PRA September-October 2012 Issue

Page 1

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

業界新聞 國 家 焦 點 : 馬來西亞加強出口









PRA - 210(W) x 276 (H).pdf 2012/8/2 10:25:51









In this issue 28


Volume 27, No 193

publlshed slnce 1985

IMA 3 A S l A’ S L E A D l N G m aga z l ne f o r the plastlcs and rubber lndustry

Features 焦 點 內 容

Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email:

20 國家焦點: 馬來西亞加強出口 22 Front Cover Feature

Azo’s automation technology gets a leg up in Asia’s positive industrial growth

26 Sports

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

The London Olympics were a triumph not only for sporting events but also plastics that debuted in a range of applications from infrastructure to the food and beverage sectors

Editorial/Production Coordinator Angelica Buan Email:

30 Lens Development

Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling

New elliptical lens design and roll moulding from Jacobsen Lenticular Tool & Cylinder Engraving Technologies are overriding the good old copper method

Circulation Abril Castro Email:

32 Film and Sheet Industry

Admin & Finance Manager Tean Arul Email:

36 Taiwanese Machinery

All eyes will be on Taiwan’s machinery industry at the upcoming Taipeiplas exhibition that will be held from 21-25 September

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

38 Composites


Packaging, whether rigid or flexible, is still the frontrunner in this sector

Though Asia is hitting the highs in volumes, composites is still a low applications sector in the region

Regulars 概 要

ISSN 1360-1245

MICA (P) 021/08/2012 KDN PPS 1700/12/2012 (028142) Printer KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd

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

10 Materials News 14 業界新聞

Supplements 增 刊 Engineered flexibility is giving polymers a winning edge in medical devices Malaysia’s rubber industry is expected to grow further with the aid of upstream R&D activities

On the Cover Auxiliary and automation equipment company Azo is enjoying a healthy growth of its Mixomat mixer in Asia

Connect @ PRA



Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this publication is correct, the publisher makes no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the nature or accuracy of such material to the extent permitted by applicable law. © 2012 Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or used in any form, or by any means, without specific prior permission from the publisher. PRA is circulated free to trade readers in the plastics and rubber industry. Airmail subscriptions are available at US$160 within Asia and US$250 to all other countries outside Asia.

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





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Industry News

PET producers on a roll with new developments


hailand-based Indorama Ventures (IVL) has completed the acquisition of the PET assets of PT Polypet Karyapersada in Indonesia. With this, IVL now has 100,800 tonnes of PET capacity adjacent to the purified terephthalic acid (PTA) assets of Indorama Petrochemicals (formerly known as PT Polyprima Karyesreska) at Cilegon, West Java, which IVL acquired under a joint venture in 2011. The firm has pursued an integration strategy of its PET and PTA businesses in Thailand, Italy (under a joint venture) and the Netherlands and earlier announced upstream integration into MEG (monoethylene glycol) in the US. Meanwhile, US-based Invista Performance Technologies has acquired La Seda de Barcelona’s intellectual property relating to the production of PTA, PET and related process technologies, including the full rights to exclusively license the technologies in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Invista and Barcelonabased La Seda had co-licensed these products through a joint venture company since 2000. Invista exited the commodity PET market when it sold its business to Indorama Ventures in 2010 but continues


to make speciality polyester and nylon resins and feedstocks. Having recently increased its output to 920,000 tonnes/year, PET producer and sheet extruder Octal Petrochemicals says it will now be able to increase supply to the North and South American markets. The company says it has successfully completed the second phase of the expansion at its Salalah plant. The Muscat-based company had announced the US$200 million project in December. The firm makes sheet directly from molten PET. Japanese firm Toray Industries has entered into a partnership with US renewable chemicals firm Gevo and has also made an upfront capital investment to help fund a pilot Gevo plant to produce renewable bioparaxylene (bioPX). In addition, Toray has agreed to purchase initial volumes from this plant to carry out pilot-scale production of biobased PET (bioPET) fibres and films. Using terephthalic acid synthesised from Gevo’s bioPX and commercially available renewable MEG, Toray succeeded in lab-level PET polymerisation to produce fibres and films samples in 2011. It will now make available samples to customers by 2013.


Mitsubishi and Toray on expansion drives


apanese firm Mitsubishi Plastics has doubled the capacity for its Sepalent separator biaxiallyoriented, porousextruded plastic film, which is employed in rechargeable lithiumion batteries to 15 million sq m/year, to meet the rising demand. The firm recently broke ground on the 2.5 billion yen line on the premises of its Nagahama plant, with commercial production to commence in 2013. The firm says that this business is one of the four key components in the lithium-ion battery materials business, which is regarded as a “high growth business” field by the parent company Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings. The separator is a porous film that allows the proper amount of lithium ions to pass through but prevents electrical shorts caused by the cathode coming into contact with the anode. The film also has a shutdown function as a safety switch in case of thermal runaway by closing the pores of the separator. Mitsubishi Plastics says it has developed a highly-functional, cost-effective separator with a long cyclelife and output rate at low temperatures. The production of the separator was launched in August 2009. Since then, the separator has been adopted

for use in lithium batteries for mobile phones, power tools and laptop computers. The company also developed a high heatresistant separator for hybrid and electric vehicles, for which demand is expected to grow significantly over the coming years. As such, Mitsubishi Plastics decided to construct a new plant and install the second production line last year. Meanwhile, in China, Toray is building a compounding plant in Chengdu, Sichuan province, to capture the growing automotive, home appliance and computer manufacturing markets in Western China. The 1 billion yen facility will be its third in the country and is scheduled to open in 2013, with a capacity of 11,000 tonnes/year. The firm says engineering plastics demand is expected to rise by 12% a year in China on average, while West China is anticipated to see growth rates of 17%. Toray will manufacture polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), nylon and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) and will also look at compounding speciality resins such as liquidcrystal polymers with carbon fibre for highervalue applications. The plant complements the group’s existing two production facilities in Shenzhen (Guangdong) and Suzhou (Jiangsu).

Industry News

Huntsman expands in Asia and considers upping MDI in US


S PU maker Huntsman has opened a systems house focusing on specialities and differentiated products at its Gandaria site, near Jakarta, Indonesia. The

plant has been purposebuilt to produce prepolymer and polyol blends for Indonesia’s fastgrowing MDI (methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) systems market, with a particular focus on the

Sri Lankan plastics sector to get a shot in the arm


ri Lanka’s plastic industry will get a new boost when the Industry Ministry and UNIDO (International Centre for Advancement of Manufacturing Technology) will soon launch a national initiative to upgrade it with a target of attaining 40% growth and a value of US$1.75 million. With this, the per capita plastic consumption is set to increase from the current 6-8 kg, said the Ministry. According to the India-based UNIDO, plastics consumption in Sri Lanka is 140,000 tonnes/year, with an estimated growth rate of 10-12%. More than 900 businesses in Sri Lanka are engaged in plastics processing for both the domestic and international markets, the bulk of them being SMEs. Almost 440 companies were engaged in direct plastic exports in 2009 with 88% of them being finished products exporters and the remaining 12%, raw materials and waste exporters. Among the finished product exports, 60% were packaging materials/packaging goods. Cellulose and its chemical derivatives constitute the highest export value


among the primary forms of plastic exports taking 6% of the total exports in 2009. The US has been a dominant buyer of plastic exports over the previous of years, accounting for 40% of the total exports. The Ministry also said, “The plastic industry holds high potential for Sri Lanka’s rural sector. This initiative will address modernisation, employment, productivity, production quality as well as export growth.” About 300 specialists will be trained on Best Manufacturing Practices and Quality Management Systems. While there are opportunities in the colour, additive, filler, functional masterbatch, PVC pipes and infrastructure sectors, the industry is also subject to challenges, such as lack of technological expertise, low level of productivity due to lack of systematic technical and quality management systems, shortage of technically trained manpower, slow response to consumer quality requirements, weak research abilities and inadequate documentation and quality management systems, thereby affecting the consistency of end products.


insulation, automotive and footwear segments, and has a fully equipped technical laboratory to test and develop new products. In related news, the firm is studying the feasibility of expanding MDI capacity at its US facility. The firm has commissioned engineering design studies to increase its global capacity, while not stating the amount. “The expansion is to satisfy the strong demand in residential and

News In Brief Nylon feedstock output in the US Nylon maker Invista has chosen Texas as its site for commercialising a new technology used to make adiponitrile (AND), a key nylon 6/6 feedstock. The firm has operated a pilot plant using the technology for more than two years and now will invest US$100 million at the site in the next 18 months to ramp up production, with full production expected by mid-2014. The proprietary butadiene-based technology improves product yields while requiring a lower annual maintenance investment than existing technology. Sino-German alliance for plasticiser feedstock German firm BASF and China-based Sinopec are exploring the possibility of building a world-scale isononanol (INA) plant in Maoming, with the joint feasibility study expected to be concluded by the end of 2012. INA is used as a feedstock to produce

commercial insulation and to maintain our position as the leading MDI supplier in the American region,” said the firm, adding that the global market for MDI is expected to continue strongly “well into the next decade.” Huntsman’s proposed investment is expected to complement its previously announced planned expansion in Shanghai, China. The firm operates world-scale MDI facilities in the US, China and the Netherlands.

next generation plasticisers like diisononyl phthalate (DINP) and nonphthalate plasticiser Hexamoll DINCH. These are widely used in industrial applications such as automotive, wires and cables, flooring, building and construction. BASF and Sinopec operate a 50:50 joint venture firm, BASF-YPC, which produces a wide range of chemicals. Entering the PU feedstock market After several years of development of a proprietary technology, Swedish speciality chemicals firm Perstorp is now producing substantial volumes of 1,6-hexanediol to meet the growing market demand, especially for the coatings, sealants, PU elastomers and printing inks sectors. Perstorp has 1,500 employees and manufacturing units in ten countries in Asia, Europe and the US. Sales amount to more than EUR1.45 billion.



Industry News

Liansu bullish on pipe prospects


hina’s largest plastic pipe maker Liansu Group Holdings will invest in setting up facilities in the Hainan, Yunnan, Shandong and Guangdong provinces, to meet growing domestic demand. The company said it expects to have a production capacity of

between 1.65 million and 1.75 million tonnes by the end of the year. The firm said this in a report filed with the Hong Kong stock market. The firm’s sales only increased 5.6% in the first half of the year, to RMB4.81 billion, compared to the 31% increase the firm had in

2011, due to the slowing Chinese economy and the government’s decision last year to tighten credit for the housing market. The volume of pipe and fittings sold rose 9.1% in the first half of the year, compared to the same period in 2011. However, the Foshanbased company expects “a

stable growth for plastic pipes given further advancement of China’s industrialisation, urbanisation and further expansion of domestic demand and on-going implementation of major construction projects in affordable housing, urban infrastructure and new agricultural villages.”

Emery Oleochemicals pursues palm oil-based additives


alaysia-headquartered naturalbased chemicals producer Emery Oleochemicals, which recently broke ground on its German technical centre and expansion of its facility in Loxstedt, is investing to further the use of palm oil in additives. The EUR20 million facility is billed as the company’s largest investment in Loxstedt to-date, reinforcing its significance to the company’s global strategy of becoming a key player in the Green Polymer Additives segment. It is scheduled for completion by end 2013. The firm says the expansion project brings together over 70 years of pioneering technology to meet customers’ evolving demands in this growing segment, with its plastic additives brands Loxiol and Edenol. The products are expected to meet the annual growth in plastic additives consumption of 4%-5% worldwide. The Loxstedt technical centre will be fitted out with laboratory equipment, staffed by


a team and will also be supported by existing technical service centres located throughout the company’s global operations. The Loxstedt manufacturing facility expansion, on the other hand, will encompass substantial technological enhancement of its current infrastructure. This project marks another key milestone for Emery Oleochemicals as it comes on the heels of the recent commissioning of Loxstedt’s new sister manufacturing site in Telok Panglima Garang, Selangor, in Malaysia. Believed to be


Asia Pacific’s first fully integrated and largest Green Polymer Additives plant, the Malaysian manufacturing operations will enable the company to extend its geographical reach in the ASEAN region. The project is also in line with the Malaysian government’s efforts to further develop the potential of the country’s palm oil industry in moving up the valuechain towards high-end oleo derivatives. In 2011, Emery Oleochemicals committed to investing approximately RM416 million for the implementation of its

various Malaysian-based projects developed under the auspice of the Palm Oil National Key Economic Area (NKEA) of the country’s Economic Transformation Programme. Both the German and Malaysian manufacturing sites employ unique technologies to focus on region-specific market needs, and the addition of the Loxstedt centre, will further increase Emery Oleochemicals’s existing natural-based product portfolio that includes highly-specialised additives for the plastics, coatings and lubricant industries.

Officials at the ground breaking in Germany


For over 120 years Rhein Chemie has been keeping the rubber industry in motion with innovative solutions. Today, we are the only global player who provides both release agents and bladders. With products like Aflux ®, Aktiplast ®, Antilux ®, Rhenocure®, Rhenogran®, Rhenodiv ®, Rhenomark ® and Rhenoshape® we enable one-stop shopping for tire makers world wide. As a strong partner for the tire industry we at the same time help to reach even ambitious quality and environmental objectives – for example, with “green” tires. That’s what we call efficiency. Solutions for the rubber, lubricant and plastics industries. Whatever requirements move your world: We will move them with you.

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22.08.12 09:59

GREEN Materials News 10

Bioplastics sector growing Research firm Kelmut Haiser Consultancy says that the bioplastic market is growing at 8-10% a year, accounting for 10-15% of the total plastics market. It is further gaining a market share of 25-30% and projected to attain a revenue of US$10 billion by 2020, a ten-fold leap from the US$1 billion in 2007. Also by 2020, Asia will account for 32% of the total market and the US and Europe will trail behind at 28% and 31% respectively. It is for these reasons that activity in the sector is growing. Collaborations increase Global nylon producer Invista and US-headquartered biotechnology firm LanzaTech are jointly developing technologies to convert industrial waste gas carbon monoxide into butadiene, used in producing synthetic rubber and plastics. The firms will initially focus on the production of butadiene in a two-step process from LanzaTech’s CO-derived 2,3-butanediol. Meanwhile, a direct single step process will also be developed to produce butadiene directly through a process of gas fermentation. The initial output is due for commercialisation in 2016. The firms will also collaborate on the direct production of nylon intermediates using LanzaTech’s gas fermentation technology and proprietary biochemical platform and Invista’s internal biotechnical capability to develop biological routes to its products. Butadiene is also a key intermediate chemical used by Invista in its proprietary, butadiene-based adiponitrile (ADN), which is an intermediate chemical used in the manufacture of nylon 6,6. LanzaTech’s 15,000 gallon/ year pilot facility at a steel mill in New Zealand produces ethanol and 2,3 BDO from waste carbon monoxide gas. In Shanghai, China, LanzaTech’s 100,000-gallon-per-year demonstration plant uses waste gases from a Baosteel steel mill to produce ethanol. Another carbon project comes from two American firms: Oakbio and Lehigh Southwest Cement, a unit of global construction materials firm Heidelberg Cement Group. The carbon conversion process used at the cement plant yielded over 50% bioplastics in microbe biomass, which the firms say is not only renewable but biodegradable as well. The conversion of captured carbon dioxide into a bioplastic product represents an important technical achievement for potential large-scale bioplastics production. Meanwhile another biobased butadiene project comes f r o m Ve r s a l i s Oakbio has entered into a joint of Italy and venture with Lehigh Southwest to Genomatica of convert carbon into bioplastics the US. Green chemicals firm Genomatica will render the technology whilst Versalis, a subsidiary of Enis and the majority stake holder in this project, will pro-



vide the expertise in the catalysis process. Versalis is also planning to establish commercial plants. In other news, Canadian bioplastic firm Solegear Bioplastics is boosting commercialisation of its proprietary 100% biobased and compostable bioplastic formulation Polysole with funding from Yaletown Venture Partners and participation from other investors. Meanwhile, US-based Metabolix is also reviving its supply of Mirel PHA biopolymer resin, which was stalled after partner Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) dropped out of the Telles joint venture and stopped producing the resin at its fermentation plant in Iowa. Thereafter, Metabolix continued to supply Mirel out of its existing inventory. Metabolix now has a new partner, Spain-based Antbioticos, a manufacturer of active pharmaceutical ingredients that has expertise in both the fermentation and semi-synthesis processes needed to produce PHA that occurs naturally in micro-organisms and plants. With the implementation of the new manufacturing plan, steadier inventories and more product developments are projected for 2013. Improvements to bioplastics Japanese chemical firm Showa Denko KK (SDK) has succeeded in producing a biobased polyester resin Bionolle. SDK has started providing film-grade samples of Bionolle, which can be fully decomposed after use into water and carbon dioxide and has been used to make compost bags and mulch films. Improvements have been made, specifically in volume production technology for Bionolle that uses succinic acid made from starches or sugars. This means that about 50% of the main raw materials for Bionolle are now bio-derived. As for Bionolle Starcla, in which starch is mixed with Bionolle, the ratio can be increased to about 70%. SDK says it will be able to secure the supply of 10,000-20,000 tonnes/year of bio-derived succinic acid by the end of this year. US firm BioSphere Plastic recently launched a new biodegradable plastic additive that shows a first of its kind biodegradation rates as confirmed by independent testing laboratory Eden Research, under the ASTM D551112 method. In the said test, the additive added at 1% biodegrades 300-micron PE at 13.9% within 18 days. BioSphere will next be working on exploring the use of 1% of its additive in composting conditions.The limited composting facilities in the US means the firm will focus on Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

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GREEN Materials News

Non-edible alternatives Sources of bioplastics are often thought of as organic or obtained from agricultural feedstocks to keep at their distinction of being renewable, degradable and recyclable. Potatoes, sugarcane, soya, mushrooms and corn are common sources and are cultivated in large scale or engineered to ensure viability of these sources. Current bioplastic production methods include animal, microbial and plant sources. They have a variety of drawbacks and limitations, including the specific conditions required for cultivating bacteria for use in bioplastics. Seaweed may be a substitute material for food-based plastics

N o w, i t h a s b e e n f o u n d t h a t s e a w e e d s c o u l d potentially be used to manufacture biodegradable bioplastics for the packaging industry, according to a study headed by Professor Rajendran Narasimmalu of VIT University, India. Published in the Journal of Pharmacy Research, the recent report says that while seaweed-bioplastics are more expensive than traditional products, they are also less brittle, more resistant to microwave radiation and more durable. Another advantage of using seaweed is that it is naturally available and easy to cultivate on a large scale, Narasimmalu said. The technology, which is still in the research phase, focuses on genetic engineering and fermentation. Meanwhile, a breakthrough development has been undertaken by Finnish researchers looking into alternatives to starch-based plastic. The study suggests that plant cell wall polysaccharides (PCWP) have the potential as base material for food packaging. In the article titled Trends in Food Science & Technology, coauthors Kirsi Mikkonen and Maija Tenkanen reveal that xylans and mannans could replace starch in sustainable plastics. The former are commonly found in agricultural and the latter in forest industry sidestreams such as cereal husks and pulp PCWPs. Moreover, these polysaccharides are safe for food applications and ideal for making trays and wrappings due to the Sugarcane is a common source of polysaccharides, which could replace starch in sustainable plastics




oxygen and grease resistance and high tensile strength properties. An average mechanical pulp mill has the potential to recover 5,000 tonnes of xylans annually, said Mikkonen. The two University of Helsinki researchers say that the films, whether biodegradable or edible, can be strengthened by crosslinking or blending with other polymers and nanoparticles. However, further research is needed as it is still unclear how this packaging material could be employed within the constraints of current technology. Another firm getting into biobased adipic acid, a key feedstock for nylon 6/6 resin, is US-based biotechnology firm Verdezyne that has been granted a patent for its production process. The firm’s biobased adipic acid also can be used as a feedstock for thermoplastic polyurethanes and coatings. The firm also says that since its feedstock is not carbohydrate-based, it is not competing for sugar in the food or energy value chain. Investors in Verdezyne include DSM Venturing and BP Alternative Energy Futures. Research on recycled plastics and computers A three-year Pan-European project to produce high value plastic items from the lowest grade waste material is on the verge of developing commercially viable products. Known as Prime (Plastic Recyclate Injection Moulding Engineering), the project comprises a consortium of ten partners from Europe, including universities, research centres and small and medium-sized enterprises. It proposes to use mixed polymer waste – residue from already-recycled plastics – to manufacture high value products for use in infrastructure projects such as flood defences and railways as well as automotive and aerospace sectors. The aim is to make strong and versatile products that mimic the properties of timber or aluminium.

The iameco computer’s housing is carved from wood sourced from the forest

Another recyclable innovation comes from MicroPro, an eco-aware computer manufacturer from Ireland. Collaborating with Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM from Germany, MicroPro created iameco, the first wooden desktop computer with touch screen that is 89% recyclable. Boasting of only 30% carbon footprint, compared to regular PCs, iameco has heat sinks that convey heat from the processor with copper tubes for cooling instead of the energy intensive fan. The computer also uses LEDs to illuminate the screen, which increases energy efficiency by as much as 30-40%.

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Setting trends and overriding challenges with modular systems Industrial automation is setting trends in the manufacturing circuit, minimising manual work without compromising output and capacities. Single machines packed with multiple functions are a sound solution in the light of manpower shortages and the need for cost-effective processes. In fact, this is a ripe global market, which could reach US$200 billion by 2015 based on a forecast for the industrial automation sector by IMS, a UK-based market consultancy group. Catering to this trend is auxiliary and automation equipment company Azo, which is also seeing a healthy growth of its systems, especially the Mixomat mixer, in Asia. 22




stablished in the late 1940s, Germany-based Azo had made its mark in innovating automation processes long before this became a trend more than half a century later. Call it a foresight yet, this family-owned business has rooted itself firmly, in a technology-savvy era, growing to a 921 employee-strong conglomerate with a turnover of EUR140 million. A manufacturer of machines and plants for the automatic handling of bulk materials and liquids worldwide, Azo’s clients are diverse, coming from the food, pharmaceutical, chemistry and plastics industries. In the plastics industry, Azo is a pioneer in the gravimetric mixer sector, being one of the first to develop its Mixomat system, as an alternative to volumetric mixers. Mixomat was developed as early as the 1970s in a decade when Azo had crafted suction weighing and conveying systems, thereby carving new standards in automation processes, according to Walter Sonntag, Division Manager Marketing/Documentation. “The development of Mixomat has come a long way since the 1970s. Available in different materials and surface finishes, Mixomat efficiently integrates several functions such as conveying, dosing, weighing and mixing in a single machine. Its precision weighing capability of all types of polymers and materials ensures high accuracy, not to mention cost-effectiveness,” he adds. Technology in the Asian market The trend for automation is growing in the Asian market and this brings about benefits to solution providers like Azo. “We are meeting these trends in Asia by providing stateof-the-art solutions and trendsetting control electronics. We also pay close attention to the systems so that these are not overengineered. It is for this reason, and due to the good training, that our systems are well accepted by operators,” says Sonntag, giving an insight to the firm’s strategy. Azo’s market base originated in Germany and spread across Europe, Walter Sonntag says the company follows trends in Asia with state-of-the-art solutions and sustainable equipment

FRONT COVER FEATURE but the company’s innovations have created a global stir. “Mixomat first triumphed in our home base of Germany, followed by the rest of Europe. But today, there are Mixomat installations around the globe, in fact in almost every country. Many of these units have been working for over 30 years, which is a proof of the good production quality and performance of the system. Currently, there are several thousand installations in operation,“ Sonntag said, adding that there are numerous Mixomat installations in Asia. The latter region is exactly where the company sees its growth in the next two to three years. “Azo has two subsidiaries in China and in Southeast Asia and focuses on these markets as growth areas,“ affirms Sonntag, implying the company’s immediate outlook for growth. Further, he said that although Azo delivers via resellers (in Asia), business in the region already accounts for a third of the company’s turnover and it is expected to successfully bloom. Eliminating the volumetric system disadvantage According to Sonntag, the company developed Mixomat to eliminate the disadvantages of volumetric systems.“Mixomat allows all raw materials to be weighed exactly. As a result, the production is traceable and high repeatability is possible,” he explained. A special feature of Mixomat is that it combines four functions in one system: the process stages of transporting, dosing, weighing and mixing in one device, thus allowing for efficiency. The raw material components are suctioned into the mixer through a pneumatic conveying line, weighed at the same time and then mixed homogenously. The mixed batch is then ready to be delivered to the process thereafter. In combination with a high-

Conveying scale with minor ingredients weighing

precision dosing and weighing unit, such as Azo’s Flexidos or Azodos as well as with continuous gravimetric systems, or by using a minor ingredient weighing scale, additives and colours can be added down to the exact measurement, according to Sonntag. “A gravimetric blender is also applied directly on the feed throat of a processing machine when it comes to dosing masterbatch, which is normally blended in very low percentage The Mixomat (in many cases less than solution 1%). Plus, the with central gravimetric weighing method is not sensitive to vibration, making it highly accurate,” he explained further. Even though the system was first introduced in the 1970s, it has gone through various upheavals and upgrading, especially to the

maintenance and recipe capabilities. “We set a high value on fast, intensive cleaning, therefore Mixomat is equipped with a large cleaning door. This is accompanied with the mechanical development and the corresponding recipe controls that have been adapted to a high technical level. Moreover, the machine has operator-friendly controls with touch screen and big process visualisation displays,“ he says. Sonntag explains, albeit in a nutshell, how Mixomat works. “It is particularly well-suited to discontinuous, gravimetric loading as well as to mixing and colouring of the granulate exactly as specified in the recipe, with masterbatch, pigments and additives. It can be used for medium to high throughput values in compounders, blown film lines as well as injection and blow moulding machines,” he says, adding that Azo has developed modules specially tailored for extruders. Principles of Mixomat Going into detail, the stainless steel-designed Mixomat consists of a conical housing with a filling and ventilation pipe, with the mixing tool driven by a geared




FRONT COVER FEATURE motor. The discharge valve is operated by compressed air and a support bracket is provided for the set-up and attachment. Its other features, apart from the large cleaning doors with quick-release fasteners and sight glasses to facilitate rapid colour change and cleaning, as earlier described by Sonntag, are the throughput registration for each processing machine. This makes Mixomat ideal for use in extrusion processes. It comes in different designs that cover a power range from 250 kg/hour to 2 tonnes/ hour, each with a throughput of up to 20 batches/hour. Mixomat also comes in three different models. First of these is the mixer, which is recommended for used for high throughput levels as well as for loading many processing machines with different batches. Granulates, pigments/colours and additives are weighed and prepared in one or more central weighing stations. The components are then transported into the Mixomat mixer, which is located on each processing machine, where they are homogeneously mixed.

into a collecting pressure vessel. The product is then transported to the Mixomat by means of a pneumatic pressure conveyor. Difficult-to-process masterbatch and additives are dosed into ultra-small quantity scale and transferred into the Mixomat after they are weighed. The compounded mixtures are subsequently processed by the various processes. The second of the Mixomat range is a scale, said to be an economical solution for weighing, colouring and mixing in a single unit. In this system, the mixer itself functions as the conveying scale. It is supplemented by a weighing device and a filter with compressed air flushing. In collective loading systems – the Mixomat scale can be used with an angle-stop valve, primary filter and a shared secondary filter.

Mixomat scale with a big front door for easy cleaning Mixomat scale with air purged filter over the film extruder

The main components and the intermediate components are transported, diverted by diverter valves, into a large and small conveying scale, where they are weighed simultaneously according to the recipe. The weighed batch is then emptied




A negative pressure is generated in the mixer that is integrated with a frame and an electromechanical weighing device. This negative pressure draws material from the silos (or alternative storage places), through the diverter valves, conveying lines and finally into the mixer. Exact dosing is achieved by operating the dosing equipment, such as dosing

With multi-port valve in the background

screw/rotary valve, in coarse and fine modes. Shortly before the final nominal weight is reached, dosing is terminated, the conveyor line is closed and the fresh air valve on the multi-port valve is opened. According to Azo, this means the slight percentage of inflight material is the same for all the components, which leads to accurate results. Likewise, the small quantities of masterbatch or additives are dosed into a small component scale, by means of a dosing station that is set up level with the floor, where they are weighed and also drawn into the Mixomat scale. Alternatively, the small component weighing can be performed directly using the Mixomat and the pre-weighed batch added in the free fall. Finally, the third range available is the Mixomat conveying scale for large throughput rates. This is connected ahead of the Mixomat mixer, thereby allowing a new batch to be weighed in the conveying scale during mixing. This system can be arranged either directly over the processing machine or next to it. Loading is then performed either in the free fall or the batch is carried across using a dense flow transport. The materials are drawn into a conveying scale through a multi-port valve, weighed and then transferred to the Mixomat mixer. Small quantity weighing for masterbatch and additives is performed in parallel using an


Mixomat scale of processing machines

Azo Flexidos. The homogeneously mixed batch is then ready for loading into the processing machine. Complete system for the extrusion process To demonstrate a complete system for extruder feeding, large quantities of material are extracted from silos and feeding hoppers by means of a pneumatic vacuum weighing system and drawn into a conveying scale above the Mixomat mixer and weighed. In parallel to this, the additives, pigments and stabilising agents are weighed in a Flexidos station, before also being transported into the conveying scale pneumatically. Once all the components required by the recipe are in the conveying scale, the entire batch

is emptied into the Mixomat mixer and homogeneously mixed. In the past, a mixer hopper was frequently used as a buffer. Now, the mixture is emptied directly into a loss-in-weight feeder. This offers the advantage of requiring less cleaning during product changeovers. Azo also says that product quality can be increased significantly by loading the extruders with homogenous premixes made in the Mixomat. In parallel to this loading, additional additives such as chalk powder, delivered in big bags, are securely docked in an unloading station using a

Mixomat in brief • Mixomat is particularly well suited to discontinuous, gravimetric loading as well as for mixing and pigmentation of granulates as specified in the recipe, with masterbatch, pigments and additives • It combines the process stages of transporting, dosing, weighing and mixing in one device, thereby integrating several operations like conveying, dosing, weighing and mixing • It is highly accurate due to accurate weighing and recording of all materials, even small quantities

Combination conveying scale with Mixomat

dust-tight docking mechanism. The additive is then transferred to a loss-in-weight feeder. This additive, like the main polymer, is supplied to the extrusion process, according to a set point specified by the extruder.

Flexidos station

industry that does not seem to get enough of technology advances are never far behind. However, the company knows how to work this to its advantage. As Sonntag puts it, “Azo overrides these challenges with modular plant construction and standardisation. We also offer solutions with a beneficial carbon foot print for energyefficient and sustainable production.” A statement that is apt in the light of growing awareness of sustainability in the manufacturing field today.

Landing opportunities While opportunities abound now for Azo, challenges in the

• It can be used for medium to high throughput values in injection moulding machines, blown film lines and blow moulding machines • It can be used with individual loading or in collective loading systems with a shared blower and secondary filter • It allows for rapid colour changes and easy cleaning • Its stainless steel design makes it a robust construction





Green is first past the winning post Despite initial logistical hiccups and security concerns, the London Summer Olympics 2012 was in the end an unmitigated jolly good show – a showcase of not only athletic prowess, but also triumphs of the human spirit and the power of friendship. Over and above that, the organisers ensured the event was the most sustainable too, says PC Teh in this article.

Many shades of green The hundreds of thousands of athletes, officials and spectators have left for home and, one suspects, more than a few Londoners would have breathed a sigh of relief as humdrum routine reclaimed the city. Still the excitement, drama and exhilaration of the summer of 2012, and the air of festivity imparted by banners and national flags of myriad hues hung across the British capital, are bound to linger in the minds of the people. But colourful and gay as the event was, the organisers had intended that it was the Games’s rich shade of green that should make the biggest and most lasting impression on the world. In fact, this was a commitment shaped well before the Olympics came to town – nine years before, to be precise – when the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) submitted the city’s bid with a promise to host the “greenest Games ever”, based on the strategy of “Towards a One Planet Olympics”. As such, from the grandest and most expensive aspects related to the organisation of London 2012 Olympics down to the smallest details, in respect of people transport, management of supplies, and proper disposal of waste, among other demands, this promise was by and large fulfilled. According to David Stubbs, Head of Sustainability for LOCOG, sustainability was literally embedded into the fabric of the construction and staging of the Games, starting with the use of low-carbon concrete in building the venues, as well as sustainable sourcing of timber. This was also the first fully publictransport Games, Stubbs said, and it featured the “Active Travel Programme”, which promoted cycling and walking to the Games. PVCs and PS take centre stage in infrastructure French company Solvay Vinyls’s fully recyclable PVC-coated technical textiles – based on its VinyLoop recycling technology for PVC composites – were used at venues such as the Olympic stadium, the water polo arena and the Royal Artillery barrack. Romain Ferrari, CEO of the Serge Ferrari Group, a global supplier of architectural tarpaulins and a VinyLoop partner, was reported as saying: “This unique process jointly developed with Solvay provides a second life to vinyl textiles and makes them 100% recyclable.” Magma Architecture designed three mobile buildings for the shooting competitions in a crisp, white double-curved membrane façade studded with vibrantly coloured openings. As well as animating the façade, these dots operate as tensioning nodes. The 18,000 sq m phthalate-free PVC membrane functions best in this stretched format as it prevents the façade from flapping in the wind





Dow’s polyester and PE wrap is made up of 336 individual panels - each 25 m high and 2.5 m wide. The wrap is up to 35% lighter in weight when compared to conventional materials, according to the company

Some of these special textiles will be re-employed in soccer stadiums currently under construction in Brazil for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Others will be converted into gym mats for schools and the remainder will be recycled. Meanwhile, the Basketball Arena for the Games was one of the biggest temporary venues ever erected for any Olympics to date. Designed by Wilkinson Eyre Architects, it provided 12,000 seats for the basketball heats and handball finals, as well as 10,000 seats for the wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby competitions. The London Olympics’ overall focus on sustainability was a key driver in the building’s design. According to news reports, it was the third largest venue in London’s Olympic Park. Standing 30 m high, it was composed of a steel portal frame and wrapped in 20,000 sq m of lightweight, phthalatefree, recyclable PVC. The translucent cladding was custom-designed to stretch across minimal steel framing modules. The arena was constructed of individual components that could be dismantled and subdivided for reuse, with over two-thirds of the materials and components used on the project identified for reuse or for recycling. Thousands of insulation

boards made from Styrofoam-A closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam at Dow Building Solution’s King’s Lynn manufacturing facility were installed on several structures within the Olympic Park. The insulation was designed to help make the buildings more energy-efficient and the roofs more durable – particularly important as the buildings are transformed from Olympic to permanent “legacy” use. Structures insulated with Styrofoam materials included the Olympic Stadium, the International Media Centre, the Copper Box indoor arena and more than half of the roofs on the Olympic and Paralympic Village, all supplied by official partner Dow Chemical.

LOCOG targeted 70% of the waste produced by the events to be recycled, re-used or composted, since 40% of waste at the Games came from food or contaminated packaging. So compostable and recycled packaging, used in conjunction with a closed loop composting/ recycling process, has been a cornerstone in the greenest Games ever, according to LOCOG. PET bottles heyday for drinks Meanwhile, in line with LOCOG’s policy that all beverage packaging must be sold in recyclable PET plastic bottles, Coca-Cola’s plastic bottles discarded at the Olympic sites were destined to be recycled into 80 million new drinks bottles at its new £15m factory in Lincolnshire. Calling it a first for the UK recycling and beverage industries, CocaCola and plastic recycler Eco Plastics established a recycling facility dedicated to processing both PET plastic bottles and other polymers simultaneously.

The Dutch Women’s 8 won a bronze medal in a rowing boat that was built by German boat builder Empacher, using Dutch chemical firm DSM’s resins and carbon fibre to increase the stiffness of the hull by 25%

Sustainable packaging And how about this for green: sustainable packaging made from plants. Fast food chain McDonald’s, which ran the largest food outlet at the games, had opted to use Novamont’s Mater-Bi bioplastics for its cups, cutlery, straws, lids and containers. Italy-based Novamont said its Mater-Bi composts with anaerobic digestion, allowing the 3,300 tonnes of food and food-related packaging waste that was generated to be handled more easily than conventional materials. The London event aimed to be the first ever zero waste Games, explaining the decision to use food packaging made from plant starch and cellulose.

Sporting goods giant Nike’s sportswear was designed to help Olympians go faster. The sportswear is manufactured from 82% recycled polyester fabric, made from recycled plastic bottles, and is said to be around 40% lighter than sportswear worn at the 2008 Beijing Games




Sports The joint venture, known as Continuum Recycling, is a EUR18.7 million recycling facility predicted to increase the amount of bottle-grade rPET currently produced in the UK to more than 75,000 tonnes/year. Coca-Cola also used its PlantBottle technology, which is a mixture containing up to 22.5% plastic made from plant-based materials and up to 25% recycled plastic, for the bottles. In a similar vein, Closed Loop Recycling, a plasticbottle recycling plant that helped London win its Olympic Games bid, doubled its capacity under a £12m expansion plan. The company has recycled more than 100,000 tonnes of plastic bottles at its recycling facility in Dagenham since its opening in 2008, five miles away from the Olympic Park in Stratford. Meanwhile, beer bottler Heineken that was granted exclusivity over beer and cider brands at the Games launched the first fully recyclable PET bottle. PET supplier Constar International UK designed a limited edition 330 ml PET bottle for lager, just for the Games. The bottles were also produced with Constar’s Osbar barrier technology that makes the PET packaging lighter, with improved gas barrier compared to standard PET. Since the Heineken’s recyclable beer bottle designed just for the Games




Heineken bottles were green in colour, the recycled material could not be re-used to make bottles but it could be used for applications that allow for coloured recycled polyester material. Athletic performance from plastics and rubber When it comes to athletic performance, German speciality chemicals firm Lanxess is never far behind, with its materials found in balls, mats, running tracks, gym floors, shoes and much more. In today’s hightech shoes, for example, a technology similar to that of modern, fuel-saving tyres is used. “Silica technology that gives the tyres good grip and makes them economical also ensures that the soles of the running shoes have good grip on a wet track,” says Martin Mezger, a rubber expert at Lanxess. Known as Krynac, the material is particularly durable, flexible – and popular.

Lanxess’s Krynac is used in shoe soles

Long-distance runners, in particular, also need special damping properties. To serve as a cushion between the foot and the ground, the midsoles are made of the high-performance rubber. Other than this, the firm’s Levapren ethylene vinyl acetate rubber has a springy, stabilising effect to provide comfort in the footwear of athletes, according to Mezger. The company also noted that of the 60 or so Olympic

and Paralympic disciplines, around one-third used a ball of some kind: from beach volleyball to tennis, from wheelchair rugby to water polo, and even rhythmic gymnastics. And for good measure, spectators in the stadiums frequently find themselves sitting on the firm’s Durethan polyamide that is used in the production of stadium seats. Such a seat has to be able to withstand a weight of up to 600 kg, while being immune to the effects of hail, ice, rain, snow and long periods of sunshine. “Organisers of the Games worked hard not only to achieve the zero wasteto-landfill target but also to embed sustainability, a commendable aim and one that Lanxess is firmly in favour of,” said Martin Mezger, a rubber expert at Lanxess

The shells, which are produced in one piece by injection moulding, have no dangerous edges or seams, says Lanxess. And through combination with other products, such as pigments like Macrolex, Levagard and Disflamoll, they are not only colourful and attractive, but also have outstanding flame retardance. “Other Lanxess products at the Games included Bayplast inorganic pigments and ethylene propylene rubber (EPDM), which were used in the production of artificial turf surfaces used in the professional field hockey,” said Mezger, adding that the pigments ensure the surface stays green through rain and shine.

Lens Development

Elliptical lens designs and direct cut cylinder engraving technology


n the lenticular optical lens plastic/polymer processing industry today, the current old method of supplying lenticular/optical extruding cylinders consists of applying a soft copper base plating onto a steel green-based cylinder surface, which is then diamond turned and engraved. After the lenticular engraving, post chrome thin-flash plating is applied on top of the copper engraved plating, to help protect the soft copper finish underneath.

This article by Dr. Gary A. Jacobsen, Chief Engineer & President of Jacobsen Lenticular Tool & Cylinder Engraving Technologies (JacoTech), highlights an advantageous elliptical lens design and roll mould method developed by the company over the old industry method of copper plus post chrome plating. The firm provides solutions for optically-based cylindrical polymer/plastic materials processing, including the manufacturing of microstructured optical-quality rollsurface mould components used for the management and control of light. 30



Disadvantages of the old method Since copper metal has a very soft Rockwell hardness level of approximately 220 Vickers, it damages easily, especially during the engraving process (tearing) or from handling within the extruding facility. Copper also begins to oxidise (change colour) immediately after engraving and has to be post plated quickly. Furthermore, it is easily susceptible to staining, which can then transfer into the lenticular lens material as a stain or artefact. Post chrome flash plating is very thin (5-10 microns thin), which offers very little protection from nicks, scratches and handling of the cylinder. Chrome plating has inherent microcracks within the final plated finish and chrome does not deposit evenly across the cylinder width, therefore altering the quality of the lenticular lens materials across the master lenticular roll width. Post chrome flash plating can detach itself from the copper engraved plating after short use, especially when extruding with acidic resins, such as PVC. This condition can render the cylinder useless and then it must be re-worked. Extruder production ceases and causes unnecessary delays and more expenses for extruders. Post chrome flash plating can alter the intended optical lens design, by adding an undesired thickness to the copper engraved lenticulars. Plus, the addition of chrome plating on top of the copper engraved lenticular changes the profile to a more rounded undesired profile (knife like sharp peaks). The chrome post-plated lenticular profile develops a “land area” compared to a “knifelike sharp peak” lenticular. This can change the intended optical lens design negatively, creating possible optical quality problems when viewed as a cell, computer or TV screen. Advantages of the new method With a 55 Rockwell C hardness, JacoTech proprietary nickel/alloy plating is harder and will not damage as easily as copper. After engraving, the plating is also not susceptible to staining and will not transfer stains into the lenticular lens material, assuming the cylinder surface is cleaned properly.

Lens Development JacoTech plating and advanced precision Typical cylindrical lenticular lens diamond turning technologies, we help save the extruder time and money in the manufacturing facility. The focus of JacoTech’s custom optical micromachining business is the ultra-precision CNC diamond turning, milling and fly-cutting of cylindrical drums, The single-ply integrated rolls and mandrels plating requires no post plating used to extrude/emboss/cast or and is applied heavily to the calendar plastic and polymergreen-based cylinder for best based sheet and roll films and durability, meaning that it materials. will not detach itself from the base. The plating also Patented elliptical tooling and offers much better protection lenticular lens from nicks, scratches or from The following schematics and normal handling of the cylinder explanations illustrate the compared to soft copper; has an numerous advantages of the excellent surface finish, and is patented LentiClear aspheric/ even across the entire cylinder elliptical lenticular lens, versus width, thus helping ensure the the typical industry standard quality of the extruded lenticular cylindrical/spherical shaped lens materials. lenticular lens that uses prior art Since the optical design and much older technology. profile is engraved exactly into In the above illustration, the the JacoTech plating, it will not industry standard lenticular alter the intended optical lens lens uses a cylindrical/spherical design and maintains a “knifeshape. (Note: The focusing like sharp peak” lenticular point of the material is located profile, allowing for the best to the left of the lens and the optical performance compared view is located to the right. to obtaining an undesired “land For best performance, all of area” that will form when using the light rays exiting the lens the old post-chrome plating should be parallel or collimated). method. The plating will LentiClear aspheric/elliptical also allow for the lenticular lens proper and intended non-imaged optical lens design to work for space films, solar panels, cell phone screens, computer screens or TV screens. By using the patented JacoTech optical lens design, patented diamond tools, proprietary singleply direct engraving,

Due to a spherical aberration, only the rays in the central portion of the lens exit in this desired manner while the rays farther from the centre begin to significantly change from the desired direction. As the light rays reach the outer portion, the light can be seen to internally reflect, which ultimately returns the highly defocused light to the focusing lens material. This reduces the overall light output, brightness and contrast of the image when viewed through the lenticular lens material. The new LentiClear lens (see above illustration) overcomes the shortcomings of the standard lenticular lens by utilising an optimised aspheric/elliptical shaped lens that effectively collimates the light from the focusing material, thus no light is internally reflected and the full aperture of the lens is used. How the lens design affects focus quality Typical lens: Scattered light rays

LentiClear elliptical lens: controlled light rays

The new lenticular lenses also provides a much wider field-of-viewing angle, as well as brighter, clearer and better contrast images than the typical cylindrical/spherical lenticular lenses.




Film and Sheet Industry

Packaging sector to lead

Sustainability and costreduction are benchmarking trends that are giving the packaging sector a facelift, aided by new machine designs and tieups between companies. Meanwhile, both the rigid and flexible packaging sectors are expected to lead with Asian countries being the main drivers.

Flexible packaging is expected to grow in Asia (Photo: Amcor)




Rigid packaging on the rise Worldwide demand for rigid packaging is projected to increase 6.4% a year to US$472 billion by 2016, according to a report by Freedonia Group. The report conjures a picture of vertical growth for plastic packaging, particularly in the developing regions, driven foremost by gains in the food and beverage sector, which represents 64% of the total market. Highest growth will come from China, which will account for 46%, as well as India and Indonesia. In 2011, the Asia Pacific region accounted for 40% of the total market valued at US$345 billion. Trailing behind were North America (24%), Western Europe (21%), Central and South America (7%), Eastern Europe (6%) and Africa and the Middle East (3%). The world’s developing countries Currently, Brazil, Turkey, Russia and will show the greatest increases for Mexico are showing potential gains, rigid packaging, with China leading said the report, whilst the least market the pack (Photo: Amcor) gainer, the Africa/Mideast region will exhibit above average growth. Plastics are apparently winning over metal, paperboard and glass packaging in many applications and this will continue to account for the largest share of total demand, mainly because this material gives several advantages such as shatter resistance, resealability, design flexibility and better barrier properties, said Freedonia. Flexible packaging hot on the heels In a scenario of competitive developments in the packaging sector, an emerging flexible packaging market will expand by at least 50% by 2016, gaining a value of US$21.6 billion, up from its current level of US$14.1 billion, according to a new report by UK-based PCI Films Consulting. The report surveyed 13 flexible packaging markets in Poland, Russia, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nigeria and South Africa. Eight of these markets are expected to yield over US$1 billion worth of flexible packaging by 2016, said PCI. Leading the pack is India, accounting for 27% of the market, with Indonesia, Brazil and Russia also being significant production centres. The UAE is another region that is gaining ground in the market due to urbanisation, changing consumer lifestyle and easing of regulatory restrictions. This will be along


Film and Sheet Industry with Mexico and South Africa that posted overall growth of 30% between 2006 and 2011, the report said. PP’s billion dollar growth Producers of flexible and rigid packaging make up half of the total PP consumption. By 2019, the global market for PP will reach US$145 billion, even surpassing the 4.4% annual growth rate seen in the last eight years – thanks to its strong performance in emerging markets according to Germany-based Ceresana Research. Again, countries in the Asia Pacific will be driving home the bacon, so to speak, accounting for more than half of PP sales, even moving ahead of Western Europe and the US. Global capacity for PP is expected to hike up to more than 23.5 million tonnes by 2019, with 57% of the new capacity coming from new facilities in Asia Pacific. Meanwhile, global demand for BOPP films will surge by an average of 6.6% per annum, projected to reach 8.3 million tonnes by 2016, according to another report by PCI. Films in agriculture In view of the saturation in the Japanese agriculture materials market, Mitsubishi Plastics is establishing a 1.8 billion yen functional films business in China. The firm will be constructing a solar poweredfacility with its agricultural business subsidiary MKV Dream,

Mitsubishi Plastics is building up its agri-business in China




which by 2013 will be renamed Mitsubishi Agri Dream, in Wuxi, Jiangsu province. The 4,000 tonnes/year capacity plant will start up in 2013. The firm says it is melding new hydroponic systems, lighting equipment and other technologies with its expertise in plastic films. Mitsubishi Plastics sees this new films business as benefiting the 3.6 million ha area for greenhouse farming in the country. The functional polyolefin (PO) films with special coating are used as external films for agricultural greenhouses. With a life span of three to five years, the firm says its product is an advanced alternative to the single-layer films commonly used in China. The company said it also wants to expand its agri-business in Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. Taking sustainability in packaging to the next level US-based MuCell Extrusion recently inked an agreement with materials firm Styron to acquire exclusive access to Styron’s patented portfolio for extrusion of styrenic resins. This agreement gives MuCell and its customers exclusive rights to the Styron patents related to sheet technology for a wide variety of applications. Earlier, MuCell had entered into an agreement with Dow Chemical to access its patented portfolio for flat sheet technology. Styron, which was previously part of the Dow Chemical, said that the partnership will utilise its CO2RE foam technology, which produces PS sheets with a foamed core layer using physical blowing agents. “Using it will provide the advantages of reduced energy, reduced raw material usage and lower packaging waste,” Styron said. It is also able to benefit the food packaging market, especially the dairy and food service industries, which can

improve sustainability by reducing the density and weight of packaging. Screen changers bolster productivity To increase plant productivity in blown film extrusion, German company Kreyenborg has equipped Hosokawa Alpine’s plants with its K-SWE continuous screen changers.

Kreyenborg says its K-SWE screen changer is a modern filtration system that enables the exchange of the mesh without interrupting the production. This means the system can continue running while dirty filter elements are replaced or filtration fineness for different production batches are changed

The screen changers were provided with a separate control to allow a smooth filter change during operation. The retrofit eliminates production line shutdowns during filter change and improves the filtration result, aiming at an increase in plant availability and productivity. The K-SWE screen changer is said to be a modern filtration system that enables the exchange of the mesh without interrupting the production. This means the system can continue running while dirty filter elements are replaced or filtration finenesses for different production batches are changed. The result is an increased production capacity together with an improved filtration performance, which is reflected in the quality of the produced film. The end user

Film and Sheet Industry is very satisfied with the short payback period of the new screen changer and thinks about more investments in the filtration technique of its blown film lines for the future. Aiming for low energy use After intense testing, Italian PET extrusion line producer Union Officine Meccaniche says it has reached and exceeded an hourly output of 1,250 kg/hour for its new line, with an energy consumption of less than 0.30 kW/kg. The results, both in terms of production and in terms of energy savings, are the consequence of the nonstop R&D, says Union. This activity has allowed its newest singlescrew extruder TR160 to achieve the targets it set. The plant, designed and tested with PET 100% post-consumer bottle flakes, is able to produce a sheet with a useful width of 1,200 mm and thickness from 0.3-1.2 mm, depending on the customer needs. No more spider weld lines A new spiderless foam sheet die from US extrusion machine maker Davis-Standard improves processing of PS and PE materials for commodity and high-end foam sheet markets. The new die supports an extensive range of sheet thickness, widths and densities. It is also engineered to reduce downtime and maintenance while offering precision capabilities to improve quality and efficiency, says the firm. The spiderless die eliminates spider weld lines and provides a uniform basis weight and thickness over the entire sheet width. This results in a better yield and eliminates the need for edge Davis-Standard’s spiderless die that trim. Other was shown at NPE earlier this year advantages include streamlined flow channels, up to three zones of temperature control, nickel plating on all wetted surfaces, and aluminium-constructed internal and external air rings. Die designs are capable of thicknesses from 112 mm thick and for widths from 600-3,048 mm.








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Taiwanese Machinery

Charting the global market for Taiwan Taiwan’s machinery exports, which increased 14.4% in 2011 to US$1.33 billion this year, as well as optimism in the turnout of the Economic Cooperation and Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China, are anticipated to solicit more investments in the country from plastics and rubber industry players around the globe. Hence, this year’s Taipeiplas, which will be held 21-25 September at the Nangang Exhibition Hall in Taipei, is an exciting berth for visitors and exhibitors, alike.


aiwan is the world’s fifth largest producer and fourth largest exporter of plastics and rubber processing machinery. This aspect will be highlighted at the biennial Taipeiplas, touted as an icon activity coorganised by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) and Taiwan Association of Machinery Industry (TAMI). In its 13th showing, the event expects a higher visitor turnout. “Our showground has been booked by 460 direct exhibitors (9.6% growth), covering 2,280 booths (8% growth). And we are expecting more than 16,000 visitors (15,000 in 2010) from home and abroad this year,” said TAITRA. The tale of the tape According to TAITRA, Taiwan’s plastics and rubber machinery industry has never been better. In 2011, the total production value of the products was pegged at US$1.6 billion, a good growth of 6.4% compared to 2010. “The total export value in 2011 reached US$4 billion (82% of total production), which was up 14.4% compared to 2010,” said TAITRA of its exports. China and Hong Kong were among the target export markets in 2011 and the export percentage in these countries has grown 7.6% compared to 2010. “In recent years, China and Hong Kong have had a big share in Taiwan’s export markets. However, diversification has always The country is targeting emerging been a goal of Taiwanese companies that markets for its machinery are now looking at emerging markets such as India, Indonesia, Brazil, Iran, Turkey, Russia and Vietnam,“ explained TAITRA. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s other top export markets are Indonesia (+7%), India (+7.1%), Vietnam (+33%), Thailand (+8.8%), Malaysia (+23.6%), Japan (+14.9%), Brazil (-2.2%), Turkey (+13%) and the US (38%).

This year’s show is expected to be bigger than the previous one held two years ago




Mixed prospects lie ahead This optimistic scenario for the machinery industry tempers the critical phase undergone by Taiwan’s petrochemical industry of late as the US economy, the European debt crisis and the slowdown in the Chinese economy are making crude prices volatile and consumer demands harder to gauge, thus affecting the related sectors – plastics and rubber included. Recently, an expert from the Taiwan Industrial Economics and Knowledge Research Centre (IEK) disclosed that the machinery industry will undergo certain volatility this year but will nonetheless recoup the losses in the near future. According to IEK, overall production in Taiwan`s machinery industry will decrease 4.18% year-on-year to NT$905.8 billion in 2012 due to a slump in orders in the first half of the year. However, the second half of the year will be marked with increased orders from China and other Southeast Asian countries. While in 2013, the overall production


Taiwanese Machinery value of the country’s machinery industry is projected to increase NT$1 trillion. In spite of this, Taipeiplas’s organisers have remained optimistic, likewise counting more buyers to come from Russia, Turkey, Brazil and India, as was the scenario at the 2010 show that had 18% of foreign buyers from emerging markets of China, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India. R&D gives the edge China is a preferred destination for some Taiwanbased manufacturers that branch out or transfer their production mainly because of variables like lower cost of labour and raw materials. TAITRA sees this “exodus” as a phase that is normal in a dynamic industry and is transitory. “TAITRA’s main purpose is to channel exports, so it is not really our position to ensure manufacturers stay in Taiwan,” it said. Instead, the association places emphasis on the continuous upgrading of technology and R&D, which evidently is giving the country an edge over other manufacturing destinations. The association says Taiwanese machines boast quality designs and competitive prices as well as comply with international standards. Meanwhile, since the implementation of the ECFA last year, Taiwan’s primary and secondary industries have already benefited from the tariff reductions and exemptions, thereby boosting the price competitiveness of machinery in China. “It is true that many plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers have moved to China or to Southeast Asian countries to take advantage of lower labour costs. However, with the rising costs of wages in China, we now see a “homecoming” trend with Taiwanese companies moving back. Moreover, the advanced development of Taiwan’s 3C (Computer, Communication, Consumer Electronic products) industry, has resulted in a higher demand for hightech precision machinery and automatic equipment. Only by differentiating their products from Chinese counterparts and putting more resource into R&D, can Taiwanese manufacturers maintain their edge and position in the industry.” Further, the government offers several subsidised R&D programmes, like the Small Business Innovation Research Programme (SBIR) and the Conventional Industry Technology Development Programme (CITD), both launched by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. “These are examples of government resources helping manufacturers in Taiwan to reduce the cost and risk of innovation and R&D,” TAITRA explained. This fact of Taiwan’s technology strength is shared by co-organiser TAMI. According to the association, technology is central to the development of the machine tool industry. There are many advantages offered in China, for example, but a majority of Taiwanese manufacturers are still staying put in the country and foreign investors are also realising the country’s huge potential, says TAMI.

Taiwan boasts quality designs for its machinery, says TAITRA

TAITRA affirms its commitment to promoting Taiwan’s external trade amidst stiff global competition and nearly perpetual challenges in the world economy. “TAITRA will keep on complementing the government’s economic policies and help Taiwan’s enterprises reach all corners of the world,“ the group concluded. Acknowledgement: The above article was prepared with the assistance of TAITRA, Office Address: 5-7 Fl, 333 Keelung Road, Section 1, Taipei 11012, Taiwan. Tel: +886 (2) 2725-5200 Fax: +886 (2) 2757-1959 Website:; email:





Asian industry to shed its lowvalue image JEC Asia Composites show, held from 26-28 June in Singapore, highlighted the importance of the Asian market. It grew to a volume of 3.7 million tonnes in 2011, accounting for 43% of the global market that increased by nearly 4.5% last year. But firms say the sector in Asia still produces low value applications, utilising nonautomated processes.

Tun Mahathir Mohamad delivering his acceptance speech





he composites market in the Asian region is forecast to reach a volume of 4.3 million tonnes in 2015, against the backdrop of a global market volume of EUR90 billion, up from EUR68 billion in

2010. “Composites represent an important market sector that is relevant for the manufacturing industry,� said Reginald Wee, Group Director of the International Enterprise Singapore, at JEC. He said that globally, the sector will be driven by the wind, maritime, building and construction, automotive and aerospace industries. In Asia, building and construction will take up 28% of the volume; followed by the electrical/electronic and transportation sectors (21%). All together these three sectors will represent 70% of the volume in Asia in 2015. In the region, Singapore and Malaysia are cited as emerging markets; China and India as growth sectors; and Japan, Taiwan and South Korea as matured markets. In fact, Singapore has attracted major investments and R&D centres are being set up by players like DSM, Dyneema, DuPont as well as compounders like RTP, Sabic and Polyone. Carbon fibre growth While thermoplastics-based composites are expected to grow, with a majority of the demand coming from China, most composites will still be thermoset-based, using glass fibre as a reinforcement, instead of the more high-value carbon fibre. Nevertheless, demand for carbon fibre is forecast to grow from 42,000 tonnes/year in 2012 to 67,000 tonnes in 2015, and probably to 360,000 tonnes in 2020, driven mainly by the automotive industry. New suppliers are emerging in the industry such as Alabuga-fiber in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, which expects to be on stream in 2014; and Kemrock in India, which started production in 2011. Meanwhile, Sabic has licensed technology from Italian acrylic fibre firm Montefibre for a 3,000-tonnes/year plant at its existing site in Spain, and in the longer term to set this up in Saudi Arabia. Dow Chemical and Turkish acrylic firm Aksa have also formed a joint venture to manufacture carbon fibre in Turkey. Malaysia, a country of honour At JEC, Malaysia was honoured for its contribution to the composites market, with the ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, receiving a lifetime achievement award and CEO of CTRM (Composites Technology Research Malaysia), Datuk Rosdi Mahmud, receiving a business achievement award. Meanwhile, amongst the 11 companies from different parts of Asia that were rewarded for their composite innovations were two Malaysian firms: DK Composites and Petronas Research. Petronas Research was awarded in the offshore category for its PipeAssure technology solution that

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Composites addresses the challenge of corrosion and other damage sustained by pipelines and containment vessels in the oil and gas industry. According to the research team that accepted the award, PipeAssure is a pre-impregnated system made from a glass fibre tape and a proprietary epoxy resin system. It has been qualified for ISO/TC 24817 for corrosion protection as well as for repair and rehabilitation of damaged assets and infrastructure. Meanwhile, DK Composites’s glass reinforcedcomposite panels for monorail trains bagged the award in the railway category. Made for Mumbai Monorail and Kuala Lumpur Monorail, the team designed a ceiling, seat and apron as well as a nose cab. It took the team two years to develop the product, which is a sandwich construct made from phenolic/glass prepeg and PET foam, offering fire retardant properties while delivering the target weight. A vacuum-infused epoxy/glass laminate was used for the moulding process. The end-product complies with British Standard 6853 for fire, smoke and toxicity requirements. In a preceding paper presented by Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman, CEO of MIGHT (Malaysian Industry Government Group for High Technology), he stated that Malaysia’s aerospace industry will contribute US$10 billion to the Malaysian economy while the railway sector will contribute up to US$50 billion. Sulaiman also said that currently Malaysia houses around 100 companies dedicated to the composites industry, with 30 involved in advanced composites and 70 in the industrial/consumer composites sectors. He also said that the growth in the rail sector (with the expected rail link to Singapore and new monorail services) will envisage the need for more composites in the replacement of metals and concrete, adding that MIGHT is working together with the country’s Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and DK Composites to promote and create guidelines for composites use. In the aerospace sector, Sulaiman said that Malaysia is an innovation centre. For instance in 2009, US-based supplier of commercial airplane assemblies/components to Boeing and Airbus, Spirit Aerosystems, set up a facility in Malaysia to manufacture A320 composite wing component subassemblies and undertake design work for leading edge lower panels for the new Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. Another area of focus in Malaysia is on biocomposites. This, Sulaiman said, is still in its infancy stage, though wood composites are already in use in the automotive industry. “Bullet-proof vests have been produced from kenaf, but there is room for further development,” he added. The industry in Malaysia is not without its problems, with grey areas in upstream activities, especially in R&D and the procurement of raw materials, said Sulaiman.

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Injection Moulding Asia Industry News

US firms tie up with universities for research


S-based DuPont and China’s polymer R&D centre, Sichuan University, are to jointly cooperate on research for flame retardants, specifically for the computer, communication and consumer electronics markets. DuPont said the firm is partnering with Sichuan University because of its academic achievements in the field of polymer materials, such as halogen-free, flame retardant compounds. DuPont’s China R&D centre and the university have cooperated on various projects since 2008. Another US firm PolyOne is also collaborating with university and industry experts to develop advanced materials and production parts using 3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing. The threeyear project is made possible through an Ohio Third Frontier grant of nearly US$3 million to the University of Dayton Research Institute, which will collaborate with PolyOne and other companies to develop and produce polymer formulations that will be used in speciality applications for the aerospace and automotive industries. Other project participants include GE Aviation, Rapid Prototype & Manufacturing and Stratasys. The Ohio Third Frontier is a technologybased economic

development initiative that provides funding for open innovation, entrepreneurial support, value-chain development and expansion of a skilled talent pool that can support technology-based economic growth.

with Taiwanese partner TYC Brother Industrial for US$20 million.

Fakuma to showcase the latest


he Fakuma show, to be held in Germany from 16-20 October, will feature highlights from machine makers like Arburg, Engel, KraussMaffei and mould maker Fohoba and welding specialist LPKF. Arburg will showcase its Particle-foam Composite Injection Moulding (PCIM), longfibre direct injection moulding and inline printing. It will also display its new electric Allrounder 630 A, the productivity package for the Golden Edition series and the servo-hydraulic drive concept for the large Allrounders of the S series. In fact, the firm will have over 20 Allrounders on show throughout the Fakuma, ten of them on its own stand. Arburg’s new long-fibre direct injection moulding process is developed together with SKZ German Plastics Centre in Würzburg. It allows inline feeding and enables longer fibres to be processed, so that lightweight injection moulded parts with thin walls and high strength can be produced. Particlefoam Composite Injection Moulding (PCIM) is a joint

Visteon’s lighting unit sold to Indian firm


ndia-based automotive lights maker Varroc Engineering has completed the acquisition of the global lighting business of US-based firm Visteon for US$72 million. A new company, Varroc Lighting Systems (VLS), will be formed and will comprise Visteon’s 4,200workforce (including 400 engineers), manufacturing operations in Mexico, Czech Republic and India, besides the engineering centres and associated units in Europe, the US and India. The acquisition is expected to make Varroc the largest automotive lighting manufacturer in India and the only lighting technology supplier there. The business had a revenue of US$531 million in 2011 and is expected to cross the US$1 billion mark by the end of 2013. It encompasses a wide range of exterior lighting products including front and rear lighting systems, auxiliary lamps and key sub-components such as projectors and electronic modules. In line with another announcement earlier this year, the two companies also have an agreement for Varroc to acquire Visteon’s equity interest in a Chinabased lighting joint venture

project with Krallmann and Ruch Novaplast in which a foamed part is combined with plastic. The two components are bonded, so that there is no need for subsequent assembly steps and a finished part is produced in a single step. This opens up a whole field of new options for the electric mobility, lightweight construction and insulation sectors. With the inline printing Inkbot process from FPT Robotik, which combines digital printing and robotics, it enables parts with irregular geometries and curves to be printed. German mould making company Foboha will present its all-electric stack turning and cube moulds at injection moulding machine maker Ferromatik Milacron’s stand at the show. Foboha engineers came up with the servodriven solution to the market standard allelectric injection moulding machines after searching for ways to make stack turning and cube moulds entirely without hydraulic drives, surmounting the issue on how to integrate the necessary servo drives into the mould. All drives (axes) of the new design, from the ejector via the reversing unit to the handling unit, are fitted with electric motors. The electric moulds are targeted at the medical, pharmaceutical and food processing fields. At the Fakuma, Arburg will present a production cell with inline printing for the manufacture of individually decorated plastic parts


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LPKF’s LQ-Smart laser welder

In laser plastic welding, LPKF will show its LQ-Vario and LQ-Spot systems for the medical sector. The system on display at the show will be equipped with a rotary indexing table, and can also be fitted with two component compartments for faster throughput. With the LQ-Spot, a technique for fastening elements inside housings is shown. The system welds on a small cap to fix small integrated components rigidly in place with no mechanical or thermal stress. Another product still in

the development stage is the new tabletop machine specially developed for prototypes and small series. Producing moulded parts of a consistently high quality shot by shot is the aim of Austrian firm Engel’s new software iQ weight control. The patent-pending system analyses the pressure profile at screw positions in real time during the injection process and compares the measured values with a reference cycle online. This comparison is used to calculate a new set of process parameters that allow changes in melt volume and material viscosity to be detected immediately. Another machine maker KraussMaffei will also present its new GX series, which the firm has already showcased in Europe and Mexico to customers from the

Industry News electrical engineering/electronics, consumer goods, packaging and automotive industries. During Fakuma, a GX 450-3000 will produce a telephone cradle for an automotive interior using MuCell technology. KraussMaffei’s latest GX series will be demonstrating the MuCell technology

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Injection Moulding Asia Medical Devices

Polymers to take up a healthy growth Despite the higher prices, plastics are more versatile and with healthcare equipment becoming more sophisticated, the materials address the need for mobility/portability of the devices especially for a homecare setting. The healthcare industry is exhibiting increased interest in miniaturisation, homecare and aesthetics for medical devices. The new report, “Western European Market for Polymers in Medical Devices,” said that polymers earned revenues of EUR602 million in 2011 and are projected to reach EUR1.075 billion in 2018.

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.


he medical devices market is among one of the recession-proof industries where technology is second nature. There is an increasing demand for replacement materials to make medical devices safer and more convenient to use. Reportlinker, in its recent market report, said that the medical plastics market is forecast to grow rapidly in developing regions such as Asia Pacific and Latin America. In comparison to other vertically growing markets, such as automotive and construction, the medical sector is a low-volume market. However, it offers opportunities for higher margins and is less tied to GDP growth. Meanwhile, the Western European market for polymers in medical devices is set to reach the EUR1 billion mark in six years. According to Frost & Sullivan Research analyst Tridisha Goswami, the market will be driven by an ageing population and the increasing replacement of glass and metals, which are hallmark materials for medical devices but slowly giving way to polymers.

Low volume but competitive olymers for use in medical applications, which are typically extruded by either paste and melt extrusion, have already been around for decades now, with high performance polymers now becoming standard materials. As such, demand for PVC, silicone, TPE and other engineering plastics is increasing. Polymers with higher chemical and impact resistance and superior mechanical and thermal properties top the bill for most medical applications, including tubing, wound care, adhesives and lubricants.


Scottish firm PWB Health’s Breastlight, a hand-held cancer detection device, uses Sabic Innovative Plastics’s Lexan and Cycoloy resins for the housing and lens

However, 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. “It has to be noted though that governmental pressure to lower healthcare costs are likely to limit profit margins of polymer suppliers,” cautioned Goswami, adding, “The market is highly regulated and product development is expensive and time consuming.” Goswami says that due to intense competition, market participants have to diversify their product lines and be a one-stop-solution for all healthcare material needs. “Manufacturers should focus on developing

US firm Styron’s Calibre Megarad 2091 PC resins are developed for medical devices undergoing gamma and electron-beam irradiation. The firm’s Emerge PC/PET 9500CR advanced resins are also developed for equipment housings, balancing chemical and ignition resistance to address the need to combat hospital-acquired infections and guardpowered devices


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Medical Devices novel, high quality products that meet the particular needs of varied applications.” An example in innovation is traditional wound care, which has a healthy market for films that are also used in a variety of packaging, disposable medical products and single use devices. According to a 20112016 Wound Care Market forecast by the Freedonia Group, the market is growing due to the ageing population and rise in non-communicable diseases. Meanwhile, mobile devices in telemedicine are also a rapidly emerging application in the healthcare system. Nowadays, personal mobile devices are utilising polymers for mobile components, such as biobased polymer phones and polymer lithium batteries. Antimicrobial plastics at the forefront ne such example of innovation that is propelling the plastics medical devices sector is the use of antimicrobial/antibacterial plastics, a high-revenue segment forecast to account for about 20% of the global plastics market in the near term. By 2017, it is estimated to reach 221,758 tonnes, according to a market study by Global Industry Analysts. Based on the report, the US is the largest global market with the Asia Pacific market also expected to rapidly expand at a CAGR of 16% through 2017. China and India are potential markets for antimicrobial products due to factors such as high population density, among others. Epidemics, emerging new infectious diseases as well as wide-scale campaigns versus prevention of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are boosting the antimicrobial polymer technologies. Recently, a group of British researchers from the University of Nottingham innovated a new class of polymers that repel bacteria, thus preventing medical device-associated infections and medical device failure. These polymers can be applied to the surface of medical devices and prevent biofilms, moist surfaces where bacteria thrive, from forming. The infections caused by microbial biofilms on implant surfaces often cannot be treated with conventional antibiotics.


Resin supplier PolyOne’s subsidiary, NEU Specialty Engineered Materials, recently entered into a strategic relationship with Microspec Corporation to develop antimicrobial formulations for smalldiameter catheters and medical tubing based on PolyOne’s Withstand antimicrobial technologies. NEU’s antimicrobial solutions for medical devices such as catheters and tubing are said to enhance the ability to kill bacteria at the point of treatment. Small-diameter catheters are increasingly used for paediatric applications and to promote adult patient. Microspec can also layer antimicrobial additives in the outer portion of multi-lumen tubing, which can help keep costs down and places the antimicrobial on the surface and outer band of the device where it is needed


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Injection Moulding Asia Country Focus

Malaysia to step up exports China-based injection moulding machine maker Yizumi Precision is represented by WY Machinery Trading in Malaysia. According to David Seow, Assistant Manager of WY Machinery, Yizumi has about 200 customers in the country and its best seller includes the energy-saving machine. Malaysia-based Zhian Her Machinery Enterprise manufactures screws/barrels, bag making machines, control systems as well as the KTC and KTF linear motion position sensors. Company spokesperson Jim Yeh said sales have been a bit weak due to the lower output of plastic bags. “People have started to become more prudent when using plastic packaging,” he explained. Improving energy savings is also one of the main features of the machines of Malaysia’s ESM Precise Manufacturing. Based in the Klang Valley, the maker has used its years of experience to develop an energy-saving injection moulding machine. “The energy-saving system of the ESM120 is specially developed for mould makers. It’s highly effective and can cut costs,” said Susie Lee, Sales Manager.

The prevailing Euro debt crisis and sluggish US and Chinese economies will continue to affect the plastics manufacturing industry in Malaysia. During the 45th anniversary celebration of the Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA), held in Kuala Lumpur in June, President Lim Kok Boon said that local makers can profit from exports as long as they can match high quality with low costs. Meanwhile, Chinese and Taiwanese machine makers were at the recent M’sia Plas to showcase their technology.


he Malaysian plastics industry registered a total turnover of RM16.14 billion in 2011, representing a 2.1% increase compared to RM15.81 billion in 2010. This was achieved on the back of a higher export value which has, however, partially eroded due to the weaker domestic electrical and electronics industry and mild decline in the automotive sector. However, exports continue to expand in view of the stronger demand from the packaging sectors in Japan and Europe. Total exports of plastic finished products for 2011 increased by 6.2% to RM9.97 billion, accounting for 62% of the total plastic products manufactured. Exports to Europe and the US will certainly continue despite the economic slowdown. Even at below-average growth, developed countries will continue to account for the majority of demand as companies will be hard-pressed to search for low-cost alternatives. Meanwhile, Australia with its rising economy is also seen as a leading export destination for Malaysian plastic manufacturers. “The strategy is to focus on export markets. Twelve years ago, exports only accounted for 30% or less for most manufacturers, but now most of our members are allocating 60% and above for exports, owing to the efforts by our members to promote their businesses in the huge global market rather than depending on the smaller home market,” said Lim. He added that manufacturers can profit as well as compete with low-cost manufacturing hubs such as China and Vietnam. “Manufacturers can do well even in a weak economy provided they can produce cheap and high quality plastic materials that suit the rigid requirements of the developed countries.”

ESM120 has been upgraded to accommodate more ranges of moulds

The ESM120 features a larger mould stroke, mould capacity and tie-bar distance to accommodate more ranges of moulds. The software has a larger mould memory to maintain data and parameters, to facilitate easy mould changes for customers, said Lee. She also said the machine has a newly designed oil and electric circuit that can meet the requirements of precision production. She added that the machine has been sold through marketing offices in Vietnam, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand. Conserving resources and protecting the environment was also the highlight at the booth of MPM Plastic Machinery, a joint venture company between Malaysian firm Mekahsa Plastic Machinery and Singapore-based Chuan Durn Plastic Industries.

Mould and die show promotes machinery ow in its 23rd year, the recent Malaysian International Plastic Mould & Die Exhibition or M’sia Plas showcased machineries brought by makers from China, Taiwan and Malaysia.


MPM’s EcoTech process can be used by the building industry


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Country Focus The firm displayed the EcoTech process that uses the EcoPlas natural fibre composite material. According to Sales Manager To Teck Hoo, EcoPlas can be used by the building industry for constructing benches and bridges. “It’s ideal as a soundproofing and heat insulation material for residential and commercial building partitions,” he added. Expanding their reach to other markets xpanding its market presence is the agenda for China-based injection moulding machine maker Ningbo Haitai Plastic Machinery with the company currently looking for a potential dealer in Malaysia. According to Sales Manager Kevin Shen, the company ships 70% of its production to more than 20 countries. In Malaysia, Haitai has sold 300 machines since 2010. The firm’s small-sized machines are servomotor-driven, thereby enabling energy savings of up to 80%, said Shen. Taiwanese injection moulding machine maker Lien Fa Injection Machinery was also at the show to introduce its latest HS series. According to Joe Chiang, Export Sales Manager, the machine features a closed-loop servohydraulic controller that enables injection speed from 250 to 1,000 mm/second.


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Lien Fa’s HS features a closedloop servohydraulic controller

“What’s interesting about this machine is that it delivers high output and quality. With a 6 to 8 second-mould cycle time, processors can increase production capacity and realise higher profit,” Chiang explained. The HS series is suited for moulding tableware,

beverage cups and CD cases. Established in 1990, Taiwan-based Cherng Horng Machinery manufactures blown film machines, flexographic printing machines, bag making machines and recycling machines. “We have an experienced R&D team and this has led to a number of patented machinery. Because of this we have launched blown film extrusion machines (mono and three-layer) for pallet stretch film and cling film, a fully automatic rewinding machine for stretch and cling film and slitting rewinding machine,” said Kuo Ming Hsiang, Managing Director. At the show, the company presented its mini HDPE film extrusion machine with an automated cutting and changing winder. “The design is simple but the performance is outstanding. Customers will find the machine user friendly and easy to maintain. It is just perfect for high volume production,” he said. The machine is designed for the rewinding of stretch film from a jumbo roll into smaller rolls, without the need of a skilled operator and with one operator able to handle up to three units, according to Kuo. Cherng Horng’s mini HDPE film extruder

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Rubber Journal Asia Technology News

Bridgestone to farm guayule in Arizona


apanese firm Bridgestone has identified Arizona in the US to locate its guayule research farm. The 281-acre agricultural site in Eloy will include a multi-purpose office/laboratory building, greenhouses and a farming operation to develop guayule as a commercially viable source of natural rubber, as an alternative to the Hevea tree. Moreover, it will supply guayule to the company’s 32-staff process centre located in nearby Mesa City. The ground breaking is anticipated late this year or early 2013 and operations will start up in 2014. Collaborating in this project are Bridgestone Americas Tyre Operations (BATO), which has undertaken the selection of the site leveraging on the technical expertise of its US research centre, and the Akron Technical Centre as well as the parent company that will provide the funding and strategic inputs.

Bridgestone’s latest project is a guayule farm in Arizona

Keyuan starts up second SBS line


hina-based petrochemical supplier Keyuan Petrochemicals has commenced production of its second 70,000-tonne/

The firm says that an estimated 14 million healthcare workers in the US alone will be benefiting from the new antimicrobial rubber bands.

year line for styrenebutadiene styrene (SBS). The new facility, which was completed in September 2011, had undergone trial productions, including various technique tests spanning several months for its first production line with commercial production kicking off in January this year. By June 2012, this production line has produced 13,049 tonnes of SBS. The current price of SBS is US$3,175/tonne in China.

Russian/Indian jv started up


joint venture between Indian firm Reliance Industries and Russian petrochemical company Sibur has started its operations in Mumbai, India, focusing on constructing a 100,000-tonne/year butyl rubber facility in Jamnagar. Sibur owns 25.1% and Reliance 74.9% of the new business known as Reliance Sibur Elastomers. The deal was announced in February this year. A license agreement was also signed wherein Sibur’s proprietary butyl rubber technology will be used at the new plant. The venture, which will widen Sibur’s geographic reach into India and Southeast Asia, will be looking into the petrochemical products market in the region as well as support business development, working alongside Indian partners. It will also oversee Sibur’s employees who will be coming to India for installations and start-up work at the new plant.

Latex-free rubber bands


S-based rubber band manufacturer Alliance Rubber Company has introduced what it says are the world’s first latexfree anti-microbial rubber bands in response to the global call for safety against exposure to fungi and other hazardous organisms.

Latex-free anti-microbial rubber bands

Recent reports from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) showed that increasing exposure to mould and other microbes can cause a variety of health risks. And while latex products are effective barriers against transmission of a host of infectious diseases, their usage could also result in allergic reactions, especially to healthcare workers who are in the forefront of the symptoms.

Roll-up rubber door


S-based Rytec Corporation has launched industrial rubber doors made from engineered styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) that are said to be virtually indestructible. The Powerhouse rollup rubber door, which

is made from the same durable materials used to manufacture tyres, is able to withstand the rigours of everyday heavy use as well as constant exposure to external elements, thus earning it the reputation of being the world’s first maintenance-free door, says Rytec. The patent-pending design, which features Dual-Sync drives with two motors providing the power necessary for rapid access and minimal interior exposure, is speed, wind and pressure-resistant. And unlike conventional metal doors, its single-push button feature can release and restore the door’s operation.

The roll-up rubber door is said to be the first maintenance-free door

Industry News

Purchases of rubber moulders and tyre firms


S firm Titan International has bought 56% shares of Australiabased OTR tyre company Planet Corporation Group while QSR has purchased Lexington Precision. Titan’s purchase of US$22.9 million will make Planet a subsidiary of its newly established mining business venture, Titan Mining Services. Planet, which includes National Tyres, Acme Wheel and Resource Tyre & Choice Tyre Wholesalers generated over US$75 million sales in the past 12 months from


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its clients from the mining, agriculture, construction and earth moving industries and approximately US$10 million of EBITDA in 2011. Quality Synthetic Rubber (QSR), a provider of custom moulded synthetic rubber components and a portfolio company of Blue Point Capital Partners, has been sold to Lexington Precision, a portfolio company of Industrial Growth Partners (IGP). Both QSR and Lexington share something in common since QSR has operations in the US and China, serves the medical and electrical markets with its moulded elastomeric components for use in a broad range of medical and electrical connector applications. Meanwhile, US-based

Lexington also serves the medical and automotive markets with its rubber components that include seals used in laparoscopic surgical devices and components for medication delivery systems; and automotive insulators used in automobile ignition systems. Germany-based ContiTech has made the largest acquisition in its history of US firm Parker Hannifin’s automotive air conditioning portion of its mobile climate systems division for an undisclosed price. The automotive air conditioning business manufactures components for light vehicles; the parts include hose and tube assemblies, accumulators, receiver dryers and oil

coolant assemblies. The products are primarily rubber and aluminium, but include some composites. The business operates at five global manufacturing sites in Mexico, Czech Republic, South Korea and China. The acquired business has annual sales of US$140 million and 1,000 employees. The mobile and hose portions of the mobile climate systems division are not part of the transaction. ContiTech is a global supplier of elastomer products in the non-tyre rubber sector and a specialist for rubber technology in the non-tyre rubber sector. Ravago Holdings America has acquired Goldsmith & Eggleton, including its Reliable

Industry News Polymer Services business. Financial details were not disclosed. Goldsmith & Eggleton reprocesses EPDM, SBR and related products, and distributes grades of some speciality polymers. Reliable Polymer Services is based in Texas and processes for makers of synthetic rubber and also makes its own line of reprocessed rubber. Both companies employ a total of 150 people. RHA is a unit of Ravago Group, a distribution, compounding and recycling conglomerate based in Brussels, Belgium. The group also owns H. Muehlstein & Co. a resin distributor based in the US.

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News

China reviews imports of CR


hina is reviewing its anti-dumping policies on chlorophene rubber in lieu of complaints against the influx of the imported rubber from a Japanese company. Chloroprene rubber is commonly used in electrical cables and other types of cables as well as waterproofing products. According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, the move comes after receiving complaints from local chloroprene rubber producers against the Japan Electric Chemical Company, which apparently increased its dumping activities in the country. In May 2005, the ministry imposed antidumping duties ranging from 2 to 151% on imported chloroprene rubber from Japan, the US and the European Union with a term of five years. The term was extended to another five years in 2011.

Continental’s R&D in Singapore


erman firm Continental has set up a S$36 million research centre in Singapore, to serve the growing engineering demands in Asia and worldwide. The 10,170 sq m-facility, which at present houses 650 employees from the Interior division of the Continental Automotive Group, as well as staff

Rubber surplus in 2013

from the ContiTech and the tyre division, can be expanded to accommodate up to 1,000 employees. The firm intends to expand in the interior division in Asia, since the region accounts for 19% sales.


upply of natural rubber (NR) will exceed demand for a third straight year in 2013 whilst the price of the commodity is set to extend declines, according to an analysis by Singapore-based NR supplier RCMA Commodities Asia. Global NR production is expected to increase to 11.9 million tonnes in 2013 from 11.47 million tonnes this year, against the world rubber demand of 11.6 million tonnes in 2013 up from 11.15 million tonnes this year. The increase in output will be seen in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and India. The group also indicated that the sluggish economic growth in China and the debt crisis in Europe are slowing down the demand for industrial commodities. Demand in China may contract 0.7% to 3.75 million tonnes this year, before climbing 4.1% in 2013; whereas, demand in Europe may slide down 5.3% to 1.4 million tonnes in 2012 and slightly rebound at 2.9% in 2013.

Continental has opened an R&D centre in Singapore

Indonesian-Indian rubber tie up


ndonesia, the second largest rubber producer in the world, has invited the Indian rubber industry to invest in the country and benefit from ample natural rubber resources. In a meeting with All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA), Dickey Fabrian, Consul-General of the Republic of Indonesia in India, conveyed his country’s eagerness to increase bilateral trade in rubber goods recently. Fabrian invited the Indian rubber industry to start its rubber manufacturing units in Indonesia due to availability of natural rubber, inexpensive labour/power and friendly government policies. Indonesia has also invited investors to invest in rubber plantations through leasing.

Sabah farmers get an incentive


he government in the state of Sabah, East Malaysia, has given out a RM30 million rubber production incentive to some 23,378 rubber smallholders, rubber settlement scheme settlers and participants of Rubber

Community Plantation in Bengkoka, Pitas. The incentive aims to equal the rubber prices offered in West Malaysia, which the local farmers could also enjoy as well. The rubber price differences are due to various factors such as extra costs in transportation, handling, processing and logistics. The payment, which will be made in cash, is based on dry rubber content and the types of rubber produced. Smallholders are also encouraged to employ good agricultural practices through the use of fertilisers and to increase output to 1,800 kg/ha from the current 1,600 kg/ha.

Hartalega on expansion drive


alaysian glove maker Hartalega is on track to commence construction of its RM1.5bil next-generation integrated glove manufacturing complex by December this year. According to a news report, the company has identified a RM100 million plot of land in Sepang and is currently in the process of getting the necessary approvals. The new facility will have 72 production lines to increase the glove capacity from 40,000 to 42,000 pieces/hour, bringing the firm’s total capacity to 38 billion pieces/year. It will be built in two phases over three years and the firm plans to invest between RM300 to RM400 million annually.


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Drought in India affects tyre sales


ndia’s tyre demand may dwindle as a result of an ongoing drought being experienced across the country, local tyre makers said. The tyre market has been facing a slowdown for the last several months with automotive companies cutting production and the climate may aggravate further the slackened market conditions, hindering local manufacturers to benefit fully from

Tyre News the plunging global rubber prices. The first quarter of the year had poor market outcome and in the first part of the second quarter, no significant growth from the truck and bus tyre markets are seen. Moreover, the production stoppage in the Maruti plant has adversely affected the car tyre market, which had generated a 4% growth in the first quarter, particularly in the OEM sector.

German firm strengthens rubber division


arburg-Freudenberger Maschinenbau, a wholly owned subsidiary of L. Possehl , has acquired Slovakian company ZTSLR NaJUS from the Rona Group. The 250-staffed ZTS-LR builds specialist equipment with a focus on welded structures, mechanical process-

ing and the assembly of complex machines and components. HarburgFreudenberger manufactures machines for the tyre industry and is made up of the TireTech and Mixing Group (rubber mixing technology) divisions in the manufacture of batch mixers for making rubber mixes.

Gajah Tunggal to produce TBR tyres


ndonesian tyre maker PT Gajah Tunggal (GT) has acquired 100 ha of land for US$108 million to build a tyre proving ground (testing track) and to allow possible future expansion of its manufacturing facility. Located at a new industrial estate in Karawang, the ground breaking for the testing track will

start soon and is expected to be completed in three years. Furthermore, the firm is also entering commercial production of TBR over the next three years with an investment of US$150 million and a total installed capacity targeted in the range of 1,500-2,000 tyres/day.

Sumitomo in jv; progresses with Thai facility


ingaporean tyre and wheel distributor Stamford Tyres has set up a joint venture with Japanbased Sumitomo Rubber Asia, a subsidiary of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, to form Falken Tyre India (FTI). The S$12.3 million joint venture firm will supply Falken tyres to India’s flourishing replacement tyre market. Stakeholders Sumitomo (60%) and Stamford (40%) will set up FTI’s headquarters in India and will start up operations from 2013, utilising Sumitomo’s proprietary tyre technologies and Stamford’s distribution capability. At present,

Stamford distributes Falken tyres in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and South Africa. In other news, Sumitomo Rubber has broken ground on its newest Thai factory, which is currently under construction in Amata City Industrial Estate in Rayong Province. The 10 billion yen factory will be Sumitomo Rubber’s first overseas factory to produce tyres for use in agricultural equipment. Production capacity will be around 50,000 tyres/month by the end of 2017. Production is scheduled to begin in 2014.

Rubber Journal Asia Rubber Technology

Rubber industry on a fast track tyres to the forthcoming automatic rubber tapping system (ARTS) launch. And as MRB’s influence increases, so does its appeal. Making all this happen depends on MRB’s ability to attract and engage top local talent, said Salmiah. “Most of the developments are based on collaborative projects that encourage researchers and staff to share ideas as well as technical knowhow.” Speaking of technical know-how, the world’s leading thinkers and leaders will gather for an event many describe as the highlight of the rubber industry. Formerly known as the National Rubber Economic Conference and targeted at only local participation, the annual event is now known as the International Rubber Technology and Economic Congress (IRTEC) 2012. Organised by MRB, at the One World Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, from 10-11 October, the conference will reflect a comprehensive content comprising technical aspects as well as economic issues affecting the global rubber industry. “IRTEC is organised with the best interests of Malaysia and the rubber industry. We’ve embodied this in the conference title, which is Sustaining Competitiveness through Technological Innovation,” she said. The Director-General added that MRB would like to ensure that the information and resources attendees taken from this conference prove highly useful in their livelihoods and projects. “Certainly, this conference will provide indepth information on important topic areas, particularly rubber production, the direction and market prospects; seamless technology transfer and advancement as well as sustainability of the downstream rubber sector. Our aim, however, is on the integration of research and technology across areas and how technology can improve the industry.”

Through upstream R&D activities, Malaysia’s rubber industry will continue to expand its production with a target of reaching an output of 2 million tonnes of natural rubber and contributing RM52.9 billion to the country’s coffers by 2020. The introduction of an automatic rubber tapping system, roll out of mobile service applications and rubber yield programmes are all expected to help upgrade the sector, said Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) Director-General Datuk Dr Salmiah Ahmad, in an interview with PRA recently.


ince she became Director-General of MRB last year, Salmiah has delivered steady growth while expanding the organisation’s reach. By anticipating the ways in which people will expand the use of rubber applications, Salmiah says MRB, the authority responsible for the development and modernisation of the Malaysian rubber industry, has introduced new programmes and products. These include the recently unveiled material for green

According to Datuk Salmiah, MRB, through

Automated tapping as opposed to manual tapping long with the conference will be the unveiling of the country’s automatic rubber tapping system (ARTS), an automated latex harvester that can be attached to the rubber tree to perform the tapping task automatically, in accordance with the programmed time. “We will unveil a pre-commercial model of the ARTS at IRTEC this October. Currently, we are undertaking trials on the system,” said Salmiah, adding, “I am confident that this technology will be available for commercial use in a year from now.”


the upstream R&D activities, has given special priority to increase productivity through breeding and selection, agronomy and new latex harvesting techniques to meet the demand of the industry


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Rubber Journal Asia Rubber Technology Asked how much the system will cost, Salmiah replied, “Cost-wise, it (ARTS) will be on the high end at the outset but as we go further we could outsource certain parts so that the system will be more affordable for all rubber planters. “ According to Salmiah, planters are looking forward to this development and ARTS would prove beneficial to smallholders. At present, smallholders are only tapping between 90 and 120 days per year. With the new automated system, they will be able to tap every day without any fuss, especially when the rubber tree is at its highest productivity level, which is usually during the wee hours of the morning. “This will help to enhance the rubber industry in Malaysia, by reducing labour, increasing the productivity and producing the right raw materials to support the downstream industry,” she said, adding that the downstream industry needs an adequate and consistent supply of latex. Better clones, better yields side from ARTS, MRB has developed new clones to improve yields as well as the economic returns of rubber plantations. A major part of the research focuses on the breeding programmes that aim to produce clones with potential annual yield of more than 3,000 kg/ha. The success of the rubber breeding programme can be seen from the multifold yield increase, from about 500 kg/ha/year for unselected seedlings to about 3,000 kg/ha/year in the modern clones. “We have been doing research on this for years and we have improved the yield with high-performance clones that produce 3 tonnes/ha/year, whereas the national average is


1.5 tonnes/ha/year. We realise that smallholders are planting different clones and are not adopting the best farming practices to get the maximum yield.” To support propagation of the right type of clones, MRB has launched an upgrading process of rubber tree clone identification using image processing techniques. Based on an Android platform, i-klon is a mobile application that

Rubber Journal Asia Rubber Technology identifies a clone. To Last year, two date, i-klon can identify Malaysian companies, six types of clones. This rubber producer Felda will later be increased Rubber Industries and to 20 in the near future. Mardec, an integrated Moreover, MRB has also conglomerate engaged developed a tagging in rubber and polymer system to help track the processing, trading clones’ type and origin and manufacturing, (nursery operator). were selected for The machine reads the technology transfer and barcode to verify the type commercialisation of and if the clone is not the Ekoprena in the country. right type, smallholders MRB has been producing the material can return the seedling at a pilot plant in its and demand for a new research centre in one. Officials being briefed on the ARTS, to be launched in October Sungai Buloh with a Even with the explosion of information maximum capacity of and technology, there is so little understanding of 1,000 tonnes/year. it. “Smallholders are mostly in their prime and may The commercialisation process will facilitate the production of Ekoprena with an initial capacity not be open to learning new techniques and adopting of 12,000 tonnes/year, up to a targeted capacity technology advances. Currently, we are focusing on of 300,000 tonnes/year and an investment of the upstream sector and encouraging it to produce the RM140 million by 2020. Currently, two grades of right materials to support the downstream industry.” Ekoprena are produced commercially: Ekoprena Based on a survey conducted by MRB, the average rubber productivity for 2011 was approximately 1,500 25 and Ekoprena 50 (containing 25% and 50% kg/ha/year, 1.4% more than 2010. The organisation mole epoxidation, respectively) covering the range plans to increase the national productivity to 2,000 of properties desirable for most of the expected kg/ha/year in 2020. applications for ENR. Asked how she foresees the industry over the Salmiah revealed that Ekoprena 25 has been next few years, Salmiah envisages more automated used successfully in Enasave tyres produced by tapping systems to be applied as well as plenty a Japanese company. “Enasave 97 has a 97% nonof opportunities for collaborations, provided petroleum-based content achieved largely through organisations are keen to partake in the learning the use of silica-filled Ekoprena in the tyre tread, process. sidewall and inner liner compounds.” She also went on to say that the company has reported a 35% reduction in rolling resistance in its The future of green tyre technology oving on to other developments intended to help Enasave 97 tyre, which currently is said to be the conserve the environment, Salmiah says that highest rated tyre for both wet grip and fuel economy “green tyres” are no longer a buzzword in the tyre under Japan’s tyre labelling scheme. industry. Demand for hybrid and electric vehicles and for low rolling resistance tyres could trigger silica-based “This will be a key area of development for some time to come. It is because of this that considerable Ekoprena consumption in passenger car tyres to reach investment into the development of environmentally the targeted capacity, rising to a potential market of friendly Ekoprena tyres has been started by MRB’s more than 1 million tonnes in the next decade. research centre in the UK, the Tun Abdul Razak For commercial vehicle tyres, the need for a new material such as Ekoprena could be even more Research Centre (TARRC).” important to enable tyre manufacturers to meet Ekoprena is epoxidised natural rubber (ENR), obtained by epoxidation of natural rubber latex that is new legislative requirements that are coming up produced from a renewable natural resource. in Europe, requiring improved wet grip and fuel Malaysia’s first Ekoprena experimental tyre to economy, say industry analysts. undergo commercial vehicle service trials in the UK Meanwhile, Salmiah believes that as production volumes rise, the price of Ekoprena compounds was fitted to a coach recently. The programme will could be comparable with current synthetic-based test the green tyre tread material on commercial compounds, with the added benefit of improved vehicles in service using UK-based South Mimms performance and better environmental credentials. Travel’s vehicles.



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2012 Events


18 - 20 SEPTEMBER PU China Venue: Shenzhen Convention & Exhibition Centre, China Tel: +44 208 253 9625 Email: Internet:

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3 - 4 OCTOBER Tyre Label Legislation and Marketing Conference Venue: Le Meridien Brussels, Carrefour de l’Europe3, Belgium Tel: +44(0)7703189567 Email: Internet:

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