw materials for producing PU. It also provides for joint technology development in TDI/ MDI.

The agreement was signed by Mohamed Al-Mady, Sabic Vice Chairman/CEO and Toshikazu Tanaka, Mitsui Chemicals President/CEO

Green Materials News

Partnering to further resources More biobased and sustainably-aligned ventures and tie-ups are being firmed to explore and expand the use of greener materials in the plastics sector. Tie-ups expand resources To expand its current feedstock for bio-sourced raw materials, US firm Elevance Renewable Sciences has struck a development deal with the French chemicals firm Arkema to develop and produce renewable speciality polymers. The partnership entails Elevance to provide starting materials to Arkema to develop the new materials. This venture is the second one for Elevance. Last year, it had a similar partnership with Swiss firm Clariant International to commercialise additives made from renewable materials. Elevance also purchased a biofuels refinery in the US to make renewable speciality materials based on natural oils. Acrylic maker Arkema Lanxess has uses renewable materials in its additives plasticisers portfolio. Meanwhile, US firm Metabolix has granted a nonexclusive license to PLA maker NatureWorks to make, use and sell blends of PLA with certain other polymers including polybutylene succinic (PBS). The University of Massachusetts Lowell is the owner of the patent and Metabolix is the exclusive licensee in the relevant field. On a related noted, NatureWorks and BioAmber are also partnering in a joint venture that will support NatureWorks in bringing to market new polymer compositions. The firms say this development will expand the uses of PLA in biodegradable plastics because the blends allow for a stronger, more flexible form. NatureWorks, a joint venture between agricultural giant Cargill and plastics and chemicals maker PTT Chemical of Thailand, operates a PLA facility in the US. Last year, it started up commercial production of bio-based PHA resin together with its partner Archer Daniels Midland, which has since pulled out of the joint venture. Committed to phthalate-free plasticisers, German chemicals firm Lanxess has made significant investments over the year. The company acquired US firm Unitex Chemical to provide an additional capacity of 50,000 tonnes/year of phthalate-free plasticisers of which its portfolio includes benzoates, citrates and sulphonamides. Recently, Lanxess invested US$10 million in BioAmber that specialises in corn-derived succinic acid. The two companies together have developed plasticisers that are alternatives to phthalate-containing formulations, with market entry expected later this year.


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invested in US firm BioAmber to make phthalate-free

BioAmber’s biobased succinic acid in Pomacle, France, has a capacity of 3,000 tonnes/year. It plans to add a further 17,000 tonnes of capacity from 2013 with a new world-scale facility to be built in Canada, at Lanxess’s site. The global market for phthalate-free plasticisers is currently estimated at EUR1.3 billion – with annual growth rates of 7%. As a result of regulatory developments, demand for phthalate-free plasticisers is growing in the US, Western Europe and Japan as well as Latin America. Authorities are increasingly restricting the use of phthalatecontaining plasticisers for consumer goods such as toys, food packaging and cables. Meanwhile, US firm Virdia, formerly HCL Cleantech, a developer of cellulosic sugars, announced a major milestone of its latest funding and a US$75 million deal with the Mississippi Development Authority to build manufacturing plants in the state. The agreement includes an incentive package with US$75 million in low-interest loans as well as up to US$155 million in various tax incentives over a ten-year period. Virdia’s cellulosic sugar plants are expected to create hundreds of new jobs over the same decade. The company developed the case process, which converts cellulosic biomass to high quality fermentable sugars and lignin that are important feedstock for the renewable chemicals industry and the second generation biofuels sector. Virdia plans to build its cellulosic refineries close to sustainable sources of biomass. Once deployed at scale, the process of converting biomass to fermentable

Green Materials News

sugars will be economically attractive. The sugars have been tested by various partners in chemical and biochemical applications and the feedback is positive. Elsewhere, in Italy, masterbatch manufacturer Frilvam has teamed up with compound maker FiPlast, a subsidiary of Cossa Polimeri Group, to manufacture and distribute its bio/compostable Prismabio 91319. It is compliant to UNIEN 13432 norm and is developed for the packaging and agriculture film industry. The firm says its product is easy to process due to higher heat stability, which allows a wider use of the traditional film extruders as well as a full respect of the organoleptic properties of the manufactured component. The firm says its product is not based on corn starch or potato but is a derivative of fossil origin. Frilvam’s biodegradable and compostable product is targeted at producing shopping bags and mulch films

Dutch firm Avantium and bottled water firm Danone Research are teaming up to develop bottles from polyethylene furanoate (PEF) – a furanic polyester developed by Avantium as an alternative to PET. PEF is developed using Avantium’s YXY technology, a catalytic chemical process that converts carbohydrates into biobased polymers. Last year, Coca-Cola announced its investment in Avantium and two other companies to develop a 100% biobased version of its Plant Bottle. Avantium currently operates a 40-tonne PEF pilot plant in the Netherlands. Avantium is progressing with its ventures in PEF bottles

Plant set ups Another Dutch firm Purac has completed the construction of a 75,000-tonne/year lactide plant in Thailand and has begun producing batches of Puralact lactides. The firm says the US$45 million investment is driven by its commitment and that of its parent company CSM to develop the PLA market.



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Purac has started up its Thai plant

PLA homopolymer resin produced from Purac’s stereo chemically pure L-lactide has recently been tested and validated in a range of applications like packaging, foam, fibre and consumer products. In the segment of fibre spinning, a technical performance comparison was made between a regular commercial PLA fibre grade and a comparable Puralact L based PLLA homopolymer. Results revealed that the fully-drawn yarn had improved mechanical and thermal properties due to the higher melting point of PLLA homopolymer. The fast crystallisation and high levels of crystallinity of the PLLA provide important benefits to physical properties of fibres and fabrics. Meanwhile, French firm Roquette Freres has constructed its first production facility for bioplastics in France. Over the past few years, the company has produced bioplastics under the Gaialene brand. The new facility is capable of producing 25,000 tonnes annually yet the types of resins to be manufactured were not disclosed. Roquette, however, noted that the product range will be used for films, injection moulded parts and small bottles. New research optimises natural resources The green chemistry team of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence (CoE) has discovered new biotechnological and chemical methods that will help efficient production of chemicals, materials and fuels from renewable resources. Through gene technology, microbial metabolism is modified to produce sugar acids and their derivatives that are suitable for a wide range of industrial applications. The compounds serve as raw materials for polyesters, with properties that be used for manufacturing new plastics and textiles and packaging technologies. This new material could replace the currently nonbiodegradable absorbent components in hygiene products. Sugar acids are also a source of hydroxyl acids, such as glycolic acid, whose oxygen-barrier properties make it suitable for food packaging. To complement with its latest discoveries, CoE has also developed highly sensitive measuring methods that investigate microbial cell functions at molecular level. According to the research organisation, this information can be used to create efficiencies in bioprocesses for the future.

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Positioned to meet polymer demand in China As demand for polymers in China and Asia Pacific continues to increase, US-based global plastics supplier ExxonMobil Chemical says it is well positioned to meet this growth through its long-term commitment and investment in the region.


n Singapore, ExxonMobil is well-advanced on an expansion of its site that will make it the largest integrated petrochemical complex in the world. When completed, this energy-efficient complex will more than double the site’s steam-cracking capacity and provide feedstock flexibility. The significant increase in production capacity will expand the company’s ability to meet growing demand in Asia Pacific with advantaged supplies. In addition, ExxonMobil’s joint venture in Fujian, China, has been operational for over two years. This world-scale, fully integrated petrochemical complex is well-positioned to meet demand in the rapidly growing China market. The set up of the Shanghai Technology Centre (STC) last year also signifies ExxonMobil’s commitment to support the growth and success of customers in China and the Asia Pacific region. “Ensuring well-trained, market-facing technology and application expertise resources are in the region helps drive innovation in Asia Pacific,” says the company. Furthermore, it says that its scientists and technologists at STC use state-of-the-art laboratories, product testing and extrusion facilities to offer innovative solutions that combine premium brands with application expertise. Technology leadership Technology leadership is at the core of the company’s ability to help deliver sustainable solutions for customers. In this respect, its innovation in product development has created the unique metallocene products Enable mPE and Exceed mPE resins, Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomers and new Vistalon EPDM grades. These complement the company’s other industry-leading brands, such as Santoprene thermoplastics vulcanisates (TPVs), ExxonMobil PP grades, Exxtral polyolefins and Achieve polymer resins.



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The STC houses laboratories, product testing and extrusion facilities

“Customers are using these polymers for innovation in a broad range of applications including flexible and rigid packaging, agricultural films, appliances and nonwovens. These polymers enhance performance while delivering on the company’s commitment to developing more sustainable solutions.” In flexible and rigid packaging, Enable and Exceed mPE, Vistamaxx and ExxonMobil PP resins are helping customers develop downgauged packaging, accomplishing more with less and moving the packaging industry to a more sustainable future. A good example is packaging that contains, protects and promotes products all the way from the factory floor to store shelves to consumers’ shopping bags. In the automotive sector, Santoprene TPVs, Vistalon EPDM, Exxtral polyolefins and ExxonMobil PP are helping the industry to build lighter weight cars with reduced fuel

consumption, lower emissions and enhanced performance. In nonwovens, Vistamaxx is inspiring breakthrough nonwovens with distinctive designs and simpler construction, while enhancing performance at reduced costs. Innovation in flexible packaging In the packaging sector, Enable and Exceed mPE resins and Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomers can contribute to the sustainability of high-performance flexible film formulations. Exceed and Enable mPE resins provide film downgauging opportunities that use less raw material and film and lower film transportation costs. Improved film performance results in less package failure and material spillage and longer packaging shelf life. In addition, Enable mPE resins can deliver lower cost extrusion for energy savings, faster transitions and more consistent film quality (less waste). Exceed mPE resins

can also lead to fewer packagingline shutdowns from reduced film breakage. Vistamaxx can deliver new valueadded opportunities for a wide range of flexible film, extrusion coating and lamination applications by delivering new levels of performance, processing efficiencies and lower formulation costs. Exhibiting compatibility with other polymers, Vistamaxx propylenebased elastomers can be used to enhance targeted properties such as: sealability for improved hermetic performance and faster packaging line speeds; adhesion for better package integrity; cling for better performance of surface protection and cast stretch films; elasticity for enhanced stability and protection of pallet loads; and toughness for reduced package puncture. For high density polyethylene (HDPE) shopping and garbage bag films, Vistamaxx propylenebased elastomers can improve film toughness to allow downgauging opportunities and increased recycle usage for a more favourable costproperty balance. Using a Vistamaxxbased filler masterbatch, such as

The company is focusing on providing application expertise resources to help drive innovation in Asia Pacific


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FRONT COVER FEATURE calcium carbonate, allows higher filler loading resulting in lower costs, stronger films and better load bearing capacity for downgauging. It also allows optimisation of the HDPE/filler/recycle ratio for an enhanced modulus toughness balance. Extending it to agricultural films In the agricultural greenhouse market, Enable mPE resin can help meet the demanding requirements of large lay-flat films, says the company. “With Enable mPE resin, converters can achieve enhanced optical properties for light transmission that raises greenhouse temperatures faster for better crop production.” Other benefits are the improved toughness and dart impact resistance that lead to less weatherrelated damage and downgauging opportunities that save raw materials and lower costs.

In the agricultural greenhouse market, Enable mPE resin is used to produce large lay-flat films, for light transmission that raises greenhouse temperatures faster for better crop production

“Enable mPE resin can help meet changing market needs and create higher-value film products while taking flexible film production to a new level of performance,” adds ExxonMobil Chemical. Lower weight in automotives In the automotive sector, ExxonMobil Chemical says its polymers are helping the industry to build cars with reduced fuel



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consumption, lower emissions, enhanced performance and productivity. “Automotive designers, engineers and material engineers can capture the benefits of optimal parts performance through a comprehensive portfolio of high-performance materials.” These include:

• Santoprene TPVs for weatherseals, interiors and underhood applications • Vistalon EPDM rubbers for weatherseals and underhood applications • Exxtral polyolefins for interior and exterior applications • ExxonMobil ICP PP resins as a basestock material for automotive compounds • Exact plastomers for impact modification in PP and engineered polymers for interiors and bumpers

Santoprene TPVs for semidynamic or static weatherseals are said to provide proven durable sealing performance, lower weight, part function integration with simplified processing and long term aesthetics. For example, Santoprene 121-65B200 TPV, an EPDM bondable grade for compact automotive glassrun channel weatherseals lowers cycle times and trimming work to reduce part cost. “This superior flow glass encapsulation moulding grade provides excellent surface aspect and aesthetics, no mould stickiness during processing and cohesive failure for glass adhesion,” the company says. For automotive exteriors, such as bumper fasciae, Exxtral polyolefins are replacing higher cost, heavier and harder to recycle materials because they provide improved processability with higher melt flow, a low coefficient of linear thermal expansion (CLTE) and shrink; scratch resistance, toughness, good appearance and easy recyclability. For automotive interiors, such as door panels, upper and lower trim and instrument panels,

The company offers a range of polymers for the automotive sector

Exxtral polyolefins deliver good appearance, scratch and mar resistance, low VOCs, toughness, excellent paintability and easy recyclability. “Santoprene TPVs can provide enhanced aesthetics, durability and a comfort-touch finish without the need for secondary painting,” says the company. In automotive under-thehood and undercar applications, Santoprene TPV offers durability, strength, sealing performance, and temperature and chemical resistance. In short injection moulded air ducts, Santoprene TPV can deliver weight savings of 25 to 45% compared with thermoset rubber compounds. Vistalon grades designed for low (125°C), medium (135°C) and high (150°C) temperatures provide good ageing and electrochemical crack resistance for automotive hose. ExxonMobil’s ICP PP resins provide compounders with consistent quality basestock materials with a broad range of melt flow rates (MFRs), various levels of stiffness and impact strength that are well suited for demanding automotive applications. Also, battery case manufacturers are using ExxonMobil AP3AW to meet the performance requirements of

FRONT COVER FEATURE high-quality battery applications. Three new grades of Vistalon EPDM rubber that utilise the attributes of metallocene catalyst and advanced solution plant control will be introduced. These grades have demonstrated improved compression set at low and high temperatures for both moulded and extruded applications. Nonwovens catching up Another objective stemming from the company’s technology leadership is to inspire innovative nonwovens with distinctive designs and simpler construction, while enhancing performance at reduced costs. “Polyolefin solutions, including Vistamaxx, ExxonMobil PP and Achieve resins, are enabling the industry to

In the nonwovens sector, ExxonMobil Chemical says it is inspiring innovative designs for diapers and other products

tailor and balance the properties of nonwoven fabrics to meet different application needs for softness, elasticity, comfort and fit, toughness and drapability,” it says. Vistamaxx is being used commercially for elastic hygiene applications in a range of products from baby diapers,

“Apart from technology leadership, the company says its application expertise and technical support can help to deliver customer solutions”

and environmental concerns.” Furthermore, it says its operations support sustainability in many ways, including energy efficiency, reduced emissions, environmental stewardship and Responsible Care. “Our innovation leadership contributes to lightweight plastic packaging that is less expensive to manufacture and transport than many competing materials. Plastics also help automotive manufacturers produce lighterweight and lower-cost vehicles that are more fuel efficient, and elastomers can create opportunities to downgauge nonwoven fabrics.”

training pants and adult incontinence products. It is also able to deliver new “silky” soft nonwovens while helping meet needs for cost-effective production for hygiene absorbent products. ExxonMobil PP3155E3 provides a balance of strength, softness, drapability and barrier performance for a range of nonwoven applications. Sustainability vital to company Chemicals are essential to human progress. They enable many forms of energy savings and foster a higher standard of living. Because every society wants the benefits that chemicals can deliver, demand is increasing. Chemical companies like ExxonMobil Chemical also have a responsibility to future generations. The company says it is committed to the principles of sustainability. “Innovation in sustainability helps deliver customer solutions for a range of applications that balance economic growth, social development

Based on its sustainability commitment, the company produces elastomers that contribute to lower weight for automotive parts and plastic packaging

Apart from the technology leadership, the company says its application expertise and technical support can help to deliver customer solutions that meet market demands. “Harnessing technology leadership, supported by locallydriven market-facing knowledge that leverages global capability and using it to spark innovation across the value chain is helping to create sustainable businesses,” concludes the company.


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German machinery and technology


Germany takes the lead in exports to China The plastics and rubber industries in China have maintained highspeed growth in the past decade. Reflecting this growth is the upcoming Chinaplas 2012 event, which is set to achieve a new high record of 100,000 visitors and 200,000 sq m floor space, a 33% increase over the last edition. Aside from the chemicals and machinery supply industries, German technology will be showcased at this event to be held 18-21 April in Shanghai.



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German machinery tops exports Innovation, optimal energy efficiency, internationalisation and technological leadership continue to be the primary selling points for Germany’s plastics and rubber machinery, says the trade association VDMA. A recent report says that the country’s machine industry is growing, thanks to strong demand from emerging countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. More than half of the forecast growth is expected to come from the Chinese market, where exports alone reached EUR766.4 million in 2011, a 30.5% increase from EUR587.2 million in 2010. This export value sets a new record, topping the previous peak of EUR593 million reached in 2004. Aside from strong preference to Germany-made machines, producers in China also import machines from Japan (27.5%), Taiwan (11.8%), South Korea (5.8%), Italy (5.1%) and the US (5%). With the high flow of German machinery to China, it is only apt that the country takes up one of the largest country pavilions with 132 exhibitors occupying 3,178 sq m. Drinking water TPE TPE maker Kraiburg will showcase its new materials such as the drinking water (DW) series as well as its adhesion compounds, for the first time in Asia. Highly regarded for its optimal adhesion properties on PA, ABS, and ABS/PC and elastic recovery, the TPEs allow for improved injection moulding at high or low temperatures thus reducing production cost. With a special formulation and smooth, dirt and lime scale-repellent surfaces, the DW compounds are suited for use in sanitary and drinking water applications. Kraiburg Kraiburg says its Thermoplast W TPE allows for a says that it is widely higher coefficient of friction for improved grip used in Europe, where drinking water standards are stringent. “Green” options for packaging production Film extrusion may not seem to be the perfect process for energy conservation but on closer inspection a lot can be improved if the technology is put to work properly, says machine maker Windmöller & Hölscher. It says its Varex blown film line operates on low energy of 0.3 to 0.35 kW/kg, making it 30% more energy-efficient than its closest competitor.

German machinery and technology – Chinaplas 2012 preview W&H says its Varex line does not need trimming when running flat film, even at a high output

The line features the Optifil P thickness profile control system allowing for improved film gauge with lower thickness tolerances for thinner films, without sacrificing mechanical strength. The Easy-Change module also eliminates the need to stop the line for size changes, thus saving around 100 kg/resin per changeover while the Profile Booster narrows down film thickness tolerances after line start-up, reducing both time needed to reach full production levels as well as waste generated by 60%. The company’s Aquarex blown film line addresses yet another environmental aspect. Multi-layer, high-clarity PVC film produced in the upside down water-quench process can be used for producing IV bags. But since countries like China have banned PVC IV bags to avoid health risks arising from the content of plasticisers, PP film can also be produced in the system. Another green option is the Filmex cast film line that allows thick PET laminated film to be substituted with 250 micron co-extruded PET film to save materials, especially in deep-draw tray applications. Brückner focuses on material savings In line with China’s move to green manufacturing, extrusion machinery maker Brückner will be focusing on lines for battery separator, biobased and biodegradable films. The 6.2 m width and 250 m/minute PET-G shrink film line is offered for labels. To support its clients in the country, the company recently established a 24x7 hotline with

Film stretching line from Brückner

German machinery and technology – Chinaplas 2012 preview a Chinese-speaking electrical specialist. Furthermore, the TRAVIS mentor remote service tool, a 10 in. industrial grade touch panel, is provided to speed up troubleshooting. Film inspection system for precise detection The in-line film inspection system from Dr Collin is often used for quality control during resin production and for evaluating the dispersion of pigments and additives. It can detect gel particles, impurities and pigment agglomerates. A camera records flaws as small as 10 micrometres in size and documents them. Ten different types of flaws can be defined by means of 14 different defect parameters. The software offers online as well as offline possibilities. Corona station for cast film AFS Corona will be presenting its corona station for cast films. It comes with a cartridge system with integrated ozone extraction with either five or eight electrodes for low thermal impact of the foil, ozone extraction and easy maintenance. The single and double-sided corona treater systems are said to be ideal for high power, high-line speed applications. According to the manufacturer, its ceramic high-voltage insulators prevent creepage discharges or incineration found in other plastic material insulators. New developments for pipes and profiles Sister company of Battenfeld Extrusiontechnik, Austria-based Battenfeld-Cincinati will present the MTV125E swarfless PVC profile cutter with a speed of 15 m/minute and a maximum cutting cross section of 140x100 mm. The servomotor-driven saw carriage is supported by AC motor-powered cutting tools. Another highlight will be the parallel twin-screw Argos 93 extruders with outputs of up to 350 kg/hour for PVC profiles and



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The new swarfless MTV125E PVC profile cutter

up to 600 kg/hour for PVC pipe. The Talos 60 single-screw for pipe, profile and cable extrusion caters to outputs of up to 350 kg/hour. MRS extruders for recycled PET Since the last Chinaplas, Gneuss says its patented MRS (Multi Rotation System) extruder has been used for rPET processing, with more than 20 units already sold worldwide for film, fibre and repelletising applications. Another highlight is the RSFgenius and SFXmagnus Rotary Melt Filtration systems, which it says have been applied in China in

dryers that use a closed cycle to dry granules. Dehumidified air flows through the granule, absorbing moisture and taking it to the desiccant and when it is saturated, the air is redirected to an unsaturated desiccant on stand by. The saturated desiccant in the first container is regenerated with a heating system. A dew point energy saving programme cuts energy costs by up to 45%. Calibrated measuring instruments are used to measure the dew point and fitted as standard in models with over 300 cu m drying power. Mixing system for various media Sonderhoff Chemicals will present the DM404 machine, a fourcomponent semi/fully automatic mixing and dosing system for gasketing, glueing and potting of different types of components. The equipment processes PE, silicones, epoxy resins and other polymer reaction substances. The user interface operated by a touchscreen has a new multifunctional teach-in-box to simplify contour programming for parts to be processed. Parameters can be preset and controlled, thus allowing for fully automated sequences.

foam sheet and foam packaging film, thermoforming sheet, nonwoven fibres as well as in PET bottle flake recycling. With the worldwide trend for bigger lines, the company says it has sold larger systems in 200, 250, 330 and 400 sizes with sales having doubled in the last one year.

Cutter fit for the budget Precision and cutting speed without changing the properties of the material are the two main benefits from Expert Systemtechnik’s Cutexpert Minijet. Compared to mechanical cutting, the Minijet uses less water, decreases tool wear and minimal operating cost due to its hardwearing cutting base. It is designed for technical textiles and plastics and has a cutting speed of up to 70 m/minute and repeatability of +/-0.2 mm. The machine’s cutting surface measures 1,300 mm x 1,700 mm but can be customised to meet a customer’s request.

Granule dryer allows for energy savings Auxiliary equipment supplier Koch-Technik will exhibit its CKT

Pulveriser resists wear Maker of size reduction and pulverising equipment Herbold Meckesheim will be presenting

Gneuss will also showcase its pressure transducer for wood composite applications

German machinery and technology – Chinaplas 2012 preview its HV series plastocompactors for agglomeration and drying of powders, fibres, film and foam materials; re-crystallisation of PET flakes; and compounding of thermoplastics and fillers. The materials that can be processed include PC, PE, PP, PS, PA, PET, PVC and ABS. Herbold’s pulveriser

The continuous process because of the settings of feeding screw revolutions and disc separation allow for two setting parameters without the need of changing components. The wear costs are low, even in the case of abrasive materials and the screw-fitted kneading rails on the compactor can be easily replaced. Blow moulder delivers high output Blow moulding machine maker Bekum will exhibit its Xblow X07 machine series. The new single and double-station machines are equipped with platen widths of 350-700 mm and are available with all-electric (Eblow) as well as hydraulic (Hyblow) drives. Moreover, the machines come with Bekum-manufactured 5 and 10-parison BKZ extrusion heads for close wall thickness, internal thread diameters, article weight and volume tolerances. According to the company, with the fast parison injection rate and extrusion head/extruder bobbing function, the machines can reach an output of 179,400 articles/day. Dispensing cell for 2D/3D applications Specialising in casting

Bekum’s latest blow moulding series

resins made of PU and foam gaskets, Rampf Giessharze will demonstrate the application of a Raku-Pur thixotropic soft integral foam on its DC-CNC lowpressure mixing and dispensing system with three-axis CNC carriage. Raku-Pur possesses good attributes such as low water absorption, mechanical strength and high heat resistance. The company notes that adhesion of the material can be finished in less than 3 minutes, ensuring a fast cycle time. Suited to 2D and 3D application of casting, sealing and adhesive systems, the DCCNC dispensing cell is equipped with an integrated control cabinet and two-component material conditioning system. Pelletising system for thermoplastics Automatik Plastics will present its Sphero underwater pelletiser, applicable for compounding, recycling and raw material manufacturing. With a capacity range of 100 kg/hour to several tonnes/hour, the system is applicable for all thermoplastics as well as hot melt adhesives. Sphero 50 caters to small production lots of masterbatches or compounds as well as for laboratory applications; Sphero 70/100/140 for output rates up to 8,600 kg/hour; and Sphero 220/350/560 for outputs up to 36,000 kg/hour.

Visit PRA at Booth E4-B67

German machinery and technology – Chinaplas 2012 preview The X factor in dies Blown film extrusion systems supplier, Hosokawa Alpine will present its latest X Die. The compact die is said to eliminate the visual port lines in blown films and is suited for short purging times and fast material transitions. In addition to die heads, the company will also feature its five-layer blown film line. Extrusion line for optical sector The latest in extrusion processes can now produce film and sheet in the most cost-effective way, according to Breyer. The company will highlight the key developments of its extrusion line, which is suited for the production of clear, multiwall and technical sheet, film, cosmetic tubes as well as solar and battery films.

Azo offers a range of materials handling equipment for dosing and conveying

plastics. The system works with the gravimetric principle with a speed control system and course/ fine flow. Powder materials are discharged from the hopper by means of an agitator and fed into the double screws. The double dosing screw discharges the materials in defined quantities and the discharged quantity is measured and recorded by a weighing module.

Breyer’s lines have effective venting systems that are said to lower energy costs and melt pump control for faster start up of the line. These advantages give the user the possibility to produce film and sheet for sophisticated products.

Extrusion testing line OCS Optical Control Systems will be presenting its ME extrusion measuring line that can be connected to a chill roll and CR9/WU9 winding system, which creates a self-contained basis for connecting optical measuring equipment. The modular concept allows an application of different rheological, chemical, physical and optical testing systems. Available in three different barrel diameters of 20, 25 and 30 mm, the lines are intended for the production of narrow blown or cast films for the laboratory and small-batch production.

Dosing system maxes out accuracy Azo will showcase its dosing systems including product feeders and rotary valves. Its compact dosing Azodos system is designed for a variety of applications including food, pharmaceutical, chemicals and

Rheometer tester for simulations Instrument and equipment supplier, Brabender will be featuring its Plastograph EC, a table-top version of the universal torque rheometer. The machine is widely used for application investigations in laboratories and simulation.

Breyer is promoting its optical film line


With its digital 3.8 kW motor, a torque measuring range of 200 Nm and a speed range from 0.2 to 150 minute, the Plastograph EC can be used for raw material and recipe development, material testing and QC parallel to production.


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Slitter for films Goebel Schneid-und Wickelsysteme’s Monoslit slitter for converting films (BOPP, BOPET, BOPA, OPP and CPP) comes with a rewinder that incorporates the latest advancements from the company’s BOPP film technology. Furthermore, it provides working widths up to 11,000 mm; unwinding diameter of up to 1,500 mm; rewinding diameter of up to 1,250 mm and running speed of up to 1, 500 m/minute. Flexible trimming machines Thermoplastics, glass, carbon fibre, wooden panelling and blow moulded parts, are a few of the many applications of Geiss’s trimming machine Ecoplus. It can be customised to suit requirements and is available in any nominal size and different versions. The smallest machine size provides the same productivity and rigidity as the big ones. The nominal size is equal to the block size trimmed with five axes in all machines. The machine measures 2,000 x 1,000 mm.

Geiss Ecoplus trimming machine

Visit PRA at Booth E4-B67

Extrusion Machinery

Aiming for higher efficiencies Extrusion machinery firms are making inroads in the arena of new technologies focused on energy and production efficiencies for a variety of applications; plus honing into the Asian markets.

Macro ships barrier line to China Canadian film and sheet extrusion systems supplier, Macro Advanced Extrusion Systems, will be shipping a new five-layer barrier film line to an unnamed customer in Zhejiang Province, China. The line, which features the ability to co-extrude multilayer films with PVdC, will be utilised by the customer to test new materials and film structures. The line is equipped with Macro’s TaperPack die that allows the customer the versatility to run a wide range of resins. Davis-Standard plans Asian facility Davis-Standard says that its growing presence in China has made it one of the extrusion industry leaders in Asia. It has had over 50 installations in Asia since 2006 and continues to expand personnel and products to address this important marketplace. Speaking to PRA recently, the firm revealed plans to add additional leadership and resources in the market as well as to build a facility in the Asian region “to better support customers.” One main reason Davis-Standard is able to expand in the region is because of a recent change in ownership. Canadian private equity firm ONCAP acquired the company at the end of 2011. This change also includes a new CEO, Robert Preston, who brings a global perspective having lived in Asia for several years while employed at Eastman, Allied Signal and Johnson Electric. “China is the fastest growing country in Asia and rapidly adapting to new extrusion technologies across the board,” said Steve Post, the firm’s Director of Business Development. “We have seen a dramatic shift from commodity to value-added end products, including films and composites for photovoltaic and lithium ion battery applications, liquid and flexible packaging, surface protection, thermal lamination and waterproof membranes. We look forward to discussing our solutions for these new markets at the Chinaplas show.” The majority of Davis-Standard’s installations consist of extrusion coating lines for flexible and aseptic packaging, fabric coating and thermal lamination. It has also installed extruders, coaters and winders for oriented film lines as well as systems for downstream use of those films as complete lines for window film applications. Post anticipates that demand for sheet, foam and medical tubing technology will continue to increase. And it is with this in mind that the firm is focusing on building equipment that is energy efficient, versatile, competitively priced and available for fast delivery. Examples include the XP Express roll stand system; new technology for making geothermal pipe; green market developments for bio-resin applications; equipment that eliminates waste during processing and modular equipment designs. Macchi enhances stretch film capabilities The stretch film market is both dynamic and competitive. Hence, there is non-stop pressure on operational margins and reduction of prices. To satisfy these requirements, Italian firm Macchi, in collaboration with Noel, has designed and created a system for coreless reels.



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Your needs. Our know-how. “Versatile, reliable machinery”

Whether you need to produce 5, 7, 9, or 11 layer shrink films for meat and cheese packaging, Macro’s triple-bubble line has the flexibility to switch between PVdC, PA and EVOH structures without changing components. Macro’s triple-bubble coextrusion system meets today’s high barrier film production requirements with versatility, allowing you to adapt your product to reach your future production needs.

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Extrusion Machinery The firm says its new solution, together with overall line optimisation, allows considerable savings. For instance, by eliminating the cardboard cores, processors can save by 5% the cost per kg of the stretch film, while the inline pre-stretched film enables a faster production speed (over 10,000 m/minute) of the thinnest film with enhanced mechanical properties, without additional costs for secondary machining processes. These results were obtained thanks to technology that includes the use of a specific winder for which Macchi holds European exclusivity, created in collaboration with Noel. The system enables the creation of coreless reels for manual or automatic use, producing a film thickness of 7-23 microns, thus reducing the transportation and storage costs and costs involved in disposing the cardboard reels. Macchi’s cast technology enables production of all the films without changing the configuration of the system. It is also possible to reduce film thickness without losing machine productivity, by taking advantage of downgauging: the film exits the chill roll with a thickness of 23 microns and is then further reduced to 12 microns by linearly increasing the line speed, without reaching a real and proper complete pre-stretch of the film. The firm demonstrated its model during an open house where it showed five extruders with diameters of 65, 100, 100, 100 and 65 mm. The extrusion head from Cloeren is 2,600 mm wide and is equipped with an APC system; the feedblock, also from Cloeren has five layers. This line permits creation of film thicknesses from 12-50 microns, at a speed (chill roll) of 600 m/minute and productivity of 1,000 kg/hour (with a 23 micron-film). The cooling unit is composed of a main chill roll with a 1,350 mm diameter and two stabilisation chill rolls, one of which has adjustable positioning.



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This is rounded up with an Electronic System x-ray thickness measurement system and Noel’s DPC 2-2000 winder. Omipa develops PP/PC hollow profile lines and EVA line Family-owned Omipa Extrusion Machinery is continuously enhancing its lines through R&D. The Italian firm’s latest developments include a line for PC hollow profiles. “By executing architectural and engineering drawings of our customers, we managed to develop a new generation line for producing industrial building roofing,” said company spokesperson Caterina Cazzani.

Omipa has a new range of machinery for producing hollow profiles

The hollow profiles can be produced with different designs for the internal and external structures, hence covering a wide range and typology of applications that include not only industrial roofing but also internal wall panels and roofing/wall panels for outdoor applications. “All this is turning out to be much appreciated by customers, since the final product, at reasonable prices, makes it possible to execute applications to existing buildings by modifying considerably their aspect, functionality and energy saving,” she added. But the firm is not stopping there and is developing a new system, named Omipa-Foam, for

PP hollow profiles. Caterina says that the firm is working closely with a “renowned” company in this field. Market applications include the packaging, printing, building, electronics and automotive sectors. “Raw material market price fluctuations and the need to improve existing applications led Omipa to develop this system for foam PP hollow profiles, specially for medium-high weights, which makes it possible to reduce raw material use by 20-30%.” Furthermore, the foaming process uses a neutral gas (nitrogen/CO2), which results in a reduction in production costs and environmental impact, compared to the chemical foaming process. “After the first positive test results, we have already supplied the system for some of our lines already under production and we expect a good market response. In addition, we are presently expanding the range of applications of this type of profiles, by carrying out tests on profiles with lower thicknesses and weights,” adds Caterina. The firm has also tested successfully ABS use in hollow profiles, making it possible to replace the material commonly used for heavy packaging, thus allowing it to be subjected to very low ambient temperatures. “An absolute novelty in the market is our new range of machines, presently in development and testing phase, for the production of low shrinkage EVA film for encapsulation of silicone cells for photovoltaic panel production. Our idea is to supply a turnkey plant, including also the blend formulation,” she continued. Besides its facility in Italy, Omipa now has a new production site in Switzerland. “Fadeka Swiss will focus on R&D for the production of these new ranges of machines and new applications as well as for the launch of some innovations we have in store in the near future,” concludes Caterina.


Crystallisation of PET masterbatch German machine maker Kreyenborg Plant Technology has introduced its latest addition to its infrared drum dryer or IRD technology. The IR Batch uses short wave infrared radiation instead of hot air as a heat source.



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IRD, a success story For several years now, infrared drum dryers (IRDS) have proven themselves as superior technology in many PET applications. The success story has been justified through clear advantages in comparison to other drying methods and processes. These proven advantages include energy efficiency, short residence time and flexibility through its ability to handle various material forms and properties. Last but not the least, ease of operation and reliability of crystallisation and drying are advantages reported most often by IRD customers. IRDs are often used in PET applications such as cast film, thermoforming sheet, strapping, and recycling production. Catering to colour masterbatch Kreyenborg says its continuous IRDs have also been installed as crystallisers for colour masterbatch. Normally, companies using continuous IRDs in PET masterbatch are running rather large quantities and do not change the colours very often. The company’s smaller model IRD-A is also used as a crystalliser for quantities up to 150 kg/hour. Frequent colour changes require adaptations to enable proper and sufficient cleaning as Cylindrical Part well as quick start up times. = good agitation Often, colour masterbatch companies are asked to deliver hundreds of different colours and sometimes in very small lots. Thus, conventional, agitated mixing Conical part = limited agitation crystallisers are not reliable, as the startRisk of clumping up of such systems with amorphous material is a definite challenge. These conventional systems were originally built for the semi-continuous silo-type FIFO A conventional crystalliser includes a principal working crystallising jobs in the hopper with an agitator injection moulding industry. In these semicontinuous processes, the start-up of the system is not an issue, as crystallised material for the start-up process is usually available. When these systems are started with amorphous masterbatch, the material tends to clump in the cone due to poor agitation in this area, which often results in broken or jammed mixing elements. As a result, the system has to be completely disassembled, cleaned and fixed, and in these cases the small lot of masterbatch material is negatively affected, unable to be sold at a higher price. These issues do not exist when IRDs are used for crystallisation. Most colour masterbatch companies are interested in an off-line system since the market mainly requires small quantities and throughputs. Different colours, loads of colour and the final converting application for the masterbatch require different processing conditions for the crystalliser. Due to their reaction to heat, IR radiation in particular, some colours can be heated quickly over the glass transition point while others require a very gentle and rather long heating process in this part of the processing window.


An example of a continuous working IRD with two temperature zones

A small IRD-A type for small throughputs offers little options to adjust the process according to various types of masterbatch. It offers only one temperature zone and a limited drum rotation speed adjustment. Even larger machines of an IRDB type offer a maximum of three different temperature zones for running a temperature profile but only a small process window for the drum rotation speed as well. Therefore, the amount of mechanical mixing energy cannot be varied through the length of the drum. For difficult to heat materials Materials that are difficult to heat, such as specific colours and/or PET copolymer types for special applications, can really challenge the processing limits of such continuous IRDs. The IRD may not offer enough residence time or mechanical mixing energy to produce perfectly crystallised granules, for example “twins” of granules that were melted together can exist. For these applications, Kreyenborg offers its IR Batch. As opposed to the continuous working IRDs, the IR Batch operates in a discontinuous or batch principle. A defined batch size (for example 14 kg of PET pellets) is fed into the drum and then heated up by a preset temperature profile to the crystallisation temperature while the drum is rotating. After finishing the crystallisation, the material is discharged out of the machine by a counter-rotational movement of the drum. Once emptied, the machine is ready for the next crystallisation cycle and can be fed with new material again.

refill the dosing hopper for the next cycle. With the operation of the IR Batch running automatically and in a closed loop, the throughput rate (for example 14 kg/15 minutes) will result in a total average throughput of 56 kg/hour. The automatic refilling as well as all relevant parameters for the different temperature ramps is fully integrated in the touchscreen control. Once parameters and temperature profiles are found for a specific material, these settings can be saved as recipes in the control system. A common side-effect of highlyfilled masterbatch is the electrostatic loading of the pellets. In order to avoid sticking from electrostatic effects, Kreyenborg developed a special masterbatch package for the IR Batch. This includes an ionisation unit to neutralise electrostatic loadings within the material. Besides the critical behaviour of highlyProcessing sequence of the IR Batch System filled or modified PET masterbatch, the cleaning of Once the material gets to the processing equipment can be one critical crystallisation temperature in of the most important and time between 220°F and 275°F, the speed consuming details. of the drum is increased to a much Therefore the IR Batch can be higher rotational speed to avoid any opened completely and the infrared clumping of the material and assure module slides out on a separate good cross mixing of the material. frame. The drum with the simple After the material is through this mixing elements has no hidden spots critical section, the radiator power and can be cleaned easily with a or heat can be increased again to vacuum cleaner or compressed air. finish the crystallisation process. This enables the operator to have a Meanwhile, the drum rotation can quick change from one material to be slowed down again. Typically this another. crystallisation process is finished after 15-20 minutes, depending on the material. Vacuum Conveying Syatem After finishing the - starts operating when Flap is released - building up vacuum first process, the IR Batch will automatically discharge the drum and begin the Slide gate valve opened sequence again by refilling the drum. A pneumatic slide gate will open the dosing hopper and new IR Batch Drum rotating material will be loaded into the drum. While the crystallisation/heating Automatic refilling of process starts again, the the machine machine will meanwhile The discontinuous process has some advantages for difficult to crystallise materials. As it is not directly linked to an inline process, the drum rotational speed can be increased as high as possible to achieve an excellent mixing of the pellets during the critical crystallisation phase. The typical sequence is a fast heating of the PET masterbatch in the beginning. Therefore, the drum rotation is relatively slow and the IR radiator power of the system is at a higher level. In this first phase, the only target is to heat up the material to a predetermined temperature, for example, 200°F.


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Chemical Industry

Tight global market looming ahead for polyolefins While global growth is brightening a little, higher prices for naphtha, oil and feedstocks are keeping olefin prices close to record levels. Against the backdrop of robust growth expected from emerging markets, producers remain optimistic as they manoeuvre in a tight market, says Lyn Cacha in this report on Turkish research company ChemOrbis’s third annual meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, recently. One of the highlights was also the game-changing impact of shale gas discovery in the US.

“Slight” upbeat mood The problematic combination of private sector deleveraging, public sector austerity and the lack of confidence in political leaders’ ability to lead in these murky waters will continue to plague the US and Europe, according to Rajiv Biswas, Asia Pacific Chief Economist of market research company IHS Global Insight. However, fresh from a recession, the US is expected to realise a moderate recovery with a 2.3% GDP growth over the next year. “Businesses are beginning to spend and hire, albeit, cautiously,” he said, adding that global GDP is expected to grow 2.6% this year and by 3.6% next year. Eurozone, meanwhile, is headed for either a second mild dip, provided the region’s sovereign-debt problems are resolved; or a severe one if they falter. The recession there is expected to end by mid-2012. However, in the event of a meltdown it will drag the world economy into a recession, says Biswas. Nonetheless, the emerging markets are expected to enjoy robust growth, he said, adding that China’s economy is headed for a soft landing, “provided the housing market downturn does not turn into a crash.” Meanwhile, in India, the young, growing population, infrastructure spending and economic reforms will be the country’s competitive advantage as it sustains growth over the medium term. In terms of oil prices, Biswas commented that the potential escalation of political instability in major oil-exporting countries, particularly those in the Middle East, is expected to fuel price hikes by as much as US$100/barrel in the next five years. Other factors include oil exporters’ inability to keep up with burgeoning demand in developing countries and continuous depletion of existing production fields. Ethylene demand growing Meanwhile, the global demand for ethylene is expected to register a CAGR of 4.6% from 2011 to 2015, said Andrew Lee Fagg from Nexant Asia. The main drivers for growth will be its use in PE, emerging markets and material substitution. In 2011, demand reached 125 million tonnes, with 61% of this accounted for by PE, LLDPE and HDPE. China and other parts of Asia are expected to consume more of these raw materials. As for capacity additions, a total of 3 million tonnes is expected to start up in the Middle East, China and other parts of Asia this year. “Importers are not worried about a supply crunch as they expect high volumes from new ethylene plants that were recently started up in China and the Middle East to hit the market in 2013,” said Fagg. In terms of feedstock, naphtha (51%) is still the main source, followed by ethane (29%). While the Middle East feedstock slate is predominantly ethane-based, in the future more natural gas and naphtha are also expected to be utilised. The higher prices for oil and naptha are expected to affect prices of ethylene and its derivatives while in the Middle East, the ethylene cost position is based on ethane cracking and will remain largely unchanged as oil prices increase substantially. PP market stimulated by packaging and automotive sectors Though sluggish during the economic downturn, propylene demand is forecast to get a boost from developing markets. It will grow at a CAGR of 4% in the next five years until 2015, driven mainly by PP use in the packaging, automotive and construction sectors. The acrylic acid sector is expected to show the highest demand on a CAGR basis. Key drivers are super absorbent polymers used in baby/



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Chemical Industry adult diapers. Of the 78 million tonnes of propylene demand in 2011, PP accounted for 65% or 40 million tonnes. Supply of propylene from refinery, naphtha cracking and CTO/MTP is expected to remain stable as ample supplies will come from China and India. However, propylene supply from steam crackers is forecast to decline over the next decade as investments in alternative propylene production routes continue to flourish. While propylene prices also show a strong correlation with crude oil, the market is impacted by various other issues. And while propylene’s pricing as a premium over ethylene is expected to continue, the total price spread over ethylene is expected to be constrained due to material substitution in the polyolefins sector. Shale gas to reverse fortunes of US companies Looking forward, the US chemicals industry is once again globally competitive, said Biswas. The production of ethylene in the US is

heavily dependent on natural gas liquids (for example ethane, propane and butane), which account for 60% of the cost of production. “Lower natural gas prices would provide cheaper raw materials for many US industries and strengthen their competitive position, helping a renewal of the industrial sector,” he said. However, US chemicals producers have already begun increasing capacity, reversing the trend of closing plants with expansions being undertaken (Royal Dutch Shell, The Williams Companies, LyondellBasell, and Westlake Chemical). Also new investments (Dow Chemical) have been announced with major capital investment plans for the future (Chevron Phillips and ExxonMobil). “Most of these US plans include provisions to export significant amounts of ethylene or ethylene derivatives, because of the expectation that their natural gas-based production will be extremely cost competitive with oil-based production,” Biswas said. Meanwhile, shale gas has reversed

the fortunes of the US chemicals sector, with improving competitiveness, thus reinvigorating investment interest, which is expected to reach US$1.9 trillion between 2010 and 2035. Shale gas, which is one-third of the cost of crude oil, is used as a feedstock to create ethane that is used to make the feedstock ethylene. Typically the ethylene has come from naphtha, which comes from crude oil. As the price of oil goes up, so do the prices of olefins. But now, with the increasing supplies of shale gas and with it, increasing supplies of ethane converted to ethylene and PE, the prices are coming down, said Jim Becker, Managing Director of Chevron Phillips Chemicals Asia, in his presentation. The impact of shale gas has resulted in a move towards lighter feedstocks in ethylene cracking – reducing associated production of propylene, C4 and pygas availability. As such, naphtha cracking capacity is forecast to decline by around 3% over the next decade, which equates to the replacement of 6 million tonnes of ethylene capacity.


“Green” composites growth to fly high Energy efficiency, renewable energy, developing economies and sustainability will drive the greater use of “green” composites in the future. These were highlighted during the conference hosted by US-based Society of the Advance of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE). Held recently in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the conference highlighted the challenges and opportunities in using natural fibres as reinforcements for composites, especially in the aviation industry, says Lyn Cacha in this report.



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Greener acts driving R&D Composites are the most important materials to be adapted for the aviation sector, which will be strongly driven by initiatives that put special emphasis on environmental sustainability and the greening of the composites industry. The Clean Sky goal, for instance, an aeronautical research programme launched by the European Commission identifies, develops and validates key technologies necessary to develop aircraft that minimise the environmental footprint. With the help of technology, the commercial aviation industry has achieved significant reductions in noise, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions to date. More improvements will occur in the next 40 years as Flightpath 2050, another research roadmap, sets to increase the four-hour door-to-door journey of passengers by 90%, reduce CO2 emissions by 75%, fan noise by 65% and nitrous oxides emissions by 80%. Launched by the European Union, Flightpath 2050 is a follow-on to the advisory Council for Aeronautics Research with targets that have guided European aerospace research for the past decade. In line with this, the 7th Framework Programme (FP7) funded a China-Europe initiative called the Greener Aeronautics International Networking (Grain). Grain focuses on lightweight materials as well as technologies that enable the total weight reduction of an aircraft, thereby reducing environmental footprint after its lifespan. This project entails analyses of composite material developments and applications, new manufacturing processes, design technologies as well as developing a cradle-to-grave simulation to quantify the environmental impact of these products. Adding more fibre in the sky Natural fibres were a highlight at the SAMPE session. The technology of natural fibre composites has development potential and its application areas are continually expanding. Although a nascent development, many manufactures are interested in it and are looking for ways to incorporate natural materials into composites. A number of innovative studies have been made to understand how biological properties of matrix materials, biological enhancement, filler selections and surface treatment of fibre materials can be applied into practical use. In China, basic research on natural fibres has provided important technical parameters, said Professor Hongcheng He from the Hunan Academy of Forestry. Some research findings offer better understanding of the interface treatment in the interfacial bonding between different materials, mechanical properties of natural fibres and discovery of biodegradable natural fibre composites and resin material. Grain presented its comparative analysis of the effect of surface Malaysian composites firm DK Composites’s treatment on the contact angle research team display kapok fibre use in of sisal and ramie yarn with airplanes reinforcement undertaken using potassium permanganate, a fire retardant solution, sodium hydroxide and silane.

Composites After moulding, the fibres were tested for tensile and flexural strength and were found to have improved interface property. Fibres with GFUD and SF-UD laminates appeared to have the best tensile and flexural properties – 138 MPa cu cm/g; 15.1 GPa cu cm/g and 231.7 MPa cu cm/g; 19.3 cu cm/g, respectively. In a related vein, kapok tree fibres can be an alternative solution for thermal and acoustic padding for cabins in next-generation airplanes as proposed by the University of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology. Since the fibre from the kapok tree is highly flammable, it was treated with a fire retardant solution. After a series of testing, the natural fibre solution was found to possess good thermal and acoustic properties as well as being compliant with flammability airworthiness requirements. In Europe, Germany-based chemical firm BASF has started using jute, sisal and flax fibre to make natural fibre reinforced thermoplastic composites (NMTS). In India, since the natural fibres are naturally occurring they are used as reinforcements for thermosetting and thermoplastic matrixes. Developing countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Brazil are turning their agro wastes, such as coconut fibre, rubber and palm oil wastes and rice husks, into valuable resources. Biobased resins for green composites More companies are joining the biobased resin manufacture arena, but it may take time to increase the prominence of environment-friendly composites in the marketplace. Old notions that biobased materials are not as good and consistent as traditional petroleum-based products are beginning to dwindle as petroleum-based resin users feel the brunt of increasing fuel prices. Biobased thermosetting resins offer safer disposal, energy-efficient manufacturing and decreased toxic emissions, according to Xiaoqing Liu of Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering (NIMTE). Liu highlighted the use of rosin, a natural raw material from pine trees, in his research. He

Rosin acid from pine trees is being used by Chinese researchers in epoxy curing agents

synthesised two biobased epoxy curing agents with rosin acids. Two commercial curing agents, which have similar functionality and structural resemblance to the rosinbased curing agents, were also used in the study for comparison. Compared with the synthesis of petrochemical curing agents, the synthesis of rosin-based curing agents was simpler and more environmentally friendly and has less strict requirements on reactors and catalysts. Non-isothermal curing of a commercial liquid epoxy was analysed using differential scanning calorimetry. The thermal mechanical properties and thermal stability of the cured epoxy resins were evaluated using dynamic mechanical and thermo-gravimetric analysis, respectively. Results showed that the curing behaviours of the rosin-based curing agents were similar to those of the commercial curing agents. Plus, the former also demonstrated similar thermal mechanical properties and stability to the epoxies cured by commercial curing agents. Properties Density (g/cm³) MFI(g/10min, 190°C) M.P. (°C) HDT (°C) (0.45Mpa) Tensile Strength (MPa) Young's Modulus (MPa) Flexural Strength (MPa) Flexural Modulus (MPa) Elongation (%) Notched Izod Impact (KJ/m²)

Developments in PLA Polylactic acid (PLA) is derived from renewable resources such as corn starch, tapioca products or sugarcanes. It possesses high strength and modulus but has low heat resistance and a slow crystallisation rate. The last two characteristics limit its application because it lengthens moulding cycle time, creates production inefficiencies and deforms during transportation. Researchers at NIMTE have developed a heat-resistant PLA, through direct extrusion, while maintaining the material’s clarity. The method entails adding nucleating agents, fillers (talc and glass fibre), form nanocomposites (Montmorillonite and hectorite), form alloys (PLA/PC, PLA/PMMA) and chemical modification (copolymerisation, grafting, and crosslinking). The end result is a PLA that has these properties – free of fillers, 100% biodegradable, more than 120°C HDT, density of 1.24 g/cu cm, good transparency and light transmittance of more than 80%, improved strength, 30-40 seconds moulding cycle time and 85 to 110°C mould temperature. Another development from NIMTE is modified PLA/starch composites. The surface of starch particles were mixed at high speed for 5-35 minutes, thus resulting in increased heat resistance and decreased moulding cycle time. The same improved results are available in foam sheets and blown film, says NIMTE.

PLA Physical Properties 1.24 5-15 155-170 55 Mechanical Properties 60 3400 110 3400 3 3

Modified PLA 1.24 1-5 155-170 120-140 50-55 3500-4000 95-105 3500 4000 3-6 4-6

The chart compares modified PLA, highlighting its higher heat resistance


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New pelletising systems on the market Companies are showcasing the latest pelletising systems at exhibitions. This round-up focuses on the latest offerings from Steer, Leistritz, Coperion and B&P Process Equipment.


ndia-based Steer Engineering used the Plastindia show in New Delhi to introduce a new line of compounding pelletising systems. The SPL40 (or so-called Super Production Line) is a co-rotating twin-screw extruder with a feeder, strand die head, water trough, air knife, pelletiser and classifier. The system is targeted at small and mid-level compounders, especially for colour masterbatch, precoloured compounds for the automotive and appliance industries and modified PP and high impact PP. The firm says it is designed for Six Sigma Process to ensure zero defects in product quality. The firm also says it is built to cater to the dynamic needs of the industry, where unscheduled/unplanned requirements for small quantities and control over work-in-progress (especially during grade change and power failures) are common. It said, “The lean operation feature of the system also allows effective testing of new formulations with minimum wastages.” Established in 1993, the company says it has reached a global leadership position in EPZ (Extruder Processing Zone, primarily screws, shafts and barrels) products and has a global market share of over 15%. Steer started up its co-rotating twin-screw extruders marketing in 2003 and says it is a market leader in India, with a market share of over 60%. Updates to equipment German firm Leistritz’s ZSE-40 Maxx twin-screw extruder now comes equipped with a newly designed swing-gate strand-die assembly. It offers a streamlined transition from the extruder to an oval breaker plate and then to a frontend die plate. Screens are accessed by swing bolts, thus facilitating cleaning by allowing the screen-carrier plate to be removed, which exposes the transition region to the screws and the transition into the die. A replaceable multistrand die plate is integrated into the design. The firm will display its latest extruder at the Florida-staged NPE show in April.



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US-based B&P Process Equipment has not only partnered with Japanese Matsubo Corporation to cover their full range of industrial mixing and separation equipment in the Japanese and ASEAN markets but also introduced the next generation compounding extruder, the TriVolution Series Tri-Kneader. Unlike other types of reciprocating kneaders, which stroke once per shaft revolution, the new TriVolution is designed for three strokes per revolution, thus combining the best features of typical kneaders with that of corotating, intermeshing compounding extruders. B&P says it evaluated differences between one to eight strokes per revolution and found that three-strokes per revolution provided the best surface-area and multiplied interfaces to make a significant impact on dispersive/distributive mixing performance. A triangular barrel is said to offer improved temperature control and ease of maintenance while facilitating placement of the multitude of pins in the barrel. The design opens the process window wide enough for nearly every type of compounding application, according to B&P. A single machine reportedly can jump from carbon-black masterbatch to rigid PVC to PET with TiO2 with a limited amount of changeover. German firm Coperion has introduced a new Horizontal Fluidbed Separator (HFS), which offers fines separation for a wide variety of compounded products in a small footprint and minimal height requirement. Pelletising is an abrasive step that sometimes results in dust or pellet deformation. When dusty or misshaped pellets are remelted for moulding or extrusion, problems can arise that may affect the final product. The firm says its HFS removes any dust or malformed pellets from the bulk materials prior to packaging or processing. Coperion’s new horizontal fluidbed separator has a low installation height and is suitable for retrofitting and for use in confined spaces like underneath silos

Country Focus

Vietnam’s plastics industry: making room for more growth Vietnam’s success story serves as a springboard for growth but with its high dependence on imports of raw materials and machinery, the country’s plastics sector has some way to go before it levels up in the rungs of market competitiveness, says Angelica Buan in this report based on the Propak Vietnam show, held from 29 February to 2 March in Ho Chi Minh City.


World Bank report shows that Vietnam’s economy has grown at an annual average rate of 7.3% in a span of a decade (between 1990 and 2010), whilst it’s per capita income grew five-fold. Pushing its way to becoming an industrialised economy, Vietnam is literally hitting a bull’s eye, especially with its ten-year economic plan (2011-2020), which rivets on reaching a per capita income level of US$3,000 by 2020 and 10% annual growth during the period. However, the price tag for such a strategy will amount to about US$8 billion, according to the Industry Policy and Strategy Institute (IPSI), a research body under the country’s Ministry of Trade and Industry. Focus on the packaging sector The country’s ten-year strategy for industrial development will focus on promoting major sectors including packaging, pharmaceutical, machinery and new materials. Hence, this had set the stage for the recent Propak exhibition. Exhibitors included German closure manufacturer Bericap, which exhibited for the first time. “Vietnam is an interesting and rapidly expanding market. We have enjoyed some successful years on the Asian market and based on this early success we Bericap was showcasing its would like to expand our involvement to range of caps/closures the Vietnamese market,” explained Volker Spiesmacher, Director of Bericap. The company has 21 production sites in 19 countries; in Asia, they are located in China, India, Singapore and Kazakhstan China-based OEM processor EOE was showing samples of cap/ closures and lids. In film packaging, Malaysia processor BP Plastics highlighted its cast stretch and shrink film while Klockner Pentaplast (Thailand) was promoting its shrink sleeve film. Hseng Tex Enterprise, a Taiwanese venture in Vietnam, displayed its form/fill/seal machines while Viet Tien Tung Shing was exhibiting its bag closing machinery Another Vietnam-based company, Phu Dai Lo, showcased a vacuum sealing and packaging machinery from Japan and Taiwanese Jaw Feng Machinery also had a similar equipment. Exports driving machinery sales The export of plastic products in Vietnam is forecast to hit US$1.35 billion in turnover, up 35% over last year. Exports will be directed to mainly Europe, Japan, China and other Asian markets. This is an attraction for foreign companies to promote their machinery to the country that will need the higher technology to improve its exports. Having exhibited for the past three years, Zurich-headquartered pelletising/gear pump equipment supplier Maag displayed its



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Country Focus automated pelletising system. Andreas Weidner, Regional Sales Manager, said, “Demand for packaging machines is high probably because of Vietnam’s focus on the food industry right now.” Maag is represented in Vietnam by Song Song. “It is not a new machine but we have modified its motor, the look of the machine itself and simplified its operation,” said Weidner, of the machine on display. Aside from its factory in Germany, Maag also has a plant in China but does not plan to set up a facility in Vietnam as yet. Germany-based ancillary equipment supplier MotanColortronics also featured a modified machine at the show. “We modified our machine on display like increasing the drying temperature,” said Jasmine Liow, Marketing Manager. Per Larsson, Service Manager for Italian auxiliary machine maker Piovan, also observed a more robust activity for the packaging segment in the country. While Piovan was not displaying a new machine at the show, Larsson said that the response to its display model at the show had been positive. Another German firm Kuka Robot Automation, which was represented by its Malaysian office, showcased its latest palletising robot known as Quantec with the KRC4 controller. The reduced weight of the robots makes the palletiser fast with short cycle times, says the firm. It offers three models for payloads of 120, 180 and 240 kg. All three have a

Kuka Robot displayed its latest Quantec palletiser

reach of 3,200 mm. An additional highlight of the palletising robots is the hollow-wrist design with a 60 mm opening. This allows all common types of hollow-wrist dress packages to be routed in the protected interior of the arm, with easy access for quick exchange when necessary. This simplifies offline programming and extends the service life of the dress package.

S&S’s best-seller is still the RAPID 4000-FS, which is used in the plastics industry to remove metal impurities

Meanwhile, S&S Separation and Sorting Technology garnered enquiries for its new machine C-Scan GHF. The metal detector, which is used in the food industry and mounted on a conveyor belt, detects magnetic and nonmagnetic metals, regardless of the contaminant’s location within the product. “This machine caters to both wet and dry packaging,” said Oh Sio Poh, Sales Manager, who also added that C-Scan had already clinched several few sales since its launch last year. But Oh also said that the firm’s best seller is still the Rapid4000-FS. High imports deterrent to growth While increased exports are driving the country’s economy, the heavy dependence on imports of raw materials, including additives, resins, machinery and equipment, is hindering the take off of the plastics industry. A spokesperson from IPSI reiterated that too much reliance on imported materials is downgrading the development of the plastics industry,

notwithstanding that it makes the local industry vulnerable to volatilities of foreign exchange and world oil price. He also said that of the 2.2 million tonnes of raw materials, including PE, PP and PVC, some 85% of the volume is imported since only 450,000 tonnes can be sourced locally. Imports have also increased an average of 15-20% a year over the past decade. The spokesperson says that this dependence on imports is keeping prices of Vietnamese plastic products higher by 10-15%, compared to China and India, making the industry less competitive. This is exacerbated by the shortage of capital and investment funds and lack of technology. Restructuring required The Vietnam Plastics Association (VPA) has called for restructuring of the sector to increase the proportion of value-added products, placing emphasis on improved product quality, design and distribution. This is crucial since, a spokesperson from VPA says, a majority of the processors in the country have yet to meet the stringent standards set by foreign markets. Moreover, plastics manufacturers, amounting to more than 2,000 including foreign-invested ventures, are urged to take advantage of modern technologies to improve the quality standards of their outputs and at the same time curb production costs. The trade ministry is also suggesting loan incentives and flexible interest rates to encourage local companies to increase their capacities. Furthermore, the VPA spokesperson says by developing a collection system for waste and recycling of plastics can help reduce the imports of plastic raw materials. This will, consequently, benefit the country in two ways: save the environment and save money spent on imports.


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Injection Moulding Asia Industry News

Toray ramps up carbon fibre output


apanese supplier Toray Industries is investing 45 billion yen to increase its carbon fibre capacity by 6,000 tonnes/year at its four sites in Japan, US, France and South Korea, from 2012-2015. About half of the total investment will be made to build an integrated facility for the carbon fibre precursor and highperformance small-tow carbon fibre (mainly used in aircraft and premium automotives) in Japan. The new line is expected to produce 1,000 tonnes/ year. Moreover, Toray has two new lines currently under construction and expects its total capacity to rise to 27,100 tonnes/ year by 2013 and 27,000 tonnes/year by 2015. About 90% of the demand for carbon fibres is from outside Japan and the persistently strong yen has created a tough business environment for exports from Japan. Toray, however, intends to continue to strengthen domestic production bases by leveraging the government policy for improving domestic business environment. In the case of the three overseas bases, Toray’s share of production for aircraft application in the existing lines has been going up due to the fullscale production launch of the Boeing 787 aircraft. The global demand for PAN-based carbon fibres expanded to 37,000 tonnes in 2011 and it is expected to grow at 15% a year. APRIL 2012

Flame retardancy for nylon

CEO George Goh Tiong Yong has offered to take the public-listed maker of injection moulded components private in a deal that values the firm at S$128.4 million. Goh is making the offer through Zhong Yong Holdings and is proposing buying shares in Meiban that he does not control for S$0.40 apiece. Goh currently controls about 30.17% of Meiban. The contract manufacturer of consumer products was listed in Singapore in 1994 and upgraded to the main board of the SGX in July 2000.


S firm Solvay Specialty Polymers’s Ixef 1524 polyarylamide (PARA) resin has received UL 94 V rating for electrical/ electronics applications at 0.4 mm and above thicknesses for all colours, thereby broadening its offering of highperformance nylons and non-halogenated material solutions. The material serves as replacement for halogenbased flame-retardant products like glass-filled PC and ABS as well as metals such as aluminium and magnesium. The 50% glass-filled material is targeted for injection moulded covers, internal frames and other structural components of mobile electronic devices including media tablets, notebooks and ultrabooks. Its other properties include an improved surface finish, which the firm says is a standard feature of all its Ixef PARA-based compounds. The highflow resin also permits the moulding of complex and detailed thinwall parts that can be painted. The tensile strength of Ixef compounds is similar to many cast metals and alloys at ambient temperature. It has a tensile modulus up to 20 GPa at 23°C; a Comparative Tracking Index (CTI) of 600 volts and a Glow Wire Flammability Index (GWFI) of 960°C.

Honda pumps up investments in Indonesia


Power savings from composite material in pumps


esponding to continuous demand for reliability and performance of industrial pumps, German firm Createc has devised a set of Creacomp PT (Pump Type) composite materials that combine UK firm Victrex’s PEEK polymer with carbon fibre. These composites have been successfully used to replace metals in the manufacture of parts subject to intense wear in pumps. The company says that its testing has revealed a significant gain in energy efficiency and cost savings when composite manufactured wear rings are used. The gain in efficiency of a typical multistage process pump is 4-5% when clearance is reduced by 50%. A test of an upgraded six-stage process pump revealed an improvement in efficiency from 82.5% to 87%, reducing the cost of electrical power consumption by EUR80,000 a year.

Meiban to go private?


Automotive News

ingapore-based Meiban Group’s Chairman/

o expand its small vehicle market in Indonesia, Japanese automotive maker Honda Motor’s Indonesian arm Honda Prospect Motor (HPM) is building a 27 billion yen automotive plant. Located in Karawang Industrial Park, Jakarta, the new plant will have a capacity of 120,000 units/year. Combined with the current capacity of 60,000 units, HPM’s total capacity will be 180,000 units/year when it is set up in 2014. HPM is planning to transfer production of small-sized vehicles such as the Brio, developed for Asian markets, to the new plant. Imports of Brio from Thailand will begin before end-2012, with the local production of an Indonesian version to start by 2013. In other news, Astra Honda Motor (AHJ), Honda’s joint venture company for motorcycle production is constructing its fourth assembly plant in Jakarta. The country’s motorcycle sales topped 8 million last year, a 9% growth, and it is the world’s biggest market next to China and India. To start up by 2013, the US$334 million plant, with a capacity of 1.1 million units/year, will produce mainly scooters. AHJ sold 4.27 million units in 2011 and this year it expects to sell 4.8 million units. Honda’s motorcycle production capacity in Asia is currently 11.5 million units.

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Visteon sells lighting unit to Indian firm


n line with its shift to core climate and electronics businesses, US firm Visteon has sold its automotive lighting business to India-based automotive parts supplier Varroc Group for US$92 million. The unit includes a wide range of exterior lighting products supplied to global vehicle manufacturers, including front and rear lighting systems, auxiliary lamps and key subcomponents such as projectors and

Module simplifies GIT


ustrian machine maker Engel together with German gas injection technology (GIT) supplier Bauer Kompressoren has produced a new module to simplify the application of GIT. GIT frequently offers benefits when producing moulded parts with hollow channels by means of injection moulding. With key patent protection rights having recently expired, this procedure is gaining fresh impetus. In partnership with Bauer, Engel is now offering complete turnkey solutions for GIT branded as gasmelt, with solutions to be developed further. Thanks to a leakage monitoring function that now comes as standard,

Automotive News electronic modules. With 2011 revenue of US$531 million, the business to be sold has operations in Europe, North America and Asia. The business will be part of Varroc’s existing 26 manufacturing plants and three engineering centres. Visteon operations that would transfer to Varroc include manufacturing and engineering facilities in Czech Republic, Mexico and India.

Moulding News the injection moulding machine alerts the system operator as soon as predefined limit values are exceeded. The GIT module is fully integrated in the CC 200 control unit of the Engel injection moulding machine, so the operator is able to monitor the entire process (including the gas supply) via the display on the machine control unit. A gasmelt unit consists of a compressor, pressure accumulator and pressure control module

Energy efficiency highlighted at open house


t its recent Technology Days, German firm Arburg introduced a productivity package for its hydraulic Allrounder Golden Edition machine series. This includes the Arburg energy-saving system (AES) with variable speed pump drive and a water-cooled drive motor. The use of AES enables energy use to be reduced by up to 20% because a frequency converter continuously adjusts the speed of the electric motor to the actual power required. With the variable-speed pump drive, the machines can be operated at higher speeds thus resulting in a higher pump output, reducing the machine’s dry run time by around 5%. A further benefit is the minimisation of noise, heat and dust

emissions while the dissipated heat can be utilised for energy recovery. A further innovation shown was the servo-electrically driven “twinscrew Injester” for processing a broad range of high-viscosity and paste-like compounds, such as moist polyester (BMC), solid silicone (HTC) or wax. With regard to process integration, Arburg, jointly with FPT Robotik, presented a production cell with an integrated inline printing system, InkBoT process combining digital printing and robotics. In addition, the fully automated production cell also featured an electric Allrounder 370 E and a six-axis robotic system. Two individually printed name plates were produced in a 20-second cycle time. 2

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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery

Better design directions for machine makers Conserving time, energy and resources are the design directions for most machines that will be showcased at the Chinaplas exhibition to be held from 18-21 April in Shanghai.

Yizumi will demonstrate its PET system

Solutions for automotive and electronic parts erman firm KraussMaffei will be presenting its CX and MX series that are targeted at the automotive and electronics industries. The compression moulding MX series has a swivel plate and is used for making multi-colour television screen frames and windshields. With low and medium clamping ranges, the CX multi-inject, meanwhile, is for multicolour and multiple component applications. Visitors of Chinaplas can also take a tour of the company’s production plant in Haiyan, where it will have an open house from 19-20 April.


made possible with the integration of servomotor technology. Its dual plasticising unit enables parallel plasticising movement and the multi-pump system can realise parallel movement of plasticising and injection, mould opening or closing and ejection as well as robot product takeout, thus achieving a shorter cycle. Swiss machine maker Nestal will show its latest 350 tonne-Pet-Line with a 128-cavity mould from Hofstetter and drypack system from Eisbar. As new site acquisition becomes more difficult and expensive, Dr Boy will demonstrate the advantages of compact machines, namely its servodriven 10-tonne XS and 35-tonne 35E models. The XS, which boasts a footprint of 0.8 cu m and a stroke volume of 0.18 cu cm, will be shown demonstrating a cleanroom application. The 35E, meanwhile, will be shown producing protective caps in a 16-cavity mould. The machine has a maximum injection volume of 76.5 cu cm and a tonnage of 1.9 cu m, making it suitable for the production of technical and precision parts. Energy efficiency will be a focus at Arburg’s stand where it will introduce its new 100-tonne Allrounder 470E in the Edrive series, which now covers clamping forces from 60-200 tonnes. The German firm says its Edrive machines are primarily designed for the production of standard items such as technical moulded parts, making them an energyefficient electric alternative

In conjunction with the show, Engel will inaugurate its newly expanded Shanghai facility that now has double the capacity for large tonnage machinery

Austrian machine maker Engel will be exhibiting three production cells suited to automotive, teletronics and medical industries. Produced at its Shanghai facility, Engel will demonstrate its Duo 5550/700 pico machine moulding automotive components. The production cell is automated with a Viper 40 linear robot. For the teletronics industry, the Victory 330/120 machine will be shown producing mobile phone covers using a mould by China-based Nolato. To showcase electric machines, the E-max 310/100 will be producing protective caps for hypodermic syringes with a mould supplied by Kebo of Switzerland. Energy and space saving machines hina-based Yizumi Precision Machinery will present its first servomotor-driven PET preform system. Compared to conventional systems, the PETA series is said to save up to 30% energy. This is


Arburg will show the production of IML cups on a production cell consisting of a hybrid Allrounder 570H

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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery Four-cavity mould for protectors

to basic hydraulic machines. Furthermore, the E machines offer short cycle times and, with the servoelectric drives and toggle-type clamping units, reduce energy use by 50%, compared to standard hydraulic machines. The firm will also present its 200-tonne Allrounder 570H hybrid machine equipped with a 55 mm screw and L/D ratio of 22:1. It will demonstrate a thinwall PS cup application, with an IML system from Beck Automation and four-cavity mould from Glaroform, in a 3-second cycle time. The cup weighs 10.1 g and the material throughput is 50 kg/hour. The use of transparent PS and a film printed on both sides means that the cups have a decorative surface both inside and out. In addition, Arburg will present its hydraulic Allrounder 630S. The 250-tonne machine will be shown operating a two-cavity mould from Hejiu Technology to produce light-guide panels for TFT screens with LED background illumination. In order to achieve a high luminous efficiency, the components must be as thin as possible and require a specific optical surface structure possible using compression injection. At Chinaplas, 0.5 mm thick light-guide panels, with a flow/path wall thickness ratio of 350:1, will be produced in a 15-second cycle time. With the LED lighting market to grow at almost 30% over the next few years and forecast to exceed US$5 billion in 2012, according to Strategies Unlimited, machine makers like Multiplas are keen to get a share of the market. However, this is beginning for the ultimate replacement of conventional light sources, including high-efficiency fluorescent and HID fixtures. The high brightness of LEDs has demonstrated dramatic improvements in performance in recent years, as well as significant cost reductions. As a result, LEDs are undergoing a period of rapid market growth in a variety of lighting applications. In fact, the industry will witness a growth of 28% from 20082012. The Taiwanese company says it has been focusing on technology for lead frames for LEDs and has been supplying automated high-speed vertical injection moulding machines for many years. Its clients include Taiwan-based LED manufacturers of remote control units of televisions, panel displays, monitors and DVD players. At Chinaplas, Multiplas will demonstrate a vertical injection (700 mm/second injection speed) moulding machine (V60-M70ASR-EPC) with a 128-cavity mould, which is used for the production of lead frame moulding for side-view LEDs.

companies S-mouldtech and Magor Mold. The company will have a 32+32 cavity stack mould on display as well as a four-cavity thinwall container mould. In addition, a 64-cavity mould for protectors will be demonstrated in action by Sumitomo Demag Plastics Machinery. Sample product applications of its mould injections include customisable caps, closures, spouting systems, thinwall cups and lids, syringes, petri dishes, pipettes and infusion and transfusion kits. Meusburger Georg will present its new product line of change moulds that combine the advantages of a change mould with the stability of a standard mould and suitable for prototypes or small series. The firm says inserts can be replaced quickly with the help of positioning wedges. Insert changing is also possible with the mould being on the injection moulding machine, saving time for refitting.

SAS’s new QSR and QST line of tool changers

SAS Automation recently introduced a complete line of tool changers that allow EOAT (end-of-arm tooling) and gripper systems to be quickly mounted to the robot arm. The tool changers have two separate sides. The robot side (QSR) is permanently attached to the robot arm. The tool side (QST) is permanently attached to each individual EOAT. The EOAT mounts to the robot by fitting the two sides together and then locking them into position. The use of tool changers assures perfect positioning each time an EOAT is mounted. This reduces set-up time and the risk of damage to both the EOAT and the mould.

Moulds and robots shorten cycle times nother German firm Schottli will present its range of moulds, suited to the packaging and medical technology segments, together with its affiliated


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Rubber Journal Asia Tyre News

Yokohama has released its second tyre series made from orange oil

Second orange oil tyre from Yokohama


apanese firm Yokohama Tyre’s Avid Ascend tyre features its orange oil technology. Made at its US plant, the tyre is suited to a variety of applications ranging from crossover vehicles and passenger cars to minivans. It is said to possess a good mix of extended tread life and fuel economy. Test results show that the Ascend can last up to 6,000 more miles and has lower rolling resistance, rolling 11% easier than a competitive tyre, says the firm. This feature translates into fuel savings of about 58 gallons and more than US$200 savings over the tyre’s useful life. Available in sizes ranging from 15 to 18 in., the Ascend follows in the footsteps of the company’s dB Super E-spec, the world’s first orange oil tyre introduced in the US market in 2008.

Conti forecasts higher tyre sales and buys Indian firm


erman automotive firm Continental expects its sales to rise

GTC recalls tyres

more than 5% in its current fiscal year while its sales last year rose 17% to EUR30.5 billion. Its tyre division had combined sales of EUR8.8 billion from passenger and light truck tyres and commercial vehicle tyres, 7% up on the previous year. The company is also banking on global demand for replacement car/light truck and commercial vehicle tyres to grow 3% and 4% respectively. Continental’s tyre unit also plans to invest more than US$1.3 billion in the BRIC countries. It is doubling capacity in Camacari, Brazil, while the construction of a new plant in Kaluga, Russia, commenced in November 2011. In India, following the acquisition of Indian tyre manufacturer Modi Tyres, Continental plans to invest EUR50 million to establish in-house passenger and light truck tyre production as well as expand truck tyre production. In the US, the construction of a new plant is set to commence in South Carolina while an existing plant in Illinois is being expanded. In related news, Rico Auto Industries is now a fully owned subsidiary of Continental that has acquired Rico’s 50% equity in the Indian joint venture Continental Rico Hydraulic Brakes. This acquisition reinforces Continental’s growth plans and investments in both development and manufacturing to introduce future technologies to both of its automotive and rubber industries in India.


ore than 12,000 advance extra grip AR215 radial light truck tyres were recalled by GTC North America, an Ohio-based marketing arm of Chinese tyre maker Guizhou Tyre. The recall was due to sidewall blistering or bubbles that could lead to tread chunking, belt edge separation and air loss. The recalled tyres were manufactured between September 2008 and December 2009. GTC has notified tyre owners and is offering replacement of the recalled tyres with similar tyres free of charge.

Sibur sells tyre plant to Pirelli


ussian petrochemical company Sibur has finalised the transfer of its Voronezh tyre plant to Pirelli and Russian Technologies joint venture. This follows the transfer, also from Sibur, in December 2011 of the Kirov tyre plant. The joint venture has invested a total of EUR222 million in the transfer operations and will spend a further EUR200 million from 2012 to 2014 on plant improvement and business development. Annual revenues are expected to reach about EUR300 million in 2012 and more than EUR500 million by 2014.

Goodyear’s record earnings


S Goodyear Tyre recorded higher sales and income of US$1.4 billion worldwide and US$276 million in the North American market last year. The company says this success is due to its improved price/mix and higher branded share in targeted market segments. Despite a lower unit volume in the fourth quarter of 2011, its sales were up 12% to US$5.7 billion compared to last year. Tyre unit volumes totalled 43.2 million, down 5% from 2010, reflecting decreasing replacement industry volumes in mature markets along with business challenges in Latin America and the flooding in Thailand. Sales in Q4 2011 showed a strong price/ mix performance, which spiked revenue per tyre up 19% year-onyear. Unfavourable unit volume and foreign currency translation reduced sales by US$174 million and US$49 million respectively.

Rhein Chemie positioned in bladder market


erman firm Rhein Chemie, a subsidiary of speciality chemicals firm Lanxess, has purchased US-based Tire Curing Bladders (TCB), a manufacturer of bladders for the tyre industry. Rhein Chemie entered bladder production last year when it bought

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Rubber Journal Asia Argentina-based Darmex. TCB has a capacity of 400,000 bladders with sales of US$21 million last year. It primarily serves the North American market. Bladders are used in the manufacturing process of tyres. A non-vulcanised tyre is placed in a press. Once the press is shut, the internal pressure forces the tyre against the internal wall of the tyre mould. This is done using a butyl rubber bladder that is then inflated under high pressure and at high temperatures to give the tyre its final shape. The demand for bladders is expected to grow parallel to global tyre production, which is expected to grow on average by 5% a year in the coming years. The size of the global bladder market is estimated at more than EUR300 million.

Bridgestone enters guayule and Thai markets


apanese tyre maker Bridgestone’s US operations is researching on the viability of using guayule as an alternative to natural rubber in tyres. The plant is native to the deserts close to Mexico and southwestern parts of US but can also be grown in parts of Europe, North Africa and in other arid, dry zones. Funded by Bridgestone Japan, most of the research project will be carried out in the US and the firm will leverage its resources from two of its research and technical centres.

The company expects to finalise a location, establish a pilot farm and begin constructing the process research centre in South-West US by this year. The facility is expected to be operational in 2014 and trial rubber production will commence in 2015. It says it is also working to develop tyres using 100% sustainable materials (renewable and recyclable resources), which it will reveal information about “in the near future.� In other news, Bridgestone plans to build a 50 billion yen plant in Rayong, Thailand, for the production of offthe-road radial tyres for construction and mining vehicles (ORRs) and for steel cords used in ORRs. To start up by 2015, the facility will have a capacity of 85 tonnes/day by 2019, when scheduled capacity increases are completed. Until now, Bridgestone has produced these tyres in Japan and the US.

facilities, Apollo Tyres is also planning to acquire a Latin America tyre manufacturer.

NZ seeks solutions for old tyres


very year, 4 million tyres are disposed of in New Zealand, posing a grave long-term risk to the environment. Hence, the government will provide funding of US$133,000 to the Product Stewardship Foundation to establish economic and eco-friendly ways in which the used tyres can be put to better use. Possibilities include recycling tyres for road surfacing, converting them into floor tiles, useable fuels and recycling the steel. The foundation will work with the Motor Trade Association and 3R Group to bring together vehicle and tyre industry importers and retailers and will look at schemes in other countries to develop guiding principles for New Zealand. The government expects to receive results by April 2013.

Apollo Tyres strengthens position


o increase its global footprint, Indian firm Apollo Tyres will build new facilities in Eastern Europe and Brazil. The venture is expected to amount to a total of EUR400 million with both the facilities to be operational in two to three years time. The plants will produce passenger car radial tyres with an initial production capacity of 7-10 million units/year. Aside from establishing new

Old tyres may find new uses in NZ

Industry News

Trelleborg changes its strategy


wedish firm Trelleborg is divesting its automotive operation to allow it to focus and develop its automotiverelated operations. Based in France, the operation produces hightechnology rubber, plastic and foam components and systems for the light vehicles industry. It was acquired by Germany-based Bavaria Industriekapital, said to be a highly technical centre with a strong European customer base. The divested operation had a yearly revenue of US$81.2 million and employed around 570 workers.

Growth in India for firms


apanese firm Tokai Rubber Industries has officially opened a factory for producing anti-vibration systems for cars and light trucks in Bangalore, India. Operating as Tokai Rubber Auto-Parts India, the 8,000 sq m factory began operations in January. Prior to this, Tokai was leasing a plant where it was assembling the products. It also has another facility in India for producing automotive hoses, which it started up in 2005. In other news, US silicones maker Momentive Performance Materials is expanding its facility and application development centre in Chennai. Spanning more

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Rubber Journal Asia than 15 acres, the facility, which opened in 2009, focuses on manufacturing high-end speciality silicones.

AIRIA wants antidumping duties removed


he high price of locally-made products over imported ones has made the All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) to seek the removal of anti-dumping duties on imported raw materials, imposed by the Indian government. It also says the industry needs 100,000 tonnes of natural rubber to be imported to keep up with growing demand. According to the association, consumption of natural and synthetic rubbers is constantly increasing and availability is an issue even at high prices. Aside from high interest cost and energy rates, the levy on carbon black and rubber chemicals has made products more expensive, causing small and medium-sized firms to close shop. Nontyre industries, such as footwear, have also felt the blow, as the levy on styrene butadiene rubber has made products more expensive, leading to a surge in imports from Nepal, Sri Lanka and China, says AIRIA. Due to this, AIRIA has sought a waiver of customs duty on raw materials, such as butyl rubber, SBR grade 1500/1700 and other synthetic rubbers and polyester tyre cord.

Sino Legend marks presence in Europe and the US

higher than at end Q4 2010. Global rubber demand is forecast to reach 26.8 million tonnes in 2012. Global SR demand is expected to grow by 3.6% in 2012, while global NR demand is forecast to rise by 3.4% in 2012. The global NR production is forecast to rise by 3.2% to 11.3 million tonnes in 2012.


n line with its plans to establish its presence in the US and Europe markets, Chinese resin manufacturer Sino Legend has started showcasing its facility in Zhangjiagang, in Jiangsu province, China. The company has a 70% share of the Chinese market and a 30% share for the rest of Asia. Built in 2007, the plant was designed to meet future global expansions and standards. The facility is equipped with automated systems, QA assurance protocols and monitoring and rigid environmental controls. According to the company, the facility utilises water and energy efficiently, and follows a process flow that optimises efficiency in manufacturing and distribution.

Cambodia prioritises rubber


ubber plantations in Cambodia are expected to multiply as the country’s government is making rubber a priority sector. The Council for Development of Cambodia approved rubber projects worth USS674 million in 2011. Over 82% of these investments came from Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia. According to CDC, due to the country’s great potential for rubber cultivation, investment jumped by a whopping 256%. The country saw US$189 million invested into rubber plantations in 2010.

Higher rubber demand expected


ccording to the latest report released by Singapore-based International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), annualised global rubber consumption reached 25.8 million tonnes by end Q4 2011, 4% higher than at the same point in 2010, reflecting a decelerating increase in the demand for vehicles and tyres. Global synthetic rubber (SR) production was 6% higher than at end Q4 2010, in line with the relatively strong growth seen in SR consumption supported by competitive prices, while global NR consumption was 1.4%

Technology News

Yulex and Cooper tie-up for guayule


he continuous decline of natural rubber is driving companies in the tyre industry to identify alternative sources. US-based Cooper Tire & Rubber has teamed up with another US company Yulex to evaluate

and develop guayule polymers and resins for tyre applications. In this joint venture, Cooper will provide materials, testing, development and design expertise whereas Yulex will provide its experience with engineered biopolymers from the guayule plant. Results of this research may help decrease Cooper’s reliance on off-shore raw material sources as well as come up with next-generation tyre production.

New asphalt technology from Kraton


S-based producer of styrenic block copolymers Kraton Performance Polymers partnered with the National Centre for Asphalt Technology (NCAT) to test its HIMA technology on a pavement test track. According to Kraton, the findings show that a modified binder using its HIMA technology has achieved the highest and most adequate performance, compared to competing asphalt pavement technologies. This new technology proves that it is possible to reduce total pavement thickness. To produce this, Kraton kept the same gradation and mix design and replaced the binder, which allowed an 18% reduction in thickness. To test its durability, an analysis based on actual pavement strain was conducted by NCAT. The findings show that the thinner section with HIMA outperforms the control section in bottom up fatigue cracking.

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Rubber Journal Asia Gevo to set up isobutanol plant


evo, a US-based renewable chemicals and biofuels company, has received a patent to enable commercially viable production of isobutanol from yeast. Since yeast naturally produces isobutanol at low yields, the new technology allows production for commercial applications by eliminating barriers in the process. The end result is an improved yield of isobutanol by 20%. With its new technology, the company also plans to set up a plant. The new patent adds to its already existing 300 patents and applications for the economic production of isobutanol, process innovations and downstream product applications.

Safe production of rubber The European SafeRubber project has reached the halfway point of its three-year research. Since June 2010, the European Community-funded SafeRubber project has been working on on a suitable and safer alternative to ETU. Thiourea-based accelerators, of which ETU is the most common, have been used for more than 80 years in the vulcanisation of polychloroprene rubber as they facilitate the rubber curing system by speeding up the creation of molecular crosslinks, decreasing process duration and increasing

physical properties. However, ETU is classified toxic to reproduction and thereby a CMR within Europe. Under the REACH regulations,in due time, its use could either be prohibited or drastically limited. The initial work is focused on research into the chemical mechanism of the vulcanisation of polychloroprene using ETU, a mechanism which has never been fully understood or proven. This enabled the consortium to design and synthesise several alternative molecules, which it hopes will be safer than ETU. These molecules are now being optimised in polychloroprene compounds before being scaled up to an industrial process. Project results to date are available at: www.

PAHs primarily occur in complex mixtures; many are classified as carcinogenic/mutagenic environmental toxins with the potential to cause negative long-term effects both in humans and in the aquatic environment. Findings of this study suggest that tyre tread-wear could be a larger contributor of PAH than diesel vehicle exhaust and residential oil heating. Still in its preliminaries, the findings require further research to better understand tyre-particle generation and distribution in the environment in order to assess the implications to human health and environment.

Zymer to enhance end-product performance


nano-engineered rubber technology is set to add new strength and conductivity to rubber compounds. Called Zyvex molecularly engineered rubber (Zymer), the technology comes from US-based Zyvex Technologies. Zymer uses a new chemical process to allow carbon nanotubes to be inserted into synthetic rubber compounds to enhance the mechanical and electrical properties of the material without compromising elasticity. With nanotubes inserted, the material gets improved tear strength and tensile properties. The technology is expected to open up new possibilities as makers can create tyres made of lightweight materials

Tyres source of carcinogens


yres may be a potential source of carcinogenic dibenzopyrenes – a type of high molecular weight polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) – to the environment, according to researchers from Stockholm University. The goal of the Swedish research was to determine the level of dibenzopyrenes in tyres and its impact to the environment. Eight types of tyres of high molecular weight for PAH were evaluated using pressurised fluid extraction. PAH is a class of organic compounds produced by incomplete combustion or highpressure processes.

Zyvex’s rubber technology has been tested to show improved tear strength and elasticity

with increased durability and performance, says Zyvex.

Lab line for rubber profiles


erman firm KraussMaffei Berstorff’s LabStar line is suited for rubber profile production in laboratory applications. With a material use of 8 kg/hour, it is suited for low output rates and single component profiles. It is targeted at compound development applications, test specimens and sealing profiles with a size of below 1 cu cm. The core of the line is a GE 25 x 18D rubber extruder for continuous material shaping equipped with a mobile operating panel for line control. A downstream shock channel ensures prevulcanisation of the profile by means of short-wave infrared radiation. The firm says the compact combination of microwave and hotair channel is based on production-scale equipment design and allows for optimum energy input. The cover flaps can be easily opened and facilitate material threading at line start-up and rapid cleaning of the processing chamber.

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Rubber Journal Asia Country Focus

Thai show pushes the “green” envelope “Green” theme at the show rganised by TechnoBiz Communications, more than 6,000 visitors were exposed to over 100 exhibitors from the rubber and tyre industries, from countries such as Thailand, China, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, UK, Germany, Italy and France. The mood at the expo was certainly upbeat with exhibitors and visitors excited about the newest technologies, latest products and emerging trends. One major theme that was evident at the expo is the move towards creating technologies and products that are efficient and environmentally sustainable. With legislators passing laws requiring tyre manufacturers to be more stringent in their quality assessments as well as consumers being more environmentally conscious, it was evident that rubber and tyre companies are pushing the envelope to create products and processes that will meet the standards set by legislators and consumers. For example, German speciality chemicals company, Lanxess, took the opportunity to showcase its neodymium polybutadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) for “green” tyres. Ethan Sigler, Marketing Manager for India and Southeast Asia, Butyl Rubber and Performance Butadiene Rubber (BTR), said, “We see that there is a high awareness of the green movement in Thailand and we see that the business community is already beginning to embrace the position of zero carbon emissions.”


Thailand played host to the first ever Rubber Technology Expo 2012, held at the Bangkok International Trade & Exhibition Centre (BITEC) from 8-10 March. There certainly appears to be a global megatrend leaning towards environmental consciousness and sustainability and the showcase of materials related to this at the show proves that Southeast Asia is no stranger to the ecodebate.

Catering to the boom for “green” tyres ome September this year, Lanxess will break ground on its 140,000 tonne/year-Nd-PBR plant in Singapore. The EUR200 million facility will be built in Jurong Island, adjacent to the company’s EUR400 million butyl rubber plant (to come on stream in 2013), and is expected to start up in 2015. The company has firmed up a long-term supply agreement for butadiene with Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore (PCS), which is building a new butadiene extraction unit and associated infrastructure necessary to supply the raw material. Nd-PBR used in “green” tyres – the fastest growing sector in the tyre industry, with an annual global growth rate of about 10%. Growth is more pronounced in Asia at 14% per year. It is for these reasons that the German firm is en route to building its Nd-PBR plant. Sigler also said he forsees a near future in which consumer and business awareness of “green” tyres become the norm for the automotive market. Indeed, governments around the world are making it their business to pass through laws that require manufacturers to be accountable for their actions towards the environment. One such piece of legislation


To kick-start its Nd-PBR plant in Singapore, Lanxess Chairman Axel Heitmann and Managing Director of PCS Akira Yonemura recently firmed up the butadiene supply agreement

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Country Focus that has made headlines recently is the forthcoming EU tyre labelling regulation, which will be enforced in July 2012. It will require all tyre-makers to use standardised labelling stating three key tyre performance qualities: fuel consumption, wet grip and rolling noise. Global growth in mobility is forcing national legislators to push the use of low-rolling resistance tyres in order to protect the environment and the climate. For instance, studies show that road traffic alone accounts for 18% of global CO 2 emissions while tyres are responsible for between 20 and 30% of a passenger car’s fuel consumption and approximately 24% of its CO 2 emissions. It therefore makes sense that the EU has decided to cut CO 2 emissions by starting with “greener” tyres and it will not be alone for much longer. In Asia, South Korea and Japan have embraced the movement and other Asian countries are expected to follow suit. “We are seeing a number of global trends in the tyre industry, the largest being the effects of the EU tyre labelling legislation. In addition, we also see increased awareness regarding fuel efficiency as well as the impact of carbon emissions on the environment and Asia is a part of these trends,” Sigler remarked. Nd-PBR is the next generation technology of butadiene rubber, which uses other catalysts such as cobalt, titanium and lithium catalysts. It is used to make the treads and sidewalls of “green” tyres to create optimal rolling resistance that will then increase a vehicle’s fuel efficiency and reduce CO 2 emissions. In addition, by using NdPBR, the tyres will have resistance to abrasion, flex cracking and fatigue, which not only improves safety but also adds to the life of the tyre. Siegler said, “We have developed special-purpose rubbers and rubber additives that help cut the rolling resistance of tyres by up to 30% without having a negative impact on their wet grip and service life”. This alone means that fuel consumption of a passenger car is reduced by up to half a litre per 100 km and its CO 2 emissions by 1.2 kg per 100 km. “This way,” he says, “ tyres made of our specialpurpose rubbers are already making an important contribution to climate protection.” Others catch on too anxess was not the only company showcasing its “green” technology. Companies promoting rubber chemicals such as Behn Meyer Chemical, Jebsen & Jessen Chemicals and machine maker REP International, as well as a host of other companies were also on the same track, with the EU tyre labelling legislation being the main catalyst. The organiser also took the opportunity to put together three specialised conferences and six training programmes concurrently. While some of the training programmes were highly technical in nature, ranging from topics such as the use of polyolefin elastomers in crosslinked applications, storage instability of natural rubber-filled with fly ashes and novel functionalised synthetic rubbers for tyre applications, other lectures covered general trends and challenges faced by the industry. Senior executives from the global rubber and tyre industry were invited to share their insights on various issues. For example, Louis Rumao, a rubber industry consultant from the US, gave a lecture on effective marketing techniques for rubber industries, while John Dick of Alpha Technologies, also from the US shared his thoughts on solving problems in rubber processing.


Rubber Journal Asia Latex Industry

Evolving latex industry

The global latex industry is facing unprecedented challenges at a time when the demand for latex-based products is on the rise across the globe, whether it is for gloves, condoms or balloons. A major challenge is the shortage of latex concentrate, which is directly linked to natural rubber (NR) prices. This in fact is causing researchers to examine alternative rubber sources and their major impact in product performance as well as manufacturers to evaluate how these new discoveries translate to business speaks, says Lyn Cacha in this report on the Latex & Synthetic Polymer Dispersions Conference, organised by UK-based Smithers Rapra in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, recently.

Stiff competition looming he natural rubber latex (NRL) industry has grown tremendously, especially during the last 25 years. The industry is driven by the gloves market that has been responding to increased demand created by the heightened awareness for improved hygiene management. According to No Dock Moung from the Singapore-based International Rubber Study Group, over the next decade, this need will remain the central driver for the industry. “However, the industry will face stiff challenges as further developments will be made by nitrile (NBRL) gloves in its physical/chemical properties,� he added. Traditionally, the cost of NBRL has been higher than NRL but in the past ten years, the cost advantage has been shared between the two, Moung explained. Over the same period, there has been an almost steady decline in the market share of NR latex gloves. Moung speculates that developments have been made in the physical/chemical properties of the NBRL glove market improving its attractiveness over NRL gloves.


Turning the tide with guayule emand for NR continues to grow at a rate greater than new plantings of the traditional hevea and the latest discovery of the guayule plant is expected to fill this need. Many efforts have been made to enhance worldwide rubber production through the domestication and commercialisation of guayule. US company Yulex, for instance, commercially introduced the first domestic natural rubber latex source from guayule. Currently, more and more tyre companies are venturing into setting up own rubber sources. Cooper Tire and Bridgestone, for instance, are now assessing guayule for Katrina Cornish of Ohio State University is researching tyre applications. Some rubber the use of bio-based materials in latex products manufacturers, meanwhile, are taking a wait-and-see approach. According to some participants at the conference, for guayule to be a direct substitute for hevea it has to either perform the same functions at a lower cost or perform better at the same cost. In line with the industry’s growing interest on guayule, Dr Katrina Cornish of Ohio State University presented in the conference the latest findings of her research that identified the contribution of several biobased components to the properties and performance of latex products. Ten biobased materials were used including vegetable waste, eggshell calcium carbonate, cotton fibres, guayule bark bagasse, guayule bark baggase without resin and dandelion fluff were used. Among the ten biobased materials, guayule appeared to present the best properties that can be used for a wide variety of medical device applications and also has performance that is comparable if not better than hevea latex. Aside from lessening NR dependence, latex allergies to NRL have also led to the development of guayule.


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Latex Industry Guayule natural rubber latex (GNRL) contains very low levels of protein but current assessment tools being used are too insensitive to identify protein extractable from GNRL products. Hence, Dr David Kostyal of Akron Rubber Development Laboratory proposed a tool or standard that can be used to determine the actual level of extractable protein in finished GNRL products as well as improve and control quality during latex production. Alternative fillers going green s the total glove market continues to increase by size, more and more waste latex gloves will be generated daily, thus contributing to solid waste disposal problems causing industries to look for eco-friendly materials that can help biodegrade gloves. Among these materials include natural starch that can be used as a filler in NRL gloves due to its ability to biodegrade. Recent studies show that starch speeds up biodegradation because it is consumed by microorganisms that hollow out the polymer matrix leading to a decrease in mechanical properties, an increase in permeability and the exhibition of a greater surface-to-volume ratio of polymeric materials. Associate Prof. Dr Azura Rashid of University Science Malaysia (USM) showed how various starch (sago, corn and tapioca) loadings affect the mechanical properties of biodegradable NRL gloves. The trial testing used starches mixed with potassium hydroxide, anchoid and water and was ball milled at 20 rpm for 24 hours. Pre-vulcanised


NRL films, meanwhile, were prepared by a dry coagulant dipping process. Using SEM analysis, research findings concluded that optimum mechanical properties of NRL films are achieved a 10 phr. Sago starch showed better mechanical and biodegradation properties to corn and tapioca starches. Likewise, polyurethane dispersions (PUD) gloves are said to be friendlier to the environment. According to Rolf Irnich of Bayer MaterialSience, compared to conventional gloves, PUD gloves require a very simple formulation and are easier and cleaner to manufacture. They are also free from protein allergy, odour and powder. Moreover, PUDs component has no pot life and leads to material cost savings on the processing line. PUDs are water-based polymers and are much easier to dispose. At present, research work being carried out on breaking down polymers has not shown any level of concerned toxicity so far. Stepping out in the ecological aspect, Joachim Storsberg of Fraunhofer Institute Applied Polymer Research (IAP) showed the feasibility of carbohydrates as good alternative fillers and additives to synthetic latexes. Usually, synthetic latexes consist of petroleum-based components such as butadiene and styrene. Carbohydrates can substitute these ingredients and provide customised properties that can open up a broad spectrum of applications aside from classic ones such as paper, dipping goods, coatings and adhesives.

Rubber Journal Asia Latex Industry XSBR were prepared by latex stage compounding using two types of layered silicates, viz, sodium bentonite and flurohectorite. The extent of exfoliation and intercalation of polymer chain into the layers of nano-structured silicates were determined from x-ray diffraction pattern. It was observed that the interlayer spacing of the clay galleries increased due to the diffusion of polymer chains into the inter galleries of the silicate layers. Latex nanocomposites exhibited improved mechanical properties due to the enhanced polymer/filler interaction. Furthermore, the gas transport properties of NR and XSBR latex membranes also showed lower permeability to oxygen and nitrogen gasses due to enhanced polymer/filler interaction.

Joachim Storsberg of Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Polymer Research presented his studies on the use of carbohydrates as alternative fillers and additives to synthetic latexes

In his presentation, Storsberg said carbohydrates can be used in their natural form as fillers and additives and specially modified carbohydrates are used as excellent surfactant and stabiliser systems. Through the use of thermo-labile functions that undergo a haemolytic splitting, carbohydrates can be used as surfactant-initiators in emulsion polymerisation processes.

Shifting to polyisoprene omfort and protection are among the major concerns with the increasing use of synthetic rubber (SR) to substitute the higher priced NR. Today, such concerns are waning as use of high quality polyisoprene in the healthcare industry is increasing. This has been made evident with the growing interest in SR in medical devices. Adeline Kung Ai Lin of Ansell presented the company’s synthetic polyisoprene condom and its properties. Male latex condoms are usually made from NRL and non-NRL condoms available in the market are made from PU or other thermoplastic materials. Approved by the US FDA, the synthetic polyisoprene condom has been tested and results showed that its properties are comparable to NRL condoms in terms of safety, efficacy, quality and acceptability. In the gloves field, Wouter de Jong of Kraton Innovation Centre Amsterdam presented a comparative study on commercially available surgical gloves made of various base materials. Mechanical properties evaluated include tensile strength, modulus and puncture resistance. Based on the findings, good quality polyisoprene surgical gloves offer mechanical protection comparable to NR gloves and are also said to be better than other synthetics in terms of comfort. Although SR appears promising, barrier product makers continue to improve their NR products by offering the latest in superior protection. Eng Aik Hwee of Ansell presented the company’s first surgical gloves with antimicrobial coating on the inside. According to Eng, it is designed to reduce the microbial load on the inside surface of the glove in the event of a glove breach, thereby providing additional protection against microbial cross-contamination. Using Ansell’s Antimicrobial Technology (AMT), the glove’s insides have an active ingredient – chlorhexidine gluconate – that helps kill more than 99% of an HCV surrogate virus and 99% of HIV-1 strain within a minute following exposure. It also kills 99.7% to 99.9% of eight clinically relevant bacteria.


Zooming into nanoparticles hile the benefits of nanotechnology are widely publicised, the technology has not been picked up yet by rubber makers due to cost factors as well as the unknown potential effects of its widespread use in the consumer and industrial products. During the conference, both the research and rubber manufacturing sectors were finding it extremely hard to argue the case due to the limited information available to support one side or the other. It has been known that nanomaterials can easily enter the human body, however, how these impact human health and the environment in the long term is still unknown. Despite this, a growing number of studies in the research sector have been made to examine the potential benefits of nanomaterials. According to Siby Varghese of Rubber Research Institute of India, nanotechnology offers some benefits to every application, such as its suitability to thin film products, ability for intimate mixing, low dosage requirement and low residual and toxicity. He believes that more product manufacturers will be incorporating nanotechnology. Reduced protein content is one of the achievements of the introduction of nanofillers in latex condoms. Presented by Dr Abi Santhosh of HLL Lifecare, the study shows how performance-enhancing nanofillers, specifically nanosilicates, can provide substantial improvements in mechanical properties of condoms. Improved tensile and elongation as well as reduced moisture absorption and air permeability were achieved with the incorporation of nanosilicates. In a similar vein, Dr Ranimol Stephen of St. Joseph’s College, India, compared the effects of nanoclay to the properties of NR and carboxylated styrene butadiene rubber (XSBR) lattices. In her research, NR and


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