PRA January-February 2014 Edition

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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 醫 療 資 訊 :醫療注塑中精確溫度控制的重要性

In this issue

Volume 29, No 203

publlshed slnce 1985

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

Features 焦 點 內 容

Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email:

12 醫療資訊:醫療注塑中精確溫度控制的重要性 14 Cover Feature

Sustainable plastics have never gotten any more complex than when degradation, compostability and recyclability have become stringent criteria

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

17 Green Packaging

Editorial/Production Coordinator Angelica Buan Email:

Bioplastics are trailing close behind conventional oil-based plastic products in terms of demand

20 Country Focus

The forecast for Indonesia’s plastics industry is looking up despite the lukewarm indicators, thanks to its large consumer base that buoys up the demand

Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling Circulation Abril Castro Email:

23 Blow Moulding

Admin & Finance Manager Tean Arul Email:

Regulars 概 要

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

Round-up of the latest blow moulding technology showcased at last year’s K2013 show in Germany


2 Industry News

ISSN 1360-1245

MCI (P) 029/08/2013

6 Machinery News

Printer KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd

8 業界新聞

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

Supplements 副 刊 The manufacture of quality medical devices is becoming more sophisticated and calls for a reliable moulding solution that leaves little room for errors Fresh investments and concerted efforts by companies and government agencies are tapping anew the potentials of India’s rubber sector PRINT+DIGITAL

On the Cover


In the green material arena, competition is heating up between oxo-biodegradable plastics and bioplastics. Not all plastics are created equal. Hence, the greener the material, the larger its market share 業界新聞 醫療資訊:醫療注塑中精確溫度控制的重要性

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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. © 2014 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.

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Industry News

M&As • Braskem, Latin America's largest petrochemical company, is acquiring 70.59% of plastic maker Solvay Indupa for US$290 million from Belgium owner Solvay. While Solvay Indupa produces PVC and caustic soda and owns two integrated industrial facilities in Brazil and Argentina, in 2007, it also began studying how to produce PVC from sugarcane-based ethanol in a process similar to Braskem's green PE production. • German chemicals firm BASF is selling its Vinuran PVC modifier business to Kaneka Belgium, a subsidiary of Kaneka Corporation, Japan. The transaction comprises intangible assets and inventory. It does not include a transfer of the production assets or employees in Ludwigshafen. Subject to approval by the relevant antitrust authorities, the closing is expected during the first quarter of 2014. • Ineos Enterprises is purchasing South Africa-headquartered Sasol’s solvents unit in Germany. The acquisition comprises production facilities in Herne and Moers, employing around 520 people.



• Swiss speciality chemicals firm Clariant is to acquire Indian masterbatch maker Plastichemix Industries. Located in Vadodara with production facilities in Rania, Kalol and Nandesari in Gujarat, Plastichemix supplies black, white, filler and colour/additive masterbatches, flushed pigments and mono-concentrates as well as engineering plastics compounds. • US-based hedge fund Third Point has acquired a significant stake in chemical giant Dow Chemical for a reportedly US$1.3 billion. Founded by billionaire investor Dan Loeb, Third Point wants Dow to spin off its petrochemicals division to add more value for shareholders and to focus instead on high-margin and fast-growing businesses like agricultural science and electronics and functional materials businesses. • Belgium-based Solvay will acquire substantially all of the assets of US conductive polymers firm Plextronics for around US$33 million. Plextronics has filed for bankruptcy. Solvay has investments in other plastic electronic materials developers, including Polyera. Plextronics is a Carnegie Mellon

University unit that was spun-off in 2002 and develops customised inks to enhance the performance of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) for next generation displays and lighting applications, lithium ion batteries, polymer metal capacitors, and emerging organic electronic devices. • US-based compounder A. Schulman has purchased Prime Colorants, a manufacturer of custom colours and additive concentrates in Franklin, Tennessee, for approximately US$15.1 million. • Germanyheadquartered carbon fibre maker SGL Group (The Carbon Company) has sold its 100% stake in its rotor blade production unit, SGL Rotec. This is part of SGL’s restructuring exercise that includes job cuts of up to 300, in line with its plan to refocus its core competency on carbon fibres and composites. • Germany-based chemicals maker Evonik Industries has led a US$12million Series C financing round in US flame retardant producer FRX Polymers, investing US$2.5 million in the

round. FRX is the manufacturer and marketer of the Nofia inherently flame retardant plastics and oligomers. The closing coincided with the opening of FRX’s first industrial scale flame retardant polymer plant in Antwerp, Belgium. • Turkish industrial conglomerate Oyak Group has acquired the entire share capital of Austriabased additives maker Chemson Group from Austrian private equity fund Buy-Out Central Europe II Beteiligungs-Invest. Oyak also has a subsidiary additives company, Akdeniz Kimya of Izmir. Chemson produces 100,000 tonnes/year of PVC additives that are used in the production of windows/profiles, pipes, cables, flooring and roof sheets. • US supplier of pigment and chemical dispersions Chromaflo Technologies, owned by Arsenal Capital Partners, is merging with Finland-based tinting specialist CPS Color’s colourant business to create a global colourant system and pigment dispersion platforms worldwide, serving customers in architectural and industrial coatings as well as the thermoset plastics markets.


Plant Set-Ups/Capacity Increases • A BASF and Sinopec joint venture, BASF MPCC Company, is constructing a world-scale isononanol (INA) plant in Maoming Hi-tech Industrial Development Zone, Maoming, China. To start-up in 2015, the plant will serve the increasing market demand for next-generation plasticisers. INA is a feedstock for the production of DINP and non-phthalate plasticiser Hexamoll DINCH. • US firm Huntsman Corporation is expanding its global polyetheramines (PEA) capacity by a minimum of 15% as a result of debottlenecking three of its PEA manufacturing plants in Conroe, Texas (US), Llanelli, Wales (UK) and Singapore. It will be fully operational by May 2014. • Thailand-based polyester supplier Indorama Ventures Public (IVL) is setting up a joint venture company with Abu Dhabi National Chemicals Company (ChemaWEyaat) to develop the Tacaamol Aromatics Plant on Madeenat ChemaWEyaat Al Gharbia’s (MCAG) site in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi. It will have a capacity of 1.4 million tonnes/year

of paraxylene and 0.5 million tonnes/year of benzene. IVL will hold 49% equity and ChemaWEyaat will hold 51% equity in a new joint venture company to be known as Abu Dhabi Chemicals Integration Company LLC (Tacaamol). • German chemical company Oxea has increased its capacity for speciality esters by 20% at its Amsterdam Esters Plant (AEP) in the Netherlands. To this end, the company invested an amount in the singlefigure million Euro range to implement several optimisation measures. Oxea produces several phthalate-free plasticisers at AEP, including Oxsoft TOTM (trioctyl trimellitate) and DOTP (dioctyl terephthalate). This capacity upgrade will specifically benefit producers of medical devices and flooring that are looking for alternatives to replace the conventional DOP and DINP plasticisers. • Müller Kunststoffe, the German arm of the Hexpol TPE group, is expanding capacity with an additional TPE production line to increase output by 4,800 tonnes/year, bringing the total capacity to 65,000 tonnes. The new line will increase capacity for the group's Lifoflex and Dryflex TPE compounds.

• US-based colour concentrates, compounds and masterbatches supplier PCC (Plastics Color Corporation) is significantly expanding capacity at its Illinois facility by adding on 40,000 sq ft to the building and one multifunction production line. It will give PCC 40% more capacity and is expected to be operational by late 2014. • Canadian chemicals firm Nova Chemicals Corporation is progressing with multiple projects in the Sarnia region as part of its second phase of its Nova 2020 growth strategy, including continuing to evaluate options for a second Advanced Sclairtech technology (AST) facility. Anticipated to take place from 2014-2018, it includes several expansions and upgrades to Nova’s existing facilities in the Sarnia, Ontario, region, including expanding the Corunna cracker ethylene manufacturing capacity by 20%; debottlenecking the Moore LDPE line; and retrofitting the Moore HDPE line. These projects will utilise up to 100% natural gas liquids (NGLs) to enhance Nova’s capabilities.

• Germany-based chemical maker BASF is building a compounding plant for engineering plastics Ultramid PA and Ultradur PBT compounds in Yesan, Chungnam Province, South Korea. With a capacity of 36,000 tonnes, the new plant will start up in 2015 and more than double the total compounding capacity of BASF’s engineering plastics in South Korea. The firm has also inaugurated a new plant in Yeosu, South Korea, to strengthen the supply of Ultrason polyarylsulfone, one of the company’s high performance thermoplastics. The new plant, with a production capacity of 6,000 tonnes/year, will serve the growing market in Asia Pacific. It is the first of its kind to be built outside of Germany and brings the company’s global capacity of Ultrason to 18,000 tonnes/ year. Ultrason is widely applied in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries for the production of heat-resistant, lightweight components. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014


Industry News 4

Is Philippines still a “white spot” on the map for Germany?


here are several factors that are inhibiting German firms to invest into the Philippines, according to Nadine Fund, General Manager of the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI). According to GPCCI, there were 52 German firms operating in the country in 2009. German direct investments in the Philippines increased significantly from 20082009, by EUR28 million to EUR324 million, while indirect investments decreased by EUR1 million in 2009, compared to the previous year. By 2010, Nadine Fund, General trade volume between Manager of the GermanGermany and the Philippines Philippine Chamber of reached EUR3.3 billion, Commerce and Industry making it the Philippines’s (GPCCI). top trading partner from Europe. Germany was still the top trading partner of the Philippines in 2012, bringing in 32.4% of EU’s US$10.571 billion trade with the Philippines (9.3% of the country’s total foreign trade), according to the National Statistics Office. Amidst the modest investments growth, many German companies are still “shy” in investing in the Philippines for varied reasons, amongst which are the fact that there are still a number of these firms that are unaware of what to expect. The latter refers to its culture and its environment, according to Fund, speaking to PRA recently. She went on to say, “A number of them have never been to the Philippines. For some, the country is still a “white spot” on the map. So we introduce the country to them. In a way, we are helping the Department of Tourism by making the Germans aware of why the Philippines is a suitable business destination.” As part of this effort by the GPCCI, which also does business matching for German companies, Fund said that she visits Germany three to four times a year to promote the country as a business hub. The familiarity with Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and other ASEAN countries also accounts for drawing more interests to invest there than in the Philippines, she observed. GPCCI has 200 members, including firms in the automotive and chemicals sectors, which are amongst the top ten sectors where German firms are actively engaged. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014

Chemical specialists BASF and Evonik, which established a Philippine sales centre; automotive parts maker ZF Friedrichshafen and electronic giant Bosch as well as automation specialist Festo are amongst the GPCCI members. Fund says that Continental Temic Electronics, a local unit of conglomerate Continental Corporation, is a model business, since the company has been expanding its sites in the country. “Continental currently has three sites: one in Taguig City (Manila) and two in Laguna,” she said. Late last year, Continental invested an estimated EUR50 million to install new technologies in the Philippine facilities, according to reports. However, there is still a lot of spadework to be done in terms of encouraging German investments into the country, Fund said. The country’s infrastructure is a major consideration. “Firms used to have to go to the Manila port (the largest shipping gateway in the country) and it’s only in recent months that the Batangas port has become accessible.” Early last year, the government, through Asian Terminals Inc (ATI), urged firms and importers, especially based within the CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon cluster of provinces) to use the Batangas port to cut down delivery, shipment and storage costs. Promoting the country’s benefits, Fund says the main advantages are the people’s ability to speak English, as well as the young workforce. “There is no skills gap,” she said. To help upgrade skills of the workforce engaged in various manufacturing segments, GPCCI has teamed up with the Philippine government and other institutions in crafting training programmes under the TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) system, wherein trainings will mostly be hands-on and held on-site. With the forthcoming implementation of the ASEAN Economic Council (AEC) in 2015, Fund said that the region’s synergistic advantages, which are its location, infrastructure, skills and being materials source-strategic, will significantly benefit investors. “The Philippines is ready for the AEC,” Fund assessed when asked how the country will fare alongside its neighbours when the regional integration takes effect. “It is just a matter of injecting optimism and confidence projection for the country. This is because the Philippines, far from being ‘just a small island’, has got what it takes to be globally competitive,” she concluded.

Machinery Industry News

Vacuum dryer revs up output


aguire Products says its VBD 150 vacuum dryer, originally rated for an output of up to 68 kg/hour, is said to exceed 90 kg/hour with hygroscopic materials such as ABS, acrylic, nylon, polycarbonate, polyetherimide and PBT. Furthermore, the ability of the dryer to deliver process-ready resin in just over half an hour is in sharp contrast with a conventional desiccant dryer, which takes up to four hours to bring resin from a cold start-up to a condition of readiness, says the US firm. It also reduces the risk of material

degradation, since resin is exposed to elevated temperature for 80% less time. Additional productivity enhancements are available including an “EasySlide” mechanism that enables the vacuum vessel to slide out, for easier maintenance, and an optional hopper extension with a 0.028 cu m capacity and 25% more output. The VBD uses gravity to move material through three vertically arranged vessels, with the discharge of material from one vessel to the next controlled

Thermoformers feature flexibility


M Wrapping Machinery, the Swiss manufacturer of thermoforming machines for disposable packaging, says the K2013 show last October in Düsseldorf, Germany, was a successful one. It says it especially had visitors from Asia, the Middle East and from North and South America to its booth.

The firm displayed its FC 780 E IM2 Speedmaster Plus series vacuum thermoforming machine and FT 500 Desmoformer simultaneous formcut machine with lower tilting platen equipped with the new stacking devices. These models are said to be drawing

WM Wrapping claims a successful showing of its machine at K2013



by slide-gate valves. From top to bottom, the vessels include a heating hopper that brings resin to a target temperature; a vacuum vessel in which vacuum reduces the boiling

point of water, causing moisture within the pellets to volatilise and be forced out of the pellet into the lowpressure environment surrounding it; and a pressurised retention/ take-away hopper that is continually purged by a membrane air dryer to maintain the target level of dryness until the material is discharged. This system eliminates most moving parts, in particular the threestation indexing carousel mechanism of the Maguire LPD vacuum dryer introduced in 2000.

a lot of attention in the market; with new projects for machines with the same configuration under negotiation. The Speedmaster Plus forms and cuts, using a steel rule blade, all in the same forming station. It is equipped with a second cutting press for products that require a second cutting step. In addition, a three axes robot for counting, stacking (with A-B or A-B-C sequences) and removing the stacked products can also be installed. The 750 kN machine can carry moulds up to 780x570 mm. During the show, it was displayed with a mould for an APET double eggs container. Meanwhile, the FT 500 is a simultaneous form-cut machine with lower tilting platen.

This 300 kN machine can carry moulds up to 570x375 mm. It is equipped with the servomotor-driven plugging system as well as stacking system with rotating plate used for the removal, counting and single-row stacking of thermoformed products. An interesting aspect is the tilting unit of the lower platen, which can rotate 75 degrees. The system uses a combination of servomotor-driven cams and levers and is based on an innovative double desmodromic system. This ensures maximum precision and repetition of movements, as well as power calibration during both the movement and cutting phases.

The new EasySlide feature involves the vacuum vessel to slide out in the style of a drawer

Machinery News

simple interface of the machine control unit. As with the ecodrive principle, the drives of an injection moulding machine with the retrofitted ecodriveR are only active when the machine is in movement, such as during mould opening and closing, plasticising and injecting. During the post injection pressure and plasticising phases, the speed is reduced, and during cooling, the drives come to a complete standstill and do not use any energy at all. In addition to the significantly lower drive energy levels, both ecodrive and ecodriveR offer other advantages. For example, the reduction in

the amount of heat released is particularly noticeable. Normally, the excess energy is converted into heat and emitted into the atmosphere and the hydraulic oil. Both of these effects are almost completely eliminated when ecodrive or ecodriveR is used, which lowers the cooling capacity considerably and increases the lifespan of the hydraulic oil. One ergonomic advantage of the two systems is the reduced noise emissions, which are a consequence of lower average motor speeds. The saving potential depends on different factors. Machine size and cycle time play a

crucial role among other things. If, for example, POM technical parts with a shot weight of 109 g and a cycle time of 78.3 seconds are made on an Engel victory 330/125 injection moulding machine that has been eoptimised with the ecodriveR system, 3.7 kWh/ hour of energy will be saved, which means 46% less will be consumed. The energy reduction and the fact that the cooling/filter motor uses 0.5 kWh/hour less energy make a major contribution here. If the machine is in operation for 6,000 hours per year, the amount of electricity it uses will be cut by 22,200 kWh overall, which equates to six tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Milacron has also acquired Industrial Machine Sales (IMSI) and its sister company Precise Plastics Machinery (PPM). Texas-based IMSI specialises in the application engineering of primary plastics processing and support systems for injection moulding, extrusion and blow moulding. PPM was established in 1994 as a full service support company for the plastics industry, including offering preowned equipment and turnkey services.

Tomro sets up test centre in China Norway-based Tomro Sorting Recycling (TSR), a specialist in advanced sensor-based waste sorting solutions, will be opening its first test centre in Xiamen, China, this year. The centre directly supports the complete sales process, including the testing of sample materials provided by the customer. It complements TSR's sales and service team in the region, which has been based in Xiamen since 2011. The company says it has now sold more than 50 machines in China.

Pipe operation expands to Asia Malaysia-based private equity firm Fitters Diversified Bhd has entered into an MOU with Spanish PVC pipe maker Molecor Tecnologia to set up Molecor (SEA) Sdn Bhd (MSSB) with a 65% equity stake, to market PVC-O pressure pipes in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian markets. Molecor is a pioneer in the development of applying molecular orientation to pipeline solutions.

Aiming for lower energy use with retrofit


ising energy prices and the demand for more sustainability often make manufacturing systems that have been used for many years seem even older. Austrian injection moulding machine maker Engel's new retrofit solution ecodriveR is said to be reasonably priced, can be fitted with little hassle and reduces the energy required by existing hydraulic injection moulding machines by up to 50%, says the firm. This is achieved through the installation of a frequency converter that adjusts the speed of the pump drive to the amount of energy required. It is set using a

News In Brief Milacron expands service with acquisitions US-based machinery supplier Milacron has acquired American Extrusion Services (AES), a company that services extrusion machines and offers extrusion parts repair. Based in Ohio, the 25-year old AES offers extrusion, gearbox, field service and repair. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In related news,



Green Packaging

Oxo-biodegradable plastics: Environment friend or foe? Oxo-biodegradable plastics (OBPs) are conventional plastics that contain additives to cause degradation at an accelerated rate. Currently promoted by several manufacturers as a relief against hard-to-recycle materials, amidst skepticism from anti-oxo factions, PRA’s Angelica Buan explores the myths and facts on OBPs.

Symphony Environmental Technologies CEO, Michael Laurier, believes that all disposable plastic products should biodegrade if they get into the open environment




or a majority of bioplastics and compostable plastics proponents, oxo-biodegradable plastics (OBPs) are a nemesis in disguise. This claim is slammed by companies engaged in producing OBPs as well as associations such as the London-headquartered Oxo-biodegradable Plastic Association (OPA), and the US-based Oxo Alliance, which educates and lobbies for legislations in favour of industry-standard OBPs. Recently, a group of members of parliament (MPs) in France proposed the suspension of the use of OBPs on the grounds that they could pose risks to the environment and health. Among the arguments were that OBPs fragment and disintegrate into fine plastic particles, without degrading into water, carbon dioxide and organic matter. In a rebuttal, OPA reasoned that everything including paper, textiles, conventional and biobased plastics will turn into fragments as they degrade. In September last year, Belgium-based EU-level trade association EuPC sought for a Europe-wide ban on oxo-fragmentable plastics following the results of several independent tests conducted on degradable and fragmentable plastic materials and their effect on the quality of plastics recycling. It recommended that a separate collection of degradable plastics is necessary to ensure “resource efficiency” in Europe’s recycling streams. The test was run in 2012 through the EuPC’s membership. EuPC said that there is evidence of the negative impact of oxo-fragmentable plastics on the recycling stream and these types of plastics have no positive environmental impact on the existing waste streams and, hence, should be banned in Europe. OPA presented its position paper almost immediately to counter EuPC’s claims. South Africa-headquartered technical research house Roediger Agencies conducted tests on OBP grocery bags and ascertained that "plastic products made with oxo-biodegradable technology may be recycled without any significant detriment to the newly formed recycled product.” Meanwhile, UK-based supplier of oxo-biodegradable masterbatches and additives Symphony Environmental Technologies’s CEO Michael Laurier explains that it is the firm’s strong belief that all disposable plastic products should biodegrade if they are in the environment. “They should not lie or float around for decades, polluting the environment for future generations,” he said, adding that the firm actively campaigns for OBPs.

Green Packaging

Oxo-biodegradable plastics are conventional plastics that contain additives to cause degradation at an accelerated rate

Oxo-biodegradables unmasked In a world of semantics, OBPs apparently suffer from an “identity crisis”! Laurier explains what OBPs are. “They are made from petroleumderived polymers such as PE, PP and PS, containing extra ingredients, and designed according to ASTM D6954 to degrade and biodegrade in the open environment leaving no harmful residues.” He said that oxo-biodegradable technology, unlike what has been an oft misinterpretation, is “upgrading, not replacing, a proven range of conventional plastics used for many years for hundreds of purposes all around the world.” These conventional plastics, he said are added with these special additives, such as the d2w additive that Symphony produces. “Typically, d2w is added (into the plastic) at only 1%, so there is little or no extra cost and no need to change suppliers,” he said. Laurier explained that OBPs will degrade by a process of oxidation until they become biodegradable. “At that point they are not plastics, and they are then biodegraded by naturally occurring micro-organisms. The process is unstoppable so long as oxygen is present,” he said. He explains further that OBPs do not just fragment but will be consumed by bacteria and fungi after oxidative cleavage has reduced the molecular structure to a level that permits living micro-organisms access to the carbon and hydrogen. In this sense, the material is "biodegradable." This process continues until the material has biodegraded to nothing more than CO 2 , water, and humus, he said, further emphasising that technology ensures that no fragments of plastic are produced. Debunking another fallacy is that OBPs are, in actuality, heavy metals. Laurier explains that the active ingredients in OBP additives, which cause the oxidation, are salts. “These salts are required as trace-elements in the

human diet. Further, they are at such low concentrations that they are unlikely in any event to be toxic to the environment, and this is confirmed by research commissioned by the UK government,” he added (referring to the 2012 UK study on the impact of OBPs on the environment commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for Loughborough University). Meanwhile, Garrett Valentino, President/ CEO of US bioresins supplier Bioplastics International shared his views on oxobiodegradables, which he referred to as oxodegradables. “There has been no data to show that oxo-degradable products completely degrade. The additives contain metal ions that create weak links in the polymer chain, which oxidise to create brittle plastics thereby reducing the visible plastic. Oxo-degradable products break down through exposure to light and oxygen. There has been no data to show that oxo-degradable products completely degrade. And this leaves a concern of heavy metals and chemicals (plastic polymers, cobalt, cadmium and other toxic residue) in the ground and oceans.”

Bioplastics International offers a large assortment of bioresins from corn, sugarcane, potatoes, sugar beets, and many other plant starches

Who’s afraid of oxo-biodegradables? Bioplastics, being organic-based, are gradually generating wider acceptance from consumers as well as end-users. A recent study by US research house Freedonia indicates that global demand for bio-based plastics will increase 19% a year to 960,000 tonnes in 2017, with starch-based resins and polylactic acid (PLA) as the leading products. Petroleum-based plastics are becoming synonymous with waste – partly due to either misinformation or hype. Nonetheless, this adds prestige to bioplastics, regardless if the latter is JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014


Green Packaging reputed to engender a shortage of food supply for human consumption. Bioplastics are biodegradable (but only in an industrial composting environment, not in the open), a premise emphasised by the European Bioplastics in its 2009 position paper against the claims on oxo-biodegradables. The organisation attempts to differentiate biodegradation against fragmentation, and insists that the latter is more appropriate to describe how oxo-biodegradable additives really work during oxidation. Clarifying the statement made in the European Bioplastics paper that “fragmentation is not the same as biodegradation”, Laurier categorically agrees that fragmentation differs from biodegradation. However, he explains that a majority of non-scientific literature describes only the first or oxidative degradation phase undergone by OBPs. “These descriptions should not be used for plastic, which degrades by the process of oxo-biodegradation defined by CEN and the correct description is oxobiodegradable,” he said. On the contrary, Valentino said that it is important to understand that “degradation is simply the loss of physical properties and does not necessarily include actual breakdown of the polymer chain or monomer.” He adds, “As a requirement, all oxo-degradable additives require oxygen, heat and UV in order to break down. These conditions are not found in landfills and will result in the products existing for many, many years.” It also presents problems for recycling, he said. “The simple fact that oxo-degradables weaken the polymer chain and have a limited life span, makes successful recycling of these products very unlikely unless extremely diluted with standard polymers,” Valentino explained. OBPs high noon face-off with bioplastics Hinting at a stiff competition brewing between OBPs and bioplastics, Laurier observed

Oxo additives contain salts, and not heavy metals, to cause degradation, says Laurier



that compostable bioplastics proponents disseminate inaccurate information to undermine OBPs. “The bioplastics industry seems to be spending millions of dollars on a campaign to disparage OBPs, but it is unlikely that they are spending this money as a free public information service. Rather, it seems that they have realised that they have chosen the wrong technology, which cannot compete with oxobiodegrables on its merits in the market place. They have therefore turned to lobbyists and PR firms to try to persuade the world not to buy oxo-biodegradables, by making statements which they know perfectly well are untrue. For example: oxo-biodegrable contains 'heavy metals' or that it fragments but does not biodegrade,” he commented. He said that organisations such as the European Bioplastics (a body formed by the bioplastics industry to counter OBPs, according to Laurier), the Biodegradable Products Institute, and the SPI Bioplastics Council, which issued its position paper against OBPs and degradable additives in 2010, act as lobby groups for the bioplastics industry. “Some misleading statements come from the recycling industry, mostly because they have confused oxo-bio with bio-based compostable plastics, or are not aware that oxo technology does not apply to PET bottles,” claims Laurier. When asked if the pro and anti-oxobiodegradable advocates will ever agree, Laurier replied, “It seems to us that the antioxo-biodegradable advocates are driven by a commercial imperative, which would make it impossible for them to admit that we are right and they are wrong. All we can do is to keep adducing independent scientific evidence to prove that they are wrong.” Laurier contends that OBPs are on a winning streak since most of the associations have stopped making some of the allegations. “Perhaps their campaigns will stop when all their allegations have been refuted or when they have decided to abandon bio-based plastics, a technology that has no future without massive lobbying, manipulation of the standards systems, and government subsidies ." When asked about OBPs in packaging, Valentino says the material has limitations. “Oxo-degradables have a limited shelf life and other handling issues. These are important facts to consider when using oxo-degradable packaging for your product. For these reasons, we are averse to the presence of oxo-degradable additives on the market.” Hence, there seems to be no right or wrong on this issue; it all depends on which side of the fence the technology stands.

Green Packaging

Bioplastics: advancements on the increase Relatively at a nascent stage, bioplastics are already trailing close behind conventional oilbased plastic products in terms of demand. The bioplastics market is projected to unleash a growth of 20% a year in Europe and in Asia Pacific, it is expected to reach a market value of US$167 million by 2018, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Biobased plastics are expected to see a surge in growth in the coming years


reviously an unpopular traditional plastic option due to its higher cost and alleged threat to food source, the global wide pressure towards sustainability and environment protection has eclipsed these ostensible limitations of bioplastics. The new breed of organic resins are currently generating public interest for their “green” value, with biobased plastics expected to cut down consumption of petroleum for plastic by 10-15% by 2018, according to Transparency Market Research. Conquering limitations Some of the weak points attributed to bioplastics to enable wider acceptance include what Washington-headquartered Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) has said regarding the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as feedstocks, a need to develop composting programmes and infrastructure as well as contamination of recycling systems. Currently, there have been major developments that address some of the above restraints. The US-based Bioplastic Feedstock Alliance (BFA), an organisation formed in November last year by eight major consumer products firms (Coca-Cola, Danone, Ford, H.J. Heinz, Nestle, Nike, Procter & Gamble and Unilever) together with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), are pushing for responsible selection of feedstocks for bioplastics, such as sugar cane, corn, bulrush and switchgrass. The organisation aims at assessing the potential impact of developing these first generation feedstocks on land use, food security and biodiversity. Meanwhile, Belgium-headquartered PRO Europe (Packaging Recovery Organisation Europe) says there are grey areas in the use of bioplastics. “Consumers are confused with the different labels describing packaging as biodegradable, home compostable, compostable and degradable. They rate them as favourable but mostly ignore the exact meanings, whether and how they should sort them and which sustainable waste management options to treat them,” it has stated. US bioplastic resin supplier Bioplastics International’s President/CEO, Garrett Valentino, in an email interview with PRA, shared that while bioplastics have many benefits over petroleum-based plastics, they are also fraught with limitations. "They cost substantially higher than petroleum resins and also disrupt the recycling stream. Furthermore, they are not a compatible choice for products that require exposure to high heat, extreme cold, or a prolonged shelf life. Plus, bioplastics may contain liquids that may have an issue with oxygen permeability, evaporation and oxidation," said Valentino. Fixing the recycling woe However, Valentino says that bioplastics also have plus points. "They can be composted, biodegraded in a landfill or incinerated. When petroleum-based plastics are incinerated, as in the medical industry, dioxins are released into the environment, unlike bioplastics that incinerate completely clean." The issue of recycling bioplastics such as polylactide (PLA) is a point of concern. Lee Chee Kiong, Sales Director Asia, Sorting Division, S+S Inspection Asia, told PRA that the company offers several sorting systems, including a near infrared (NIR) spectroscope sensor for sorting bioplastic materials from the PET bottle stream, such as PLA, PVC or PET-G labels. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014


Green Packaging "When we look at the separation of plastics beverage containers in a recycling process, there are basically two elements to it: separation at the full bottle stage (before the bottles are granulated into flakes). This is a lower investment approach for recyclers Sugarcane is a feedstock for PLA as the sizes (though compacted into flat shape) are larger than flakes and do not require a very high resolution scanning sensor as in the case of scanning very small flakes. The second is the final separation at the flakes stage (before packaging of the flakes into bags or transfer to another machine). A flake sorting process is required especially when the processors are dealing with high quality flakes or further processing into food grade packaging, or bottle-to-bottle grade rPET resin." For the NIR sensors, Lee says that the working principle is anchored on the reflection of illumination lights off the surface of particles. Hence, the NIR sensor will be able to detect bottles, labels on the bottles and flakes. "Labels are more complicated. As labels are very light and flexible, they cannot be effectively ejected by the automatic air valves on the sorting systems. Hence, most of the PET bottle Flake washing plants purifier have a mechanical stage from S+S to remove the labels from the PET bottles, before the “stripped naked” bottles are sent to an automatic bottle sorting system for separation of the bottles," explained Lee. He also says that for multi-layer bottles, just like labels, the inner layer (EVOH or PA) is typically very thin and flexible and light. "As such, while the NIR sensor on the flakes sorting system can detect these inner layers without any problem, it is the separation by eject air valves that is the 'bottle-neck'. We recommend air separation systems to remove the inner layer after the bottles are crushed into flakes." Hunt for better solutions US market researcher Freedonia estimates that world demand for biobased-resins is growing at 19% a year and will reach 960,000 tonnes to 2017. This projection



indicates that bioplastics have established a grip, especially in commercial markets and applications, according to the study. Moves to phase out the use of plastic bags, enforced recently in some countries in Europe, further highlight the value of bioplastics. Recently, the European Parliament has moved to prohibit the use of lightweight plastic bags (maximum thickness of below 50 microns or 0.05 mm) by 2020, ergo, approving the EU Commission’s waste management proposal. The premise is that these thin plastic bags, mostly used as grocery bags, accumulate in the environment and clog the water ways. Meanwhile, Arizona-based Bioplastics International offers a fresh solution, which could change the way bioplastics are viewed. According to Valentino, the company, in partnership with a US manufacturer, is offering a “US Governmentcertified biodegradable” material – a pure organic additive that will work for all plastics, including PE, PP, PS, PVC, PET, PC, and even rubber. “This is the finest organic additive available in the market that is approved for food contact by the FDA and EU and is also FTC and REACHcompliant. This type of technology that is duly validated and tested is fairly new to the polymer market.” He explained that the specially formulated additive makes polymers biodegradable without sacrificing the beneficial properties of the primary polymer, including recyclability. “To create the biodegradable material, the manufacturer adds specific renewable nutrients and organic compounds into the polymer which, once discarded, allows microbial action to colonise in and around the plastic and completely metabolise the polymer. The end result is: inert humus (biomass) and biogas (anaerobic) or CO2 (aerobic). Products with 1% of this organic additive are biodegradable in anaerobic (no oxygen, no light), and aerobic (with oxygen) environments, which include common landfills. In order for plastics to properly break down, tiny microscopic organisms must find the discarded products an irresistible morsel, and begin consuming it bite by bite. Only then, can the item be broken down entirely,” he said. “Traditional plastics are unattractive to microbes and therefore inedible. This organic additive will allow plastic products to biodegrade at a rate of 33% every ten months, with some plastics at a faster rate. No additives will create compostable plastics,” he added. Valentino assured that plastics made with the firm’s organic additives are completely recyclable and can also comingle with existing plastics recycling streams. “This assertion is backed by scientific data as well as affirmation from independent recyclers,” he added. Despite the organic additive’s promising properties, Valentino said that it may not solve all plastic issues. “If all the plastic products on earth would soon completely biodegrade safely in landfills the world and our environment would be a much better place for us,” he concluded.


Chinaplas 2014 to Drive the Evolution of Sustainability


any enterprises have well-recognised the importance of building a sustainable future through resources management, recycling and energy saving. With its durable, lightweight and versatile features, plastic products make a significant contribution to the global sustainability. Lightweight vehicles reduce fossil fuel energy consumption and reduce carbon emissions, whereas innovative plastic packaging protects food in shipment and keeps it fresher and longer. Hightech plastic insulation reduces energy consumption in buildings. Energy and resources efficiencies have drawn plastics and rubber practitioner's attention as it becomes ever more pressing issues for many enterprises to stay competitive in the world with scarcity of resources. Green technologies and industrial processes have become the promising ways leading the world to a more sustainable future.

Echoing the increasing demand for more sustainable business practices, Chinaplas 2014, to be held at Shanghai New International Expo Centre, China, from 23-26 April,2014, will promote sustainability under the theme of "Greenovation - Solution to Sustainability", with "The City of Tomorrow" and "Green Conference" as two featured events. "The City of Tomorrow" will feature a circular shape structure at Central Square of the exhibition centre to showcase a comprehensive sustainability model, which covers the sustainability concept in four aspects, namely Green and Alternative Raw Materials, Energy-efficient Machinery, Plastics and Rubber Applications, and Recycling. Visitors can

explore the latest green messages and trends from manufacturing till the end of the life of the products through interactive displays and game booths in a fun and relaxing manner. Green Conference, is a two-day conference co-hosted by Adsale Exhibition Services, Plastics Information Europe (PIE) and Association of Green Molding Solutions (AGMS). It will be held on the second and third day of the event (24-25 April), covering the sessions of "Innovative Solutions for Plastic Recycling" and "Green Molding to Halve the Cost and Double the Wealth" respectively. The conference will highlight a range of forward thinking topics such as green moulding, 3D printing, plastics recycling as well as various solutions for end-of-life plastic wastes, etc. The organiser expects that the conference will attract experts and decision makers in plastics and rubber industries from manufacturers, converters, end users, institutes, machinery suppliers and media to grasp the latest developments of green technologies, inventions and practices from manufacturing methods, to waste management and renewable resources in the plastics and rubber industries. The conference, presented in technical presentations and case sharing format, has invited international brand names and global market leaders across various sectors to share their experiences and insights. Chinaplas is expected to gather more than 2,900 exhibitors, occupying an exhibition area of over 220,000 sq m, with 14 international pavilions and more than 3,200 sets of machineries. For more details on the concurrent events, please visit:



Country Focus

Indonesian plastics industry: ready for the world? Indonesia appears to be a lucrative market despite its depreciating currency, low export values and high inflation, challenges that are having a ripple effect on the economic front. One of Asia’s most attractive markets, it is banking on its large consumer base to trigger huge demand for plastic products, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Indonesia is projected to become the world's seventh largest economy by 2030




he fact: Indonesia’s GDP has fallen short of its growth target of 6.3%, which was estimated last year in the State Budget. In the third quarter of last year, it posted a 5.6% year-on-year growth, dropping from the 6.11% GDP recorded over the same period a year ago. This is reportedly the weakest quarterly growth since 2009, at the height of the financial crisis that hit the country’s economy, according to Statistics Indonesia. While the Southeast Asian region has been generally effervescent of the impact of the current global economic crisis, Indonesia is impinged by it. According to data from Statistics Indonesia, domestic factors such as the depreciating rupiah, high inflation, lower foreign investments, high interest rates and lower exports values contributed to the slower growth rate. But despite this, Indonesia remains an attractive market in the region. Typical of an emerging economy, the country has a huge population of nearly 250 million. It is ranked the fourth most populated country globally, not to mention that it has a sizeable affluent middle class population. All prospects will be looking up for Indonesia in time to come, according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute. It projected that the country will become the world's seventh largest economy by 2030, claiming its edge against the likes of Germany and the UK. By 2030, some 90 million consumers will be fuelling the country’s economy, ranking it amongst the top world economies. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) forecasts that Indonesia’s middle income and affluent classes will double by 2020 from the current 74 million to 141 million. By then, slightly more than half of the population will be categorised as affluent. This translates to a potentially large market for plastics, either now and in the near term. Moreover, to meet this growing demand for the material, the government has stated that 70% of plastics products must be produced locally, thus consequently spurring the demand for advanced technology for better and increased production.

Country Focus Growth in the country’s plastics industry transpires from the demand in the packaging sector, particularly for the food and beverage segments. In 2011, Indonesia’s plastics consumption was 2.8 million tonnes and went up to 3 million tonnes in 2012. According to the Indonesian Packaging Association, more than half the demand was made up of flexible/rigid packaging, driven by increased packaging requirements from the domestic food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Last year, a statement from the Office of the Chief Economist that was published by Bank Mandiri indicated that plastics are considered a key material given the advantages of the light weight, practicality and durability. The challenge, however, is the emergence of green materials, which it says is being campaigned “more intensely”. This may not immediately have untoward affect on the demand for raw materials but manufacturers are already arming themselves by developing more environmental friendly plastics and likewise utilising the necessary technologies for it, according to the source. Another challenge faced by the industry is the upcoming formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. As in other ASEAN countries, readiness of some of the industry segments is a concern. Recently, the Indonesian Downstream Plastics Producers Association (Aphindo) urged the government to assist in pushing up the competitiveness of the downstream industry, by ensuring that raw materials are available in sufficient supply locally as this will lower the cost for manufacturers. Currently, the downstream industry imports most of its raw materials. According to the group’s Chairperson Tjokro Gunawan, ample support for the development of the upstream plastics industry is needed, such as provision of appropriate fiscal incentives, to help overcome the challenge of high import costs (of some components). The group also recommended the removal of import duties on upstream products that could not be produced domestically to increase productioncost efficiency. Indonesia levies up to 10% import duties on non-ASEAN countries and only 5% on ASEAN countries. Opportunities on the floor Last year’s Plastics and Rubber (P&R) Indonesia, which was simultaneously held with Propak Indonesia, in Jakarta, Indonesia, solicited a positive sentiment for the home grown industry. According to G. Firmansjah, Chairperson of PT Pamerindo, the event’s organiser, Indonesia is teeming with investment opportunities. He also said that foreign direct investments (FDIs) are likely to amount to 67 trillion rupiah.

Movacolor Engineering raked in local interest for its gravimetric dosing machinery at the Indonesian trade show held in November

Against this background, about 11 international group pavilions from China, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Turkey, as well as 700 exhibitors from 38 countries exhibited over a space of 21,600 sq m. Many of the exhibitors have already established sales and service centres in Indonesia. Dutch auxiliary equipment specialist Movacolor Engineering is relying on its Indonesian distributor, Jakarta-based RIA Engineering, to position its machines in the market. Anders Olsson, Sales Director Asia Pacific appraised the event positively as it generated a number of sales leads over the three days. Olsson said that the gravimetric dosing machines generated the most interest. Hermann Ultraschall, a German manufacturer of ultrasonic welding machines, generators

Hermann Ultraschall is centralising regional support in Indonesia. Shown is an ultrasonic welding equipment from the manufacturer JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014


Country Focus and sonotrodes was a first time exhibitor. Sales Engineer Kai Broek said the company intends to push its machines in the Southeast Asian market and will use Indonesia as its centre for providing regional support, having already established a customer base in Malaysia and Singapore. German machinery supplier Kiefel Technologies, which also has a sales and service centre in Indonesia, noted the consistency of the show, compared to the previous year. "0verall, the quality of the exhibitors is better," said Volker Schubert, Area Sales Manager, Packaging Industry. Volker Schubert, Area Sales Manager, Packaging Industry of Kiefel noted the consistent quality of the trade exhibition

Dutch thermoplastics compounding specialist Resin Products & Technology was also a first time exhibitor at the event. Project Manager Nick van Hussen said the company is expanding to Indonesia and will start up a production facility in Jakarta by 2014. The new plant, which will be the company's first sales and service and manufacturing centre in Asia, will serve as the hub for the region, he said, “But R&D will still be based in Holland,” he added. Shift to European technology Italian closures machine maker Sacmi, which has a regional representative office in Jakarta, has already an established clientele in the Southeast Asian region. Sales Manager Rimon Novianto Hernawan noted that in Indonesia, the plastic packaging and beverage closures market is capping the demand for machinery. Hernawan observed that while Chinese machines are popular among Indonesian startups, these manufacturers, after a few years in business, procure European machines, like Sacmi machinery that uses 100% Italian technology. Exhibiting for the fifth time, Swiss thermoforming machine manufacturer WM Wrapping Machinery, which displayed its INTEC series, also expressed the same purchase



Propak exhibitor WM Wrapping Machinery displayed its INTEC series at the show

pattern among local manufacturers. Speaking on behalf of the company, Ryan Darmawan of PT Finson Indomas, its Indonesian marketing arm, said that European machines offer efficiency, stability and quality for the production process. The company has its sales and after sales office in Indonesia but has no plans to set up a manufacturing facility, he said. Meanwhile, Peter Rieg, Regional Sales Manager for German extrusion machinery firm Battenfeld-Cincinnati, expressed his optimism for the Indonesian market, specifically in the context of the packaging segment. “There is a big market for packaging of fruit and sweet drinks. The demand requires reliable machines.” He said that Battenfeld-Cincinnati works together with German thermoforming machine maker Gabler to offer a complete system solely for Indonesian customers. Gabler, which has factories in China, the US, India and Europe, has no plans to set up a plant in Indonesia. Japanese/German injection moulding machine maker Sumitomo Heavy Industries (SHI) is also witnessing a burgeoning demand for high quality machines, especially for the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and electronic/electrical sectors, according to its Indonesian sales representative Zulkarnain. While quality technology comes with a price, SHI has machine offerings depending on the price as well as requirement. “For the Indonesian market, we have the MLSD series, which is economically priced. Likewise, we offer higherend machines (for food-approved applications),” he said. While Indonesia is an important market for SHI, the company has no plans to set up a facility and machines will still come from Germany “to maintain the quality standards”, he said.

Blow Moulding

Technology upgrades Last year’s K2013 show in Germany saw a number of blow moulding machine makers exhibiting allelectric machines, which just like electric injection moulding machines are touted to save energy. Meanwhile, the foaming technology has been extended to blow moulding while new stretch blow moulding models were showcased.

Spotlight on all-electrics • German firm Bekum showcased its latest 15 tonne-EBlow 407D double-shuttle machine with a C-frame clamp and spiral distributor extrusion head. It was shown moulding transparent PP cosmetics bottles. Offered in the range are three grooved barrel extruders with an L/D ratio of 24D, in screw diameters of 70 mm, 90 mm and 100 mm with plasticising from 110-340 kg/hour.

Bekum says that smooth calibrated surfaces on a product, also with bottom blow, are a quality feature of its latest model

• Another German firm Kautex Maschinenbau displayed its all-electric KBB continuousextrusion machines in four models from 10-40 tonnes and strokes from 400-1,000 mm. The modular machines feature lighter components, reducing energy use, drive power and a 25% lower dry cycle time. Excess braking energy can be recovered and recycled to the machine or the power grid. Changing moulds can be performed by two persons in less than 15 minutes while an automatic lubrication system reduces maintenance. In addition, Kautex introduced BC Connect webbased software for remote monitoring of its machines on smartphones, tablets or PCs. Kautex has also created new virtual machines with control interfaces like a real machine that display simulated operating behaviour for Kautex’s latest all-electric KBB model conducting training. • Uniloy Milacron Germany added a new model to its UMS 20E.S line. The machine is fitted with an accessible clamp system and a direct actuator drive transferring the force simultaneously via two deflection-free swivel joint arms onto both mould platens to the centre of the pinch-off areas. Once the mould is closed no power is used. It utilises a B&R machine controller and boasts power savings of up to 40%, compared to hydraulic machines. • Italy-based Magic MP displayed the large 30-tonne ME L30/D double-station continuous-extrusion machine for containers of up to 50 l. New features are the patented electrically adjustable clamp force as well as a micro-adjustable carriage positioning. The firm claims its machine has the highest Euromap energy efficiency (Class 10), with electrical use of 0.28 kW/kg. It also showcased the 10-tonne ME L5/ND, with a four-layer co-extrusion head, ramped up from the previous three-layer. • Another Italian competitor Techne Graham Packaging displayed its new ADVT2-750 double shuttle, which belongs to the firm’s new ADVT extrusion blow moulding series, available in single or double shuttle, for small to medium production.

Techne Graham Packaging’s new series is available in single or double shuttle

• Italian Plastiblow exhibited the 24-tonne PB10E/DXL double-station servodriven machine producing cosmetic bottles using a six-cavity mould. It has a plasticising capacity of 300 kg/hour and features a more compact footprint. Several patents cover Plastiblow technology, such as the servodriven parison thickness control. Each blow pin can be adjusted through the control while the machine is in operation, for better accuracy and better neck finishes. JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014


Blow Moulding • Italian firm Automa launched its Synthesi EMB-PRO extrusion blow moulding machine. A modular machine, it can be the configured to add on four shuttles. It is aimed at the dairy beverage, pharmaceutical, industrial drum, household and personal care markets. The machine is paired with an enhanced cooling technology called ACS (Advanced Cooling System), said to reduce cooling time by 15-30%. It also offers fast tool change within 60 minutes on average. Also new is the iLab software, developed with Bologna University, for designing bottles with new shapes or reduced weight. New Applications • US microcellular foam technology provider Trexel has extended its MuCell processing solution for injection moulding to blow moulded automotive components, with similar weight savings. Trexel has extended its Trexel collaborated with MuCell processing solution Canadian supplier of blow for injection moulding to moulded automotive parts blow moulded automotive ABC Group. The part is a components reinforced PE air duct with 1.5-2 mm wall thickness and utilising Mucell was able to realise a density reduction of 41% of the foamed material, resulting in a 32% net weight saving of the finished part, compared to solid. Besides weight savings, there are reportedly several highly desirable attributes of foamed versus solid blow moulded parts. The microcellular material structure improves thermal insulation and also provides for improved acoustical properties. The MuCell process also has several advantages over the use of chemical foaming agents such as no chemical reaction at a narrow processing window, no chemical additive residue in the final parts, and most importantly, MuCell foamed parts can be recycled in their original polymer designation. The process does not alter the chemistry of the polymer. The firm is targeting applications such as ducts, washer/ brake fluid containers and intake manifolds. Stretch blow moulding • Japanese firm Aoki Technical has upgraded its SBIII series with a 150-tonne machine for wide-neck containers. Since the neck is blown rather than injection moulded, the containers are of lighter weight. Aoki also displayed a 12-tonne SBIII-150N-12 injection stretch blow moulder (ISBM) for small bottles and the SBIII-500LL-50 fast-cycle ISBM for lightweight, narrow-neck containers. Said to be Aoki’s fastest machine, it was shown moulding, on a 16-cavity mould, 220 ml PET bottles weighing 6.1 g in a 6.3-second cycle. • Another Japanese firm, Nissei ASB, showcased its 24-cavity PF24-8B linear ISBM machine for PET bottles. In the 1.5-step process, in which the preforming and blow moulding are separated, the preform is partially cooled, temperature distribution equalised, reheated



and blown in a cool parison system. The new model is compact but boasts three times the productivity of the existing PF8-4B model. Also displayed was the ASB12M one-step rotary ISBM capable of running a wide variety of resins and bottles or jars. It operates on two servodriven hydraulic pumps, with energy use reduced by 20% compared to standard hydraulic machines. Rounding up was the two-step reheat HSB-2M SBM machine for hot-fill or pasteurised containers of up to 4 l. • Italian firm Sipa is moving ahead with the Xform twoplaten production platform, which was invented by Canadian company Athena Automation, founded by Robert Schad. Athena and Sipa have a cooperation agreement on development, sales and service. A 150-tonne version is available and the firms expect to launch a 300-tonne model soon. Both models have a hybrid construction, with a hydraulic injection unit and an electrically operated two-platen clamp unit. The 150 model comes either as a single-stage type with a hydraulic reciprocating screw (various screw diameters are available) or a two-stage version with an electrically driven extruder feeding a hydraulic shooting pot. The 300 model will be available with two-stage injection units. • Sipa also unveiled its new SFR EVO3 rotary reheat stretch blow machines with six to 24 cavities. Special features include new designs in the clamp unit and in the cams, allowing for a maximum output rate of 2,250 bottles/hour/ cavity. A new blowing valve block is more compact than before, and has 35% less dead air volume. Sipa says it is developing a system that will cut mould change time to 35 seconds without the use of tools. • Sipa also introduced its Xtreme continuous preform compression moulding systems, able to produce preforms that are 10% lighter than injection moulded preforms. Benefits include cycle times just a fraction of those for injection moulding, 10% lower energy consumption than a preform injection system with equivalent output, compact footprint, faster mould changes, simpler operation and lower stress on the melt in the moulding. • In the mould sector, Sipa focused on the X-Mould technology that enables processors to fill thinner wall sections, allowing the moulding of, for example, a 500 ml bottle preform weighing 7.2 g on existing preform and bottle machines from a variety of suppliers. The firm also says it is now possible to mould preforms with ratios of length to wall thickness (L/t) close to 60 using the same injection pressure as is normally used for preforms with 45 L/t ratios. Sipa exhibited a 128-cavity mould incorporating the X-Mould technology at its booth

Injection Moulding Asia • US consumer packaging firm Berry Plastics Group has acquired a 75% controlling interest of Qingdao P&B (P&B), with a minority ownership position retained by Peter Song, who is the original founder of P&B. To be known as Qingdao Berry Plastics, it will provide rigid plastic packaging and personal care products to customers located in China as well as globally. P&B has annual revenues of US$34 million while Berry Plastics had an annual net sales of over US$4.6 billion in fiscal 2013. • Rigid plastics packaging maker RPC Group PLC has acquired competitor Maynard & Harris Group (M&H) for £103.5 million. M&H will operate as an independent business within RPC’s Bramlage, UK, cluster and will enhance the group’s leading personal care product offering in the UK, mainland Europe and the US. RPC has also acquired Helioplast from the management. Based in Bosnia and Herzegovina and generating £7 million of annual sales, Helioplast is a supplier of injection moulded rigid plastic packaging within consumer food segments. • US firm Henniges Automotive Holdings, a supplier of highly engineered sealing and antivibration systems for the global automotive market, has acquired the remaining 40% of Beijing Wanyuan-Henniges Sealing Systems from its Chinese joint venture with China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). Since November 2013, Henniges has also signed strategic alliances with Amee Rubber Industries in India and Burkool in Argentina to strengthen its global footprint. • US-headquartered multiindustrial company Johnson Controls is selling its

automotive electronics business to Visteon Corporation for US$265 million. It includes the instrument cluster, infotainment, display and body electronics products. The company previously sold the HomeLink product portion of its electronics portfolio to Gentex Corporation in 2013. Visteon’s family of businesses generated US$13.8 billion sales in 2012, employs about 22,000 people in 29 countries, and has corporate offices in the US, China and the UK. • Germany’s third largest automotive components supplier ZF Friedrichshafen has formalised the sale with Shanghai-listed Zhuzhou Times New Material Technology (TMT) its rubber and plastics business unit. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2014. The unit will generate sales of about EUR700 million in 2013 and has 3,300 employees in nine locations across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia. • US electronic components supplier Molex Incorporated has expanded its global tooling capabilities with the opening of a centre in the Chengdu Hi-Tech Development Zone in China. The 200,000 sq ft facility features high-tech automation and robotic tool and system design and development, including high-precision mould and die capabilities. Molex began operations in Chengdu in 2005 and has invested US$160 million into its 1 million sq ft plant, making it the largest of its facilities in the world. It produces over 1 billion parts for applications in automotive, commercial, infotech, mobile and telecom industries.

Industry News of medical and closure mould maker Schöttli Group of Diessenhofen, Switzerland. In May 2011, Husky acquired closure mould maker KTW of Waidhofen, Austria. This acquisition has enabled Husky to have a global presence in the closures market and the largest supplier of injection moulding equipment for beverage closure manufacturing. • MuCell microcellular foaming technology pioneer Trexel has launched the T-Series SCF (Super Critical Fluid) delivery system, which was shown at the K2013 show. Based on patented technology, the gas delivery and dosing system is designed to convert gaseous CO2 or nitrogen into a super critical fluid and is said to precisely dose and inject the super critical fluid into the plasticising unit of the injection moulding machine, creating a lower density microcellular material structure in the moulded plastic part. This new unit replaces the current Series II system that was introduced ten years ago. The introduction of the new T-100 for very small shot sizes and T-400 for large part applications (shot sizes >3 kg) will come in mid-2014.

• Canadian injection moulding machine maker Husky Injection Molding Systems has completed the acquisition 1


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Injection Moulding Asia Hot Runners

The importance of accurate temperature control for medical moulding By Matthew Cummings, Product Manager, Altanium, Husky Injection Molding Systems


he medical market is driven by complex applications that require reliable, repeatable moulding solutions. For medical moulders who must quickly and consistently manufacture high quality parts using difficultto-mould resins, as well as complex tooling that hold extreme tolerances, this leaves little room for error. An ageing population and increasing demand for disposable medical devices present significant short and long-term opportunities for medical manufacturers of plastics components. But while medical moulding is a growing market, it is also a challenging industry characterised by lengthy product development processes, many clinical trials, demanding record keeping practices and greater regulatory oversight than other industries. These increased regulations are for the purpose of driving part quality, process stability and risk mitigation as a means to eliminate part failure and possible injury or death of patients. Maintaining the most accurate and repeatable temperature control in a moulding operation is key to producing high quality, highly complex medical parts consistently and reliably. Husky Injection Molding System’s newly introduced Altanium Delta3 hot runner controller is specifically designed to provide solutions to help comply with the medical industry’s stringent requirements. Accurate and repeatable temperature control with minimised

cavity-to-cavity and shot-to-shot variability is a key aspect of part quality and process stability. Altanium Delta3 delivers on this through the deployment of Active Reasoning Technology, also known as ART. Requiring no intervention by the user, ART is able to generate a parameter set to precisely fit each zone’s unique thermal response characteristics. Once the optimal control algorithm has been calculated, it utilises a modulation method that delivers a rapid, uniform flow of power, minimising the amount of time that energy is not being delivered to heaters. Using a technique known as oversampling, the integrity of the temperature signal is preserved, allowing the algorithm to execute power changes based on It deploys repeatable the most accurate data. temperature control with Additionally, isolated minimised cavity-to-cavity and thermocouple inputs shot-to-shot variability using assure the reliability of Active Reasoning Technology incoming temperature measurement by providing a high degree of immunity to electrical noise. This eliminates the potential risk associated with electromagnetic interference emitted by the servo motor systems found on all electric moulding machines. The outcome is the industry’s most accurate and repeatable temperature control, regardless of the hot runner system or processing environment. There are times when it is necessary for the controller to stop heating the mould or circumstances that require the machine to stop cycling. If this occurs, material could degrade, resulting in bad parts entering into the

Delta3 hot runner controller with 24 zones


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Hot Runners downstream process. Altanium Delta3 provides the following interlocks to mitigate this risk: • At-Temperature Output – Inhibits injection until the mould is at processing temperature • PCM Output – Stops the injection moulding machine from cycling if the controller stops heating the mould • Remote Standby Input – Brings the processing setpoint to a lower temperature if the machine stops cycling This connectivity enables the machine and controller to make informed decisions, based on the state of the other, which provides assurance against defective parts reaching end users. Other aspects of medical manufacturing include rigid documentation of the process, including any changes or deviations from the original parameters used during the mould Users can access and monitor up to 50 controllers connected to a qualification. Altanium Delta3 ensures these network parameters are retained by permanently storing single view to better understand the effects of them in a set-up file that is available for recall the process and thermal relationship between at the press of a button. To further enhance zones. All of these variables are tracked through this capability, there is an optional remote load the process targets screen and compared against function that allows the corresponding mould specification limits tied to thresholds that, if set-up in the controller to be loaded from the violated, trigger an alarm and digital output injection moulding machine. The system also to alert operators to an issue while halting the supports a wide range of file types for storing molding operation or diverting the parts moulded and managing critical documentation right from during the last cycle. the controller’s screen. These can be imported or Finally, there is a stand-alone program exported over a network or using a thumb drive. available that allows Altanium Delta3 also a user to access and provides several process “….Delta3 also provides monitor up to 50 monitoring features, making it a powerful tool several process monitoring controllers connected to a network. This for analysing the system, features, making it a server based application optimising the moulding process, tracking errors, powerful tool for analysing provides a dashboard view of all connected and finding the source of a the system…..” systems with the ability recent error or predicting to drill down to the where future errors may details of individual zones. Since it is a browseroccur. Altanium Delta3’s event log contains based program, it is accessible from any weba complete record of all user interactions so enabled device that supports Internet Explorer that each step leading up to an issue can be 9, Chrome, Firefox or Safari. This allows all followed. Additionally, the process history controllers on the plant floor to be remotely screen provides a visual summary of a mould’s monitored locally and in real-time within the recorded operation to map the behaviour of the same factory or by off-site personnel anywhere system at the time of the error and search for around the world. potential causes. This data can be exported in For moulders who must produce the most a common file format and stored externally or precise, highly complex medical parts, Altanium used to create custom reports to further satisfy Delta3 provides the ideal platform for achieving documentation requirements. For issues related better part quality and process stability while to events occurring in real-time, the process mitigating the risk of bad parts entering the trend screen plots data as it occurs and provides supply chain. a graphical comparison of multiple zones in a 3 JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2014

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Injection Moulding Asia Printed Electronics

Wired up by plastics The printed electronics sector, which has been projected

NASA and PARC have developed an electronic device printed on thin plastic film that will be used to pick up planetary environment data in space

by BCC Research to build a market value of more than US$12.6 billion in 2016, is reinventing itself with plastics to produce thinner, smaller and eco-friendly devices.


onventional silicone-based electronics may be a thing of the past with the advent of printed electronics. According to a report by MarketsandMarkets, printed electronics facilitate applications that are otherwise costly or not viable with electronics made from silicones. The new generation of printed electronics has made a giant leap and has done this by integrating the versatile capabilities of plastics as a substrate. Other thin substrates where electronic devices can be fabricated are paper and even textiles, using electrically functional inks and standard printing processes. Plastics provide light weight, flexibility, and small-sized characteristics for printed electronics. The material also enables for easy and economical manufacturing, the US-based research firm said. It added that the Asia-Pacific market achieved 42.5% share of the global printed electronics market in 2010 in lieu of its demand for printed displays. The region is forecast to continue to grow at a CAGR of 40.8% through 2015 with more applications such as in printed Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays and lighting being developed. Echoing this growth is also technology research group TechNavio. The UK firm forecasts that the global printed electronics market will grow at a CAGR of 20.6% from 2013 to 2018. Amidst the rising demand for eco-friendly electronic products, TechNavio said that the lack of technology standards could test the growth of this market.

Considering its almost limitless potentials, printed electronics is the focus for a space-confetti project hatched by the National Aeronautics Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Lab with the Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC) owned by US-based electronics equipment maker Xerox. Early last year, both collaborated on printing heat and light sensors that would suit the environmental sensing on the planet Mars’s surface. The electronics are printed on thin plastic sheets, which would be released on Mars so that data such as heat or light would be detected by the sensors and then communicated wirelessly back to Earth. Meanwhile, more companies are acknowledging the opportunities in plastics as an electronic material. Venturing into environmentally friendly plastic materials and expanding into the electronic materials business, South Korean materials firm Samyang Group is taking its first step of commercialising a plastic material called isosorbide, a glucose-derived heterocyclic compound. Samyang has been conducting developmental work on isosorbide-based bio-polycarbonate materials since 2011. The materials, it said, exhibit high-strength properties and versatility. Power in thin electronics martphones and similar devices have revolutionised connectivity in the 21st century. Certain smartphones boast of an extra feature that enhances data exchange and communications. The near-field communication (NFC) system, as defined by MarketsandMarkets in its report on the sector, is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity, usually not more than a few centimetres. Current and future applications include contactless transactions, data exchange, and simplified set-up of more complex


Limitless applications? he possibilities for printed electronics are only bound by one’s imagination. The technology enables devices such as OLEDs and Organic Photo Voltaic (OPV) to change the landscape for displays, lighting and energy harvesting applications. Flexible displays, smart labels, and animated signage are examples of such applications. Therefore, printed electronics has not only enhanced existing markets but is also creating new market opportunities.



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Injection Moulding Asia Printed Electronics Research and the National Science Foundation, tops the previous organic semi-conductors developed from cheaper carbon-rich molecules and plastics, which were supposed to perform electronic operations at a speed closer to that performed by polycrystalline silicon or polysilicon (also known as poly-Si) materials used in modern high-end electronics. While the term organic used to be confined to compounds produced by living organisms has now been extended to include synthetic substances based on carbons and plastics. Research teams led by Zhenan Bao, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford, and Jinsong Huang, Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at UNL, used the new process to make organic thin-film transistors with electronic characteristics comparable to those found in expensive, curved-screen television displays based on a form of silicon technology. They achieved the speed boost by altering the basic process for making thin-film organic transistors. The team said that further improvements to this experimental process could lead to the development of inexpensive, high-performance electronics built on transparent substrates such as glass and, eventually, clear and flexible plastics. Likewise, with this innovation, high-performance organic electronics may soon become nearly see-through, said the researchers.

communications such as Wi-Fi communication is also possible between an NFC device and an unpowered NFC chip called tag. The market is expected to achieve US$10 billion by 2016, according to the study. Norwegian printed electronics label firm Thin Film Electronics, which raised an estimated US$24 million to develop the sector further, has developed NFC–readable smart labels. These printed electronic sensor labels will be enhanced with printed silicone products manufacturer Kovio Technology’s NFC capabilities. Thinfilm has acquired Kovio, a privately-held Silicon Valley company with origins in the world renowned MIT Media Lab, including its intellectual property technologies and manufacturing assets in San Jose, California. NFC printed electronic memory and sensor platforms will enable a seamless exchange of information between Thinfilm’s Smart Labels and NFC-enabled phones and tablets, the Oslo-based company said. The Kovio technology is supported commercially by the Google Android operating system.

Image perfect invention n the area of flexible image sensors, French organic sensor producer Isorg and UK-headquartered Plastic Logic have a new development. Combining Isorg’s organic photodetectors (OPD) and Plastic Logic’ s organic thin-film transistor (OTFT) backplane, both firms were able to come up with a device that features plastic image sensors with a 4x4 cm active area and 96x96 pixels resolution, which they showcased at the Printed Electronics show last year in the US.

I Thinfilm and Kovio collaborated on NFC-readable smart labels

The EUR2.7 million deal paves the way for Thinfilm to spin Kovio’s Silicon Valley facilities into an NFC Innovation Centre to support its manufacturing of printed electronic labels. Wisconsin-headquartered Brady Corporation also inked a deal with Thinfilm for an exclusive license to utilise Thinfilm’ s printed electronic timing labels for applications such as visitor and healthcare identification and tracking. Meanwhile, engineers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Stanford University have developed the fastest thin-film organic transistors, which they claim could achieve the performance needed for high-resolution television screens and similar electronic devices. The latest invention, which was funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Air Force Office of Scientific

A plastic image sensor based on Isorg’s organic photo detector and Plastic Logic’s OTFT


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Injection Moulding Asia Printed Electronics The partners said that the technology is aimed at replacing sensors that are made on fragile glass substrates. Its first target application is for x-ray digital imaging. Plastic sensors will enable the development of lighter, shock-resistant portable equipment, the firms said. The device is still a work-in-progress, according to Isorg and Plastic Logic, which are currently working on reducing the pixel pitch. New mode for shaping plastics ther new developments include the no-moulds-required or NMR technology, an innovation used by US plastics fabricating firm Envision Plastics and Design to make plastic electronic enclosures, displays and other plastic parts with no tooling or moulds. The Minnesota-based company says that NMR can cater to lower volume production requirements such as producing nonimplantable medical diagnostic devices for the medical industry.


Various markets are being served by the NMR technology including telecommunications (for example, table top-mounted plastic control devices); and agriculture (for example, electronic enclosures for growth chambers to house electronics or for plastic mounting brackets) and transportation (for example, electronic enclosures for communication devices).

Envision’s NMR technology is used for making plastic enclosures for electronics

Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • Malaysian rubber products manufacturer Kossan Rubber Industries plans to set up a new manufacturing plant in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the second half of this year. The company has already acquired a piece of land for about US$2 million and is investing an additional RM10 million to build a factory to produce technical rubber products. In Malaysia, the firm has secured more than 32.32 ha of land for expansion. Another three plants are under construction and expected to start up in 2014, with a production capability of 6 billion pieces of nitrile gloves/year. • The world’s largest producer of synthetic gloves Hartalega Holdings’s investment in a new manufacturing complex will quadruple the group’s total installed capacity to over 42 billion pieces of gloves/year. The Malaysian company said the complex would be completed in phases over an eight year period. • Poland-based Synthos has formed a key alliance with US firm Harwick Standard Distribution to distribute its SBR and butadiene products in the US and Canada. Synthos is also constructing its first S-SBR plant in Poland near Krakow. To start up in 2015, it will have capacity of 90,000 tonnes/ year of S-SBR. • Munich-based chemical group Wacker has opened its expanded technical centre for silicone products in Kolkata, India. It now spans 1,800 sq m and comprises applications technology and test equipment for silicone products needed in the

textiles, personal care and the construction industry. • With the acquisition of the business of local manufacturer Taizhou Fuju Rubber Belt Manufacture, German firm ContiTech says it is continuing the expansion of its drive belt business in China. Founded in 1993, the Chinese company makes drive belts for the automotive replacement business and has a 33,000 sq m facility in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai. ContiTech operates more than ten plants in China and employs around 2,500 staff. • Italy-based Marangoni Group is seeking potential buyers for its car and light truck tyres plant based in Anagni near Rome. It has a production capacity of 3.5 million pieces/ year. • Austria-based Semperit Group is investing EUR10 million to raise capacity by 30% at the Semperflex Optimit plant in Odry, Czech Republic. The plant is already Europe’s largest manufacturer of hydraulic and industrial hoses. • Germany-based Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions (FHCS), has acquired Australian glove maker Ansell’s Marigold household glove and cleaning products business, which has sales of around EUR17 million/year. • Malaysia-based Rubberex Corporation has cancelled the purchase of Alliance Rubber Products’s glove business for RM113 milion. • Russian oil company Rosneft, Pirelli Tyre Russia and Oil Techno are planning to set up an SBR production joint venture in Armenia, as well as

collaborating on SBR research. • Tolyattikauchuk, a subsidiary of Russian petrochemicals company Sibur, has commissioned a third butyl rubber in Togliatti, Samara Region, thus expanding its production capacity from 48 to 53 kilotonnes/year. It is part of an investment project to upgrade the facility, increasing its design capacity, improving equipment reliability and reducing environmental impact. Around 70% of Tolyattikauchuk’s output is exported. • Green Rubber Asean, a joint venture between Malaysiabased developer of green technology Green Rubber Global and Singapore firm ACB Rubber, will set up a RM20 million facility in Port Klang for “green” rubber compounds. It will have an initial production capacity of 10,000 tonnes/year and will utilise technology developed by the late Tan Sri Dr BC Sekhar. • Apollo Tyres of India remains open to future strategic acquisitions despite the collapse last year of a potential US$2.5 billion deal with Cooper Tire and Rubber. The deal would have been the largest-ever Indian acquisition of an American company and would have made Apollo one of the ten largest tyre producers in the world. The transaction was derailed by problems with a Cooper joint venture in China and a dispute with a labour union in the US and was eventually terminated. Both companies are now sparring over potential break-up fees. Apollo has manufacturing facilities in India, the Netherlands and South Africa.


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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber

On the road to higher gains The automobile industry’s requirement for tyres

Lanxess and other enterprises, the top slot enjoyed by Sinopec and CNPC will be diluted and their combined share will drop to 44.1% by 2017.

remains to be a key growth driver for synthetic rubber. According to US research firm

Flurry of investments in Asia and Europe alogenated butyl rubber is a development priority in China. Last year, the realisation of Panjin Heyun’s 3 0 , 0 0 0 - t o n n e / year halogenated butyl rubber project filled the gap lacking in China’s tyre industry. Panjin Heyun also plans to increase capacity to 180,000 tonnes/year in the next three to five years. Zhejiang Cenway’s 50,000-tonne/year halogenated butyl rubber plant is expected to be completed and put into operation at the end of 2014. Last year, Russian petrochemicals firm Sibur entered into a venture with Sinopec to develop a synthetic rubber plant in Krasnoyarsk, Russia. In addition, Sibur and Sinopec are also exploring the feasibility of establishing a joint venture to manufacture nitrile butadiene rubber and isoprene rubber in Shanghai. The production lines are expected to have a capacity of 50,000 tonnes/ year each. Meanwhile, a group of firms from Taiwan are investing in a naptha cracker to be sited at the Gulei Petrochemical Zone in Zhangzhou, China. The group has finally been given the nod by the government in what is reported to be the first regulatory approval since the lifting of an investment ban in China’s downstream petrochemical industry. The US$263.6 million naphtha cracker will be producing ethylene and propylene intermediates for synthetic rubber to help meet the rising demand for the latter in Taiwan. Moreover, Taiwan, which imports around 348,000 tonnes of ethylene, expects the China facility to buffer any local shortage of the feedstock in the future. In India, Indian Oil Company (IOC) has built the country’s first-of-its-kind naptha cracker plant at its Panipat Refinery to bolster synthetic rubber production. IOC is implementing a technology based on butadiene available from the Panipat naptha cracker complex to produce SBR used in the manufacturing of automotive tyres, conveyor and fan belts. In this venture, IOC is joined by Taiwan Synthetic Rubber Corporation (TSRC) and Marubeni Corporation, under the Indian Synthetic Rubber (ISRL) banner. The 958 crore facility is designed to produce 120,000 tonnes/ year.

Freedonia’s latest world tyre study, the increase


in demand for tyres from Asia, in particular China and India, is estimated to reach 4.3% annually through 2017 to 2.9 billion units. This should bode well for the synthetic rubber industry, says Angelica Buan in this report.

Synthetic rubber on a roll in Asia lobally, synthetic rubber demand will reach 13.4 million tonnes by 2015, says Global Industry Analysts (GIA) in its latest study. It identifies end-use market industries of automotive and tyres as important determinants in building up or driving down demand. Furthermore, GIA says that the global synthetic rubber industry is tied to the dynamics in the motor vehicle market. The Asia Pacific region dominated the market for synthetic rubber in 2012, accounting for an estimated half of global rubber consumption and output, according to a report by German research firm Ceresana. It says that the region is expected to continue to gain market share until 2020, with the automobile industry, and the growing demand for tyres, as well as industrial and construction products propelling growth in the market. Environmental concerns toward crude oil and its derivatives is seen by Ceresana as a deterrent for the industry to surge forward faster. Meanwhile, Transparency Market Research says that China is the world’s largest producer and, at the same time, a key consumer of synthetic rubber for its large production plants for tyre and other products. The research firm says that China’s synthetic rubber capacity reached 4.98 million tonnes/year in 2013, accounting for 27% of the global synthetic rubber capacity. Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) and polybutadiene rubber (PBR) are China’s major synthetic rubbers produced, contributing 34.4% and 33.3% respectively to the total capacity in 2013. Chinese synthetic rubber giants Sinopec and CNPC together had a lion’s share of 52.4% of the capacity last year. However, with the entry of Panjin Heyun, Liaoning Northern Dynasol,



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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber Tyre regulations pushing SSBR to the front eanwhile, the tyre labelling regulations are stimulating demand for SSBR (solution styrene butadiene rubber) for tyre manufacturing. According to another study by GIA, SSBR will have the upper hand in lieu of the implementation of stringent tyre labelling regulations in the European Union, China and South Korea that require tyre manufacturers to display tyre characteristics and performance features such as rolling resistance, fuel efficiency, wet grip features, and noise, among others, for easy comparison. The procedure puts pressure on tyre makers to produce high performance tyres using SSBR rather than the conventional SBR and ESBR. As such, Poland-based Synthos is constructing its first SSBR plant in Krakow, which it expects to be operational in 2015. The facility will have a capacity to produce about 90,000 tonnes/year of SSBR. Currently, Synthos has expanded its operation, and has formed a key alliance with US firm Harwick Standard Distribution Corp to distribute its SBR and butadiene products in the US and Canada.

BioButterfly operates on a EUR52 million budget that will be extended over eight years. The Agency for the Environment and Energy Management (ADEME) of France also selected the project to receive EUR14.7 million in financing as part of the agency’s “Investing in the Future” programme. Also on track to producing alternatives to synthetic rubber is agro-biomaterials company Yulex. The US firm has opened a Seed & Genetics Centre in Arizona to support the global commercial development of guayule rubber plantations for medical, consumer, industrial and bioenergy applications. Strategies to cultivate non-GMO sources, as well as developing techniques to improve guayule rubber’ s yield and quality will be honed, according to Yulex.


A diverse variety of applications pplications for synthetic rubber have also expanded for various industries such as medical, sporting, construction and transportation sectors, with the intensive R&D efforts currently being exerted by a majority of companies. German speciality chemicals firm Lanxess has commercialised six grades of bio-EPDM featuring high molecular weight and a diene content of around 9%, making them ideal for fabricating foamed sections for automotive window seals. Autotravi, a major South American automotive supplier based in Caxias do Sul, Brazil, is one such supplier that is using the Keltan Eco 5470 grade for its window seals that are supplied to Marcopolo, a Brazilian bus manufacturer. The weather-resistant synthetic rubber contains up to 70% ethylene obtained from sugarcane, and has an impressive set of properties that are in no way inferior to that of “conventional” EPDM, says Lanxess.


Seeking out bio-alternatives n November last year, French tyre maker Michelin initiated a project to assess the viability of organic sources like straw, beet and wood as alternatives to synthetic and natural rubbers used in tyres. The project, known as the BioButterfly, is testing the economic viability of transforming bio-waste into materials for tyres. This is in preparation for the company’s projection of a likely supply shortage of butadiene, which is sourced from a petroleum byproduct, by 2020. It said that biomass (from agricultural materials) could be fermented to create alcohol that is further modified to form butadiene. The tyre industry consumes about 60% of the global output of butadiene. Michelin has been joined by US-based biomassconversion-to-clean fuel firm Axens (to provide the expertise in process engineering and marketing) and French public-sector research and training centre IFPEN on the BioButterfly project to create a biosourced butadiene production channel. Later last year, French firm Tereos, the world’s fourth largest sugar producer, also joined the team to develop industrial scale biomass from agricultural raw materials. The team is, thus, focusing on producing economically competitive butadiene while ensuring minimal carbon emissions across the entire production chain; manufacturing high performance synthetic rubber and adopting the process to all uses of bio-butadiene. It is also focused on lowering investment costs and preparing the future French biosourced synthetic rubber industry.


Lanxess’s Keltan Eco is used for automotive window seals in South America


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Rubber Journal Asia Synthetic Rubber Meanwhile, the high molecular weight properties of Lanxess’s Keltan EPDM has also been used to make air-cushioned shockabsorbing inserts for running shoes that are intended to provide effective protection against certain orthopedic problems. While air, heat and humidity – unavoidable in running shoes – can cause natural rubber to become brittle over time, EPDM rubber, however, is significantly more resistant to these influences. For that reason, German inventor Helmut Fritzschis utilises the Keltan 9565Q grade for his shoe pads to sports and leisure shoes.

flexibility, and gives less than one perm MVTR as measured by ASTM E-96, according to MCP. The product is an addition to MCP’s recent styrene-butadiene latex range. These are: Tylac 4193, acement modification latex developed to enhance adhesion of cementitious membranes and coatings, and BarrierPro 4555, a water-resistant latex designed for damp proofing applications. For use in the construction industry, BarrierPro 4551 is a latex binder of medium stiffness

Air-cushioned shock-absorbing inserts for running shoes made from Lanxess’s Keltan 9565Q

Another US firm Precision Polymer (PP) has developed an EPDM elastomer material that provides high temperature steam resistance. EnDura E90SR is used in pumps, valves, turbines, geothermal tools and drilling equipment. It can withstand high pressures and temperatures up to 300°C with resistance to rapid gas decompression, making the material ideal for use in anaerobic high temperature environments, such as those encountered in geothermal applications and enhanced oil recovery applications, according to PP.

In the medical sector, more than 90% of antibiotic, infusion and biomedical stoppers made in Europe, the US and Asia are based on halobutyl rubber. One such supplier for this is US-based ExxonMobil Chemical. The material is said to be ideal for stoppers and seals because of its high cleanliness and chemical resistance as well as low permeability to air, gases and moisture. The synthetic rubber offers a number of other advantages over natural rubber and other synthetic rubbers in pharmaceutical packaging, including: chemically and biologically inertness; low extractables due to low level of additives and high curing efficiency; resistance to heat, ozone and oxygen; good self-sealing and fragmentation performance and is vulcanisable by low level of sulphur-free and/or zinc-free curatives. For the construction industry, US speciality chemicals firm Mallard Creek Polymers (MCP) has created a performance emulsion polymer product designed for waterproofing, moisture vapour and air barrier coatings, in addition to polymer systems for EIFS and cement modification. BarrierPro 4551 is a highly water-resistant product to meet the demanding building system requirement, with high strength and medium

Developed for use in anaerobic high temperature environments, EnDura E90SR can withstand high pressures and temperatures


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Rubber Journal Asia Country Focus

Coming to terms with challenges India, the world’s fourth largest producer and

High imports versus low pricing he subdued NR price is not quite a welcome situation for local growers, and the sector has been blaming the surge in imports for the price drop. This prompted the government to increase the import tariff to 20% effective December 2013. The new import duty is now fixed at 30 rupees per kg against the previous levy of 20 rupees per kg. Rubber and tyre sectors groups have contested this move, saying that the hike in duty could also hurt manufacturers. Furthermore, they contend that the soft demand globally, and not the increase in import volume, has caused local prices to drop. Local prices are hovering around 150 rupees per kg. The All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) says that the excess of about 20,000 tonnes derived from the increased imports during the AprilDecember period is not significant enough to affect local prices, neither is it sufficient reason to prompt a hike in import duty.


third largest consumer of natural rubber, is currently grappling with high imports to fill the supply-demand gap for natural rubber, among a host of other challenges. On the other hand, stakeholders are teaming up to resolve these issues, and new investments are expected to perk up the industry, according to Angelica Buan.


arly last year, natural rubber (NR) production in the country was curtailed by monsoon rains, easing off with the tapping season ending in January. For this reason, the tight domestic supply has led to yet a round of increased imports, especially since globally rubber prices are dropping. Tyre makers, in particular, benefit from the price drop, since NR Pitted against SR accounts for more than 40% of the cost and make-up he low production of NR also provides the of a tyre. opportunity for synthetic rubber (SR) to whisk Based on recently released data from the Indian off a substantial market share. Rubber Board (IRB), from April-December, NR According to a new report from GlobalData, there imports increased from 91,135 tonnes to 264,576 is a burgeoning demand for SR in India stimulated tonnes, compared to the 173,441 tonnes imported by the country’s rapid urbanisation. The local over the same period a year earlier. On the other tyre sector is the largest end-use sector, especially hand, the decline in domestic NR production in the Styrene Butadiene Rubber (SBR) that accounts for same period was 70,200 tonnes, leaving a net excess 40% of the total synthetic rubber consumption. The of only 21,843 tonnes. rising need for SR is also encouraging new plants to According to the Association of Natural Rubber be built to provide additional capacity. Producing Countries (ANRPC), the country imports According to 2011 data from the International from Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia – the latter Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers (IISRP), being the largest exporter. It is also the world’s third India has an output of only 128,000 tonnes/year. largest rubber consumer, following China and the Thus, India is naturally deficient in the synthetic US. material. IRB noted that demand for NR on the home Based on 2011-12 data from the IRB, India’s SR front has not increased consumption jumped significantly. The slump “….the subdued NR price is not by 6% to 226,000 tonnes in Indian automobile in the first half of quite a welcome situation for sales, as the country 2011-2012 fiscal year, faces a period of inflation while production rose local growers, and the sector and weak economy, also marginally to 54,778 has been blaming the surge in stagnated NR demand, tonnes. The domestic consequently keeping consumption was imports for the price drop…..” rubber prices down. 213,000 tonnes from Citing data from April-September in the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers the 2011-12 fiscal period, while production was (SIAM), automotive sales fell 9.6% to approximately 54,750 tonnes. During the period, the tyre industry’s 1.8 million units in 2013. The group does not see the consumption increased by 8% to 167,000 tonnes from situation improving over this year. the previous year’s 155,000 tonnes.



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Rubber Journal Asia Country Focus In the middle of last year, the rubber industry saw the need for a national policy that would touch on issues like supply and demand projection as well as address duty inversion and other issues important to growers. Likewise, the small-scale manufacturers are also pressed with high input costs, inverted duty structure, cheap imports and anticipated effects of the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Meanwhile, IRB has devised a scheme whereby the country’s NR products will be encouraged to achieve world-standard quality by branding. Launching of the Indian Natural Rubber logo by Sri Oommen Chandy, Kerala Chief Minister with IRB officials

The Sibur/Reliance joint venture butyl rubber plant is expected to start up this year

Reliance Sibur Elastomers, the joint venture between Russian petrochemical firm Sibur and Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries is the country’s first manufacturer of butyl rubber. The facility located in Jamnagar, Gujarat, will have a capacity to provide some 100,000 tonnes/year synthetic rubber when it becomes operational this year. The country currently sources its butyl rubber from the US, Central Asia and Europe. In December last year, Taiwan Synthetic According to Suresh Babu of IRB’s Market Rubber Corporation (TSRC) and Japan’s Promotion Department (Indian Natural Rubber), India Marubeni Corporation formed a partnership is the first in the world to brand its natural rubber. with the Indian Oil Company (IOC) to establish “India has started the export of branded NR only a styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) plant at IOC’s recently, during the 2011/2012 period. This means, the Panipat refinery. scheme is still in the Known as Indian developing phase. It Synthetic Rubber (ISRL), “….IRB has devised a scheme may also be noted that it is the first and largest no other country in the whereby the country’s NR naphtha-cracker plant world has adopted such in the country with a a branding system for products will be encouraged to capacity of 120,000 tonnes NR,” Suresh told PRA. achieve world-standard quality of SBR, targeted mostly A seal or logo for the automobile and is used for rubber by branding….” tyre industries. The products that have country is also importing been certified to have SBR to meet domestic demands. conformed to set standards. India is expected to achieve self-sufficiency Exporters who participate in the branding scheme in SBR with the operation of the ISRL facility, are allowed to use the logo on all their produce. “Less according to a report released this year by Fast than 50 exporters in India have registered so far for Market Research. the NR branding,” Suresh said. While the logo signifies trust and quality for the Game plan products, will the branding push up revenues for the eanwhile, the government is working on a Indian rubber industry? national policy to respond to the issues faced “Since the scheme is still in its infancy stage, we by the rubber industry, most especially the NR have not yet assessed the (earnings) aspect, but in producers. one or two years time of the branding adoption, we A draft of the national policy is underway, would be able to evaluate its benefits. Nevertheless, with an inter-ministerial panel comprising all the Rubber Board will start conducting its assessment stakeholders working on the details. soon,” he said.



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Events 2014 3 - 5 MARCH Sino-Pack Venue: China Import & Export Fair Pazhou Complex, Guangzhou, China Tel: +852 2811 8897 Fax: +852 2516 5119 Email: Internet: 4 - 6 MARCH Propak Vietnam Venue: Saigon Exhibition and Convention Centre, Vietnam Tel: +66 2615 1255 Ext. 113 Fax: +66 2615 2993 Email: Internet: 12 - 15 MARCH Bangkok International Tire Expo Venue: BITEC, Bangkok, Thailand Tel: +662-933 0077 Fax: +662-955 9971 Email: Internet: 23 - 26 APRIL Chinaplas Venue: Shanghai New International Expo Centre, China Tel: +852 2516 3325 Fax: +852 2516 5024 Email: Internet: 14 - 16 MAY Rubber & Tyre Vietnam Venue: Saigon Exhibition & Convention Centre, Vietnam Tel: +84 8 38427755 Fax: +84 8 62936024 Email: Internet: 27 - 30 MAY RubberTech Europe Venue: Essen, Germany Tel: +49 (0) 201 7244 394 Fax: +49 (0) 201 7244 435 Email: Internet: 6 - 7 JUNE Kenya Plast Venue: Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, Kenya Tel: +91 79 2970 1994 Email: Internet: 12 JUNE Green Packaging Conference Venue: Bangkok, Thailand Tel: +603 4260 4575 Fax: +603 4260 4576 Email: Internet:

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