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In this issue
Volume 28, No 198
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
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18 材料新聞:與綠色共舞 20 熱塑成型:優化包裝市場的方案 22 Cover Feature
Speciality chemicals firm Lanxess has started up its largest butyl rubber plant in Singapore
26 US Technology and Machinery
At the Chinaplas exhibition in May, US companies were highlighting product developments and investments
30 Country Focus
China is still a draw factor for foreign firms. This was evident at the Chinaplas show where new technology was showcased and expansions of projects announced
Gains are stemming from the versatility and cost efficiency of thermoforming; coupled with a healthy outlook for the packaging sector
36 Medical Devices
The medical devices is generally recession proof. Meanwhile, engineering plastics are taking a large share of the pie in the sector
38 Processor Report
Malaysia-based San Miguel Yamamura Plastic Films is riding on the growth of CPP film, with the installation of a new line
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11 Machinery News
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12 Composites News 14 業界新聞
Supplements 副 刊 Injection moulding machine makers that exhibited at Chinaplas 2013 are reaping in benefits of the growth of the machine sector in Asia The glove sector is usually paired with an outbreak of disease, which results in higher returns for the sector
On the Cover Lanxess’s recently opened butyl rubber plant in Jurong Island, Singapore
Connect @ Lanxess: 在新加坡的丁基橡膠廠開始啟用
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8 Materials News
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Latest M&As • Thai petrochemical giant PTT Public is selling its 40% stake in PTT Phenol Company (PPC) to PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC), a major shareholder with 60% stake in PPCL, for 4,976 million baht. PPCL is a producer of phenol compound with all of its feedstock (benzene and propylene) supplied by PTTGC. Its production facilities are located in Map Ta Phut industrial estate, Rayong province. Currently, PPCL has a nameplate capacity of 200,000 tonnes/year for phenol, 124,000 tonnes/ year for acetone, and 150,000 tonnes/year for BPA. • US-based private equity firm Arsenal Capital Partners has bought Arnco, one of the world's largest suppliers of polyurethane products. Arnco is the first acquisition of Arsenal under the umbrella of Dash Multi-Corp, a platform portfolio company focusing on the speciality technologies of polyurethane systems, vinyl plastisols and recycled rubber products. Arnco, headquartered in South Gate, has global manufacturing capabilities in the US, UK and China. • Germany-based Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) is selling its global powder polyester resins business and its US-based liquid polyester resins merchant business to Stepan Company of Northfield. BMS acquired the Columbus facility in 2000 when it purchased Sybron Chemicals.
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Powder polyester resins are used in a variety of coatings applications, including industrial metal and transportation coatings. Liquid polyester resins are utilised as building blocks in various coatings and adhesives. • Indian machine maker Windsor Machines has acquired Italian injection moulding machine maker Italtech through a Dutch joint venture Wintech for an undisclosed amount. Wintech will hold 80% of Italtech, with the remainder owned by Geoplast, an Italian plastics processor and a sister company of Italtech. Owned by car maker Fiat until 2004, Italtech manufactures dual-platen machines for the production of large components for the automotive market. • Chinese engineering plastics maker Kingfa Sci & Tech is set to acquire a 66.5% stake in Indian compounder Hydro S&S Industries, which has been making losses for the past two years. Hydro, which has a capacity of 30,000 tonnes/year of reinforced PP compounds, TPEs and fibre-reinforced composites, is also a supplier to OEMs of automotive component makers. • Japan’s Asahi Kasei Group is buying the 50% stake that US firm DuPont has in a joint venture making polyacetal copolymer resin in China. The ownership transfer of the 20,000 tonne/year-facility in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu, needs approval from the Chinese government.
This will make Asahi Kasei the world’s only maker of both copolymer and homopolymer polyacetal. DuPont will supply the Chinese market with its Delrin acetal homopolymer from its facility in Shenzhen, Guangdong, and other locations. • Germany-based extrusion machinery maker Reifenhäuser
Plant set-ups • Chemical company Oxea has started up its fifth carboxylic acids plant in Oberhausen, Germany. It will boost capacity by around 40% for use in the manufacture of products such as energy-efficient lubricants or phthalatefree plasticisers. In 2012, Oxea generated revenue of about EUR 1.5 billion with its 1,406 employees in Europe, the Americas and Asia. • Austrian petrochemicals firm OMV is to invest around EUR230 million in a new butadiene plant at its Burghausen refinery in Germany and upgrading of an existing plant in Schwechat, Austria. It also says that in the future these two sites will enable OMV to cover around 6% of total butadiene production in Europe. • US-based materials firm Invista, a world leader in nylon intermediates, polymers and fibres, is building a nylon 6,6 polymer site at the Shanghai Chemical Industry Park (SCIP),
has acquired Italian Nuova Protex that specialises in designing and manufacturing takeup winding systems for synthetic fibres like monofilaments, multifilaments, raffia, flat tape and strapping tape as well as supplementary components. The company will operate as Reimotec Winding Technology, part of the business unit Reimotec.
China. The company's plan for an integrated asset exceeds US$1 billion, the largest capital investment undertaken by the firm to date. Earlier this year, Invista announced it had received approval for a 215,000-tonne/year HMD plant at SCIP, to be operational by mid-2015. • US firm Albemarle Corporation and Senze Meilu of Shanxi, China, are to establish a joint venture to build a 50,000 tonnes/year facility to manufacture Martinal fine precipitated alumina trihydrate flame retardants based on Albemarle's proprietary technology and principally used in wire and cable applications. Production is expected to begin in mid-2015. • Solvay Specialty Polymers is completing a commercial-scale polyethersulfone (PESU) micropowder production line in Panoli, India, to expand capacity by several hundred tonnes to support growing demand for epoxy tougheners in the composites industry.
Ineos in deals with Solvay and Mitsui Chemicals Belgian chemicals firm Solvay and UK-headquartered Ineos are combining their European chlorvinyls activities, including PVC, caustic soda and chlorine derivatives, in a proposed 50-50 joint venture, to form what they say will be a PVC producer ranking among the top three worldwide. RusVinyl, Solvay’s Russian joint venture in chlorvinyls with Sibur, is excluded from the transaction. The joint venture will build on the strengths of both the companies’ industrial assets, teams and geographical presence in order to enhance competitiveness, with a proforma net sales of EUR4.3 billion and EBITDA of EUR257 million, based on 2012 figures. The combined business would have around 5,650 employees in nine countries. Solvay will contribute its vinyl activities, which are part of Solvin, as well as its Chlor Chemicals business, spread across seven fully integrated production sites in Europe. These sites include five electrolysis units converted into more energy efficient membrane technology, which supports sustainable production of PVC. Kerling, the subsidiary of Ineos and the largest PVC producer in Europe, will contribute its chlorvinyls and related businesses that include three modern and large-scale membrane electrolysis units. These assets are based on ten sites in seven European countries. The Letter of Intent (LOI) provides exit mechanisms, which have to be exercised between four and six years from the joint venture’s
formation, after which Ineos would be the sole owner of the business. Solvay would be entitled to receive upfront cash payments of EUR250 million upon completion of the transaction. In other news, Ineos Barex is acquiring Japanese firm Mitsui Chemicals’s Polyacrylonitriles (PAN) business, including PAN resin and Zexlon film, to give it a foothold in Asia. This agreement also allows Mitsui Chemicals to secure a long term supply of PAN for its current customers as it transfers ownership of the business to Ineos Barex. The value of the transaction was not disclosed. PAN resins are inert products manufactured by Mitsui Chemicals under license, at its Nagoya works. Film and sheet applications include pharmaceutical and medical packaging in the Asia Pacific region. Ineos supplies PAN co-polymers, sold under the Barex brand name, primarily in the US and Europe. Barex is a specialised acrylonitrile-methyl acrylate co-polymer that has both US Pharmacopeia and FDA clearances for medical and pharmaceutical packaging. The chemistry behind Barex makes it readily convertible into film, sheet and bottles on standard equipment using extrusion, injection and calendaring techniques. Barex resins provide chemical resistance essential for packaging aggressive active ingredients that need to stay inside the packaging while also providing excellent oxygen barrier properties.
BMS to push for growth in Asia through innovation
ermany-based chemicals company Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) recently inaugurated a regional innovation hub for Asia Pacific in Shanghai, China. It has a workforce of 200 who are to innovate ideas for the use of polyurethanes (PUs), polycarbonates (PCs), foams and coatings in key sectors such as mobility, construction, IT and renewable energy. CEO of BMS Patrick Thomas said the hub will become a significant contributor to the firm’s overall global innovation network. “We are determined to keep growing in the Asia Pacific region. But further growth will only be achievable through innovation,” he said at the inauguration ceremony. Asia Pacific is among the strongest growth regions for BMS and accounted for more than one quarter of its total sales in 2012. This growth is mainly driven by a rising number of infrastructure projects and increasing demand for cars, electronic/consumer goods and new housing from an emerging middle class. Urbanisation is further driving the construction and mobility sectors. At the same time, the growing demand for energy is prompting governments to look at sustainable sources, such as wind and solar energy.
CEO of BMS Patrick Thomas, on the far left, seen here at the inauguration ceremony together with other officials
“In order to be relevant and result in growth, our innovation has to be closely aligned with the needs of the markets in Asia Pacific,” added Thomas. As such the 333,681 sq ft hub, which is located at the company’s existing Polymer Research & Development Centre (PRDC), will provide support to R&D facilities in South Korea, Taiwan, India and Japan. It will work with the innovation centre in Japan, which serves Japan’s
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The new innovation building at the Regional Innovation Hub Asia Pacific
mature and China’s emerging market needs; the facility in South Korea, which serves the local automotive and IT sectors; TPU R&D centre in Taiwan and the adhesives and coatings laboratories in China and India respectively. In addition, the firm works in tandem with research institutes such as the RWTH Aachen (Polytechnic School), Germany; Chinese Academy of Science; Tianjin’s Nankai University and Tongji University, Shanghai. The innovation hub will also be supported by a network of production sites in Asia Pacific, the biggest ones being in Shanghai, Map Ta Phut (Thailand) and Niihama (Japan). Furthermore, it will serve as a capability-building centre to attract local talent and enhance knowledgebuilding and transfer. The PRDC employees are expected to work in global cross-boundary teams, including colleagues at R&D centres in Europe and the US. Increased research spending in China In 2012, BMS spent EUR242 million on R&D, which is approximately 10% of the total Bayer R&D for polymer materials, and registered nearly 200 patents. BMS’s focus on China is easy to deduce. Though Japan and South Korea are leaders in R&D spending in Asia Pacific, Thomas said, “China is catching up with its peers due to increased spending. The country accounts for approximately 15% of the total global R&D spending and it overtook the US in 2011 to become the leading country where patents were filed.” He also said that R&D expenses for BMS in the country are expected to increase from 1.75% of the GDP in 2010 to 2.2% of the GDP by 2020.
INDUSTRY NEWS "We are aiming to reach a global innovation footprint for Bayer and its partners by exporting Chinamade technology to the rest of the world by 2020," said Thomas. Material focus at the centre A main focus at the innovation centre will be innovations based on PU material. For instance, in the construction industry, the PU pultrusion technology is a driving force for window frames, allowing for weather and corrosion-resistance, strength and low thermal conductivity with flame retardancy. Renowned as the next generation matrix for wind rotor blades production, the PU infusion resin technology features rapid wetting speed and short cure time, thus allowing for higher productivity and reduced mould investment. Meanwhile, the firm has developed a PC multi-layer injection moulding technology for LED lenses, while its waterborne, solvent-free PU coatings for vehicles feature reduced volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Another innovation is the Baypreg F, a twocomponent PU system used in the compression moulding of natural fibre mats or fibre-reinforced sandwich panels for composite automotive parts such as door panels. Environmental sustainability is another key focus for BMS. For instance, the 2-K MDI binder system for bamboo floorboards has a cross-linker component that creates a strong adhesion for renewable bamboo flooring. This is especially useful since abundant supplies of bamboo resources are available in South China. An environmental friendly new technology is the DirectCoating/DirectSkinnning (DCDS) process that
The firm has installed German injection moulding machinery at its centre, including machines from Arburg, Demag and KraussMaffei
allows manufacturers to produce a coated or skinned component in a one-step process, directly on the injection moulding machine (as opposed to multicomponent moulding). The above are just some of the innovations that BMS has launched, said Thomas in his presentation at the inauguration ceremony. Amongst the facilities offered at the centre are process evaluations of RHCM (rapid heat cycle moulding), MuCell physical foaming, DCDS (DirectCoating/DirectSkinning) and thinwall moulding. Future expansions include the addition of auxiliary testing devices, based on customer requirements, for the final products, adding on to the mould services already offered at the tooling shop.
GREEN Materials News
Moving forward in the green arena
Various updates on green materials in the industry sector are testament that the green sector is moving at a fast pace.
Brazil on track with green ethanol and LDPE Brazilian development bank BNDES has approved a US$150 million loan for the second generation ethanol project of locally based GranBio Investimentos Group, which would be the first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol plant in the country. The plant will produce 82 million litres of ethanol using cane bagasse as a biomass feedstock. GranBio also plans to develop green plastics as well as biofuels and enhanced genetic material for sugar cane varieties with the project. The 100% Brazilian-owned company acquired a 25% stake in US-based American Process recently, giving it access to the company's biomass processing technology. Brazil's sugar cane ethanol sector has seen investments into building cellulosic ethanol plants in the past several months, including eight plants by Raizen, the joint venture between Brazilian sugar and ethanol giant Cosan and oil major Royal Dutch Shell. M e a n w h i l e , t h e w o r l d â€™s l a r g e s t p r o d u c e r o f biopolymers Braskem has launched a new line of green LDPE, with a production of 30,000 tonnes/year. The new product will be introduced in the market early next year. Braskem has produced HDPE and LLDPE on an industrial scale from renewable feedstock since 2010, using sugarcane ethanol as a feedstock. The company said it made investments in plants and equipment to aid production of the new LDPE line. Resins and materials from renewable materials Australian biopolymers firm Plantic Technologies has developed the first renewable and recyclable ultra-high barrier packaging format, Plantic eco Plastic R. The new material combines PET and Plantic biodegradable film to provide a packaging material boasting ultrahigh gas barrier properties and is made from up to 60% renewable materials. The firm also says that unlike other barrier packaging, it can be fully recycled with the PET recovered in the traditional recycling streams with Planticâ€™s barrier material dissolving and biodegrading in the process. Meanwhile, US-based Addivant, the former antioxidant and UV stabiliser solutions business of Chemtura, has commercialised its renewably-resourced Polybond 6009 and 6029 polymer modifiers. These are developed to act as coupling agents or compatibilisers in formulations where high renewable content raw materials are desired. The volume and types of thermoplastic materials derived from renewable resources have been growing
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for several years, with global production capacity for these biopolymers, expected to more than triple by 2020, to an estimated 1.2 million tonnes. Many of the early applications used only the neat resin or were blends of the neat biopolymer with other polymers. Today, there is more focus on reinforcing these biopolymers with other natural fibres such as wood, rice husks, flax, hemp and others, requiring the use of polymer modifiers derived from renewable resources. The firm says both its products contain greater than 95% renewable content raw materials and says that the materials can be used as a tie layer in multi-layer extruded applications where a high renewable content is desired.
Cereplast is including a higher percentage of algae in its latest resin
Also in the US, bioplastics maker Cereplast has incorporated 51% post-industrial algae biomass in its Biopropylene A150D PP resin, while aiming for 100% algae content in three years. The injection moulding grade will be available in the second quarter of 2013. Cereplast claims the polymer has low odour and a medium to dark green colour that can be pigmented to a darker green, dark brown or black. The company says it is processable on conventional machinery and is well suited to thinwall applications. Another US resin maker Rennovia has developed a 100% biobased nylon 66 using its biobased hexamethylenediamine and renewable adipic acid technology. The new nylon is suited to automotive applications where its heat resistance is valued as well as in various fibre end-uses.
Green Materials News Cars and toys from bioresins In recent research undertaken by Huntsman Advanced Materials, the firm says that it is now commercially possible to produce resins for industrial applications with a biobased content higher than 80%, when combining up to 100% biobased resins and up to 80% biobased hardeners.
DSM’s Stanyl and EcoPaXX are used in the new SIM-CEL EV prototype car
Huntsman has developed the biobased epoxy resin used in the construction of BioMobile
The firm developed the biobased epoxy resin used in the construction of BioMobile, a prototype vehicle founded in 2004. The vehicle has been updated over the years to integrate new biobased fuels and renewable materials, with its latest adaptation seeing the replacement of the remaining non-renewable structural components with renewable materials. T h e c o m p o s i t e b o d y, c h a s s i s a n d m o s t o f t h e structural parts of BioMobile are now made entirely from various vegetable fibre reinforcements impregnated with a specially developed epoxy system from Huntsman Advanced Materials, which contains over 50% biobased resin. Developed within the Haute Ecole du Paysage, d’Ingénièrie et d’Architecture de Genève, which is part of the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland, BioMobile’s fuel consumption is approximately 0.12 litres per 100 km and it now runs on X41, a biofuel made from organic waste. It was originally developed as an energy-efficient vehicle for competitions such as the Shell Eco-marathon, which challenges teams to go as far as possible using the least amount of energy. Meanwhile, the latest prototype car from SIM-Drive Corporation, a pioneering electric vehicle developer in Japan, features DSM’s Stanyl and EcoPaXX-based parts. Development of the SIM-CEL electric vehicle, which took around one year, involved close collaboration with 26 outside organisations, including DSM. SIM-CEL has a range of almost 325 km on a single charge and it can accelerate up to 100 km/hour in just 4.2 seconds. DSM contributed to the development of three parts for the SIM-CEL: a body panel in its EcoPaXX polyamide 410; a wheel cover center cap in the same material; and a heat sink for highly energy-efficient LED headlights in Stanyl TC polyamide 46. EcoPaXX polyamide 410 is 70% resourced from the castor plant. It is certified 100% carbon neutral from cradle to gate.
In order to improve overall aerodynamics, the SIMCEL incorporates spats, or fender skirts, which cover the rear wheel arches. These are also made in DSM’s EcoPaXX polyamide 410, further contributing to the sustainability of the car, its low weight and aesthetics. Elsewhere, UK-based Axion Polymers has developed a variant of its high-grade recycled polymer, Axpoly r-PS01, which comes from plastics from refrigerators and will be used to make toys and other applications. The company says that its 100% recycled polymer is a testament to its ability to satisfy British Standard testing to BS EN 71-3, which covers the specification for migration of certain elements from within the plastics used to mould components of toys. Axion notes that it recently supplied 120 tonnes to a producer of moulding applications located in Asia. Axion is also working to satisfy the revised specifications for the toy safety standard, which are due to be announced in July.
Axion’s new resin is made from recycled plastic liners of refrigerators JUNE / JULY 2013
GREEN Materials News
BASF undertakes composting programme in China
ermany-based chemical firm BASF’s pilot composting project in the Wanke community in Wuhan, China, has successfully kept organic waste out of China’s landfills. Speaking at a news conference in Chinaplas 2013 recently, Tobias Haber, Head of BASF’s Speciality Plastics Asia Pacific, said that the first phase of the composting trial was undertaken in a project involving 1,000 homes and the next step will be to expand the programme to 100,000 homes in Wuhan. The project, which started in June last year, involved Ecoplast Technologies and its wholly owned subsidiary in Wuhan, Huali Environmental Technology. “The project was a success and will serve as a tangible case study, which we will present in support of waste division policies and the enactment of favourable legislation,” said Xianbing Zhang, Chairman/CEO of Ecoplast. The company concedes that educating the public is important. Shown here is Daniel Hebert, second from left, on a house visit in Wuhan to showcase BASF’s compostable bag
The project employed certified compostable and biodegradable plastic bags made of BASF’s Ecoflex and Ecoplast’s PSM. “It demonstrated that composting of source-separated organic waste in such bags is the most efficient and effective method for managing organic waste,” said Daniel Hebert, Senior Regional Manager for Ecoflex and Ecovio biopolymers. Compostable bags enable the hygienic collection of organic waste and unlike paper bags, prevent liquid leaking from organic waste and keep out unpleasant odours. The firm also says that 80% of the 600 residents of the Wanke community participating in the project saw a benefit in using the compostable plastic bags to separate organic waste, and were keen to continue using them. And while fully compostable bags are more expensive than those made from traditional plastics, they can help reduce the overall cost of waste management because food waste does not need to be separated from the bags at the composting facility, says BASF. Closed loop approach At its Chinaplas booth, BASF demonstrated the closed loop approach to managing the disposal of food waste
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BASF’s booth at Chinaplas showcased the closed loop system
and other organic waste. It served food and drinks in fully biodegradable cups and plates made with its compostable Ecovio polymer and thereafter disposed these together with any leftover organic waste in compostable waste bags. These bags were then sent directly to a composting facility. BASF has already been involved in several composting projects in Germany, Canada, Thailand and Australia, said Hebert. The Thai project ran from 20092010. The pilot plant site was at the Kradangar District of Samut Songkhram Province. “Our projects have run successfully around the world since people have become more eco-conscious,” said Hebert, adding that the firm is working on introducing similar trial projects in Guangzhou. The compost generated from the pilot project will serve as organic fertiliser to be used in the Wanke community and on farms in Wuhan Xingzhou, reducing the need for chemical fertilisers and reducing soil erosion. Furthermore, Hebert says that could help to rejuvenate soil and grow better plants. “Compost allows plants to be grown with less water.” BASF says that 50% of waste generated is organic and that landfilling of organic matter is environmentally detrimental as it generates methane, a greenhouse gas that is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide. As organic waste has a high water content, incineration is also not a suitable alternative as it requires significant amounts of energy and results in higher emissions of carbon dioxide. Furthermore, BASF says that if all organic waste in China were to be collected separately and composted, 45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide could potentially be saved. When asked about the costs involved, Haber said that BASF evaluates the total systems costs, such as the solution and environmental impact on the society. “A composting infrastructure needs to be put in place first and then we need to educate people to separate the compost waste. Our goal is to bring all the stakeholders together to discuss this, it is not a difficult solution to implement at all,” he added.
or one of the new German production sites of the BMW i3 and BMW i8 vehicles, car maker BMW specified to all potential suppliers that any of the processes necessary to convey, dry and blend the different polymers in use, had to be energy efficient and self sustainable. Also, the output claimed would be tested and compared, to assess and subsequently determine the ranking of performance. Italian auxiliary equipment supplier Piovan, which was one of the suppliers selected, says that the testing period lasted six months and it had to compete with five major suppliers of auxiliary equipment. “Modula of Piovan was regarded by BMW as the best solution, for its efficient operation, energy utilisation, auto adaptivity and constant process conditions,” it says.
Modula is an auto adaptive drying system with multiple hopper assembly
Modula is installed in the first phase that involves the installation of six lines, but the two Modula units supplied to BMW were configured to also support an expansion to 12 production lines. The materials utilised by BMW are mainly blends, with a PP or PC base, like PP/EPDM and PC/SAN. The plastic part is first injection moulded and immediately transferred to the painting lines, which is a sensitive phase of the production process where silicone particles are banned. Says Piovan, “One very important feature of Modula is the absence of silicone components/ parts within the system, making it fully suitable for applications such as the one of BMW.” The purpose of hygroscopic plastic drying is to reduce moisture content to the required levels. This
operation is generally performed by circulating hot dry air inside a drying hopper. In the case of applications that involve a number of materials of different kinds, a central unit is commonly used to generate dry air, which is then distributed to a series of hoppers, one for each material type, through a duct system. As such, each hopper requires specific conditions for optimum operation (dry air flow, temperature and pressure) depending on the different material characteristics, such as the type, the required initial and final level of moisture, the hourly material consumption and the granule size. A safety condition is systematically adopted and the drying system is sized based on the most critical processing parameters, such as maximum material consumption, at maximum temperature, with the highest airflow. “This basic model goes against any principle of energy efficiency and certainly does nothing to reduce or optimise the system running costs,” adds Piovan.
Piovan’s Modula system installed at BMW's facility
Automatic adjustment for energy savings The two sets of Modula supplied are each configured with a single dry air generator and seven drying hoppers with volumes ranging from 600 to 1,000 l. The units automatically adjust and control all operating parameters for each individual hopper and hence use only the overall amount of energy strictly required. This is made possible through a specific controls software that interfaces the settings for each hopper with the data collected by the sensors installed on the system. This means that by using a Piovan patented measuring unit located in the air supply line and under each hopper, the airflow can be adjusted and controlled instantaneously and independently hopper by hopper. In addition, the total airflow is modulated automatically by the central drying unit, equipped with IE3 class blowers, resulting in optimum process operating conditions. The auto adaptive and energy efficient drying system with multiple hopper assembly was launched by Piovan in the market in late 2010. Recently, Piovan obtained a specific patent in certification for the innovative nature of the Modula solution. Modula is today available for medium and large capacity applications (200 to 2,000 kg/hours) and provides savings of as much as 50% with respect to ordinary centralised drying systems of equivalent capacity, according to Piovan. It is also Winfactory ready. Along with Modula, Piovan supplied to BMW the Varyo auto-adjustable vacuum conveying systems, MDW gravimetric blenders and Winfactory supervisory system. JUNE / JULY 2013
Galore of composites Carbon fibre is heralded as the millennium’s new breed of high-strength materials that has found broader applications, from the aerospace to the automotive and recreational segments. Meanwhile, updates are provided on suppliers, tooling technology and composite fibres.
Carbon fibre comes of age With more stabilised prices and matured technology, carbon fibre (CF) composites are used in a variety of applications, having penetrated into the commercial aircraft, recreational (for example in golf and fishing rods), and industrial markets, according to report by research firm Lucintel. It also says that the global carbon-fibre market will have an annual double-digit growth from 2013-2018, and will reach US$3 billion in 2018 from US$1.8 billion in 2013. The industrial and aerospace markets are also projected to score annual double-digit and high single-digit growths, respectively. However, the sporting goods market is seen to likely merit the lowest growth, said Lucintel. It also projects that emerging suppliers from India, China, Russia, the Middle East and other developing regions and increased manufacturing efficiency as well as pricing of materials will be witnessed over the next five years. Updates on composites suppliers US supplier of glass and carbon fibre multiaxial reinforcements, primarily for the wind turbine blade production, Hexagon Devold, has acquired PPG Industries's 50% share of the joint venture company PPG-Devold. It will continue to manufacture multiaxial and unidirectional reinforcement fabrics at PPG’s fibre glass facility located in Shelby, North Carolina. Meanwhile, Owens Corning has tied up with glass fibre producer Taishan Fiberglass, a subsidiary of China National Materials Group, to grow the use of Alkali Resistant (AR) speciality glass products sold under the brands Cem-FIL, Anti–CRAK and SlurryFIL. Manufacturing for the alliance will be based in China and supported by Owens Corning’s global R&D centres that will provide product and application development. To ensure commercial focus and success, Taishan will concentrate in China, ASEAN, Japan, South Korea, South Africa and the Middle East markets with Owens Corning serving markets located throughout the rest of the world. Meanwhile, German firm Evonik Industries has launched its tenth Composites Project House to develop new materials and system solutions. The Marl-based project house, with a branch in
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Darmstadt, will address automotive, renewable energy and aviation applications Germany-headquartered Bayer MaterialScience (BMS), has opted out of the carbon nanotube (CNT) technology. It says it has passed on the knowledge gleaned over recent years to other companies and research institutions within the Innovation Alliance Carbon Nanotubes, which counts BMS among its 90 members. CEO Patrick Thomas says though the company is convinced of the huge potential in CNTs, the potential areas of application that once seemed promising from a technical standpoint are currently either very fragmented or have few overlaps with the company's core products. Nonetheless, this know-how provides an important basis for a possible later use of CNT, for example in the optimisation of lithium ion batteries, Thomas said. In other news, US-based materials engineering company Morgan Advanced Materials has acquired the business formerly known as NP Aerospace, a manufacturer of composite products for defence and other applications. To be known as Morgan Advanced Materials – Composites and Defence Systems – it will be based in Coventry, UK. “As an armour company, we have the unique ability to optimise the performance of ceramic and composite materials, as well as designing the integrated armour system to maximise protection for a given weight – a key benefit in the field," says Duncan Eldridge, Managing Director of Morgan Advanced Materials. New composites in the market Belgian fibreglass maker 3B has introduced a new glass roving specifically designed and formulated for acrylic resins to allow for the manufacture and production of glass-reinforced PMMA composites. The sizing for the new glass roving was developed in collaboration with French chemicals firm and acrylic producer Arkema and engineered fabrics manufacturer Chomarat. Meanwhile, Chomarat is extending its line of carbon reinforcements with C-Weave SP, a new line of spread carbon fabrics for composite parts with high aesthetic performance requirements. It is especially for the high-end automotive, sports/leisure, luggage and telecommunication markets.
COMPOSITES NEWS Tooling technology for composite structures US-based aerostructures maker Spirit AeroSystems has been working with incubator company Spintech Ventures to develop a reconfigurable tooling technology for manufacturing complex composite aircraft structures. The firm says this involves using re-formable, reusable mandrels to form complex, highly integrated composite structures, with features that are not possible with traditional tools. Meanwhile, Spintech, an affiliate of Cornerstone Research Group, formed in 2010 to license shape memory polymer technology, is now offering the technology under the trade name Smart Tooling. Spirit's version of the technology, which includes enhancements, is known as Inflexion, for which it has applied for nine patents already. It claims that Inflexion provides tooling that can change states through the layup and cure phases, allowing for extraction of the tool in spite of trapping features that would hinder current tooling methods. The tooling will allow the company to build a large complex composite section, such as a fuselage or engine nacelle, and integrate stringers, frames or other components in one continuous piece. The process will reduce tooling costs, eliminate the need for fasteners and reduce equipment, weight and time. In January 2012, Spirit AeroSystems delivered the first Airbus A350 XWB composite centre fuselage section to Airbus
In other news, Spirit AeroSystems celebrated the first flight of the Airbus A350 XWB, with the airplane making its maiden voyage recently. Spirit has both fuselage and wing work responsibilities on the A350 XWB. Spirit designs and builds the composite centre fuselage section (Section 15), along with the composite front wing spar, at its facility in Kinston. Fuselage panels are assembled into a single shipset at Spirit's facility in Saint-Nazaire, France, then delivered to Airbus. Spirit also designs and builds the fixed leading edges of the aircraft wings, work it performs at its facility in Prestwick, Scotland. Railway station topped with composite panels Premier Composite Technologies (PCT) is using Gurit composite materials to manufacture roof panels for the Medinah railway station, part a new high speed rail line in Saudi Arabia. The stations, designed by a joint venture of Fosters + Partners
Composite roof panels for the Medinah railway station
and Buro Happold, have a modular arrangement, with a steel main structure supporting structural fibrereinforced plastic (FRP) roof panels that have panel spans of up to 9 m. In total there are over 160,000 sq m of FRP panels across the four stations. Gurit and PCT worked with the design team to develop the composites roof concept. The lightweight and inherent insulation achieved with FRP sandwich panels, combined with the accuracy obtained by moulding panels using CNC machined tooling and the durability of composites offered significant advantages to the project. Fuel storage with lightweight composites An alternative technology for lightweight carbon composite compressed natural gas and hydrogen fuel tanks that utilises selective fibre placement allows for significant reduction in weight and cost and more than 20% reduction in material utilisation, according to its developer Quantum Fuel Systems Technologies Worldwide. Quantum is working on an alternative technology for lightweight carbon composite compressed fuel tanks
The underlying methodology for the design and analysis of discrete composite elements was developed by Quantum and the manufacturing process involving discontinuous reinforcing fibres was further developed and demonstrated under collaboration with the Boeing Company and the Pacific Northwest National Labs, under sponsorship by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy of the US Department of Energy. Quantum says it currently produces one of the lightest and highest capacity natural gas and hydrogen on-board storage systems in the world. JUNE / JULY 2013
Lanxess steps up its butyl rubber footprint in Asia German speciality firm Lanxess has invested over EUR500 million to upgrade its global butyl rubber manufacturing units in Canada and Belgium and build a brand new facility in Singapore, adding around 200,000 tonnes/year of capacity in total. It is expecting to focus a large part of it to the expanding Asian economies, which account for about a quarter of its total group sales. The Asia Pacific region is also a prime mover for the mobility megatrend growth, and thus is propelling demand for butyl rubber, which is estimated to have a growth of 6% a year.
anxess’s butyl rubber sales in Asia represent more than 50% of its worldwide sales of the rubber of over EUR500 million. The region has the strongest growth potential, with increasing passenger mobility as well as a growing middle class and improved access to medical care, thus underscoring the urbanisation trend, says the company. Added to this is the global trend of radial, tubeless truck and bus tyres, all factors that should bode well for the rubber material market. Debut of BTR plant in Singapore The recent opening of Lanxess’s butyl rubber (BTR) plant in Jurong Island, Singapore, marks its pioneering presence in the region. The Singapore facility, which is claimed to be the most modern of its kind in Asia, joins Lanxess’s existing butyl rubber plants in Sarnia, Canada, and in Zwijndrecht, Belgium, both with nameplate capacities of 150,000 tonnes/year. This means that the speciality chemicals company now has three state-of-the-art BTR facilities on three continents. The debuting plant’s premises for premium halobutyl and regular butyl rubber production feature 3,500 tonnes of steel, 350 km of cabling and 80 km of piping. The EUR400 million plant has also created about 160 highly qualified new jobs for locals. The plant was engineered and constructed by Foster Wheeler Asia Pacific on a 150,000 sq m plot on Jurong Island, leased from the JTC Corporation, a statutory board under the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industries.
(L-R) Png Cheong Boon, Chief Executive, Jurong Town Corporation; Dr Werner Breuers, Member of the Lanxess Board; Angelika Viets, German Ambassador; Deputy Prime Minister, Singapore, Teo Chee Hean; Dr Axel Heitmann, CEO/Chairman of Lanxess; Leo Yip, Chairman, Economic Development Board and Dr Ron Commander, Global Head of the Butyl Business
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Cover Feature Dr Axel Heitmann says the plant will cater to the needs of customers not only in the region but globally
The butyl rubber facility went into operation in the first quarter of 2013 and is being ramped up gradually. Commercial production will start in the third quarter of this year with full capacity to be achieved in 2015. “This is the largest investment in the company’s history. It underlines the importance of Asia as a location for our synthetic rubber business,” said Dr Axel Heitmann, Lanxess's Chairman of the Board of Management, during the opening ceremony. “We have clearly built this plant with the future of mobility in mind because we think and act long-term.” Heitmann also said the purpose of building the plant was to ensure that the company’s valued customers in this region have reliable access to a steady supply of high quality butyl. “We can continue to provide them with all the materials they need without regard for the costs or uncertainties of transoceanic shipping,” said Dr Ron Commander, Head of the Butyl Rubber business unit of Lanxess, adding that it is the world’s first entirely new halobutyl plant to be built since 2000. Dr Werner Breuers, Member of the Board of Management, Lanxess, said that the 100,000 tonnenameplate capacity of the plant will be dedicated on producing halobutyl and regular butyl, depending on the market requirements. The firm, which noted that only very few manufacturers worldwide have mastered the production of the two halobutyl rubber types of bromobutyl and chlorobutyl rubbers, sees the region’s demand expanding further. It is also eyeing increasing demand from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, said Commander. The tyre industry is the most important market for halobutyl rubber, which is used to make air-tight inner liners in tubeless tyres for cars, trucks and buses and high-end two wheeler tyres. According to Dr Regular butyl is used in tubes Werner Breuers, for bias tyres, two wheeler tyres the slow down in and in inner balls of sports balls, China is temporary like soccer balls and basket as the country is balls, which require retention of undergoing an pressurised air. economic transition Breuers added that South Korea is also an important market for the firm, especially tyre maker Hankook that is a loyal customer, despite the torpid market situation. New benchmark for sustainability In integrating sustainability into the new BTR plant,
the company says it has set new standards, in terms of environmental protection. This is achieved through reductions on energy and water consumption and emissions. The manufacture of butyl rubber is highly complex and involves process steps at temperatures ranging from minus 100 to plus 200°C. The firm says the current production process used for butyl rubber has been upgraded and has been implemented at the Singapore facility. This involves investing around 10% of the total investment towards technologies that make the butyl rubber plant more environmentally friendly. For example, significantly less steam is used in the manufacturing process than in comparable facilities, leading Dr Ron Commander says to lower energy consumption. Lanxess has developed a Chemical compounds from the new butyl rubber product production process are treated called butyl ionomers, which will launch new in thermal off-gas units, so applications for the that the environment is not rubber affected. “This process is evidence of our global leadership in rubber manufacturing. I am very proud that we are setting new standards in the industry,” said Commander. Singapore, a strategic manufacturing base One of the reasons why Lanxess selected Singapore as its base is that the country has an estimated 100 key global petroleum, petrochemicals and speciality chemicals firms located on Jurong Island. The latter location is Singapore’s energy and chemicals hub and companies have located their operations (mostly manufacturing sites) here, generally due to its plugand-play infrastructure, which enables firms to access shared third-party utilities and services for cost-effective operations. This is further augmented with the upcoming implementation of the government-initiated Jlv2.0 (Jurong Island Version 2.0), an initiative that adopts a holistic government effort. It is to enhance the location’s competitiveness and sustainability in the five core areas that include energy, logistics and transportation, feedstock options, environment and water. Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, Teo Chee Hean, noted during the plant inauguration that Lanxess aims to grow its Pan-Asian business through Singapore’s focused efforts on the chemicals sector. Commander said that foremost, Singapore has a secure raw material supply. For example, the company has secured the long-term supply of isobutene, an important raw material for butyl rubber production, from a neighbouring plant. JUNE / JULY 2013
The Singapore plant joins Lanxess’s existing butyl rubber plants in Canada and in Belgium
And although the supplies are not transportable within the island, they can be “transferred” via pipelines and through the use of a highly skilled workforce. Last year, Lanxess also started construction of a new production facility for neodymium-based performance butadiene rubber (Nd-PBR) on Jurong Island. The direct proximity of these two plants creates valuable synergies for the company, for example, through joint infrastructure and logistics. Commander also mentioned that Lanxess is able to operate on a 100% ownership in the country, meaning that it does not have to share its knowledge and proprietary technologies with other parties. Another reason for choosing Singapore for the plant is its ideal location. “Singapore is now the hub of our Southeast Asian operations, taking its place as an even more important pillar of our global rubber production activities,” he said, adding that the company had also moved its butyl rubber headquarters from Switzerland to Singapore in 2010. China is a growth backbone China is undoubtedly the current biggest market this side of Asia, accounting for about half of Asia’s 50% demand of the overall global butyl rubber sales for Lanxess. The country, along with India, is considered by Lanxess to be the growth engine for mobility. China’s passenger car ownership is expected to more than triple to 450 million units over the next 15 years, with about a 10% CAGR for both countries from 2012 to 2013, citing data culled from economic and business consultancy LMC International’s 2012 report. And while the current slow down in China may seem to be a deterrent for industry producers and manufacturers, the German chemicals firm views the situation as temporary. China may no longer grow between 11%-12% and may only achieve a target of 7% this year, said Commander at the inauguration of the Singapore facility. The decline, however, still points to a healthy growth, Commander continued, adding that many economies in the world would “still be happy” to reach that growth percentage.
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The overall sluggish Chinese economy was also a point raised by Breuers. He echoed and agreed with Commander that the company views this as a temporary phase as the country is in an economic transition. “It may be hard to predict for how long (the sluggish economy situation) it will last, but we see it recovering in the first half of 2013 through 2014,” Breuers told PRA during the press conference. Heitmann also emphasised in his remarks during the opening ceremony that Lanxess “takes a long-term view of things” and that “(it is) not discouraged by the current weakness in demand, which we view as temporary.” The Singapore BTR plant is, thus, now in a better position to serve the region, said the Lanxess officials, including its topmost customers from China, where the company has ten wholly owned subsidiaries, three joint ventures and six major R&D centres. It will also serve India, where Lanxess has manufacturing units for six of its business units. Reaching across non-tyre segments Rubber also figures in various other applications and Lanxess’s innovations span across industries that can benefit from the application of its high-end rubbers. The firm said that halobutyl rubber, which is ideally used for inner liners of modern tyres, can also be used in pharmaceutical closures due to its non-toxicity, physical and chemical properties, good resealing after puncturing and resistance to ageing. The special-purpose rubber is also required by law in some Asian countries, for example in China, for use in pharmaceutical applications. The country’s ranking, by consumption, in the global pharmaceutical sector rose from ten in 2001 to seven in 2009. It is expected to rank second place, after the US, by 2020. Examples of halobutyl rubber-made closures are those used for infusion containers, pipette assemblies and plungers for prefilled syringes. Some of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical closure manufacturers are based in Asia, hence, it is no surprise that Lanxess has set up a plant for halobutyl rubber in Singapore. Other applications for butyl rubber are protective clothing, shoe soles, adhesives and chewing gum. Its impermeability to gas and resistance to chemicals has also proven valuable in vehicle air conditioning systems and tank linings. Moreover, Lanxess has also developed a new butyl rubber product called butyl ionomers, which it says will launch new applications for butyl rubber. Apart from sports grips, improved adhesives and sealants, pharmaceutical closures (or for applications where pure rubbers are needed), and medical adhesives, butyl ionomers are suitable for use in antimicrobial coatings. Commander explained that the antimicrobial application for butyl ionomers is especially helpful even in everyday requirements, such as the rubber handgrips of supermarket pushcarts. Moreover, butyl ionomers can improve the grip on golf clubs, said Commander.
Lanxess says it is the only global manufacturer of foodgrade butyl that enhances the chewing and flavour release of chewing gum
The Singapore plant will be producing both regular and halobutyl rubbers. The latter, the company says, is a more complicated material to manufacture but provides better value to customers and demand for it is growing at a faster rate than regular butyl. Furthermore, Lanxess has recently developed new technology to incorporate bromobutyl rubber, a type of halobutyl rbber, into tyre treads. This is done to enhance tyre safety by increasing the tyre’s wet grip and reducing its braking distance. It likewise makes tubeless tyres possible, which Lanxess says “is extremely important because radialisation is driving the truck and bus market segments in both China and India.” Notwithstanding this, the company also sees the market for tyres and inner tubes to continue to represent the leading use for regular butyl and halobutyl for years to come.
The company also claims to be the only supplier of butyl rubber that is used for the production of chewing gum. According to Lanxess’s data for butyl sales by end-use applications, the tyre segment accounts for the largest share at about 75%. The remaining goes to non-tyre segments, including pharmaceutical (approximately 10%), chewing gum (approximately 5%) and other rubber applications (such as adhesives and sealants, condensers, caps, membranes and bladders) at about 10% of overall sales. Riding the wave of radialisation There is also a growing trend towards the use of radial or tubeless tyres for buses and trucks in China and India. Based on Lanxess’s presented data, China’s focus on improving road infrastructure is fuelling the trend of radialisation of truck tyres, whilst India shows a high growth potential, given its 17% radialisation rate for truck and bus tyres in 2011 and 2012.
The company sees the market for tyres and inner tubes to continue to represent the leading use for regular butyl and halobutyl rubbers
Halobutyl is ideal for pharmaceutical seals and closures owing to its air and moisture impermeability properties and high chemical resistance
“There is a clear trend towards the use of radial or tubeless tyres for buses and trucks in India and China, which is changing the face of commercial mobility. Modern radial tyres require an inner liner made of halobutyl rubber, which helps keep tyre pressure constant for longer because of its impermeability to gases, thus saving fuel and reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” explained Commander. “The mobility megatrend is driving demand for this sector,” he said, adding that the market for vehicles and transport services, especially in the fastest growing economies, has increased rapidly, and thus is pushing for a steadily growing Asian market for halobutyl. Heitmann added, “With our high-tech products, we are a leader in enabling Green Mobility.” The Butyl Rubber business unit is part of Lanxess’s Performance Polymers segment, which recorded sales of EUR 5.2 billion in 2012. JUNE / JULY 2013
US Machinery and Technology
Partnering for joint gains At the recent Chinaplas 2013 show, US companies displayed their technology prowess and updates to products, with materials suppliers tying up with local Chinese manufacturers to showcase technology at a localised level.
From right-left: Haridass Kalidas, Asia Pacific PE Market Development Manager, General Manager of Xinle, Guoliang Ma, and Thomas Deman, ExxonMobil Chemical’s Global Marketing Manager of PE
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ExxonMobil ties up with local machine maker Materials firm ExxonMobil Chemical showcased how its Exceed and Enable metallocene polyethylene (mPE) resins and Vistamaxx propylene-based elastomer (PBE) can be used to provide opportunities for downgauging. The firm has had various success stories in China and for this reason is seeing a 15% growth for its mPE business, compared to the general PE market, according to Thomas Deman, ExxonMobil Chemical’s Global Marketing Manager of PE. One such demonstration shown at Chinese machine maker Xinle Huabao Plastic Machinery’s booth was a five-layer cast line running a “tough cast power” pre-stretch machine wrap packaging film using Exceed and Enable mPEs and Vistamaxx PBE. “By adding the elastomers into the mPE formulation, the processor is able to downgauge by up to 40% to 15-20 microns (instead of the usual 20-25 microns); plus the film is able to be pre-stretched by up to 250% (hence the term used tough cast power),” said Deman. Furthermore, Deman says the elastomers add value to the film. “Vistamaxx PBE provides the cling requirement at a much lower dosage of 4% when used with LLDPE, compared with up to 50% for ULDPE.” A typical fivelayer cast power pre-stretch film structure includes the 96-100% LLDPE (in the outer layers), 100% mPE resins (in the inner layers), with 4% Vistamaxx PBE. “Besides allowing for a more sustainable production, it is also more energy efficient; results in significant cost savings plus the film produced is not only thinner but tougher and with improved optical properties,” reiterated Haridass Kalidas, Asia Pacific PE Market Development Manager. Ashok Sapaliga, Asia Pacific Market Development Manager for Vistamaxx in Film says the company has a two-way approach to the market. “We set solutions for customers and want to go beyond the product. Our goal is to help customers high performance sustainable end products.” Meanwhile, machine maker Xinle is also reaping the benefits of the elastomers, said General Manager Guoliang Ma. “Through the cooperation with ExxonMobil Chemical, we have increased the output of the machine from 450 to 650 kg/hour,” said Ma, adding that the Hebei-headquartered firm sells not only the machine but the entire stretch film solution to customers. “Xinle as a machine supplier has the formulation for the power stretch film, so that we are able to resolve film quality issues and improve processability." Xinle had a turnover of RMB120 million last year and expects a 20% increase this year, mainly due to ExxonMobil Chemical’s solutions, said Ma. Xinle exports half its output to countries like the US, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Iraq, Russia, Malaysia and South Korea. PolyOne basks in investment limelight Specialised polymer material provider PolyOne achieved a number of milestones in China last year, including the expansion of an existing R&D centre in Shanghai, and is evaluating future expansions, said Mark Crist, Vice-President of Asia. “We are committed to China. In fact, the Asia Pacific headquarters is based in China, and contrary to what critics may say, this is the right location since most of our customers have facilities in China, too.”
US Machinery and Technology Over a period of three years, the US$2.9 billion firm has acquired a manufacturer of glass and carbon fibre reinforced polymers and advanced composite products Glasforms, Spartech (custom sheet and rollstock and packaging business) and Colormatrix. “PolyOne has been taking the cash it makes and investing it in acquisitions. We will continue on this path,” said Crist. The investments, which tie in with PolyOne’s transition from cyclical commodity markets into speciality applications, have been paying off. In the first quarter of 2013, its revenue rose 7.5% to US$801.1 million from the year-earlier quarter, attributed to its speciality businesses that delivered a 34.4% increase.
PolyOne collaborated with Xindao to increase the content of renewable resources within the new XD Design Sunshine Solar Charger
“Spartech (now known as Design Structures and Solutions) is very much like what PolyOne was in 2005; while Glasforms will use PolyOne’s global footprint to expand.” Crist also commented that “integration is a challenge when products are similar but since Colomatrix offers liquid colour solutions and PolyOne colour masterbatch, both are in different spaces.” Meanwhile, regarding the acquisition of Spartech, which is a sheet thermoformer and would mean that PolyOne will be competing with its customers, Crist said, “Conventional wisdom will say there is a conflict but actually we have found little overlaps and more synergies globally." At Chinaplas, it showcased a global collaboration with Netherlands-based Xindao and its Chinese design studio XD Design to increase the content of renewable resources within the new XD Design Sunshine Solar Charger. The moulded casing components are made from PolyOne’s reSound biopolymer, which Xindao estimates will reduce the CO2 footprint for this product by as much as 35%. The 30% ABS and PC bio-derived polymer is not universally applied, Crist agreed, due to the higher price. “We are only targeting the high-end markets,” he added. PolyOne also unveiled its new InVisiO colour and design services, which are tailored to help brand managers and designers evaluate colour and design alternatives to accelerate the product development process, strengthen brand equity and build marketplace excitement.
DuPont places emphasis on R&D in China DuPont Performance Polymers plans to expand its Shanghai R&D centre later this year, further enhancing its application-development capabilities with the addition of 200 staff (to total 500) and doubling the space. Woong Chung, Global Technical Services Manager, said 50% of new materials that are offered globally are developed by the local Chinese team. “The centre was set up two years ago for automotive part testing, but now we will expand our focus to new materials, new designs and prototyping.” In terms of design capabilities, Woong says DuPont has 20 CAD/CAE designers in the region, claiming that it is the only firm providing this full scope of design support. “We strongly believe in design solutions to add real value to customers and we look forward to continuing our collaborative relationship with the automotive, industrial and consumer segments in China.” In the automotive sector, the focus is on lightweighting, efficiency in automotive components for lower CO2 emissions and fuel economy, with downsizing of engines and focus on hybrid and electric cars as well as total system costs. New advance products for automotive applications include the Zytel Long Chain Polyamides (LCPAs).
Woong Chung, Global Technical Services Manager of DuPont Performance Polymers, believes that nanotechnology will be the next game changer solution technology
A number of Chinese automotive makers have adopted the Zytel nylon resin and Vamac ethylene acrylic elastomer in the air-intake manifold, cylinder head cover and air ducts, allowing up to 40% decrease in component weight, compared with the metal counterparts. “We also custom make and localise the materials to suit Chinese demands and specific customer requests since Chinese OEMs want different types of materials,” said Woong, adding that the automotive sector is demanding but DuPont is able to cater to the needs with its predictive engineering and tool shop availability at the technical centre. At Chinaplas, the firm also introduced a renewably sourced Zytel RS HTN grade that can be used for thinner, lighter handheld device housings while Zytel NHFR halogen-free fire retardant material offers a cleaner, more effective solution for this industry. JUNE / JULY 2013
US Machinery and Technology
Davis-Standard to expand its global advantage to Asia
ith 30% of its business coming from Asia Pacific, it is no surprise that extrusion and converting technology systems manufacturer Davis-Standard is honing into the region, by expanding its manufacturing footprint capabilities and after sales market. Last year, the company set up a 4,300 sq m facility in Suzhou, China, to offer sales, technical support and aftermarket service. “We will add on research capabilities by the end of this year,” said Fred Pereira, President of the Asia Pacific operations. In aftermarket service, Davis-Standard will utilise the technologies of Circonix, a company it purchased last year. It specialises in drive and control system retrofits for converting and extrusion equipment. “Acquiring Circonix extends Davis-Standard’s capabilities and supports its ability to upgrade PLC, drive and mechanical systems on thousands of existing installations worldwide, including non-Davis-Standard brands,” said Pereira. To reduce time to market, the firm will also stock up parts at the Suzhou facility, which is primarily a service centre, and also upgrade it to offer retrofitting services. And while Suzhou is only manufacturing components at the moment, the firm intends to start producing its Super Blue and Euro Blue extruders by the end of 2013, according to Pereira.
Seen here at the booth are from left to right: Fred Pereira, President of the Asia Pacific operations; President/CEO Bob Preston and Bob Florence, Executive Vice-President of Global Sales and Marketing
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The firm also intends to double its business in Asia Pacific, by expanding its work force in China and launching new products. It recently incorporated employees from Taiwan-headquartered Lamex Trading, an engineering trading company specialising in extrusion that has represented Davis-Standard in China for 11 years. Furthermore, Pereira said the firm is pouring investments into its “global entity transformation” process. “A part of the transformation is in China since it has the fastest growth in the world.” Said President/CEO Bob Preston, at a press conference a day before Chinaplas, “We expect to transform every aspect of the company to drive productivity and differentiate it from the competition. We already have a large global base with 40,000 installations, six facilities, three R&D centres, 14 sales offices and sales of over US$300 million.” He went on to say, “The bottom line is that we want to have a global advantage.” Diverse product range; packaging a targeted market What sets Davis-Standard apart is its range of product offerings. “We have ten diverse converting platforms. No other company offers this,” Preston explained, adding that in the US, the firm is known as a “one-stop shop”. Around 48% of its portfolio addresses the packaging sector, followed by pipes/profiles (12%), medical (8%), green markets for solar energy (10%) and automotive (4%). According to Bob Florence, Executive VicePresident of Global Sales and Marketing, the firm is a leader in aseptic packaging lines, with China being its largest market. At Chinaplas, the company showcased its new dsX flex-pack extrusion coating line, a preengineered line that can be delivered in six months. Said Florence, “The packaging market is large and we want to cover all aspects. We’re primarily a custom machine builder for the high end market but our strategy is to move to the lower end of the market. We will do this by standardising our technology.” The dsX flex-pack includes an unwinder; corona treaters; extrusion laminator; gravure primer coater dryer; pull roll with nip; winder; electrically heated, air-cooled Davis-Standard extruder with advanced feedscrew design; downstream, carriage and Siemens drives and controls.
US Machinery and Technology Advanced computer technology includes DS APC (automatic profile control) and a DS5 computer to allow for remote access for troubleshooting and updating over a secure internet connection. “It is competitively priced with a fast ROI, on average within six months,” claimed Florence. And while the line is currently designed and built in Germany, the intention is to build it in Suzhou by 2014, for the Asian market. The firm is already looking ahead. “We will double the size of the Suzhou facility by 2014, or find another facility,” said Preston. Compact medical line Along the lines of offering a machine that suits the local needs, Davis-Standard also introduced the dsX medical tubing line, designed to produce single/multi-layer IV drips, catheter tubes and fluid delivery systems. Said Preston, “The Chinese healthcare sector is upgrading and processors are buying more high tech lines now. It is a fragmented market with lots of small players who are not looking for large machines.” The compact medical tubing line offers a smaller footprint for clean rooms. It also features a language-specific control system.
The dsX medical tubing line at Chinaplas
The line’s co-extruders are engineered to provide processing versatility and value, enabling processors to use materials ranging from PP to fluorinated ethylene polypropylene (FEP) with a simple feedscrew change, says the firm. It also includes a melt pump on each extruder for processing thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs), nylons and other medical grade resins. The line is displayed at Davis-Standard’s Suzhou facility, to allow customers to run trials. DavisStandard also offers a medical tubing R&D line at its technical centre in the US.
China renews its draw factor Chinaplas 2013, held from 20-23 May in Guangzhou, saw a total visitorship of 114,103, up by 4% from the 2012 show in Shanghai, with 27% of visitors coming from overseas, compared to 25% in 2012. With 22% more space this year, the show continues to grow. Foreign companies still view China as a bright spot in a gloomy world economy, even as the country grapples with a slower economic growth (with the International Monetary Fund recently saying that it could miss its 7.5% growth target this year), rising labour costs and regulatory barriers.
Plant set-ups and expansions Germany-based speciality chemicals firm Lanxess’s Inorganic Pigments business unit is building a 25,000-tonne/year facility for red iron oxide pigments in Ningbo, China. Construction work on the EUR55 million plant is expected to start in the second quarter and production is scheduled by 2015. Speaking at a preview, Wolfgang Oehlert, Vice President for the inorganic pigments business unit Wolfgang Oehlert, for Asia Pacific, said that the new plant will add on Vice President for the to the company’s current capacity of 40,000 tonnes inorganic pigments at its Shanghai facility. “We export around 50-60% business unit for Asia of our output from our Shanghai facility that makes Pacific, Lanxess yellow and black pigments but the Ningbo plant will cater solely to the domestic market.” He said that the Chinese market is growing, especially with urbanisation and the mobility mega trends that wil require high quality pigments. He also said that the new plant will focus on “sustainable production using an improved Penniman Red process.” According to Oehlert, “The new plant will be a blueprint for future iron oxide pigment plants worldwide. We are allocating 30% of our investment on the latest environmental standards, including water and waste gas treatment, energy consumption and solid waste recovery.” To be marketed under the Bayferrox and Colortherm brands, the yellowish red pigments will be targeted at the paints, coatings, construction and plastics industries. Lanxess also operates pigment plants in Germany and Brazil and together with the Shanghai facility has a total capacity of 350,000 tonnes/year currently. Singapore-based Borouge, a joint venture between Austrian chemicals firm Borealis and UAE-based ADNOC, is on an expansion drive. “Borouge is on an exponential growth journey as we reinforce our business momentum in Asia,” said Wim Roels, CEO of Borouge’s Marketing & Sales. With the expansion of its Abu Dhabi-based plant’s annual capacity of PE and PP to 4.5 million tonnes/year by 2014 and continuous investments in infrastructure and people, Borouge is expanding its operations since the demand for polyolefins in Asia is expected to grow to 100 million tonnes by 2020, while the Chinese polyolefins market is expected to surge from 32 million to 59 million tonnes/ year this decade. Roels said that the firm is planning on opening five new offices in Bangkok, Delhi, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta and Tokyo this year. “Borouge is well positioned to meet the market demand for innovative solutions for pipe systems, wires and cables, automotive components and advanced packaging applications,” he added. Furthermore, the company has set up an enlarged Asia North region covering not only Greater China but also Japan and Korea. According to Vincent Ong, Senior Vice President of Asia North, the firm will relocate its Shanghai office to Pudong by next year. The regional office will house an R&D centre. Wim Roels, CEO of Borouge's Marketing & Sales, says the firm is well positioned to meet the market demand for innovative solutions
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Country Focus Also on the cards is the expansion of the logistics network to include warehouses in Tianjin and Ningbo by the end of 2013, adding on to the existing Shanghai and Guangzhou logistics hub network. Meanwhile, German extrusion machinery maker Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H) is setting up an office in Shanghai to build up its presence in China, said Philip Elder, W&H Sales Manager for China. He said that the office will cater to sales, service and maintenance, adding that the firm is committed to the Chinese market and to Asia. “We will cater to the growing market for flexible packaging in China,” he said. The firm was promoting its Filmex cast film line and had sold an 11-layer line for barrier film last year. He also feels that the market and customers are becoming more mature and therefore has great confidence in the Chinese market. “Because private consumption will continue to grow at a rapid pace, W&H equipment will be needed to satisfy this demand in a way that meets the investors' increasing requirements for better products, less waste, faster change over times, higher productivity and less energy consumption,” he said. Kabra and Plastiblends make premiere showcase Indian extrusion machine maker Kabra Extrusiontechnik (KET), a part of the Kolsite Group, together with sister company colour and additive masterbatch producer Plastiblends made their premiere showcase at the Chinaplas show. “We are here to create a brand presence,” said Chairman SV Kabra speaking to PRA during the show. “It is the first time that we have participated in Chinaplas and the response has been encouraging.” When asked if the firm would set up a plant in China, Kabra replied, “It is a possibility. We could collaborate with a local manufacturer.” The firm already owns a stake in US-based extrusion machine maker Gloucester Engineering (GEC). Kabra and GEC formed a joint venture, Kabra Gloucester, in 2009, and later in 2011, Kabra bought a 15% ownership stake in GEC, to manufacture lower cost blown film lines in India. But the latter has been through difficult times, especially when it had to restructure its business in 2010. “It was dormant for a few years but it has been doing well since it changed hands (in 2011, GEC was purchased out of receivership by private equity firm Blue Wolf Capital Partners),” said Kabra. In fact, GEC President Carl Johnson said recently that the firm is coming off two consecutive years where it has doubled its annual sales. “By recapturing customer confidence, the company’s backlog has steadily increased and management is forecasting an additional 35% growth in 2013,” he said in a press release.
SV Kabra expects to see further response from the Chinese market to the company's product offerings
Adds Kabra, “We are offering Kabra Gloucester blown film lines all over the world. These hybrid machines (produced at KET’s plant in Daman) have been developed to beat Chinese pricing.” Last year, Kabra Gloucester showcased a five-layer barrier film line with an output of 525 kg/hour at the facility in Daman, Gujarat. Other features of the line were the 2,100 mm layflat width and 100-micron thick film. DSM on an expansion mode in Asia Dutch materials firm DSM Engineering Plastics says that Asia is an important part of its growth. Speaking to journalists at a media briefing, President Michael Koch said the firm moved its headquarters to Singapore recently “because Asia is an important market for engineering plastics.” The firm is also accelerating its development pace in Asia and China. For instance, Koch said that capacity is being doubled at the firm’s polymerisation and compounding plant in Jiangyin, China, to 400,000 tonnes/ year. This is due to come on stream next year. Meanwhile, it is also currently doubling capacity at its caprolactam facility in Nanjing. “We are looking at partnering with companies to actively increase the use of caprolactam,” said Koch, adding that there is a strong market in China for the feedstock. Furthermore, the company opened its first application development centre for engineering plastics in Japan earlier this year. And it recently invested to extend its R&D capabilities in Shanghai with the set-up of an Automotive Development Centre for Asia and a Performance Materials Research Centre to conduct R&D. DSM has developed a new material solution that combines its Arnitel VT thermoplastic copolyester (TPC) and Akulon PA6, to address the challenges faced by sausage producers
“We are committed to focused growth, reflected by our continued presence and expansion in the region,” said Koch, adding that the firm will open a technical centre in Pune, India, next year, alongside its manufacturing plant. “We need to be close to our customers, to develop solutions and expand production in Asia,” added Koch. Future plans include a technical centre in Nanjing by 2014, according to Koch who says that DSM has allocated an investment of US$1 billion in R&D in China from 20112015. In terms of its materials, DSM is focusing on the flexible packaging market, which is growing in the region. “We are working with the industry to reduce food waste while at the same time offer safety and convenience,” said Koch, adding that in Europe 30% of food is wasted due to improper storage. JUNE / JULY 2013
Country Focus Kraiburg keeps Asia on its horizons Germany-based TPE maker Kraiburg, which doubled its capacity at its Malaysian plant last year, counts China and India as its two largest markets since the countries take up around 45% and 10% of the output respectively, said Roland Ritter, Director Asia Pacific. And to meet the competitive nature of the markets, Ritter says the firm has to continuously develop and expand new grades and special materials since “every customer has different needs.” He also explained that Kraiburg is positioned as a high-end TPE supplier, adding that the firm’s main market segments are the automotive, consumer and medical sectors. “We have a leading edge in the automotive sector in China; and in the medical and consumer sectors in India and Thailand,” he said. When asked if the firm would consider setting up a plant in India, Ritter said that it is still “in the discussion stage.”
Roland Ritter (left) seen here with Bridget Ngang and Lars Goldmann, also from Kraiburg
The three products for Asia Pacific the firm has developed recently are said to have improved flame retardancy, scratch resistance and CO/NY (co-adhesion with nylon). The halogen-free intumescent FR/AP (flame retardant) series contains additives to give it better resistance to burning, compared to general TPE grades. As for the scratch-resistant TPE (SCR series), it has improved mechanical stress for automotive parts such as sliders on ventilation grilles, control wheels or seat adjusters. Meanwhile, the CO/NY grade features improved bonding to nylon/PA bonding with a TPE compound as well as adhesion in co-injection and insert moulding. It can be used in handles for hand/power tools, over-moulded housings for the building/construction industry, electrical and electronic components; air inlet piping; door sills and automotive parts. Demanding quality pipe/profile technology Austrian extrusion technology provider Battenfeld Cincinnati says the Chinese pipe/profile market has matured, after years of development. “Customers have higher quality requirements. With the rising labour costs, land resources become increasingly strained and rising energy prices, our
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Battenfeld Cincinnati displayed various extruders for the pipe/profile market
customers are beginning to pay more attention to product quality,” said Marketing Supervisor Rosemary Tan. When asked about the Asian market, she said, “Demand is relatively stable. In the Southeast Asian market, Battenfeld Cincinnati provides an efficient and stable international advanced level of equipment to firmly occupy the leading position in the high-end market.” The firm’s other markets are South America, Middle East and Africa, as well as Europe, which Tan said is in the doldrums, adding, “But we have a strong market leadership in Russia and the CIS.” This year, the firm expects a 35% increase in turnover, compared to 2012. “Last year, we secured 80% contracts from the high-end market for pipes and window profiles,” Tan added. At the exhibition, it showcased its seventh generation conical twin-screw extruder conEX series extruder, which has been upgraded with the AC inverter motor, allowing for 20% lower energy usage and without the need to replace carbon brushes thus allowing for a maintenance-free operation. Another model shown is the single-screw extruder extruder solEX series for producing PE-HD and PP pipes. PE80 and PE100 materials are used for non-ferrous pipe extrusion, with a production diameter from 20 mm to 2,500 mm for water and gas pipes, explained Tan. “The machine can also be used to produce PP drainage and sewerage pipes and corrugated pipes.” When asked how Battenfeld Cincinnati distinguishes itself from the competition, Tan replied, “It has always been adhering to industry-leading extrusion technology solutions with the launch of equipment that is energy saving and environmentally friendly, providing greater yield with more energy savings.” Research a core focus of converting equipment supplier Chinese-Swiss joint venture (with Polytype Converting Group of Switzerland) Shantou Huaying Soft-Packing Equipment Plant supplies specialised printing and coating equipment to China.
Country Focus At Chinaplas, it showcased its ink tray trolley. “It features an independent trolley structure, with accurate installation, a special independent active roller to reduce ink bubbles and improve the printing performance,” said General Manager Sarah Xu. The company hinges on R&D with its Guangdong Printing & Coating Engineering Technology R&D Centre (co-founded with Shantou University and Shantou Academe of Light Industrial Equipment). “Huaying focuses on technical innovation and development. We are also certified in accordance to the ISO9001:2008 quality management system and are CE-certified,” she added. She went on to say, “China is a huge potential market for the flexible packaging industry that continues to develop, especially with the state, food and drug safety regulations and other packaging-related regulations arising from customer demands.” Xu also commented that demand for more efficient equipment is growing in the country and the company expects to secure more sales.
Huaying introduced the ink tray trolley unit
“Over the past decade, Southeast Asia has become our most important overseas market but in recent years, countries like Indonesia, which has been subject to government instability, yielded varying degrees of decline. However, this year, India and China have stabilised, and we expect further growth to come from the Indian market,” she said. Huaying continues to firm up business in Indonesia through its distributor PT Panverta Cakrakencana. As for the European market, Xu also reiterated that initially, Chinese products generally did not comply to the standards. “But if China continuously improves the technological content of its products, demand in Europe should increase accordingly. This will be our long-term goal,” she said, likewise mentioning the potentials of the Russian and CIS markets. Expecting more sales in the coming year, the firm is pining for a certain level of growth, yet, mulling that the domestic and global economy could weigh down on this goal.
Opportunities from a cost and quality-conscious market Homegrown maker of extrusion equipment for middle to high-end customers, Useon (Nanjing) Extrusion Machinery, is beginning to notice a changing landscape in the Chinese market. “It is transforming from a price to a qualityconscious (market), and this change provides a good opportunity to those who focus on quality and innovation,” said company spokesperson Cliff Zhang. But he also points out that the change poses a “big challenge to those whose main strategy is focusing on pricing.” He added, “Generally speaking, Southeast Asia is still a price-conscious market and is attractive for companies who employ price as their strategy.” But he adds that the European market, one of the firm’s target markets, is a highly-competitive base. “It puts more weight on quality and safety issues than price. To enter this market, a machine supplier will encounter many restrictions in design, safety issues and manufacturing standard,” said Zhang. The Russian market, on the other hand, is a typically polarised one that has high and low-end and a bit of middle-class market characteristic. Which product to fit the market depends on a company’s own character, said Zhang, adding that this year the company expects 20% increase in sales. Set up in 2006, Useon makes extruders and at the show it exhibited a new series of high torque twin-screw extruders. It also introduced the direct extrusion technology with a twin-screw extruder and foam extrusion technology. For the twin-screw extruder, it has raised the specific torque up to 10.6Nm/cm3; with some models able to reach at 14.5Nm/cm3, while the speed has been brought to 800 rpm, which would be a new benchmark for a Chinamade twin-screw compounder, said Zhang. With the direct extrusion technology, the twin screw extruder is employed into the extrusion process, reducing the energy consumption substantially by up to 35%. In foam extrusion, traditional HCFC has been replaced with supercritical CO2 as foaming agent, which not only cuts down the material cost, but contributes to a green product, said Zhang.
Useon Extrusion displayed a new series of high torque twinscrew extruder JUNE / JULY 2013
Enhanced solutions for the packaging market The thermoforming process, a part of the US$22 billion global plastics machinery industry, has remained intact as its counterparts, injection moulding and extrusion, have fluctuated over the years. Gains are stemming from the versatility and cost efficiency of thermoforming, combined with a healthy outlook for the domineering packaging sector.
The Weight Watchers tray is lighter
Plastic usage dominated by packaging The growth of thermoformed products will be supported by resin, additive, process equipment and computer-aided engineering enhancements, resulting in greater customisation, sharper detail, higher performance and quality standards, and an expanding array of potential applications. Meanwhile, US firm BCC Research says that the global market for thermoformed plastics is expected to increase from 3.1 million tonnes in 2012 to 3.8 million tonnes by 2017, a 4% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). The packaging segment dominates the sector, accounting for 80% of the total volume consumed. This sector is expected to grow to 2.72 million tonnes by 2017, at a CAGR of 4%. Thermoformed trays to push market sector US research firm Freedonia Group says demand for trays in meat, poultry and seafood packaging is expected to increase 3.9% a year to US$860 million in 2015. The growth will be driven by a change in product mix towards larger and more expensive foam and rigid trays as a result of the increase in the market share of case-ready meats and the increasing popularity of processed ready-tocook meat, poultry and seafood products. Freedonia projects that demand for foam trays will progress at a slower pace than non-foam trays because of market maturity and intensified competition from non-foam trays. Tray advancements are expected to be restrained by competition from flexible packaging formats, such as pouches and bags. Meanwhile, manufacturers are also moving more to in-line thermoformed rigid or semi-rigid formed packaging. Nevertheless, foam trays will continue to be the backbone of the meat packaging sector, with further growth coming from case-ready applications. Benefits of foam trays include low cost, impermeability to moisture (which delays spoilage and bacteria growth), design flexibility and improved cushioning. The foamâ€™s insulation properties also safeguard products from freezer burn. Many retailers prefer case-ready systems, including foam trays and film overwrapping, because these products give the impression of professional wrapping, Freedonia explains. At the same time, the case-ready format removes labour costs associated with in-store meat cutting and packaging and it permits retailers to place meat in display cases as needed, which decreases losses due to spoilage. The foam tray demand will also be reinforced by speciality trays, such as barrier foam trays for case-ready meats. Already on the market are trays that provide increased oxygen and moisture barrier properties, trays designed to absorb blood and other liquids, and pre-padded foam trays with a foam pad glued to the inside of the base. Sustainability in packaging Sustainable packaging trends are also expected to impact foam tray demand, especially conventional foam PS trays, since some cities around the world are already banning their use, Freedonia says.
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Thermoforming Other trends are to reduce gas emissions in the process with a focus on making trays less brittle, reducing waste due to breaks during production and eliminating one of the top consumer complaints of broken trays. By replacing traditional CPET microwaveable trays with a hybrid material combining PP with calcium carbonate, US firm Pactiv Foodservice-Food Packaging reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 45% during processing. The new Weight Watchers frozen-food entrée tray, which was awarded a DuPont Award for Packaging Innovation last year, reduces weight by more than 15% and plastic use by more than 40%, compared with previous designs. CPET tray and cold party cup achieve sustainability through lighter weights
In reuse of material, US-based MicroGREEN Polymers, which was founded by graduate researchers at the University of Washington and funded by angel investors and the Washington Research Foundation in 2006, has introduced a patented Ad-air solid-state microcellular process that uses non-reacting, recycled carbon dioxide gas to thermoform recycled PET rolls into trays and cups. The production process makes the PET 45% lighter, without using chemical blowing agents, and because the plastic is not chemically altered, it can be recycled at the end of its life. The firm also won the DuPont Award for its CPET trays and cold party cups, which are respectively 70% and 60% less dense, resulting in lower thermal conductivity. This allows consumers to handle CPET trays straight from the oven without being burnt and keeps the beverage in the cups cold, while providing environmental benefits. Meanwhile, Germany-based BASF has introduced a compostable Ecovio T2308 grade for thermoforming trays and cups. The plastic exhibits similar mechanical properties to those of amorphous PET, but differs by virtue of its compostability and its high content of PLA. The content of Ecoflex, which is BASF’s compostable polyester, allows for a material that is not too stiff or brittle, allow for less damage to products during transportation and storage. The Ecoflex component also ensures a balanced stiffnessto-strength ratio and BASF’s new Ecovio sufficient low-temperature grade is translucent impact strength.
Furthermore, the processing window for Ecovio T, between 80°C and 120°C, is broad in comparison to other plastics. Processing can be carried out on conventional flat-film installations and at speeds that are typical for thermoforming. Like all Ecovio grades, it also complies with food-contact stipulations. The material is translucent and can be adequately sealed with cover films. PET, new benchmark in optical clarity Meanwhile, food industry research group Technomic says that retail food purchase grows at the peak of the economic slowdown and dwindles as economies recover. This shift in purchase behaviour means that food retailers need to pit against choice criteria such as taste, quality, freshness and appearance of prepared foods – the latter being a key differentiator for a product to stand out, and in which clear packaging comes in handy. As a result, thermoformers are said to be switching to PET sheet, which has the advantage of optical clarity. Enhancing further the process to produce a PET packaging, Omanheadquartered Octal produces PET sheet directly from PET resin melt in a process known as DPET, resulting in a final product with enhanced optical and mechanical properties. The Octal says its DPET produces higher clarity in firm says its process provides the PET sheet increased gloss, no visual inclusions, finished parts without colour variations, with a high intrinsic viscosity and toughness. It also requires up to 5°C less heat at standard draw ratios in the thermoforming process, which means less energy consumption and more savings for the customer. In terms of sustainability, DPET renders a carbon footprint said to be 25% below that of traditionally produced APET films. Another improvement to aesthetics comes from French PP maker Polychim Industrie, a sister company of US-based Pinnacle Polymers. It has introduced the HA31XTF thermoforming PP grade that draws on the benefits of US firm Milliken Chemical’s nucleating additive Hyperform HPN-600ei to overcome the performance trade-offs associated with conventional nucleated PP homopolymers in thermoforming applications. Hyperform is said to stimulate improved transparency and reduced yellowing. Other benefits are favourable stiffness/impact balance and isotropic shrinkage behaviour that avoids warpage. It also gives the possibility for thermoformers to improve productivity by up to 10% and reduce costs. The grade is aimed at clear PP and opaque thermoformed food packaging. Polychim’s new thermoforming grade allows for improved aesthetics JUNE / JULY 2013
Medical Devices Industry
Of opportunities and drivers that keep it in shape The medical devices industry has been hit by high healthcare costs and weakened markets, yet has generally remained unperturbed in the long term, due to the vast opportunities for growth offered by emerging medical trends, says Angelica Buan in this report.
From pop culture to healthcare costs The Asian region is at the forefront of the almost recession-proof medical tourism industry that is expected to reach arrival numbers of 10 million by 2015, according to a market study by India/US-headquartered research firm Renub. Thailand had the highest share at 40% in 2011 and this is expected to double by 2015, followed by India at 30%. The surge in patients seeking medical treatment in the region, from the aesthetic nip-and-tuck procedures to cardiac surgeries, is due to an emerging generation of a health conscious population. The increase in lifestyle diseases is also changing how healthcare is accessed, but it nevertheless, does not cushion the medical devices market from feeling the heat of the global economic downturn. Research firm Epsicom reports that the medical device markets in Southeast Asia, which comprises countries mostly dependent on exports, moves in tandem with the world economy, with growth that has turned from weak to strong from 2011. Other factors such as imposition or lowering of tariff barriers for medical devices as well as commencement of free trade agreements (such as the South Korean FTA with US and the EU) could also impact the growth of the segment. The research firm projected Asia’s medical device market to reach more than US$70 million by 2015, growing at a 10% CAGR in the years ahead. Furthermore, market segments for medical devices that will see the fastest growth are linked to infection diseases, cardiovascular, orthopaedic and diabetes, with Bangladesh, Vietnam, Pakistan and Indonesia likely to post double-digit growth through 2015. Outsourcing destinations Quality healthcare delivery minus the hefty price tag is the region’s competitive edge, debunking the myth that quality cannot be cheap. For this reason, more original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have looked into outsourcing to Asian countries that have lower productions costs and better access to lower cost materials. Based on research firm Visiongain’s report, the medical device contract manufacturing market will witness significant growth from 2013 to 2023, driven by an expanding global medical devices market, which was estimated to be worth US$266 billion in 2011. Outsourcing was previously a last resort for OEMs due to issues of quality standards, regulatory compliances and delivery delays, said Visiongain, adding that these impediments have currently improved. OEMs need to reduce costs by 10-30%, accelerate the time to market, as well as focus on their core competencies, factors that offshoring can provide. Visiongain also said that whilst in 2011, the US was the largest market for contract manufacturing, accounting for 47.3% of the global market, Asian countries, particularly China and India have taken over as low cost destinations for OEMs, thus generating stronger growth rates than other developed countries. With an annual growth exceeding 15%, India ranks in the top three emerging nations for medical technology investments in lieu of the country’s large population, growing middle class and improving healthcare infrastructure, according to the UK-headquartered PWC in its 2012 India medical technology industry report. The country is a vast market but import policies are currently discouraging
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Medical Devices Industry Arkema's polyamide grades Rilsan Clear G-170 MED and Rilsan Clear G-170 MED are more transparent than glass, lighter and more flexible than polycarbonate
importers who have to contend with the 30% custom duty. India anchors its growth to its ageing population, increased life expectancy and expanding markets in developing countries, according to the Association of Indian Manufacturers of Medical Devices (AI-MED). Heavy for lightweight materials US-based market research firm Transparency Market Research in its medical devices report says that growth drivers for plastics use are the cost, lightweighting, increasing use of prosthetics and use of non-magnetic equipment around heavily magnetised medical equipments such as a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This is reiterated by US firm Frost & Sullivan that says innovation, performance, quality and price are important factors influencing the use of polymers in medical devices. Although polymer prices are set to increase gradually, they are, nevertheless, expected to replace other materials like glass and metals. Therefore, the ability to engineer and customise polymers according to varied application needs will create lucrative opportunities. Furthermore, a rapidly greying population with its attendant healthcare needs will have a positive impact on the medical devices market and on polymers used in such equipment. This will also be reinforced by the growing importance of portable, impact-resistant medical devices that can be used in homecare settings. Already, polymers with higher chemical and impact resistance, superior mechanical and thermal properties have become the material of choice for most medical applications like medical tubing, wound care, adhesives and lubricants. The healthcare industry is exhibiting increased interest in miniaturisation, homecare, and aesthetics for medical devices. Polymers, which have exceptional durability, flexibility and strength, and can also be dyed in any colour, meet such demands. Polymers also fulfill the need for lightweight, portable, smaller-sized devices. In comparison to other verticals, such as automotive and construction, polymers in healthcare is a low-volume market. However, it offers opportunities for higher margins and, moreover, is less tied to GDP growth. Boston University researchers developed a synthetic polymer that could act as a lubricant for joint cartilage to ease knee pain
With governmental pressure to lower healthcare costs, profit margins of polymer suppliers are likely to be limited since the market is highly regulated and product development is expensive and time consuming, according to Frost & Sullivan. Despite being low-volume, the market is defined by high competition and innovation. Efforts to advance polymer functionality and diversify the application base will help companies establish their presence in the market. Engineering plastics at the forefront Frost & Sullivan also says the market for engineering polymers (EPs) in medical applications has grown considerably in the past decade, with global sales exceeding US$2 billion in 2011 and demand set to double by 2018. One of the main reasons behind the increasing use of EPs in medical devices is the quest by engineers to replace traditional materials such as metals, ceramics, and glass with better materials. Some EPs have several advantages over traditional materials, which can include weight, biocompatibility and cost. Concerns in 2012 surrounding the wear and corrosion of metal-on-metal (MoM) hip implants have also led to a surge in the medical community's uptake of implants containing EPs. One reason why device manufacturers are looking for a shift from traditional materials to EPs is that highperformance engineering polymers, such as PEEK, polyetherimide, polyphenylsulphone and polysulphone, are less expensive than medical-grade metals such as titanium. Many EPs also have excellent chemical, thermal and mechanical stability and are radiolucent, making implants compatible with a range of medical-imaging tools. Devices made from PEEK show the lowest wear rate of any counter metallic material. The medical device market is becoming increasingly aware of the capabilities of high-performance EPs. Suppliers' ability to tailor the physical and chemical properties of EPs grants device manufacturers the capability to fine-tune the functionality and biocompatibility of their products. Complementary manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing, extend their capabilities, enabling custom-fit implants. The demand for EPs within the healthcare market will be driven not only by advances in manufacturing and new applications but also by the growing markets of Asia: Japan, with its high-age population, will be a large target audience for medical implants and devices, and China is set to become one of the largest marketplaces for medical devices and implants, Parker Hannifin's new driven by radical healthcare septa materials reseal reform and a rapidly growing themselves after multiple middle class able to afford punctures, ensuring leak and implant surgeries. contaminant-free vials JUNE / JULY 2013
CPP line to be a boon for Malaysian film maker Faced with a competitive market structure and falling prices for biaxially oriented polypropylene (BOPP) films, Malaysia-based San Miguel Yamamura Plastic Films (SMYPF) has invested in a new CPP (cast polypropylene) film line from Austrian extrusion machine supplier SML.
medical 4% hygiene 4%
textiles/flower wraps 17%
Applications of CPP films worldwide
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aid General Manager of SMYPF, Tang Han Lock, “We expect to increase our turnover by 50% as this line has an output capability of 5,000 tonnes/year. Currently, our plant is running at full capacity with our other lines (for BOPP and CPP) and we export 15% of our output.” He also said the firm has an average turnover of US$24 million a year. SMYPF is investing US$10 million in the new expansion, which includes the line and other equipment like metallisers and slitters. General Manager of Sited in Malacca, around 120 km south of the SMYPF, Tang Han capital city of Kuala Lumpur, SMYPF is part of San Lock, says that the Miguel Yamamura Packaging International (SMYP), company is the only one which is a joint venture between Philippines-based undertaking metallised San Miguel Corporation (SMC), Southeast Asia's film in Malaysia. “It is largest food and beverage and packaging company, a growing market and and glass/PET bottle maker Nihon Yamamura Glass we cannot supply to (NYG) of Japan. NYG took up a 35% equity stake in the whole country,” he SMYP in 2009, to “diversify and expand its markets added since the packaging market is shrinking in Japan and developed countries offer better opportunities”, according to Tang. The plant where SMYPF operates from has a history dating back to 1975 when it was set up by a few local individuals. It was subsequently taken over by locally based conglomerate Hong Leong Industries and sold to SMYP in 2005. First line in 20 years The CPP line is the firm’s first machine installation in more than 20 years and its second CPP line. The first CPP line, from German supplier Reifenhäuser, has an output of 2,500 tonnes/year. “We will also upgrade this line and aim for a total output of 7,500 tonnes/year of CPP,” said Tang, adding that this will result in an almost 200% increase in CPP output for the firm. SMYPF also operates two BOPP lines, which were installed by Germanybased Brückner in the 1980s. “The lines have a width capability of between 4-4.5 m and a capacity of 8,000 tonnes/year,” explained Tang. Though the BOPP film sector has been one stationery of the most successful of the packaging market, 15% having grown from a specialist replacement for lamination cellulose film to a market of around 6 million 12% tonnes in 2011, it has been slowing down in the past few years. According to UK-based AMI Research’s study, the dynamics of the industry are changing. “In the developed markets of Europe, the US and Japan the markets are food slowing down while producers rely on an 31% ageing asset base to manufacture films,” says AMI.
Processor Report As for CPP film, Asia has the highest market volume globally, says Gerald Ausweger, Managing Director, SML Machinery Far East. “In 2005, the market volume was 1,138 kilotonnes and this is expected to increase to 1,955 kilotonnes by 2015. It is growing at a rate of 7% a year in Asia,” he added. Of the total output produced by SMYPF, half is metallised using equipment from Germany-based Leybold. The firm will be adding on metallisers from UK supplier Bobst Group (with the new CPP line). “We are the only ones providing metallised film in Malaysia,” said Tang.
The company will mainly produce lamination and metallised films. Shown here is a chill roll
An example of the SML line that is currently being built in Austria for SMYPF
When asked how the management came to a decision on the selection of the new line, Tang explained, “We were meticulous in our selection. We bought CPP film from a supplier in Indonesia that is using an SML line. We found the quality to be consistently good.” Austrian machine suppliers This is also the company’s first Austrian line, Tang said, adding, “We vouch for the reliability of European machines since they are of good quality and span a long period of time (as can be seen from the Brückner and Reifenhäuser machinery).” He also added that the choice of a machinery supplier “depends on the belief and philosophy of a company, as well as the affordability factor!” Another reason for the purchase of the machine is because SMYPF is targeting the export markets, and it expects to increase its exports to 60% with the new CPP line. A target market is Japan and for this reason the firm is putting in a place a dust-free facility for the new line to meet the stringent requirements of the market. “We are unable to meet both the domestic and export demand with just one CPP line,” explains Tang, adding that even though there is an oversupply of CPP film, prices for CPP film are holding, unlike BOPP film. “The new line will fill the gap of an average 3,000 tonnes/year that is required by local converters who are currently importing from Indonesia and Vietnam,” he said.
As for BOPP film, Tang says the local demand is stable. “We cater to a niche market of medium-size converters and are assured of local support for our BOPP film, even with the slowing global market,” he added. One such converter that SMYPF caters to is sister company San Miguel Yamamura Printing and Packaging that is located in Shah Alam, Selangor. The firm also has a recycling line from another Austrian machine supplier, NGR Recycling Machines. “This line produces an output of up to 150 tonnes/month. The regrind is sold to woven bag and raffia string makers,” said Tang, adding that the regrind is highly in demand with local manufacturers. “We adhere strongly to our social responsibility and ensure that all of the packaging material is reused. We segregate our waste for recycling and reusing it.” The 160-staffed SMYPF operates a three shift operation. The new facility to house the SML line is currently under construction, with the line to be delivered in October and full start up expected early next year.
The NGR line for recycling
JUNE / JULY 2013
Injection Moulding Asia Machinery News
Steady demand to accelerate growth In a reality check, analysts are lowering their expectations on China’s rebound for post-crisis recovery, settling instead for a slower growth rate. The steady demand in the machinery sector, a backbone of the country’s economy, may just accelerate the growth rate. But local companies interviewed at the Chinaplas show in Guangzhou in May expect recovery to be aided by export markets while international firms expect the demand for high-tech machines in the country to push their sales.
Targeting the export markets he recent Chinaplas show conjures an actual, albeit, microcosmic arena for the country’s machinery industry. Machinery manufacturer China Haitai Plastic Machinery says that China will remain the world’s largest injection moulding machine production and consumption market for a long period of time. Noting that Russia is an emerging market, a spokesperson said that the foreign market, in general, is growing rapidly; and Eastern Europe remained a good market “despite the lingering Eurozone crisis.” When asked about the company’s growth, he said, “We expect a 50% increase this year.” And though it has business in most of Southeast Asia, it plans to focus on strengthening its presence in Thailand and India. At the show, the firm displayed three upgraded versions of its machines: a multi-colour moulding machine, hybrid machine and a second generation precision servo energy-saving machine. Another exhibitor, Guangzhou-based Borch Machinery says it is taking advantage of the steady growth and acceptance of Chinese machinery in the Asian market, mainly in South Korea, to expand its product range. Overseas Division Manager Haiyan Ma said that the company has enhanced the quality of its machinery to compete with South Korean machine makers LS Mtron and Woojin Plaimm.
Calls for upgrading machinery standards hina’s plastic product output expanded 11.5% in the first four months of this year, two percentage points higher than the country’s overall industrial output growth, but slowed down from the 16.9% in the same period last year, according to a report from the China National Light Industry Council. The association says the plastics industry has “entered a period of reasonable growth after years of fast development.” During this period, Chinese plastic producers raked in RMB532.7 billion and the country exported RMB16.8 billion worth of plastic products, up 23% compared to last year. Meanwhile, the China Machinery Industry Federation says that structural changes are needed to trim off excess capacity, especially at the lower-end of manufacturing. However, it says that there is not enough capacity in the high-end manufacturing sector. The segment is also veering towards moving up the value chain to remain competitive both in the domestic market and internationally. And many local-based factories are producing machines for export, which are subject to quality standard compliances. German association Euromap, during the Chinaplas show, said that China-made machines that are imported to Europe do not comply with the EU standards. This observation is not just singling out China, the group stressed, but it, together with several trade associations, is batting for a more stringent inspection programme. According to the Italian plastics and rubber machinery trade group Assocomaplast, its inspection programme has found that in the last five years more than 90% of the imported machinery failed to meet safety standards. Thus, Euromap is amenable to a Europe-wide enforcement of the Italian programme since there have been reports of importers avoiding Italian ports and rerouting machinery to other countries with less stringent inspections. And once inside Europe, the machines are transported by land into Italy.
Borch’s new twoplaten machine with a higher tonnage
Ma said the company also exports its machines to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Borch’s strategy in Southeast Asia is to “seize the main markets and develop new markets,” said Ma. But he lamented the stiff price competition. “We must make use of our brand to provide high quality products and fast service to win a bigger market share,” he said, adding that the company expects a 30% increase in turnover this year. As for the other markets, Ma said, “Machines are still in great demand in India but because of the anti-dumping duties imposed by the government, sales have come to a standstill. The situation in the European market as a whole is not very good, especially in Western Europe.” He added, “The Eastern European market has stabilised, while the Russian market has begun to pick up, but the competition is fierce and overall demand is still relatively small.” At the exhibition, Borch showcased a BU600 two-platen machine; a BH200 high-speed IML machine; a BE150 all-electric machine and an RP2190 multi-material machine. 1
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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery News said a spokesperson. He also said that the company is continuously expanding its sales in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. “The country’s economic recovery will initiate a high requirement for high-quality machines, which we plan to increase by 100% in 2013.” Meanwhile, Germany-based Demag Plastics Machinery, which operates a facility in Ningbo, expects to start producing large tonnage machines in the country. CEO Stephan Greif said the company was considering the construction of a new plant in Ningbo to add on capabilities for machines with a tonnage of up to 2,000 tonnes. Greif said, “A new plant will also allow us to expand our capacity from the current 600 units to 1,000 units a year.” In fact, in 2007, Demag relocated to a larger factory, with a production area spanning 11,000 sq m, after having achieved complete capacity utilisation. Apart from the automotive market, where the larger machines are expected to be sold to, the company is also targeting the Chinese medical market. Greif also said that Demag, which is part of the JapaneseGerman conglomerate Sumitomo Demag, supplies complete systems to its customers, including automation equipment from French robot maker Sepro for high-end processes. “We also work closely with local robot maker Ningbo Well-Lih Robots Technology.” In the packaging field, Demag works with automation and IML systems specialist Shanghai CAMS Automation System. CAMS, which also supplies stack moulds, says that IML is still new in China. “We see a high potential for the three and four-stack moulds in the industry,” said a spokesperson. “We have the best automation systems and moulds for the food, medical, cosmetic and packaging industries,” he added. Relatively a new player, the company is planning to export in the near future to “sustain its positively growing company.”
According to the company’s Technology Innovation Centre Manager, Guanlin Liang, the BU600 machine indicates how far Borch has matured in its R&D capabilities in the twoplaten machine model, now available from sizes of 500-6,000 tonnes. The BH200 IML machine has a 4.5-second moulding speed, with significant improvements on the staibility, said Liang. “The second generation BE150 all-electric machine exhibits a highly-improved level of response speed, precision and stability than the first generation; and the RP2190 is China’s first multi-material machine,” claimed Liang. Founded in 2003, Borch has two production bases in Hangzhou and Guangzhou, spanning 150,000 sq m, and 900 employees. It also claims to have the world’s most advanced modern digital processing centre and an annual production capacity of 15,000 machines. Foreign machine makers cash in on the market S-headquartered Milacron exhibited its Elektron EE180-630 and EE350-1540 all-electric machines; and F-80 machine, which features precise, fast and “green” production procedures. The firm said that its Elektron series boasts precision, economical productivity, clean and quiet functions. “The features of the all-electric series make it a highly sought after machine for the Chinese market,”
Milacron introduced its all-electric series
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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery News
Tianjin, Changchun, Qingdao, Chengdu and Ningbo, it has plans to extend its network to the northern and western regions of the country. Debuting at this year’s exhibition was global manufacturer of speciality release agents and process chemicals Chem-Trend. It demonstrated the Lusin screw cleaning materials, mould release agents, lubricants and mould maintenance products. Said General Manager of the China operations, Sun Jun, “This year, we will focus on the Northeast and Midwest markets in China to provide customers with more convenient local sales and technical support. In addition, we are also investing in a local facility in Qingpu that will be completed early next year.” The German-made Lusin Clean G screw cleaning materials are ready to use granules that are non-abrasive, claimed Marketing Manager Coco Wang. Meanwhile, the Lusin Clean G320 is used at low consumption to quickly clean injection systems of engineering thermoplastics such as ABS, nylon, polycarbonate, PET, POM and PMMA, including a variety of alloy mixture/change resins, said Wang. She added, “It can also shorten the downtime of the cleaning process by about 80% while improving the cleaning efficiency.” Furthermore, Wang explained that Lusin Clean G315 does not contain fillers and abrasives while Clean G301 is suitable for continuous shuttle, co-extrusion, single and continuous rotation machines. German solutions provider Keba showcased KePlast, a system that is scalable in control, operator panel and I/Os. It can be applied for low and for high-end applications and on hydraulic, all-electric or hybrid machines. Keba also exhibited its KeMotion IMM Handling, a precise robot control for fast take-out handlings without vibrations. Another new product for the Chinese market is KePlast SpeedPump, which allows for improved energy-efficiency of hydraulic machines. It is a complete package consisting of a dynamic servo pump and economic electric drives that can be integrated with the KePlast system and can be connected quickly and easily to a KePlast control by use of CAN and EtherCAT fieldbus systems. Other solutions include the KePlast EasyNet 2.0k, which allows for centralised monitoring of a complete machine to help improve productivity. Benefits are that monitoring and recording as well as analysis of process parameters, quality data and productivity of machines can be done easily and assists to improve productivity, says the firm. Coordinated heat-up of the complete machinery helps to save costs by balanced energy consumption. And with a new feature called “KePlast EasyNet. Mobile”, the software can be installed on a smart phone for mobile monitoring of machines. Keba’s KePlast speed pump and drive
Shanghai CAMS provides a host of mould solutions to cater to the packaging market
One company that has started up a brand new facility in China recently is KraussMaffei Machinery. The facility in Haiyan started up in the first quarter of this year and the German firm has already delivered 36 units of the Chineseassembled MX 850-6100 machines to a long-standing Chinese customer, according to Harald Schweitzer, CEO of the Chinese operation. The 15,000 sq m facility is the company’s second in China, and is located adjacent to a similar-sized plant that manufactures extrusion and resin transfer moulding (RTM) machinery. The company displayed its SkinForm process, where moulding is combined with reaction process machinery to create high-quality PU surfaces on thermoplastic parts. It showcased this in a manufacturing cell consisting of a CX 200-750 machine with a LRX 150 linear robot and a RimStar Compact 8/8 PU mixing and metering station, with a high-pressure MK 5/8 mixing head mounted to the mould and a reworking station for separating the gate The SkinForm process made its points. debut at Chinaplas Guangzhou-based ECHOM Automotive has tied up with KraussMaffei to mass-produce SkinForm products for the Chinese market. For this purpose, a fully automated SkinForm unit, based on a GX 450-3000 machine, will be placed at ECHOM’s facility, said Schweitzer. Auxiliaries also come into play ustria-headquartered manufacturer of robots and automation systems Wittmann Group said that the Chinese market’s rapid development enabled it to achieve its growth targets, while complementing also the company’s strategic focus. Said Sophia Xu from the Marketing Department, “The current market demand for high-end devices continues to grow, which means a promising market is waiting for us.” Wittmann has provided its automation solutions to industries that have to contend with high labour costs, at the expense of productivity. These solutions, says Xu, deliver lower production costs, yet more stable quality automated production. The company has a factory in Kunshan and plans to further strengthen its R&D capabilities in the country. In addition to the existing sales and service organisations in Shanghai, Shenzhen,
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Injection Moulding Asia Industry News • Germany-based processor Balda is selling its site in Ipoh, Malaysia, under a management buyout to Blue Ocean Genius, due to losses it has made in the financial year 2012/2013, as a result of a weaker consumer electronics sector. Excluded from the sale are the land and factory building, which will remain in the possession of Balda and which Blue Ocean has the option of acquiring in the medium term. • Austria-based Wittmann Battenfeld has developed a new process called in-mould internal welding (IMIW) for insert moulding parts with a gas and waterproof protective layer. This is of special interest to radio frequency identification (RFID) components since these must be protected from mechanical damage, moisture, heat and other conditions and are embedded to protect the sensitive electronic components. According to the company, the two halves of a housing can be connected by bonding, welding, clamping or boiling. The IMIW process makes it possible to establish the connection directly between the contact surfaces with the same plastic material from the inside. Since the parts do not have any ridges of welding beads, no downstream finishing is required. • Indian machine maker Ferromatik Milacron India (FMI) recently delivered its 7501st machine, a 1,300tonne Maxima model, from its facility in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The firm says it places emphasis on product development, “to assist customers in
reducing their overall per piece cost of product and energy consumption and thereby increase their productivity, reliability and competitiveness.” Established in 1995, FMI offers machines with clamping forces from 50-3,200 tonnes and has a capacity to manufacture 2,000 machines/year. • Chemical supplier Lubrizol has become the preferred thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) supplier for US-based Trexel’s MuCell microcellular foaming technology. The firm says its Estane TPU provides highly elastic microcellular parts for energy absorption and cushioning applications as well as improved compression properties and a fast moulding cycle. The partner firms will be setting up a new MuCell moulding line, modifying an existing line or suggesting of which TPU grades to utilise for quality foam parts. • 3D design software firm Dassault Systèmes has acquired French injection moulding simulation provider SIMPOE, thus expanding its platform to create a portfolio of materialsintensive manufacturing simulation solutions on the market. With more than 3,000 active users working for major part designers, producers, and mould makers, companies such as Canon and Panasonic rely on SIMPOE for injection simulation solutions. Transaction details were not disclosed. SIMPOE says it will continue to offer its comprehensive solution, covering the whole injection moulding process. • After ten years of intensive
R&D and nearly US$20 million of investment, France-headquartered metal moulding firm RocTool has begun selling its moulding processes under license and has tripled its turnover in a span of two years, from US$2 million in 2010 to more than US$6 million in 2012. This year, the company has opened two subsidiaries in the US and in Taiwan, adapting its Heat & Cool technologies to moulding metal for plastic and composite injection moulding. • Taiwan-based 3D CAE simulation solution provider CoreTech System (Moldex3D) and German fluid injection technology supplier PME fluidtec are to develop what they say will be “a truly representative CAE simulation tool for fluid injection moulding.” PME fluidtec is a specialist precision engineering company in the field of fluid injection using water or gas cavity pressure technology with over ten years experience. It says that the technology enables greater freedom of design, faster cycle time, material savings, weight reduction and cost savings. The companies will announce enhanced capabilities soon. • MarketsandMarkets, a US consulting group, says that global demand for automotive plastics will reach US$46 billion by 2018, with a growth of 13% a year between 2013 and 2018. The firm also says that 50% of automotive plastics usage comes from Asia, with the European market consuming 28%, followed by the US at 11.3%. PP takes up a large chunk of resins used at 37%, due to the drive to reduce vehicle weight to improve mileage.
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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • German firm Evonik is putting in a Euro double-digit investment to set up a plant for precipitated silica in Brazil, with completion scheduled for 2015. The firm’s Ultrasil silica is used in energy-saving tyres with low rolling resistance, a market expected to grow by 18% a year globally. Evonik expects to increase its capacities by around 30% by 2014. In line with this, at the end of 2012, the speciality chemicals company expanded its capacity at the US Chester site by around 20,000 tonnes/year. This is planned to come on stream in 2014. The expansion planned in North and South America follows expansion projects in Asia and Europe. • Smithers Rapra is organising its eighth Latex & Synthetic Polymer Dispersions conference from 10-11 September in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It will tackle various industry topics including gloves, manufacturing and process applications, allergy and regulatory issues, novel applications of latex and nano-technology in latex applications, in more than 16 sessions. A roster of Industry experts from leading organisations such as Ansell, Kraton, Synthomer, Nordion and the Malaysian Rubber Board will be representing the global perspective of the entire industry at this year’s conference, with participants to expect opportunities for innovation and financial growth in this sector, in lieu of growth variables such as the recent re-emergence of the avian flu H7N9 virus in Asia and the corresponding rise in demand for barrier protection. • The growth in global demand for natural and synthetic rubber will be slower than previously
expected this year, against concerns about the health of the world economy, said Stephen Evans, Secretary-General of the Singapore-based International Rubber Study Group (IRSG). “The issue is there is plenty of inventory around as everybody reports, which more than covers an increase in growth. But we expect our annual projection of growth to be marked down slightly in response to the lower GDP forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” he said in a rubber summit organised by the group in Singapore. In August last year, IRSG said global demand was likely to rise 4% year-on-year to 27.7 million tonnes in 2013 as consumers start rebuilding inventories. IRSG bases its estimates on IMF’s economic growth forecast and the latter has trimmed projections for global economic growth for this year, to take into account sharp government spending cuts in the US and the latest struggles of recession-stricken Europe. The IMF cut its 2013 forecast for global growth to 3.3%, down from its January projection of 3.5% It also trimmed its 2014 forecast to 4% from 4.1%. • Indian firm Apollo Tyres has set up its second export hub in Thailand, after Dubai, to cater to the ASEAN region, contributing 40% to the company’s overseas income. It also recently opened a sales office in Bangkok to serve the ASEAN region. Zone I, which includes India, Middle East, ASEAN and the Asia Pacific region, has brought in 67% of the company’s US$2.5 billion turnover. The size of the commercial vehicle tyre replacement market in ASEAN is 6 million units/year. The fastest growing is the 22.6 million units/year passenger vehicle tyre segment, said Apollo.
• Toyo Tire & Rubber has completed its US$260 million passenger and light truck tyre plant in Malaysia, with production expected to exceed 200,000 tyres/month before the end of the year. Using Toyo’s proprietary Advanced Tire Operation Module (ATOM) production system, the plant’s capacity is expected to reach 2.5 million units/year in the first few years, going up to 5 million units/year by 2016 and to double on demand. • German speciality firm Lanxess’s subsidiary Rhein Chemie has opened a EUR10 million facility, at its Porto Feliz site in Brazil, to produce 170,000/year Rhenoshape high-performance curing bladders, which are used in tyre manufacture. Rhenoshape bladders are said to have a much longer service life, due in part to their high level of uniformity. Rhein Chemie entered the bladder market less than 30 months ago with the acquisition of Argentinian company Darmex. The purchase of US-based Tire Curing Bladders last year added special bladder sizes like those used for the tyres of trucks and earthmovers as well as bladders for tyre building machines (Rhenobuild) to the portfolio, making Rhein Chemie the largest independent bladder manufacturer in the world. • Amin Amiri of a2e Venture Catalysts has acquired a majority controlling stake in US-based Industrial Latex Compounds (ILC) that has a turnover of around EUR16 million. ILC, originally part of Dow Chemical, is a “veteran” of the latex industry, boasting a good reputation for customer service and stability even in difficult times, it says. It employs 42 people and has a blue chip client base. The
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Rubber Journal Asia previous owners, Bill Fairhurst and John Davison, will continue to remain involved in ILC for the foreseeable future. • Belgian chemicals firm Solvay recently held a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a 85,000-tonne/year Highly Dispersible Silica (HDS) facility in Poland. The new plant represents a EUR75 million investment that will create more than 50 new jobs. The site at which the new plant is located is a designated special economic zone (SEZ) and will be integrated within the industrial complex of Anwil, a subsidiary of the Polish refining and energy company PKN Orlen Capital Group, one of Central Europe’s largest refiners of crude oil. Solvay says it will produce new generation products like Zeosil Premium.
• Swiss firm LIST has completed a global demonstration centre in Switzerland, located adjacent to its headquarters. The fully automated LIST Demonstration Centre (LDC) is specifically designed for the development and testing of processing solutions for the devolatilisation and finishing of elastomers and rubbers. The facility is equipped with automated, computer-controlled systems that allow customers to test the production efficiency of LIST technology using various materials and products. It will also serve as a training facility. • Germany-based Continental expects to increase the share of corporate sales in the Asian market from 18% to more than 30%, with China to drive the growth. The firm recently
appointed Ralf Cramer as President of the company’s organisation in China. Cramer has been a member of Continental’s executive board since August 2009 and head of the Chassis & Safety division since December 2007. “By 2020, China will be the world’s largest market for premium automobiles. Nowhere in the world will the demand for individual mobility and industrial goods be growing stronger than there. This is why we want to strengthen our local organisation and position ourselves to benefit from fast, profitable and lasting growth in this important market,” said CEO Elmar Degenhart. He also said that over time, more than eight out of ten of new applications are expected to be developed locally.
Rubber Journal Asia Materials News
Aiming for sustainability While the IRSG is calling for sustainability
Arizona will apply classical breeding along with modern tools for marker assisted breeding to guayule lines to select traits for the crop improvement programme. The university will lead the effort to produce a higher yielding rubber crop and to substantially decrease guayule’s harvest cycle time. Guayule is an industrial crop that does not compete against food or fibre crops. It is a renewable source of natural rubber latex that can replace petroleum-based synthetics, lessen reliance on imported tropical rubber, and requires relatively little Yulex will provide the University water with no pesticides. The of Arizona a US$3 million, fiveuniversity said, “The goal of year grant focused on breeding and our work will be to increase agronomic development of guayule the rubber content in Yulex’s guayule lines and to decrease for biorubber production the time to harvest to help in the sustainable cultivation of guayule in Arizona.”
in the rubber sector, alternative rubbers like guayule is a focus; with a new modular system for silicones offered.
Sustainability in the rubber sector ith about 85% of natural rubber produced by smallholders, decisions to plant new trees and tap often depends on the opportunity cost, and hence, adequate long-term growth of the natural rubber supply calls for positive action to achieve natural rubber sustainability. This was noted at the recent International Rubber Study Group (IRSG)’s conference in Singapore. As the world increases momentum towards sustainability and corporate social responsibility, all players in the rubber industry value chain are rapidly focusing their attention onto the application of sustainability principles and the global supply chain with regard to resource efficiency/purchase of raw materials. The IRSG, an intergovernmental organisation (with 35 member governments), has called for a timely project on Sustainable Natural Rubber, with the aim of involving all stakeholders, public and private, and in both producer and consumer countries. At the World Rubber Summit held in Singapore recently, based on the recommendation of IRSG’s Heads of Delegation and the Industry Advisory Panel, a Sustainable Natural Rubber Action Plan was announced with the key objective to promote the use of voluntary sustainable natural rubber standards throughout the global rubber economy. The envisaged Sustainable Natural Rubber programme is complementary to the existing domestic economic, social and environmental programmes in producing countries and will be based on multi-stakeholder commitment and participation. The next phase of this programme will focus on the definition of relevant voluntary sustainability guidelines, policy and potential mechanisms for implementation of these guidelines through consultation with the natural rubber producer governments and other international forums on voluntary sustainability standards.
Modular system for silicone rubber ermany-based Wacker has developed a modular system for pourable, addition-curing silicone rubber compounds. The Elastosil Vario compounds offer an adjustable reactivity and hardness. Compounders and silicone processors can now produce tailor-made products in any desired quantity. Typical applications are encapsulation of electronic devices and circuits and coating of technical textiles and metal or plastic surfaces. The modular system also lends itself to the production of gaskets and of silicone mould parts, such as those used for making prototypes in medical technology. It can also be used to make all kinds of reproductions and moulds. The two self-mixed components can be processed in pressureless casting systems, either by hand or with the aid of two-component mixing and metering lines.
Sustainability via alternative rubber eanwhile, sustainability is being undertaken in a different level by US-based agricultural biomaterials company Yulex. It will provide the University of Arizona a US$3 million, five-year grant focused on breeding and agronomic development of guayule for the production biorubber for medical, consumer, and industrial applications. Yulex and the University of
Wacker has developed a modular system for pourable, addition-curing silicone rubber compounds
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Rubber Journal Asia Gloves
Gloves paired with outbreaks of diseases the increasing hygiene awareness. It has been operating near maximum capacity with an average utilisation rate of 90% to comply with the demand. Thus, it’s no surprise that last year, Top Glove hatched a plan to increase its global market share from an estimated 25% to 30% by end-2015. Producing 40 billion pieces/year, Top Glove expects a further boost in its global glove exports sales due to the avian flu and the stronger US dollar. Meanwhile, synthetic nitrile glove producer Hartalega says the avian flu is not a catalyst for its growth. Managing Director Kuan Mun Leong attributes the growth to the market’s reliance on its capabilities. The company, which employs an automated production model, produces 11 billion gloves/year, with 90% being nitrile gloves. In 2014, Hartalega is also starting its Next Generation Integrated Glove Manufacturing Complex (NGC) to level up its efficiency, which is expected to yield a 6% extra margin.
For key rubber glove producers, it is a case of one man’s meat is another man’s poison. Emerging diseases like the flu virus outbreak in China may be morbid news to many but also raises hopes for market growth, says Angelica Buan in this report.
Research companies give a thumbs up for gloves he market share for gloves has increased recently, with sales pushed up in the wake of a new strain of the H9N7 avian flu outbreak in China, reviving fears among the public of a new epidemic in a country, only a decade after the SARS outbreak. Citing a report from Malaysia-based Affin Investment Research, examination gloves are in demand, against the backdrop of an increasing awareness for hygiene and disease prevention. Affin’s findings are a much-awaited respite by glove producers, particularly in Malaysia since it houses the largest glove makers in the world, led by major players Top Glove, Supermax Corp, Kossan Rubber Industries and Hartalega Holdings. These companies together account for about 60% of global demand or 96 billion pieces of rubber gloves and had to contend with a weak demand in 2010 and 2011 as a result of the US currency fluctuations and higher latex costs. Nevertheless, the market improved last year due to lower prices of latex. As such, Malaysian research firm Kenanga Research says that rubber gloves will continue to be in demand at an annual average growth of 10% in Malaysia, also emphasising an incline towards nitrilebased gloves, which have consistently taken a significant share in the market. “We expect the sector to remain resilient as the bird flu in China is expected to increase, thus boosting demand for examination rubber gloves,” Kenanga said, adding that it has upgraded the rubber glove sector from a “neutral” to an “overweight” rating. This is reinforced by Affin’s report that says glove makers like Top Glove are anticipating a surge in demand since healthcare institutions are stocking up on gloves and also because of
Hygiene factors to play a part in the growth istory is being repeated as rubber glove demand was scaled up in 2010 due to the H1N1 flu pandemic. Even then, Malaysia led the roost of global glove producers and exporters to serve the medical sector, according to a study by India-based research firm Konsept Analytics. It says that countries like India, China and Brazil also showed a rise in demand for rubber gloves on account of reinforcing hygiene practices to prevent diseases. Affin also shared the same findings that hygiene awareness is driving users to demand more stringent quality gloves as well as urging healthcare centres to use gloves, noting that government initiatives in the light of disease prevention and wellness are also helping drive demand. Meanwhile in India and China, where only examination gloves are used, the research firm expects demand to triple from the 160 billion pieces used last year. Furthermore, Konsept Analytics says that increased healthcare expenditure is driving glove sales in the US, which remains a major importer, and in the UK and major European countries. The New Delhi-headquartered firm’s report also indicates that low-end powdered latex gloves are favoured by cost-conscious end-users in developing countries, while powder-free latex and nitrile gloves are preferred by developed countries, including the US and Europe.
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Rubber Journal Asia Gloves from using natural rubber gloves, requiring PPE manufacturers to create alternative solutions for hand protection. Ansell has also introduced TouchNTuff 83-500 sterile polyisoprene gloves and TouchNTuff 93-700 sterile nitrile gloves in response to a global study among more than 130 wearers of single-use gloves across the life sciences segments. The study found that fit and comfort, along with using a material not made from latex, were important factors to glove wearers. Designed for sterile environments, TouchNTuff 93-700 gloves provide a high level of chemical splash exposure resistance for a wide range of chemicals while maintaining an enhanced degree of comfort, longer cuffs for forearm safety, and textured fingertips for optimal grip performance.
Launch of powder-free gloves ustralian company Ansell recently introduced a powder-free glove range for the Chinese market, which includes Gammex PF with AMT antimicrobial technology; and latex and accelerator-free Gammex PF Accelerator-Free Sensitive surgical gloves, developed for individuals with sensitive skins.
German scientists develop toxin-busting gloves aintaining a safe work environment especially for laboratories that deal with dangerous chemicals can be tricky as some toxic substances are odourless or colourless, traces of which could be hazardous. In response to this, scientists at the Fraunhofer Research Institute in Germany have introduced colour-changing gloves.
Ansellâ€™s powder-free gloves are targeted at the Chinese market
Austrian glove maker Sempermed addresses concerns on hospital acquired infections (HAIs) with the launch of the Supreme Green powder-free NR latex glove, designed for glove wearers that prefer extra hand hygiene.
Sempermedâ€™s powder-free NR latex glove
Colour changing gloves that detect toxins are being trialled by scientists
Detecting the traces is what the Fraunhofer scientists worked on resolving and thus came up with a novel protective glove that immediately changes colour when it comes into contact with toxic materials. The glove prototype is textile-coated in a dye containing specific sensor particles, which react to the presence of certain substances (like carbon monoxide or hydrogen sulphide) by turning blue within seconds. The dye can be integrated into the safety gear for laboratory workers or used in tools for finding gas line leaks or detecting food spoilage. The project is still in its early stages and undergoing improvements.
Catering to fit and comfort of users he global pharmaceutical market is expected to grow to more than US$975 billion in sales by 2013, thereby increasing the need for sterile manufacturing environments. Personal protective equipment (PPE), the primary tool used in sterile environments to prevent product contamination and minimise worker contact with chemical agents, has historically centered on natural rubber latex gloves. However, the US-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates as many as 17% of people are allergic to latex, so the pharmaceutical industry has started moving away
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