PRA 2014 September 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

In this issue

Volume 29, No 208

publlshed slnce 1985

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

Features 焦 點 內 容

Publisher Arthur Schavemaker Tel: +31 547 275005 Email:

16 醫療領域: 移動醫療,一個改變遊戲規則的行業 18 Medical Industry

The rising cost of healthcare is witnessing an increasing interest in mobile healthcare or mHealth services

20 Cover Feature

With the growth of the global population, comes scarcity of food. Hence, there is an urgent need to focus on zero wastage of food. Borouge, provider of polyolefin solutions, is addressing the food challenge through its innovative solutions

26 Building & Construction

Editorial/Production Coordinator Angelica Buan Email: Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling

As the AEC draws near, ASEAN countries are gearing up for transitional challenges and a windfall of opportunities expected with it. Figuring largely in the AEC is infrastructure development

Circulation Abril Castro Email:

30 Thermoplastic Elastomers

Admin & Finance Manager Tean Arul Email:

TPEs are beginning to cover more applications and uses, thus enabling the material to edge out polymers like PVC and rubbers

32 Packaging

Retailers and brand owners hoping to woo sustainability-minded customers are beginning to make a concerted effort in building more sustainable businesses and reducing their environmental footprints

Regulars 概 要

ISSN 1360-1245

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

12 業界新聞

Supplements 副 刊 From simple prototypes to complex products for the aerospace, defence, medical and industrial sectors, 3D printing technologies are expected to redefine the processing sector Is the Asian region, being the world’s largest rubber supplier, coping with high inventories, unpredictable demand, and price swings?



Printer KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd

8 Materials News

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

MCI (P) 045/08/2014

4 Industry News

On the Cover Borouge’s polyolefins are addressing the global food challenge

Connect @


Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information contained in this publication is correct, the publisher makes no warranty, expressed or implied, as to the nature or accuracy of such material to the extent permitted by applicable law. © 2014 Kenter & Co Publishers’ Representatives BV No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or used in any form, or by any means, without specific prior permission from the publisher. PRA is circulated free to trade readers in the plastics and rubber industry. Airmail subscriptions are available at US$160 within Asia and US$250 to all other countries outside Asia.



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

is a member of ABC (Audit Bureau of Circulation)

Flexible and versatile five layer POD lines A new way to think coextrusion A technology definitely here to stay Macchi S.p.A. • 21040 Venegono Inferiore (VA) Italy • via Papa Paolo VI, 5 • +39 0331 827 717 •

Industry News

Plant set-ups/Capacity expansions • US mould release agent and casting lubricants supplier Chem-Trend, together with Klüber Lubrication, both part of the Freudenberg Chemical Specialties business group, is investing RMB150 million in its Qingpu facility in China. The expansion includes a new R&D centre and training and administration facilities as well as a capacity at the facility. An extended warehouse and additional bulk storage provisions are part of the investment as well. By the end of the expansion project, the Qingpu site is expected to have a 16-acre footprint. • As part of its EUR45.6 million investment in its 2013 and 2014 expansion plans, German packaging solutions provider Klöckner Pentaplast Group has added on new production capacity in the UK, Argentina and Brazil. • Speciality chemicals company Lanxess is expanding its US compounding facility for high-tech plastics by adding a second production line. The investment of US$15 million will double the existing capacity from 20,000 to 40,000 tonnes/ year. Construction for the second line is expected to commence in the second half of 2014 with production



scheduled to begin in early 2016. • US/Indian firm SintexWausaukee Composites (SWC), a subsidiary of Sintex Industries, a manufacturer of structural plastics and textiles based in Kalol, India, has set up a fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP) production cell for OEM manufacture in Pune. The cell is located at a plant operated by sister company Bright Autoplast. SWC manufactures composite components for the truck and tractor, mass transit, medical imaging, recreation, corrosion-resistant materials handling industries and other markets. • Germany-based chemicals firm BASF has broken ground on the second phase of its Innovation Campus Asia Pacific at its Pudong site in Shanghai, China. The EUR90 million expansion consists of an additional regional R&D building and auxiliary facilities and it will be completed by the end of 2015. • Japanese materials maker Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC) is to acquire 51% of Wethje Holding, a German company engaged in manufacturing of carbon fibre-reinforced plastics (CFRP) parts for the automotive sector. Austrian firm

Cross Industries, the parent company of Wethje, will hold the 49% stake. No price was disclosed. Founded in 1979, Wethje is a CFRP automotive parts manufacturer that supplies to luxury vehicles. Also, Wethje is one of the few manufacturers that can utilise both autoclave technology on a small scale production and RTM technology for mid-scale serial production. MRC has developed PCM (Prepreg Compression Moulding) technology enabling the fast cycle times and quality composite parts manufacturing. It has also expanded its production bases through the acquisition of Challenge Co and invested in Action Composites International. Furthermore, it has obtained multi-axial non crimp fabric technology used as base material for the RTM method through the acquisition of TK Industries in order to strengthen its carbon fibre intermediate materials business. • US-based automotive parts maker CooperStandard Holdings, the parent company of Cooper-Standard Automotive, is forming a joint venture with Inoac of Japan expanding the reach of Cooper Standard's fluid transfer systems

products in the Asia Pacific automotive market. Cooper Standard will own 51% and Inoac 49% of the joint venture named Cooper Standard Inoac. Based in China, the joint venture is intended to accelerate Cooper Standard's fluid transfer systems product introduction into Asia. Production is expected to begin in 2015. • Injection moulding machine maker Arburg has started construction work on a new extension in Brno, Czech Republic, to significantly enlarge the existing Arburg building by 565 sq m to more than 1,600 sq m. The new capacity is mainly required to meet the continuously increasing demand for customerspecific production cells. • Japanese materials supplier DIC Corporation is building its first polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) compounding plant in China in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province. The 1.3 billion yen plant will have a capacity of 6,000 tonnes/year. This will increase the firm’s global production capacity for PPS compounds to 40,000 tonnes/year. It expects to increase its share of the PPS compounding market in China from 20% to 35%. DIC has also recently opened a new technical centre in Shanghai.


Jinming stacks up tie-ups; most recent with Dow Chemical Materials supplier Dow Chemical and Chinese extrusion machinery maker Guangdong Jinming Machinery have signed a licensing agreement that enables Jinming to utilise Dow’s proprietary pre-encapsulation die technology to make machinery for manufacturing polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) co-extrusion films. This represents the first such licensing agreement for Dow in Asia. The collaboration facilitates access to Dow’s pre-encapsulation die technology as the localisation of advanced PVDC co-ex machine manufacturing will make it easier for local convertors to access the technology and accelerate the use of barrier films over the coming years. “Jinming remains committed to providing customers with sustainable and advanced packaging solutions and equipment,” said Ma Zhenxin, Chairman of Jinming. “We will use this collaboration with Dow to improve PVDC process technology to bring about greater productivity and results for our customers in Asia Pacific.” As the region’s middle class population continues to grow and becomes more affluent, with increasing standards of sophistication, it translates to improved living conditions and better quality of life. As a result, consumers are more willing to pay for packaging integrity and convenience in food products, leading to a rise in demand of barrier-film applications. By leveraging Dow’s technology, the shelf life of meat products, for example, will be increased with reduced spoilage, thus helping to protect the integrity of food safety expectations. Dow says its pre-encapsulation die technology allows the PVDC co-ex die to have a longer continuous run time, increasing productivity by reducing die clean up intervals. This technology can be used to process Dow Saran PVDC resins, for barrier protection packaging. Jinming manufactures blown film lines, cast film lines and blow moulding machines in China. It also has a cooperation with another US firm, ExxonMobil Chemical, to use its materials for POD extrusion machinery. Recently also, Jinming tied up with German chemicals firm BASF to use the latter’s Ultramid polyamide on its extrusion machinery technology.

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Industry News



• Petrochemicals and pipe maker Mexichem wil acquire US-based Dura-Line Corporation from CHS Capital for US$630 million, advancing Mexichem’s strategy of global growth in high-end speciality products. Dura-Line makes HDPE conduit, duct and pressurepipe solutions for telecom and data communications, energy and infrastructure industries. The acquisition is Mexichem’s second major foray into international markets recently. It is also buying German PVC paste producer Vestolit from investment company Strategic Value Partners (SVP Global) for EUR219 million. Vestolit is Europe’s only manufacturer of High Impact Suspension PVC (HIS-PVC) for weather-resistant windows and is Europe’s secondlargest producers of paste PVC for floors and wallpapers. Vestolit also produces alkylchlorides, a valueadded intermediary used for a variety of chemical and industrial applications. Total installed PVC capacity is 415,000 tonnes/year. SEPTEMBER 2014

• In the continuing saga of SBC maker Kraton Performance Polymers’s deal with Taiwanese petrochemical firm LCY Chemical, the US firm said it received notification from LCY that it has exercised its right to terminate the agreement. This comes against the back of withdrawal of Kraton’s Board that its stockholders approve the agreement. Although the parties engaged in numerous discussions regarding possible revisions to the terms of the agreement, LCY notified Kraton that it would no longer negotiate, and would not agree to any revisions to the terms and conditions of the agreement. The provisions of the combination agreement provide for Kraton to pay LCY a US$25 million break-up fee. • Having completed the acquisition of Indian firm SeQuent’s Specialty Chemicals business, South Korean Songwon Industrial Group says it is now in a stronger position to better meet the needs of current and future customers in India. The acquisition includes the polymer stabiliser business, the production site in Panoli and the local R&D division.

• Austria-based polyolefins maker Borealis is taking full ownership of DuPont Holding Netherlands’s 67% shareholding in acrylate copolymers supplier Speciality Polymers Antwerp. Located in Belgium, the latter is a joint venture between DuPont Holding Netherlands (67%), Borealis Polymers and Borealis Kallo (together 33%). DuPont will continue to serve the market with ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and acrylate copolymers produced at the Belgian facility. • US-based nanotechnology R&D firm Applied Nanotech Holdings (APNT) has merged with NanoHolding, the parent company of Nanofilm, a private company dealing in speciality optical coatings, cleaners and nanocomposite products. The combination will create a new publiclisted company called PEN Inc. • Rigid packaging maker Berlin Packaging is being acquired by private equity firm Oak Hill Capital Partners, from Investcorp, for US$1.43 billion. Berlin is said to be a “high-calibre business experiencing double-digit growth and targeting a large addressable market opportunity.”

• US packaging company Coveris, purported to be the sixth largest global plastic packaging company in the world that was formed by the combination of Exopack, Britton Group, Kobusch, PACCOR and Paragon Print & Packaging, is acquiring Learoyd Packaging, one of the UK’s leading flexographic print specialists supplying flexible packaging solutions. Terms were not disclosed. Coveris also recently acquired carton board maker St Neots. With aggregate revenues of more than US$2.8 billion, Coveris manages 64 plants across North America, Europe, the Middle East, and China. • Sonoco, one of the largest diversified global packaging companies, is acquiring Germanybased composite cans/drums and rigid plastic containers maker Weidenhammer Packaging Group for US$383 million. Weidenhammer operates 13 production facilities that produce rigid plastic containers using thinwall injection moulding and IML technology. Sonoco expects to increase its global consumer-related packaging and services business to US$2.8 billion/year.




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Materials News

Extending sustainability through recycling With the industry under pressure to increase recycling targets, highlighted are a research into automated sorting of regrind; a case study of a recycling partnership in Europe; a brand owner’s entry into the commercial recycled materials market and new PCR grades for the automotive sector.


ustainability in the plastics sector includes the recycling process, with materials that are produced to be on par with the performance and cost efficiency of virgin materials. This, besides brand owners and OEMs fulfilling the rising end-user demand for materials and applications with enhanced environmental sustainability. Automated sorting of regrind to be feasible Researchers at the LMU University in Munich, Germany, have developed a new process for automated identification of polymers, facilitating rapid separation of plastics for re-use. The new patent-pending technique involves exposing plastics to a brief flash of light that causes the material to fluoresce. Photoelectric sensors then measure the intensity of the light emitted in response to the inducing photoexcitation to determine the dynamics of its decay. Because the different polymer materials used in the manufacture of plastics display specific fluorescence lifetimes, the form of the decay curve can be used to identify their chemical nature. LMU researchers have developed a new process said to simplify the process of sorting plastics in recycling plants

Unless the sorted material is of high purity, reheating of recycled plastic in the reuse process, can, however, lead to alterations in its properties. Contamination levels as low as 5% are sufficient to significantly reduce the quality of the reformed product. Since polymers tend to be immiscible, as they are chemically incompatible with one another, remelting of polymer mixtures therefore



often leads to partitioning of the different polymers into distinct domains separated by grain boundaries, which compromises the quality of the final product. For this reason, high-quality plastic products are always manufactured exclusively from virgin grades and not from recycled material. The new method, however, could change this since the use of fluorescence lifetime measurements permits the identification and sorting of up to 1.5 tonnes of plastic/hour, thus meeting the specifications required for an industrial scale process. A 100% film from PCR – partners work hand-in-hand For an efficient recycling plant, machine makers usually work together to ensure a competitively-priced end-product ensues from the waste. Size reduction equipment supplier Herbold Meckesheim, together with Austrian recycling equipment supplier Erema, designed a plant for Poligroup in Bulgaria, which has been in operation since September 2013. It produces 30-micron film made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) content, such as LDPE agriculture film waste, LLDPE agriculture film waste and household waste film, obtained from automated sorting plants. The reason for this mix is that the LDPE forms a homogeneous material with an unchanging melt flow index (MFI). The LLDPE improves the physical properties, and the household waste-film is a competitively priced material. To recycle waste from different types of films, the process becomes more complex. Almost 50% of the agricultural film is contaminated with sand, pebbles, as well

Erema’s TVEplus technology features the melt filtration before the degasification of the extruder

Materials News as small screws. In order to separate this, Poligroup uses downstream equipment: size-reduction in the washing line and a pre-washing unit. Meanwhile, household waste film is a mix of several different plastics and the real challenge is the separation of unwanted plastics. This is where Germany-based Herbold’s expertise comes in as it is said to be the only wet film recycling equipment supplier that has hydro-cyclone separation able to achieve this. Plastics that are heavier than water will be separated from plastics that are lighter than water.

Herbold’s film washing line

A further advantage of this method is that the high amount of water used, together with the revolving forces of the hydro-cyclone, ensures that the recyclate film is given a very good washing. Furthermore, organic deposits are easily removed by washing. In contrast, LLDPE films from consumer packaging often come with labels and it is a real challenge to remove them, more so since LLDPE films are ideal as a feeding material for recyclate used for the production of new film. Economically speaking, only certain waste can be used for recycling and that is one of the reasons why a plant manufacturer and operator usually work hand in hand. The parties say that an existing collection and separation system is ideal. Without this, a recycler can only use recyclate that has been imported from countries where the waste materials are collected and recycled. It is also possible to collect mixed post-consumer waste and to separate it. But this is expensive and the quality of the recycled material will be affected. The washing line at Poligroup’s site transforms agricultural films and consumer packaging films into recycled material that will then be used for the production of bin liners, protective sheets and construction sheets. The end-products do not include any virgin resins, and are made of 100% recycled plastic material from the Herbold film washing line.

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Materials News The film recycling plant uses some 0.8 to 1.0 MW/ tonne of power, which corresponds to 0.8 to 1.0 kW/kilo of end-product. The water is also continuously reused. Thus, only 1 to 2 cu m of fresh water/ tonne/material is needed for the regeneration of the circulation water. Also, in terms of maintenance, attention has to be paid to wear-prone areas, with exchangeable anti-wear plates. Poligroup’s decision to purchase the Herbold Schematic diagram of a washing plant, with its prehydro-cyclone washing unit and hydrocyclone separation, was also due to its high variability, since it is able to cater to highly contaminated and thin films. The washed and recycled film flakes are then treated with Erema’s TVEplus (1,100-1,200 kg/hour capacity), with LF2/350 laser filter (filtration fineness of 110 microns) and the HG 244 die-face granulating system. Erema says its TVEplus is able to cater to waste with a residual humidity of between 8-12% as well as a high degree of contamination. At the core of the plant, on the multifunctional cutter compactor with patented air flush module, the material with still a small amount of residual humidity and remaining contamination is optimally recycled. Thus, cutting, homogenising, heating, degassing, densifying, buffering and dosing is able to be undertaken in a single step. Poligroup also says the advantages of Erema’s equipment are the “easy handling and long service life of the wear parts such as filter screen and pelletiser knives.” Sony to extend Sorplas to external use In 2011, electronics maker Sony Corporation’s research on electronics found that electronic devices contained less than 60% content of fire-retardant regrind. Taking this cue, it decided to develop its own Sorplas (Sustainable Oriented Recycled Plastic) material, a flame-retardant recycled polycarbonate (PC) recovered from discarded DVDs and optical sheets (light-diffusing films) used in LCD televisions. It contains Sony's own unique sulphur-based flame retardant to achieve a “highly durable, highly heat-resistant plastic” that uses up to 99% recycled materials. Sony adopted the material in its Bravia LCD televisions in 2011, and later on incorporated it into a wide variety of Sony products. Now, it will be offering its Sorplas grade to external use, outside of its group.



Conventionally, flame-retardant recycled PC contains around 55% virgin material and approximately 15% flame retardant. However, Sony says its material is able to achieve flame resistance equivalent to conventional flame retardants but with only 1% addition of flame retardant. This allows the properties of PC to be retained and a higher proportion of recycled materials can be used as a result, while still achieving the properties required. The firm offers three types of grades with various additives: SPL-EC30 – an easy to mould grade; SPL-EC50 – a high impact grade and SPL-R20T – a flame retardant grade. The firm will offer all the three grades at prices similar to conventional PC. Sony’s recycled material has been used in its cameras and camcorders, to name a few products

New PCR grades for the automotive sector Over the past decade, sustainability has been an increasingly important driver of innovation in the automotive industry. Thus, Austrian polyolefins supplier Borealis has introduced three new Daplen PP compound grades composed of PCR and virgin content conceived for interior, exterior and under-the-hood automotive applications. The new grades will support OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in their efforts to increase the use of recycled materials, whilst at the same time not compromising on material characteristics, says Borealis. The three new grades are: • Daplen ME225SY: with 25% PCR content, 20% talc and 55% virgin material for interior automotive applications such as door and trunk claddings and trims. • Daplen MD250SY: with 50% PCR content, 20% talc and 30% virgin material, for UTB and exterior applications such as bumper components and exterior trims. • Daplen MD325SY: with 25% PCR content, 30% talc and 45% virgin material for use in UTB and exterior applications. For now, the three new Daplen grades are being produced, launched and marketed solely in Europe. "We see a clear trend towards the use of recyclates together with virgin materials," explains Jost Eric Laumeyer, Borealis Global Marketing Manager Engineering Applications. "Today, answering the call for materials with increased sustainability and increasing resource efficiency is no longer an aspiration, but a business imperative for the automotive industry," he added.




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Mobile healthcare, an industry game changer Merging technology advances with low price is no longer farfetched with mobile and wireless gadgets. Such solutions are a welcome respite for patients and users worldwide amidst the rising costs of healthcare, says Angelica Buan in this article on mobile healthcare or mHealth.

American firm Mobisante’s MobiUS SP1 is the world's first smartphone ultrasound device



Healing the high costs Driven by adoption of vital signs monitoring and in vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices, the mobile healthcare (mHealth) market will grow eight-fold from US$5.1 billion in 2013 to US$41.8 billion in 2023, according to Lux Research. This is backed by UK-based information provider Visiongain’s research on mHealth and it says it will be valued at US$6.7 billion before the onset of 2015. Furthermore, Lux also says venture funding for mHealth devices has risen sharply since 2007, reaching US$480 million in 2013, driven by the launch of the iPhone and growing popularity of the smartphone. The above is music to patients’ ears, since healthcare costs are increasing each year. In a new study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)’s Health Research Institute (HRI), medical and healthcare-related spending will climb 6.8% in 2015. Apart from adjustments in professional rates, disease management, and drug prescriptions, integration of technology to meet government regulations on diagnosis accuracy and efficient delivery will raise overall costs of healthcare. Influx of gadgets The influx of mobile and wireless gadget-enabled healthcare devices, thus, favours end-users who seek affordability, ease of use, yet quality healthcare. The mHealth tools also include wearables such as smartwatches, smartphones, and tablets. Visiongain says that connected devices and machine-to-machine technology, as well as mobile network advancements and emergence of low-cost smartphones will accelerate mHealth market growth. This projection is already encouraging mobile operators, software developers, data management providers and healthcare practitioners worldwide to anticipate the increased demand for remote monitoring and diagnosis of, and communication with patients. Growth of clinical devices Clinical mHealth devices will soar past consumer-focused counterparts after a slow start due to regulatory approval barriers and slower integration into physicians’ workflows, says Lux. For instance, clinical vital signs monitoring devices will grow from US$372 million in 2013 to US$16 billion in 2023, a CAGR of 46%, while consumer applications will grow from US$2.5 billion to US$7 billion, an 11% CAGR. “Consumer devices have seen a lot of hype but clinical devices will surpass their consumer counterparts in revenues by 2020, helped by valueadded software services and generally larger revenue streams,” said Nick Kurkjy, Lux Research consultant and lead author of the report titled mHealth Showdown Consumer and Clinical Devices’ Battle for Market Dominance. “Clinical markets will be able to pay much more for comparable services, especially if a device is able to reduce patient recovery times or readmission rates, which can lead to outsized cost savings for the healthcare provider,” he added. Lux projects that the vital signs and IVD sectors combined will total a US$32.9 billion market by 2023.

Medical Innovations on the market Meanwhile, the US FDA has relaxed approval requirements for some mHealth devices. This means that smartphoneenabled devices such as clinical digital thermometers, ophthalmic cameras, and stethoscopes, which are exempted from pre-market reviews that guarantee safety, as required by the FDA, will be well positioned in the market from this year onwards. Recent mHealth technologies introduced on the market include: •

South Korean electronics firm Samsung’s new Galaxy S5 features a built-in Heart Rate sensor.

• Consumer electronics giant Apple has been creating quite a stir with its iWatch. The smartwatch will have a sensor technology that focuses on health and fitness, and could monitor everything from blood-sugar to nutrition. According to recent reports The Galaxy S5 features a iWatch might come in multiple, heart rate pulse sensor sizes with a fashionable design, in a size of an iPod nano. However, the release date that was initially in the second half of 2014 may be pushed to 2015, pending the FDA’s medical device certification. • Swiss drug maker Novartis and US technology firm Google are jointly developing a “smart lens” technology that has the potential to address ocular conditions. It involves non-invasive sensors, microchips and other miniaturised electronics that are embedded within contact lenses. It will aid diabetics to monitor their own blood glucose levels, or help people with eye focusing problem. The device will measure glucose in tear fluid and send the data wirelessly to a mobile device. As for helping people with presbyopia, in which ageing eyes exhibit a progressively diminished ability to focus on close objects, the lens technology, which will act like an autofocus of a camera, is expected to help restore the eye's ability to focus. The smart contact lens for diabetics measures glucose in tear fluid and sends the data wirelessly to a mobile device

• Hitachi Europe and Vienna-based technology firm MIG have rolled-out mobile wi-fi scanners that offer convenient mobile identification for the patient at the

point of care. The BIOMIG device, based on Hitachi's finger vein authentication technology, was introduced in Turkey recently. The finger vein authentication technology reads the pattern of the vein inside the finger, rather than external characteristics, making it difficult to replicate. Other authentication The BIOMIG device reads the methods such as pattern of the vein inside the finger print, facial finger scanning and voice authentication are all based on external features that can be recorded without the individual being aware, which is a precursor for credential theft. • The universal mobile electrochemical detector (uMED), developed by a team of researchers at Harvard University, is a handheld electrochemical detector that can perform chemical analyses and transmit results to a Cloud database from any mobile phone, even low-end models. It can detect disease in a person’s blood, check local water supplies for toxic pollutants such as cadmium and lead, and transmit the information directly to the Cloud software via the headphone of any mobile phone, not just 3G/4G smartphones. This means it is able to perform chemical, scientific, medical, and environmental tests using any mobile phone over any cell network anywhere in the world. Its 3.7-V lithium polymer battery can go on for months or even years on a single charge. For diagnosis, what is required is to insert the strip, select the test, apply the sample and place a phone call. Its testing equipment includes three electrodes and a small sample well for fluids. • Netra (a brainchild of researchers at MIT's Med Lab) is said to be the world's first smartphone diagnostic tool. It is an easy-to-attach add-on for self-testing eyesight with a mobile phone, using a series of digital interactions. The prototypes are already used by 29 research teams in 14 countries.

Netra has been used in clinical trials in Hyderabad, India SEPTEMBER 2014


Cover Feature

Polyolefins addressing the global food challenge With a global population currently at about 7 billion and expected to expand to 11 billion by the middle of this century, we are going to have a lot of mouths to feed. Hence, there is an urgent need to focus on zero wastage of food. Borouge, provider of polyolefin solutions, is addressing the food challenge through its innovative solutions that are able to reduce food loss and water wastage and improve farming productivity.




ccording to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the world must close a 70% “food gap” between the amount of food produced today (based on crop calories) and that most likely needed by midcentury. Already today there is unnecessary wastage and significant shortage of food and we need to address these challenges with a sense of urgency if we want to ensure there is sufficient food for the generations to come. At the same time, agriculture faces challenges due to changing economic and environmental trends including climate change, biofuel expansion, slowing agricultural yields, rising meat demand and ever increasing calorie intake from a growing global middle class. It is estimated that by 2050, about 70% of the global population will be urban, compared to 50% today. The rapid urbanisation of society away from farms and agricultural heartlands means that we require increased appreciation for the value of food and effective food chain management systems to ensure that food is efficiently transported from where it is grown and produced to where it is consumed, with a focus on zero waste. Wasted food The FAO estimates that well over 32% of all food produced in the world was lost or wasted in 2009, based on weight. In developing countries this is as high as 50%. When converted into calories, global food loss and waste amounts to approximately 24% of all food produced, which means that one out of every four food calories intended for human consumption is ultimately lost. This significant Wastage of food includes supermarket bulkunnecessary wastage is taking buying that can be contained by governments place at various stages of the food chain, from the farm to the kitchen table, and needs to be addressed through improved farming techniques, innovative advanced packaging solutions and increased public awareness. Poor human behaviour as well as the trend towards supermarket bulk-buying in developed societies contribute to an increase of waste, and this post-consumer wasted food, which mainly makes its way to landfills, contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. Governments should be encouraged to develop food loss and waste measurement protocols and set food loss and waste reduction targets. For example, the European Union has announced a target of reducing food loss and waste by 50% by 2050. A great deal of food loss in developing countries happens “close to the farm,” so in addition to consumer, retail and supply chain changes, we also need to work hard at researching and implementing actions that minimise post-harvest losses.

Cover Feature Impact of food farming One of the unseen challenges related to food production and availability in the future is the environmental impact of modern-day agriculture. Today, we use roughly one-half of the planet’s vegetated land to grow food. The amount of land used for agriculture has grown by more than 10 million ha/year since the 1960s, and expanding croplands and pasture lands are placing increasing pressure on tropical forests, particularly in countries in South America and Southeast Asia.

Agriculture accounts for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions

We have one planet with increasing demands on it to support human existence. In addition to access to clean water and proper sanitation, there is nothing that is so important to maintain the personal dignity and health of people and contribute to social, economic and political stability around the world. Innovative plastics solutions Borouge and the plastics industry contribute to addressing the food challenge by reducing the loss of food and wastage throughout the food chain, reducing water wastage and improving farming productivity. Sustainable recyclable, flexible and rigid packaging solutions protect food over long distances for longer periods of time. Plastic packaging is extremely light and contributes to reducing greenhouse gases throughout the food supply chain. Rigid plastic containers improve storage methods, especially close to farms, avoid pests, spoilage, and transportation damage, and are proven to prevent food damage significantly compared to other materials such as hessian sacks. Plastic film greenhouses increase crop yield and quality thereby improving crop efficiency and farmer’s profitability, while plastic pipe drip-irrigation systems in plantations provide up to 75% water savings versus flood irrigation, and even better results when used within plastic film greenhouses.

Agriculture with its hunger for fertilisers now accounts for nearly one-quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and 70% of all freshwater usage. Failure to address these environmental impacts will hamper food production in the coming decades, through land degradation, water shortages, and adverse effects from climate change. Meanwhile the livelihood of some 2 billion people, approximately 28% of the world’s population (mostly from the poorest classes), is at risk and sustainable solutions that address the environment as well as societal needs must be optimised. Food for fuel There are schools of investors that promote the use of farmlands for the production of biofuels and biomaterials to replace fossil fuels for energy. These goals, while admirable, will have a damning effect on land for food. Producing 10% of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2050, as planned by some governments, would require some 32% of the total global crop production while only producing 2% of global energy requirements, and increasing the “food gap” by roughly 100%. Conversely, eliminating the use of crop-based biofuels for transportation would close the “food gap” by roughly 14%. A major global challenge Governments and industry need to work hand in hand to address the impact of modern agriculture, changing diets due to urbanisation, food wastage, food for biofuels and other materials, and the cost of food for the poor.

Plastic pipe drip-irrigation systems provide up to 75% water savings versus flood irrigation

Examples of value-creating, differentiated polyolefin solutions: • Catching the light! Delivering water efficiency! Sunlight and water are two of the most important natural resources for a food producer. The agricultural industry may seem to be in decline amidst the rapid urbanisation, but the opposite should be the case. In fact, the global agricultural output must double in the next 20 to 30 years to sustain the expected growth of the world’s population. Borstar polyethylene (PE) has proven to be exceptional in several agricultural film applications, such as greenhouse tunnels, mulching and silage. SEPTEMBER 2014


Cover Feature of modern irrigation systems in conserving water and increasing crop yields, two crucial factors in addressing the global challenges of water shortage and rising food demand.

The unique matte surface of Borstar PE greenhouse films prevents crop damage and scatters the light to enhance yield and quality

For greenhouse films, the matte surface of Borstar enhanced PE prevents crop damage and scatters the light to enhance the yield and quality. Typically 25% higher speeds of growth, from planting to start harvesting, are observed. The unique properties of the Borstar technology keep the film in shape and durable, even in tough weather conditions. New technologies for precision agriculture help growers and farmers to do more with less. Conventional crop irrigation methods use high volumes of water, a large part of which is often wasted through over-watering, excessive infiltration, run-off or evaporation. Of the more recent systems developed to improve crop watering, drip irrigation offers the greatest potential in terms of water efficiency and crop yield. Drip irrigation eliminates water wastage by providing a continuous and controllable flow of water droplets, A graphicaofseries the of pipes and drippers, directly to through Helix pipe head or adjacent to the root zone of each plant or drip row. This precision method significantly reduces the burden on water resources and can also aid substantial improvement in crop yield. Borouge has introduced Borstar Aquility, a family of products intended for drip irrigation applications. Its introduction underlines the important role Borouge has introduced Borstar Aquility, a family of products intended for drip irrigation pipes



• Lightweight plastics preventing waste and contamination Borouge’s innovative plastics solutions utilise proprietary technologies such as Borstar and Borstar Nucleation Technology (BNT) to deliver unique property profiles. They provide solutions with economical processing, weight saving potential and enhanced and differentiated properties that focus on applications that benefit from such high performance PE and polypropylene (PP) polymers in plastic film, fibre and moulded products. • Transporting bulk material with Heavy Duty Shipping Bags Borstar FB2230/FB2310 offer environmental and economic benefits with 20%-30% downgauging potential resulting in reducing the thickness of 25 kg Heavy Duty Shipping Bags down to 130 microns. Adding it to the formulation has given the film a better bubble stability and film stiffness, with a lower Oxygen Transmission Rate (OTR) and Water Vapour Transmission rate (WVTR). Polyolefins for advanced flexible packaging Borouge provides the food value chain with a portfolio of plastics packaging solutions, meeting the international standards of quality and durability for all food and beverage packaging applications. High performance Borstar-enhanced PE and PP plastics solutions are sustainable alternatives to glass, metal and paper for the entire food value chain processing and packaging industry.

Innovative solutions for advanced food packaging are required to ensure the shelf life of packed food

Cover Feature Borouge’s solutions enable packaging suppliers to better manage storage logistics, facilitate transportation and minimise breakage, spillage and spoilage of food – the causes of food waste. The innovative solutions for advanced food packaging are recognised for their durability, high impact resistance and their capability to protect, thus ensuring the integrity and shelf life of the packed food without compromising its taste, odour or freshness. Think thin The trend in flexible packaging film is moving towards multi-layer co-extrusion film structures with enhanced properties and performance features. Flexible packaging converters are continuously sourcing for raw materials that give the best cost/performance balance in order to maintain their market competitiveness. "Inferior shrink packaging can be damaging not only to goods but also to profit and brand reputation," said Shawn Khoo, Application Marketing Manager, Borouge. "Flimsy shrink film that tears apart and spills its contents doesn't just annoy consumers — it could affect a store's bottom line. No one likes to buy dented canned food or drinks." Among Borouge's solutions to this challenge is its Borstar range of bimodal polyolefin resins (such as Borstar FB2310 and FB1350), which are said to provide superior characteristics versus unimodal resins found

in many collation shrink applications. “They allow converters,“ says Shawn Khoo, “to produce thin-gauge films that are strong and reliable.“ It is vital to balance the quality, cost and performance of collation shrink packaging. As the largest collation shrink film converter in South China, Zhengxin Packaging knows this only too well. It can count beverage giants Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola and Master Kong among its customers. The company used Borstar technology to downgauge its collation shrink films by around 20%. "I believe that we can build up a three-party partnership among brand owners, Zhengxin Packaging and Borouge in the near future," said Bill Huang, President of Zhengxin Packaging.

The Borstar bimodal polyolefin resins are improved for collation shrink applications, compared to unimodal resins



Cover Feature Borouge’s cast extrusion PP resin allows for downgauging

"Borstar bimodal high crystallinity homo cast polypropylene HD915CF is a cast extrusion PP with 50% higher Flexural Modulus (stiffness) compared to ordinary homopolymer CPP," said Wei Ming Tan, Applications Marketing Manager, Borouge. "Most importantly, it allows for the downgauging of the overall packaging film structure, often by as much as 30%. These features align well with current downstream packaging film demands on sustainability and pricing focus through optimum cost/performance balances." High crystalline homo PP is recommended for the core layer of vacuum metallisable cast polypropylene (VMCPP) film applications. In lamination CPP film, high crystalline homo PP can be applied in either the core or skin layer for co-extrusion with copolymer resin. The combination of excellent mechanical and barrier performance provides new opportunities in FFS (Form-Fill-Seal) packaging. Traditionally, cast PP film will be laminated with BOPP film in secondary processing for higher film stiffness or improved barrier properties. High crystalline homo PP co-extrusion film allows converters to achieve production cost savings as no BOPP lamination step is necessary. In this area, Borouge's homo PP HD915CF, which is produced using the Borstar BNT, is claimed to optimise the morphology of PP. Polyolefins for advanced rigid packaging The increased demands on hygiene, safety and convenience, coupled with changing lifestyles and stringent industry regulations, mean that today more emphasis is placed on quality packaging materials than ever before. This is where Borouge brings value to the industry by offering a wide range of high quality PP and PE grades for injection moulding, blow moulding, ISBM and thermoforming that deliver both quality and performance. One of the most significant and award-winning packaging solutions from Borouge is RG468MO, a PP random copolymer that is developed with BNT. This high-flow resin boosts 20% productivity gain for the rigid packaging converting industry and achieves shorter cycle times and higher mechanical performance. It also ensures clear transparency and pleasing visual aesthetics required in the packaging value chain. RG468MO imparts no taste or odour, and complies with all food contact regulations.



The grade was crowned in 2012 with the Green Material Award for Innovation Application in China, in recognition of its contribution to the development of the packaging industry. The RG468MO grade is an award-winning PP random copolymer that allows for higher productivity for rigid packaging

Borouge RG468MO PP contributes to sustainability in the packaging value chain through reducing material usage, offering production energy savings of up to 10% and a consequent reduction of CO2 emissions. It broadens design freedom by allowing complex design and facilitating improved processing and enhanced economics for the benefits to converters, brand owners and consumers. Collaborative action needed In addition to providing value-creating, differentiated solutions, the plastic industry collaborates with the food value chain to minimise waste at farms, during factory processes and the supply chain, and enhances the sharing of best practices, inspiring action and effective collaboration. There is a need to accelerate initiatives that bring increased awareness to the food challenge and food wastage particularly in developing societies. Consumer awareness campaigns should reveal how much food society wastes unnecessarily at restaurants, hotels, receptions and supermarkets, and supported by proactive regulation to promote simple and effective solutions. The plastic industry collaborates with the food value chain to minimise waste at farms

Awareness of wastage in the home also needs to be brought to the public, as everyone can positively affect the environment in this area. An enormous amount of energy and water used to produce and deliver the food is also being wasted and therefore the concept of zero food waste addresses several major challenges the world faces today. Š Borouge Images courtesy of Borouge



Taipeiplas 2014 readies to host record number of exhibitors

aipeiplas was founded upon Taiwan’s winning e d g e ; a v a s t c l u s t e rsyndicate of more than 280 Taiwanese manufacturers that have won renowned acclaim over five decades of growth. This dedicated cluster annually p r o d u c e s U S $ 1. 7 b i l l i o n worth of plastics and rubber machinery (in 2013) and exports almost US$1.26 billion worth of machinery (in 2013). This year, the show has an unprecedented scale of 520 exhibitors (9% growth over 2012) and 2,670 booths (16% growth). Taipeiplas 2014 is proud to present a one-stop top-to-bottom supply chain that offers a full selection of plastics and rubber raw materials, processing machinery, auxiliary equipment, moulds and dies, 3D printing machinery, parts and accessories, unmanned production systems and more.

Since starting off in 1987, Taipeiplas has grown into one of the major industrial shows in Asia, with its last 2012 show attracting more than 15,000 buyers. With the optimism of the global economy this year’s event is expecting over 16,500 buyers from 60 countries, including key players from both industrialised and new emerging markets. Both groups routinely source Taiwan-made machinery that is coveted for its flexible customisation, after-service support and competitive pricing. Wide range of exhibitors The strong social-economic link to machinery has led to a fresh wave of products targeting green concerns, reducing labour expenses and energy costs.

Many of these themes are embedded in the products of leading exhibitors that include: Nan Ya, Kung Hsing Plastic Machinery, Fu Chun Shin Machinery Manufacture, Multiplas Enginery, Victor Taichung Machinery Works, Zambelloh Riduttori Group, Wittmann Battenfeld, Igus and BASF. Several of the exhibitors will showcase products that include PVC compounds, high-level controllers, servo-motor machinery, allelectric machinery, all-in-one plastic waste recycling machinery, automatic in-mould labelling, gearboxes and robot arms that boost output and cut energy. Taipeiplas 2014 also features New Product Launches. This entails special awards to bring industry-wide recognition to companies that excel in innovation for developing new technology and techniques in injection moulding machinery, extrusion machinery, blow moulding machinery, robotic arms for forming machinery, rubber machinery and other machinery. To round-up the show will be a series of seminars and workshops that are led by professionals. They will explore future trends in such areas as functional and environmental polymer materials, automation in the industry, aesthetic designing, green sustainability, 3D tech integration, source safety v e r i f i c a t i o n management of food-grade plastic materials and lightweight vehicles.

Taipeiplas 2014 will be held at the TWTC Nangang Visitors who pre-register are entitled to a free half day tour and souvenirs. Pre-registration services are available on



Building and Construction

Infrastructure paves the path for AEC As the AEC draws near, ASEAN countries are gearing up for transitional challenges and a windfall of opportunities expected with it. Figuring largely in the AEC is infrastructure development, which is necessary to accelerate economic integration within the region, says Angelica Buan in this report.


he Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, are a leap away from the region’s ambitious goal of becoming the ninth largest economy in the world. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), a regional economic integration by 31 December 2015, will mark a milestone in international integration of the ten Southeast Asian member economies. The blueprint signed by ASEAN leaders during the 13th ASEAN Summit held in 2007 envisions ASEAN, with its 600 million population and annual GDP of US$ 2 trillion, as a highly competitive region, fully integrated with the global economy. Modelled after the European Union (EU) styled single-market economy, AEC is intended to enhance the national competitiveness of its members in preparation for a more open regional market economy in line with the World Trade Organisation’s commitments and free trade pacts, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and an EU Free Trade Agreement. With the AEC, the region is expected to become a single market and production base that will allow for free movement of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labour. The AEC is expected to have far-reaching economic consequences, by significantly promoting intra-ASEAN trade and investment and strengthening the global importance of the ASEAN as an economic block. More than 50% of Asia’s exports are intra-regional, and the economic expansions in China and India are expected to boost intra-regional trade further.

Is ASEAN ready for the AEC? Beyond the promise of progress, the question of readiness clouds the bright prospects of the AEC. Observers say that there is still a lot of groundwork to be done since targets set for AEC are unlikely to be achieved on time. Most AEC-related reforms require changes in procedures, customs and coordination of government bodies. For instance, Professor Hidetoshi Nishimura, Executive Director of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), says that regional countries should accelerate comprehensive reform, pay due attention to the private economic sector and ensure effective coordination among government agencies. He adds that the AEC building plan should concentrate on improving administration mechanisms and broader institutional reform, which are considered big challenges for many countries. At a recent AEC Council Meeting held in Myanmar, the AEC scorecard indicated that about 81.7% of the 229 priority key deliverables targeted for completion by 2013 have been reached. However, besides the respective countries’ abilities to raise competitive capacity and facilitate trade liberalisation to meet requirements, upgrading infrastructure is another bottleneck. The Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) cites that the ASEAN, with a total land area of around 4.4 million sq km, is handicapped by “poor quality of roads and incomplete road networks”. Infrastructure development Within the region, varying degrees of preparation are also taking place, yet infrastructure is commonly given the larger weight among all other pre-AEC logistic efforts.



Building and Construction international standards, have not been met. It is funded Thus, infrastructure development is being by the ADB and consists of 23 routes covering 38,400 accelerated not only for physical connectivity but km. essentially to encourage resource sharing, sustain In Thailand, there are already 12 routes for the cross-border trade and investment, promote network (total 6,693 km) where nine routes cover competitiveness, and raise domestic output. 5,112 km and are linked to the ASEAN countries. Connectivity among member countries will be The construction of a section of the network, from facilitated through various modes of transport such as Kawkareik to Myawaddy in Myanmar, is expected to be roads, railways, airways, and ports and shipping. completed late this year. Taking this as a cue, member states, together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), set up the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF) in 2012. The AIF, which is funded by equity from the ASEAN (Malaysia is the largest ASEAN contributor with a US$150 million equity investment, followed by Indonesia with US$120 million), and the ADB, has a total lending commitment of approximately US$4 billion through CORRUGATED PLASTIC PIPE TECHNOLOGY 2020. It is expected to finance some six infrastructure projects a year, on the basis of sound economic and financial rates of return, and the potential impact for poverty reduction, according to ADB. However, infrastructure development in the region requires about US$60 billion a year until 2020, which means AIF’s capital base needs to be expanded. Looking at the up and downsides of ASEAN connectivity In recent years, ASEAN countries have strengthened their domestic infrastructure, especially roads, highways, ports, and airports, as well as its dams and telecommunication networks. But the lack of paved roads in some countries in the region is a hindrance for further growth. Figuring largely in the ASEAN Connectivity plan are 15 prioritised projects including the ASEAN Highway Network (AHN), kick-started in 1999, Singapore-Kunming Rail Link (SKRL); and integrated maritime and multimodal transport systems. The 7,000-km SKRL, expected to be completed by 2020, will link major cities in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, to provide an alternative mode of crossborder cargo transportation. The AHN aims to construct and upgrade roads connecting ASEAN countries and China. Part of it overlaps with the Trans-Asian Highway network. However, time targets for the completion of certain stages, including the upgrading of roads to Class III




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Building and Construction In Indonesia, the government is still scrambling to connect areas nationwide before it can move ahead with the connectivity projects. Meanwhile, based on Bappenas (National Development Planning Agency) data, Indonesia requires US$550 billion worth of infrastructure investment between 2015 and 2019, but the state budget can only cover around $97.3 billion. One of the infrastructure projects under its master plan that has stalled is the 2,700-km Trans-Sumatra toll road linking Bakauheni Port in Lampung to Banda Aceh in Aceh, which is expected to support the AHN. Vietnam aims to spend US$7 billion on roads, highways, bridges, and general transport infrastructure between 2012 and 2014. The ADB has supported additional infrastructure initiatives, including irrigation projects, with the AIF having approved financing for a pipeline of projects such as the US$100 million loan for a power transmission project in the country – the single biggest loan under the AIF financing. Brunei has one of the best developed infrastructure, which under its Vision 2035 policy roadmap is expected to boost FDIs. In the pipeline are infrastructure projects worth US$77 million with a focus on roadways and water treatment. Other priority projects include a waste management system and modernisation of the Brunei International Airport Terminal. Infrastructure to build up the agriculture trade What is still lacking is infrastructure for small agricultural producers, processors, and traders. The infrastructure needs of small-scale enterprises, i.e., feeder roads, irrigation facilities, inland waterway infrastructure, storage facilities, electricity for remote areas and villages, and intermediate means of transport, are often not met. Loss during transport or due to lack of storage A graphic of inability the facilities; and to connect producers at lower Helix pipe head ends of value chains to markets is hampering valuechain development. One exception is Thailand, where between 1977 and 2000, its rural road density grew faster than local and national roads. Laos lies on the other end of the scale, with rural feeder roads connecting farms to markets excluded from infrastructure improvements. In Cambodia, because of years of internal conflict and weak investor confidence, the country lacks the infrastructure it needs to support a thriving agricultural trade. Construction sectors to boom Malaysia’s construction sector registered 9.9% growth in the second quarter of 2013, according to the Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM). The growth is led mainly by the residential and civil engineering sub-sectors, with the latter registering 10.14% growth due to major construction projects such as the US$7.41 billion Klang Valley MyRapid Transit (KVMRT) project, which is expected to be operational by 2017. The three-line mass rapid transit system in the Greater Kuala Lumpur (part of Klang Valley region) envisages a



"wheel and spoke" concept comprising two northeastsouthwest radial lines and one circle line looping around Kuala Lumpur city. In neighbouring Singapore, the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) forecasts that average construction demand in 2015-2016 will hover between US$25-34 billion a year, for which, 60% of the demand will come from building projects; and the remaining 40% from civil engineering projects. In the Philippines, the country’s National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) highlights the construction sector as a growth strategy for AEC. For Thailand, girding for the AEC spawns manifold benefits for the local construction industry. The Thai construction key trends and opportunities to 2017 study by UK-based market information house Timetric suggests that the country’s construction industry, which had been jeopardised by the global financial crisis and floods, is continuing to recover. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.19% through 2017, supported by government investments in infrastructure development. Timetric says that the AEC will stimulate Thailand’s construction industry with more industrial, commercial and residential projects being taken up. Further, to promote trade and investment in the country, the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT) is planning to develop four industrial parks in the country by 2015. Myanmar, which actively prepares for the integration offers several opportunities for the construction segment, Dr Kyaw Thu, Project Engineer of the UN-Habitat and Consultant at Green EHSS Consultancy, pointed out. He says that aside from the country’s abundance in local construction resources and production capability for construction materials such as hard wood, steel, bricks, and cements; there is a strong domestic demand in energy, transportation, housing and other public sector that could boost construction and facility provision. In Cambodia, construction is among a key industry that supports its economy. Since the country espouses free market and encourages foreign ownership, several foreign-owned construction firms have been set up, spurring investments. According to a latest data presented by the Cambodia Constructors Association at the 37th ASEAN Constructors Federation Council Meeting in 2013, investment has increased by 123% to US$1 billion, compared to a year earlier. Also fetching interest from foreign investors is Laos. Netherlands-headquartered auditing firm KPMG reports that Japan, for example, is investing in Laos’s manufacturing, transport, agribusiness and construction sectors to expand its economic presence in the region. Likewise, foreign investors are eyeing Indonesia. The Oxford Business Group says in a latest report that foreign competitors are keen on the Indonesian market, especially the rising demand for construction services and building materials.

Thermoplastic Elastomers

Ushering in better elastomer days Since the introduction of thermoplastic elastomers or TPEs in the 1950s, the materials have been continuously transforming. Today, TPEs cover more applications and uses, thus enabling the material to edge out polymers like PVC and rubbers.


ew advanced materials replacing traditional ones are becoming the norm for industry sectors that lean towards continuous innovations. The medical, automotive, and consumer goods industries are just a few of the segments that leverage on innovation as demand increases and more applications emerge. As such, conventional thermoplastics and elastomers, for example, are being superseded by thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs). Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan, in its US TPE market report, found that TPEs have become a viable replacement of thermoset rubber. Since TPEs are easier to process, allow greater design flexibility, and are easier to recycle, they are favoured over thermoset rubber as well as PVCs. According to research conducted by Markets and Markets, the TPE sector is valued to reach US$23.9 billion by 2018, with the Asia Pacific region in the lead. The growth will be a result of the many advantages of TPEs, such as weather, chemical and oxidation resistance and delivering soft touch feel as well as the ability to cater to a diverse range of applications. PVC substitutes TPEs are currently taking over conventional materials, such as PVC, in a variety of applications, says another research company Visiongain. A significant growth in the medical TPE market is expected in the coming years as demand for non-latex or PVC-free alternatives increases, says Visiongain. TPE, being cost effective, is also becoming a preferred option to silicones. Vincent Medical Meanwhile, Markets and Markets reveals that natural and switched synthetic rubber will see competition from TPEs owing to the latter’s from PVC to ability to form various shapes and complex designs, adhering to many Teknor Apex’s conventional and innovative processability techniques. TPE in this Moreover, as PVC use is weakened by findings that this material anaesthesia device has hazardous chemical traces, TPEs environment-friendly reputation contributes largely to its growth. US firm Teknor Apex, which also markets medical-grade PVC, supplied its Medalist MD-585 TPE compound in response to the decision of China-based OEM Vincent Medical to find an alternative to PVC for a gas sampling tube. The extruded item is a component of an anesthesia delivery and monitoring assembly through which the desired ratio of gases are sampled, measured, and delivered to the patient. The challenge in making the switch was to match or exceed PVC performance in extrusion, assembly, and clinical handling, noted Otto To, General Manager of Vincent Medical. Teknor Apex says the switch from PVC to TPE posed a challenge to traditional methods of bonding tubing to connectors, for example, and it collaborated with Vincent Medical at its Dongguan plant to develop a connector solution. The Medalist MD-585 compound is part of the MD-500 series of elastomers, which Teknor Apex developed to be the first fully practical alternative to PVC in medical tubing.

Teknor Apex’s Sarlink ME-2600 compounds are being evaluated for rear side window encapsulation uses in 2016 vehicle models to be built in the US



Catering to injection moulding Italian elastomers producer Softer Group has introduced a TPE suited to extruding tubing for drinking water. Laprene 830.556 is plasticiser-free with high transparency and flexibility, the company says. Its smoothness and slippery surface help purge dirt and impurities that can be present in piped water. It also has antibacterial protection to inhibit growth of biofilms and bacteria. Softer says the new product is available in an injection moulding grade that could be applied in the production of flexible tubes for appliances such as dishwashers and water dispensers, or in plumbing. The TPE adheres to PP for overmoulding uses. Teknor Apex says that its new Sarlink ME-2600 series of styrenic thermoplastic elastomer (TPE-S) injection moulding compounds provides

Thermoplastic Elastomers automotive manufacturers with processing and end-use properties that are superior to those of TPE-S materials currently used for window encapsulation. The low specific gravities of 0.93 to 0.94, comparable to those of TPE-S grades now used in window encapsulation, are lower than those of PVC and EPDM, which typically exceed 1.10. Compared to the existing TPE-S materials, the new Sarlink ME-2600 compounds provide higher flow, enhanced surface appearance, improved tensile properties and stability upon heat ageing and UV exposure, adds the company. Need for soft touch The Visiongain study on TPEs also finds that various applications, including automotive parts and interiors, packaging, consumer & personal hygiene products, medical clothing, sports & leisure equipment, footwear, and baby care products, are requiring the “soft-touch” feature that TPEs can offer. Stabilo writing utensils feature a non-slip gripping surface that is pleasant to the touch. They are manufactured from Thermolast K from Kraiburg TPE. Excellent adhesion to PP and other thermoplastics such as PC/ABS and the fast and easy two-component injection moulding manufacturing process are some of the properties of the materials. Stabilo has been using Kraiburg's TPE for its writing utensils

US TPE producer Alliance Polymers & Services (APS) Elastomers also caters to applications requiring soft softtouch and ergonomic feel. The Michigan-based company has introduced a new Viprene P-Series of TPVs, said to be softer and more heat resistant, thus allowing for easy processing with reduced scrap rates. PolyOne GLS Thermoplastic Elastomers recently worked with one of the largest infant care brands in Japan to develop a new a soft grip feeding set for infants and toddlers. It used its Versaflex TPE material in the bowl, cup and spoon, thus allowing the manufacturer to meet critical food contact regulations, both Japan’s Fatty Food Migration test and China’s Guobiao (GB) Standards test. Consumer electronics – no fraud and no itch Recent industry recalls and consumer concerns in the wearable electronics market have heightened the need for materials that do not cause irritation when in contact with the skin. PolyOne says its latest Versaflex CE 3620 material meets the ISO 10993-10:2010 testing requirements with no signs of irritation. Several Versaflex CE materials have been used in wearable electronics applications without

irritation for a number of years, and the recent ISO testing results underscore this track record, says the US firm. Key performance characteristics include: haptics, such as a silky smooth feel; strong chemical and UV light resistance for long-term durability; and vibration-damping qualities to enhance device performance and end-user comfort. Meanwhile, the company has also introduced Versaflex CE with Percept Authentication Technologies, to help brand owners combat counterfeiting and reduce the risks associated with fraudulent goods such as phone cases, smart watches, headphones, earbuds and other wearable electronics. PolyOne’s Versaflex CE is featured with Percept Authentication solutions for consumer electronics

According to Charles Page, PolyOne’s Director of Global Marketing, Percept’s anti-counterfeiting ability is combined with the haptics and durability of Versaflex CE TPEs. “In 2013, the US Department of Homeland Security logged US$145 million worth of counterfeit consumer electronics entering the country, and this material was developed to help counteract the trend,” he said. Percept solutions, developed by PolyOne, enable brand owners to readily identify counterfeit products with easyto-use methods based on additives and unique identifiers called taggants. Growth market in medical devices More industrial companies are venturing into the medical devices market to take advantage of its higher growth. US speciality chemicals firm Lubrizol has branched into the medical device market by purchasing Wisconsin-based Vesta, a producer of catheters and tubing based on silicone and thermoplastics. TPE manufacturers are likewise expanding capacity, in view of the growing medical and consumer markets. Elasto Sweden, a part of the Hexpol TPE production line, is gearing up for a new TPE line at its facility in Sweden. The company says the line, which is expected to come on stream in 2015, will have twin-screw technology, advanced raw material controls, supporting sub systems and analytics equipment. “This investment is part of our on-going commitment to supply leading quality TPE products and the highest levels of support to our growing medical customer base,” says the firm. US-based Elastocon TPE Technologies, which already has more than five complete lines of speciality TPEs, has added two weighted high-density (HD) grades to its 8055 Series of TPEs for the medical devices sector. The easily colourable TPEs offer Shore A hardness of 55 (1.6 g/cc) and 65 (1.8.9 g/cc), depending on the grade selected. SEPTEMBER 2014



Plastic packaging: less is more Sometimes environmental sustainability and business don’t always go hand in hand, especially when it comes to packaging of products. But multi-national companies hoping to woo sustainability-minded customers are beginning to make a concerted effort in building more sustainable businesses and reducing their environmental footprints.

DPS has achieved its plastics savings ahead of its targeted date



Unilever and DPS using less plastic One of the world’s leading suppliers of food, home and personal care products Unilever has introduced a bottle that contains at a minimum 15% less plastic as a result of a newly developed packaging technology. The Dove Body Wash bottles are produced using the MuCell technology for extrusion blow moulding (EBM), which was created in close collaboration with two of Unilever’s global packaging suppliers, ALPLA and MuCell Extrusion. It represents a breakthrough in bottle technology: by using gas-injection to create gas bubbles in the middle layer of the bottle wall, it reduces the density of the bottle and the amount of plastic required. Unilever says it intends to widen the availability of this technology to be used more broadly across the industry. With up to 33 million Dove Body Wash Unilever’s Dove Body bottles sold across Europe in 2013, the new Wash bottle uses 15% technology stands to save up to 275 tonnes/ less plastic year of plastic; whereas a full roll-out across every Unilever product and packaging format could save up to 27,000 tonnes of plastic and contribute significantly to the target set out in the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan to halve its waste footprint by 2020. Unilever says it will waive specific exclusivity rights by January 2015 so that other manufacturers can start to use the technology across their brands and products. In its recent environmental report, Unilever says its total footprint from packaging waste to landfill has reduced (-11%) as a result of efficient packaging designs and the disposal of sauce brands with large waste footprints. All packaging with this technology will remain 100% recyclable. Meanwhile, in its 2014 Corporate Social Responsibility Report, US beverage maker Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) says that it conserved around 28,000 tonnes of PET through lightweighting and packaging redesigns since 2007 (the company says it offers the lightest 2-l bottle in the industry) — the goal was 28,000 tonnes by 2015. The report also says since DPS achieved its original goal of an 80% packaging recycling rate in 2011, it has revised its goal to achieve a 90% recycling rate of its solid manufacturing waste by 2015.

Packaging Retailers in the UK to push for recycling In the UK, Sainsbury's and Marks and Spencer (M&S) are leading a consortium of organisations from the UK packaging, retail and recycling industries to launch a market trial aimed at recycling as much as 1.3 billion plastic food trays each year. The campaign focuses on reducing waste from black CPET trays, which are commonly used in supermarket ready meals. The trays are recyclable, but the black colour of the trays makes them undetectable with Near InfraRed optical sorting equipment used at plastic sorting and recycling facilities. To address this, resource efficiency group WRAP has worked with industry experts (like packaging manufacturer Faerch Plast) to develop a new type of black CPET tray, which sorting trials have shown can be detected and separated for recycling. Market trials have commenced with 2 million new trays being rolled out across the M&S and Sainsbury's ready meals range -these will examine sorting efficiency and carbon footprint reduction. A consortium of retailers in the UK are aiming to step up recycling of black CPET trays

Waste collector Biffa Waste Management will take a lead in using detection technology reprogrammed to sort the trays and plastic recycling expert Nextek will assist with the automatic sorting, as well as supervising the recycling and decontamination of the material. Then Faerch Plast will get involved again with assessing the recycled material to see if it can be manufactured back into black CPET trays. The project team consists of WRAP, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Faerch Plast, the Kent Resource Partnership, Biffa, Recoup (RECycling Of Used Plastics Limited), and Nextek. The effort comes as part of WRAP’s mission to reduce overall waste in the UK. Last year, WRAP found that UK households wasted US$11 billion worth of food and drink, or 7% of overall sales, with the grocery retail supply chain producing roughly 6.5 million tonnes of annual waste. Of this, 3.9 million tonnes was derived from food and drink manufacturers, with the majority being food. A separate 2013 WRAP study analysed 50 grocery products with the biggest environmental impact and found that together they contribute between 21 and 33% of household greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some of the products include such staples as bread, potatoes, bananas and milk. This compelled companies such as the Co-operative Group, Nestlé and Sainsbury’s to commit to improving the sustainability performance of some of their products.

Expanding biobased thermoformed packaging Elsewhere, a research project to develop a new biobased thermoformable barrier coating solution for the packaging sector, known as ThermoWhey, has been launched in Europe. This 28-month R&D project is funded by EC’s Seventh Framework Programme (under the Manunet programme) and will deliver whey protein coating with improved thermoformability independently from storage time while maintaining excellent barrier properties to produce packaging for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications. Thermoforming is one of a dominant and growing technology in the packaging market and although biobased trays have existed on the market for years, they do not meet the barrier properties required for sensitive food products that the ThermoWhey product will have. Overall, biobased plastics still represent a niche but, thanks to technical innovations and with a 25% annual growth, have increasing potential to replace synthetic counterparts. In contrast with certain controversial biopolymers that compete with food resources, ThermoWhey will represent a unique market offering that is derived from agrofood by-product, and that delivers sufficient barrier properties for products packed in modified atmosphere (MAP). The project by Spanish research institute IRIS will develop a complete set up of the manufacturing capacity and optimised process for Whey powder (WPC), agglomeration process for whey protein-based barrier coatings as well as of a coating process for films, and manufacturing of thermoformed packaging (blisters and trays). To improve the long-term thermoformability of whey protein-coated packaging, ThermoWhey will perform different modifications of the whey proteins, derived formulations as well as study any influence on subsequent stages of the process. Besides IRIS, the consortium includes German manufacturer of thermoforming tools Geba, German cheese and whey producer MLANG; Spanish manufacturer of thermoformed packaging (blisters and trays) Serviplast and German research institute Fraunhofer. Previously, the researchers worked on Wheylayer, a patented whey-based technology that is currently on the fast track to commercialisation and is capable of replacing expensive synthetic oxygen barrier layers, such as EVOH, currently used in food packaging.

ThermoWhey aims to introduce biobased blister packaging SEPTEMBER 2014


Injection Moulding Asia Moulds and Tooling

Partnering for lighting and moulds Very often tool makers work together with product

Hofmann contributed to the design of series tools and production processes. Besides, the design, surface look and function, it is optimised for plastics and ensures process stability during production, and is said to be distortion-free. In this regard, Hofmann offers trial and pilot production in its technical centre in Lichtenfels. Hella manufactures the series-production “Edgelights” from transparent PMMA on turning tools, as multi-component parts, using a two-step process. Each tool produces a left-hand and a right-hand component in each cycle. They are pre-injected and finish-injected using the two-component technology. Here, the challenge for production is in the correct geometrical forming and cleanliness of the “Edgelights”. These requirements are essential to allow the light beams to shine with the desired intensity. After cooling down, the light modules are delivered as individual parts to the rear light production facility.

manufacturers as development partners to fulfil the requirements of OEMs. Porsche with integrated LED lights from Hella and Hofmann utomotive lighting is an interplay of function and design. It should be functionally outstanding and contribute to the unique look of a vehicle. For the new Porsche Macan, Hella Slovakia Signal Lighting developed a completely new rear lighting system with light strips for guiding LED light. The patented “Edgelights” for a strip-form signal light are said to provide a new level of quality for the safety-related brake light function.


A sectional view of the beam path of the patented “Edgelight” light strip Rear lighting system of the Porsche Macan

The heart of the brake light is a thickwall part made of PMMA, which is the so-called light module or light strip, using the two-component technology. This part, which has a complex prism geometry and reflective qualities for light guidance, was developed in partnership with tool maker Hofmann Innovation. “Edgelights” are highly complex light strips for rear lighting systems. In combination with other individual parts, “Edgelights” are part of the safety-relevant functioning of the brake lights in the rear lighting system of a vehicle. The design for the Porsche Macan chosen by Hella consists of three component groups. In addition to the “Edgelight” light modules, the rear light component groups consists of other components usually found in rear lights. These include lenses made of PMMA in four colours (red transparent, grey transparent, black opaque and light red transparent), which are injection moulded using a three-step technology. The heavily-tiered external contour of the upper light lens is unusual.

In order to achieve the required light values, the thickwall PMMA part, which is made of Altuglas HT 121 or Plexiglass 8N, requires high precision optical surfaces with a good surface quality, with the lowest possible distortion in the part. The geometry of the PMMA light strip is designed in such a way that the light entering and exiting at both ends is as focussed as possible. The illumination effect of the rear lights is homogenous and bright. As part of tool development, it was the task of Hofmann to develop a 3D contour that would allow maximum light output at the point of emission and at the same time be manageable from a production technology point of view. This applied not only to the manufacture of the series-production tools, but also to the demoulding characteristics of the light module in the tool, as well as the manageability of the process in terms of strict absence of distortion. 1

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Injection Moulding Asia Moulds and Tooling Braun and Priamus work on perfecting filling of moulds erman pharmaceutical and medtech company B. Braun Melsungen and Swiss specialist for quality assurance and control systems Priamus System are teaming up to jointly develop technology for injection moulds. The difficulty with different components, which are produced for example with 16 or 24-cavity moulds, results from the unbalanced filling of the cavities and therefore results in incompletely filled parts (short shots), which can damage a mould core. The consequences are high repair costs and downtimes. Thus, Braun and Priamus have developed a process solution whereby small and highly sensitive cavity temperature sensors, placed at the end of the flow path of each cavity, provide information about the melt front. These sensors guarantee the simultaneous filling of the cavities by automatically balancing and recognising short shots in real-time in order to prevent damage of the cores. Furthermore, bad parts are automatically sorted through the monitoring of the measurement data, which is also documented.

PMMA “Edgelight” light module, showcasing external geometry with prism technology


There are two types of model making in product development: rapid prototyping and industrial prototyping. With rapid prototyping, Hella needed prototypes from Hofmann in order to test them and for approval from Porsche. This process required constant adaptation to suit the design requirements. These prototype parts, which are equivalent to seriesproduction parts, are developed using model making methods. Initially they are built as individual components, and later as rear lights built into preproduction cars. The methods included pouring of the “Edgelight” light modules with PMMA, and CNC milling of the light entry and exit geometries, in order to achieve continuous improvement of the light parameters. EMU samples were made for the complete rear light module component group, using STL technology (stereo Multi-component turning tool lithography), laser sintering for plastics, aluminium processing and vapourising of the reflectors. In addition, vibration welding was used and testing materials supplied for the subsequent small batch. With regards to small batch production, after the development and modelling phase, industrial prototyping comes into play. Porsche needs demonstration vehicles from pilot production runs for presentation at trade fairs or for dealer presentations. These vehicles correspond to production vehicles in terms of function, but some model parts are used in them. In total, Hofmann delivered 300 sets of rear lights for this purpose.

Braun and Priamus have developed a moulding solution with sensors

In addition, the use of the pressure sensors together with the temperature sensors can monitor deviations on viscosities. Moulds manufactured at Braun in Germany are sampled and process validated so that all mould data for constant quality are laid down in Germany. During series production in global production facilities, the same quality is guaranteed by controlling this reference data, says the firm. The Priamus systems used for this purpose are solely based on information from the cavity, such as the cavity pressure and cavity temperature signals, which are monitored and controlled themselves. 2

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Injection Moulding Asia Corporate Profile

DSM takes growth in Asia in its stride 2015 will be a significant year for DSM, having completed its investment of US$1 billion in China and the launch of the technology centre in India. What further strategies will DSM employ to further strengthen its commitment in Asia?

Netherlands-headquartered DSM Engineering Plastics is one of the world’s leading suppliers of engineering thermoplastics offering a broad portfolio of high performance products for the automotive, flexible food

Ivo: DSM began trading with China in 1963 and established its first China sales office and first manufacturing facility in early 1990s. The company currently has 42 affiliates in China including 25 manufacturing sites and employs about 3,400 people. DSM China’s regional headquarters and China Science and Technology Centre is located in Shanghai. DSM’s business is growing healthily and steadily in China with revenue of more than US$1.7 billion in 2013. With its extensive capabilities as a leading high performance materials producer, DSM will continue to apply Bright Science around the globe to deliver winning applications, outstanding customer benefits, and long-term sustainable solutions. Our strategy and innovation are addressing the megatrends of the industry. We are fully committed to do everything we can to contribute to a more sustainable world. In the years to come we will further strengthen our capabilities to be able to respond to local market needs. Supporting local customers will be critical in our growth strategy.

packaging, electrical and electronics, and consumer goods industries. PRA spoke to Shanghai-based Ivo Lansbergen, President, DSM Engineering Plastics Asia Pacific, to ascertain the company’s goals and growth in the Asian region.


vo Lansbergen became the Asia Pacific President of DSM Engineering Plastics in March 2014. Lansbergen has had over 17 years of working experience with DSM – the Life Sciences and Materials Science company as well as DSM Composite Resins and DSM Engineering Plastics, initially based in Sittard, the Netherlands, and later in Singapore. DSM posted an uptrend financial growth in the second quarter of 2014. Do you see this trend continuing? How does Asia fare in this growth?

Are there any other plans for expansion in other parts of Asia?

Ivo: DSM delivered improved results in 2014 Q2 versus the first quarter, despite persistent currency headwinds. Performance Materials saw continued positive momentum in a number of end-markets. DSM targets for 2014 to deliver an improved underlying business performance in a challenging macro environment. DSM is on track to meet current market expectations, notwithstanding the adverse impact from foreign exchange rates . As commented by DSM’s CEO Feike Sijbesma: “We continue to focus on efficiencies to protect profitability and improve cash flow in the current environment. Despite the challenging macro environment, we continue to anticipate to deliver improving financial results in the coming quarters.” According to Ivo Lansbergen, Regarding the growth in the firm’s sales in China in Q2 Asia, sales to High Growth 2014 increased by around 23% Economies reached a level of 42% of total sales in Q2 2014 versus 39% in Q2 2013. Sales in China amounted to US$487 million, versus US$395 million in Q2 2013, increasing by around 23%.

Ivo: DSM continuously reviews its capabilities to supply the market and will make public announcements when expansions are happening. With the ongoing growth in the Asia market, it will be inevitable that DSM will further expand. An example is the scheduled launch of a technical centre in India in 2015. Are there new material technologies that DSM is developing or will soon be introduced to Asia? Ivo: DSM is continuously developing new material technologies to deliver winning applications, outstanding customer benefits, and long-term sustainable solutions. In our R&D centre in Shanghai, DSM added since this year product development to our competences, so we cover the full range of chemistry, physics and mechanics in order to develop the latest technologies dedicated to the Chinese market. Early next year DSM is unveiling the next generation of Diablo high temperature resistant grades in its Stanyl polyamide 46 and Akulon polyamide 6 portfolios. These new Diablo grades are aimed at applications in automotive engine compartments such as air intake manifold, ducts and 3

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Injection Moulding Asia Corporate Profile charge air cooler combinations, where temperatures can reach as high as 250°C. The Diablo technology, which can be applied to various types of polyamide, provides a significant improvement in long-term temperature resistance. Besides, other developments are actively being worked on and will be announced in due time.

twice those of current DDR3 versions - demand even more from thermoplastics in terms of thermal and mechanical performance. A majority of the connector makers are already using Stanyl ForTii for DDR4 connectors. LOTES Co in Keelung, Taiwan chose DSM’s Stanyl ForTii ahead of LCPs and PPAs, which it also tested for the application. Bill Lee, director of Product Design at LOTES, says, “Among the outstanding properties of Stanyl ForTii that we value are its very low warpage after the reflow soldering process, its outstanding toughness and stiffness, excellent pin retention forces and the freedom it gives us to make components in different colours for our customers. Stanyl ForTii is also our material of choice for other SMT connectors.” At the end of the day, it is not about cost of purchase but about cost in use: our customers recognise that by applying sometimes more expensive but better products, their cost in use is actually lower (less rework, less quality related issues).

DSM’s new Diablo high temperature resistant grades are aimed at applications in automotive engine compartments such as air intake manifold

What is DSM’s take on green technology?

Which markets in China will DSM be focusing on?

Ivo: The need to cut carbon emissions and make vehicles more fuel (and cost) efficient has never been greater – not just in petroleum-based vehicles, but increasingly in electric and hybrid vehicles. Our family of engineering plastics is changing not only the anatomy of the car but also the composition thanks to a broad range of properties ranging from low creep and outstanding mechanical performance to high-heat resistance – a crucial point, as next generation engines get smaller, and therefore hotter. With our people, our local R&D facilities in Asia as well as our local production facilities we work closely together through the value chain, from moulder to OEM, to enable the production of more sustainable vehicles. With solutions for e.g. metal replacement to reduce weight or friction reduction to reduce the fuel consumption, DSM has proven in Asia to be a partner in solutions for a greener automotive industry. In addition, by developing new grades based on non-halogen containing flame retardants, DSM actively contributes to some of the biggest challenges associated with the ever growing electronic waste (E-waste) problem: increasingly more electronics devices are being bought and eventually binned. DSM actively tries to minimise the impact on the environment and health by applying non-halogen containing flame retardants.

Ivo: DSM wants to accelerate growth in the materials sector, where our plastics portfolio includes a broad range of polyamides, plus polyesters, thermoplastic copolyesters and other high-performance materials. We aim to seek partnerships in the high-performance plastics field. Our engineering plastics find use in a variety of end markets, including automotive, electrical and electronics, flexible food packaging, and consumer goods. In view of the upcoming ASEAN integration in 2015, how will this affect DSM’s business activities in Southeast Asia? Ivo: DSM is hopeful that ASEAN’s further integration will result into more economic activity and reduce barriers for trade. This eventually should result in a positive business climate supporting growth in the entire region. As announced already, DSM moved a few of its business group headquarters from the Netherlands to the ASEAN region (based in Singapore) based on the conviction that both Asia and ASEAN will play a much more prominent role in the global economic activity than a few years ago. By being locally present with some of its Executive Management teams, DSM is able to respond much better to dynamics and growth. In other regions of Asia, in Jiangyin plant in China, the construction of the new Line 7 in the compounding plant has been accomplished and put into production, which will greatly increase our production capacity and innovation capability. We invested and will do further in R&D capabilities to support the “local for local” developments in products and applications, including the launch of a technical centre in India in 2015. We see ourselves more and more as a development partner for key and leading companies in Asia.

How is DSM pushing its green technologies in Asia? Ivo: During this Chinaplas 2014 at Shanghai, DSM showcased some recent key applications for various polyamides, one of which was our high flow halogen free polyamide Stanyl polyamide 46 and Stanyl ForTii polyamide 4T grades. Electronics companies are choosing them to use in housings for the latest generation of synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM) connectors. These so-called DDR4 connectors — with data transfer rates up to 4 S E P T E M B E R 2 014

Injection Moulding Asia 3D Printing

A technology to revolutionise manufacturing 3D printing growth According to Wohlers Associates, an independent consulting firm that has been a fervent tracker of the trends in AM and 3D printing, the market for 3D printing products and services grew to US$3 billion in 2013 attaining a CAGR of 34.9%, the highest in 17 years. Wohlers also adds that the growth of worldwide revenues over the past 26 years has averaged 27%, with the CAGR for the past three years (2011-2013) reaching 32.3%. It also expects worldwide revenues to reach US$12.8 billion by 2018 and to exceed US$21 billion by 2020, as stated in its Wohlers Report 2014. Wohlers also believes the industry will continue strong growth over the next several years, fuelled by sales of under US$5,000 “personal” 3D printers, as well as the expanded use of the technology for the production of parts, especially metal, that go into final products. “The industry is experiencing change that we have not seen in 20+ years of tracking it,” stated Tim Caffrey, Senior Consultant at the company and author of the report. He added, “What’s most exciting is that we have barely scratched the surface of what’s possible.” Caffrey also pointed out that the revenues are in “manufacturing, not prototyping.” This is reaffirmed by Anthony Vicari, Lux Research Associate and lead author of a report titled How 3D Printing Adds Up: Emerging Materials, Processes, Applications, and Business Models. “Consumer uses of 3D printing attract most of the headlines, but industrial uses, from moulds and tooling to actual production parts, are quietly having the greatest pace,” said Vicari. He adds that the field is “still just getting started,” stating, “Advances in processing and printable materials technology are still necessary for future growth.”

The 3D printing process is only just beginning to realise its potential. From relatively simple prototypes to complex made-to-order products for the aerospace, defence, medical and industrial sectors, 3D printing technologies are expected to redefine the processing sector.


hough it has been around for a while, 3D printing or additive manufacturing (AM) was thrust into the limelight when German machinery maker Arburg premiered its new machine concept last year at the K2013. The Freeformer, as it is known, is said to costefficiently produce plastic components as one-off parts or in small batches directly from CAD data and without a mould. The firm says that inexpensive standard granulates can be processed by first being melted in a plasticising cylinder, similarly to the process for injection moulding. A stationary discharge unit with a special nozzle applies the plastic drops Arburg’s Freeformer is a new system for additive to the movable manufacturing of plastic parts component carrier in layers, using high-frequency piezo technology. It enables the production of fully-functional parts and not just models and prototypes. The excitement surrounding the launch of the Freeformer was enthralling simply because the process has never been given much publicity before or perhaps because the industry is at a spurt growth stage.

Overcoming impediments to growth According to Lux’s report, the 3D printing market will be driven by the aerospace, medical, automotive, consumer products, architecture and electronics sectors. It expects the sector to nearly quadruple to US$12 billion in 2025. Printers alone will be worth US$3.2 billion, with US$2 billion for formulated materials and US$7 billion for the value of parts produced. Currently, four printer companies, 3D Systems, Stratasys, EOS and Arcam, dominate the market and hold a combined 31% printer market share, according to Lux. Lux also notes that the “razor/blade model is a hurdle,” with 3D printer companies often selling 5

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Injection Moulding Asia 3D Printing formulated materials at a steep mark-up: ten to 100 times. This approach, Lux says, was tolerable when companies only used 3D printers for prototyping, but it remains a major impediment to the use of 3D printing for production parts, as companies like 3D Systems, Stratasys, and EOS restrict third-party materials suppliers from entering the market. In 2006, the expiry of several early patents enabled the emergence of lower-cost desktop printers from companies like Makerbot, as well as consumer-facing 3D printing services like Shapeways, raising popular interest in the technology. However, Lux predicts that an “even bigger shift is coming as patents on other key 3D printing technologies start to expire over the next three years, lowering costs for those methods and widening the range of capabilities available to users.” One company that has expanded capabilities of a normal 3D printer is Singapore-based start-up Blacksmith Group. Its Genesis 3D printer integrates 3D scanning into a single system. It uses fused deposition modelling on a rotary platform, instead of the Cartesian platform, and is able to scan objects for reproduction on the same unit. The digitised objects can also be modified and combined to form new 3D objects.

IDTechEx has pinpointed the current status of existing and emerging 3D printing applications on its hype curve

fully-printed rocket engines; 3D printing in schools and universities; animal-rights-friendly bioprinted human tissues for drug toxicity and cosmetics testing; and, ultimately, 3D printed electrics and electronics starting with the replacement of wiring with functional 3D printed enclosures containing embedded conductive pathways. But one area where IDTechEx expects a lift-off is in bioprinting, which will constitute a value of US$3 billion by 2025. Bioprinting can lay different cells and tissues suitable for diagnostics and medical research as well as for drug development. It is also predicted that 3D printed tissues can eventually be used for human organ transplants, especially for the human skin. Realising this potential, Singapore-based Bio3D Technologies has introduced what it says is the world’s first modular bio-printer for printing of bio-materials such as cells, antibodies, proteins, bacteria, bio-gels, polymers, plastics or even a combination of everything. The start-up company says its patent-pending Life Printer X offers a precision of less than 10 microns and has integrated laser guides to monitor the progress. A unique feature is the use of modules that can be changed, depending on the materials and requirements. With technology at the forefront, it is expected that this processing will take off over the coming years.

Blacksmith’s Genesis 3D printer integrates 3D scanning into a single system

Other features are the in-built camera that provides automatic error detection during printing as well as offsite monitoring and control via smartphone. Files can also be printed directly from SD cards without the need for an external computer through use of an inbuilt LCD monitor, while wi-fi connectivity is also under development. Sizing up the opportunities in medical sector Business research firm IDTechEx notes that the majority of 3D printing applications are still embryonic in terms of development in its Applications of 3D Printing 2014-2024 report. However, it says the hype around consumer printers is dying but will soon be replaced with the hype around 3D printed critical components in commercial airliners;

Laser guides monitor the process in Bio3D Technologies’s system

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Injection Moulding Asia Automotive

Adding stability and durability to polymers By adding more polymers to vehicles in order to save

(PE) because the availability of shale gas is widening the cost gap between these two polymers. There is also a move from the heavier polymers such as PVC or styrenes to lighter weight polymers such as polyolefins.

weight and increase the green credentials of their vehicles, OEMs are potentially building in a new set of challenges. Polypropylene (PP)-based materials and other plastics

What are the key trends in the automotive industry where Songwon additives can have an impact?

need to be stronger, more environmentally sustainable, lighter and more durable than ever before.

Schmutz: Some of the key trends in the automotive industry where Songwon additives can have an impact include weight savings. For instance, 100 kg weight reduction yields up to 10 g/km reduction of CO2 emissions. We have solutions to help OEMs reduce weight further by making a solid wall thinner. A reduction in thickness decreases intrinsic stability, and this can be counterbalanced by the use of more (or better) stabilisers. Factors that need to be taken into account include reaction between the stabiliser and blowing Songwon additives can have an agents, and the absorption impact on vehicles including of additives by the fillers, weight savings which means that the additives are as a result not available in the polymer matrix to protect the polymer. Our additives also ensure that there is no degradation throughout the life-cycle. Thermoplastic polymers such as PP, TPO, PE, PUR, PVC, and styrenes would not be suitable for automotive applications without stabilisers. Stabilisers allow the OEM to guarantee components under the hood, as well as moulded exterior components for the life-time of the vehicle. The durability of plastics can be significantly improved with the right choice of stabilisers. This allows reduction of CO2 emissions and the use of fossil resources because fewer articles are manufactured. When it comes to recyclability, downcycling can be delayed or avoided with early top-up stabilisation. Typically, stabiliser levels present in the polymer are not sufficient for the recycling process, and “top-up” stabilisation is needed. New standards require new solutions. The industry standards on VOC, FOG and total carbon emission are changing drastically. State-of-the-art stabilisation systems are not able to meet these new standards.


ne of the leaders in the field of polymer stabiliser developments is Songwon of South Korea, while Sabo is a key player from Italy in the area of light stabilisers. Thomas Schmutz, Director Global Technical Service at Songwon, and Arnim Helmboldt, Marketing Director from Sabo, explain what they see as the main trends in the automotive industry. What are the trends on the demand for polymers in the automotive sector? Schmutz: There are a number of convergent trends that have a direct impact on the demand for polymers. The pressure on OEMs to reduce costs is higher than ever after the 2008 financial crisis. Together with being able to meet the demands of mass production comes the need to reduce development time. OEMs want to unify platforms – which allows for the faster development of new cars – while at the same time having maximum flexibility when it comes to design. The purchase of a car remains an emotional experience. Environmental pressures keep OEMs focused on weight savings in order to reduce CO2 emissions, and to increase the use of recycled materials. We see more and more recycled resins being used in vehicle manufacturing. Our challenge is Thomas Schmutz of to develop products that leave Songwon says the company no deposit on the windshield, is developing a new do not smell, do not degrade throughout the life cycle, and are stabiliser to double the lifetime of PP more cost-effective. There is a trend to replace the more expensive polymers such as styrenes or engineering polymers with polypropylene (PP), and to substitute PP with polyethylene 7 S E P T E M B E R 2 014

Injection Moulding Asia Automotive Can engineering polymers be replaced with PP for under-the-hood applications?

How can an additive supplier make a car bumper formulation more cost efficient?

Schmutz: Songwon’s Global Application Centre development facility in South Korea is in the process of developing a new stabilisation system. This concept targets to almost double the lifetime of PP at ageing testing temperatures of 150°C. PP is very sensitive to thermo-oxidative degradation. There is severe degradation during melt conversion in the absence of stabilisers. Classical state-of-the art stabiliser systems reach only a certain performance level, because additives exceed solubility level in PP, and a further addition has only a marginal effect Songwon’s Ulsan plant in South on the long-term thermal Korea stability of PP. Our new concept will be able to overcome these limitations.

Helmboldt: Light stabilisation formulations for car bumper systems based on TPO were established many years back. However, the requirements for increased light stability combined with ancillary properties, such as no blooming of the additives and excellent paint adhesion, persist. Sabo offers SABOSTAB UV 70 and SABOSTAB UV 91 50PP light stabilisers, two of the products largely used in automotive applications. Sabo entered into a distribution partnership with Songwon for its light stabilisers last year. The product ranges of Sabo and Songwon complement each other perfectly. Our partnership extends to joining resources in R&D. The outcome of the joint development resulted in new solutions for automotive applications. The products represent synergistic blends with SABOSTAB UV 228 50PP dedicated for interior applications and SABOSTAB UV 210 outperforming standard UV stabilisers in automotive exterior applications like TPO bumpers, when criteria like surface and colour protection and gloss are key quality requirements. What is the right light stabiliser solution for an automotive interior application meeting the more stringent requirements of the automotive industry on VOC/FOG and total carbon emission?

What is the right strategy to reduce volatiles and odours for car interior applications?

Schmutz: The automotive industry recently changed the requirements of FOG. One of the reasons for this change is that nowadays new cars are stored outdoor for a couple of months, in case the market slows down, and the off-take of the car dealers is reduced. Volatiles coming from additives in the polymer settle as a deposit (FOG) on the interior windscreen. This needs to be removed manually before the car gets sold, which adds to the costs. The other reason for reducing volatiles in the car interior is the reduction of odour. Again, in most cases low molecular weight components of the polymer or additives are the major contributors.

Schmutz: Classic stabilisation systems typically meet most of the long-term thermal stability criteria of the automotive industry. However, they have a number of limitations related to extraction resistance, interaction with filler materials, interaction with carbon black, resistance to external chemicals (eg. chlorine) , compatibility with selected UV additives, and indirect food contact (specific migration limits, SML). To reduce volatiles and odours for car interior applications, Songwon is offering three strategies to overcome the performance limitations of the classic systems. 1. SONGXTEND 2121 stabiliser is able to meet the long-term thermal stability level of classic additive systems, while reducing the sulphur content by 60%. 2. SONGXTEND 2122 stabiliser equals the long-term thermal stability level of classic additive systems. The reduction of the sulphur content is 30%, and the system offers better cost performance. 3. SONGXTEND 2123 stabiliser is a completely sulphur-free system, which means it is odourless. The system cannot meet the long-term thermal stability performance level of the classic sulphurbased system, but is better than the next-best alternative.

Helmboldt: The Songwon/SABO partnership understands the needs of the automotive industry very well and in addition to SABOSTAB UV 228 50PP light stabiliser further solutions for interior applications are under development. Our light stabilisers and new solutions offer excellent light stability for applications such as dashboard, door panels, rear shelf and others. They are also able to meet the new requirements of the automotive industry in terms of low VOG, FOG and total carbon emission. Arnim Helmboldt from Sabo says the Songwon/SABO partnership understands the needs of the automotive industry

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • Polymers group Hexpol has completed the acquisition of Kardoes Rubber, a US rubber compounder for US$31.8 million, and consolidated the business into the group. • Private investment firm Graham Partners has acquired aircraft tyre distributor and retreader Desser Tire & Rubber and two affiliated companies, Aero Wheel & Brake Service, which operates an FAA-certified repair station for wheel and brake services, and Cee Bailey’s Aircraft Plastics, a custom manufacturer of plastic products for the aviation, motorcycle and automotive industries. Terms were not disclosed. Desser handles Bridgestone, Condor, Dunlop, Goodyear, Michelin and speciality-brand aircraft tyres. • Germany-based ContiTech is finalising its US$1.91 billion acquisition of industrial hoses and conveyor belts maker Veyance Technologies by the fourth quarter of the year. German and the US regulatory authorities are currently reviewing the planned purchase. The deal is expected to strengthen ContiTech’s focus in the air spring, rubber track and power transmission belt businesses. • Camoplast Solideal, a manufacturer and distributor of off-road tyres, wheels, rubber tracks, and undercarriage systems has acquired Rodaco, which operates facilities in Argentina and Brazil. The acquisition aims to improve Camoplast’s capacity to manufacture and distribute tyres for the material handling industry in South America. Early in the year, Camoplast also acquired Gulimsa, an industrial tyres distributor, to establish its distribution network in Spain.

• Trelleborg is acquiring Uretek and Archer Rubber Company from US-based privately owned Uretek Archer Group. The acquisition complements its existing business in engineered fabrics and broadens its product range in North America. Total sales are mainly in North America and amounted to US$70 million in 2013. • Singapore-headquartered natural rubber producer Halcyon Agri Corporation is purchasing New Continent Enterprises (NCE), a Singaporean trading group for natural rubber, synthetic rubber and edible oils. Initial investment is pegged at about US$30 million. • Semperit Holding, an Austrian company that produces gloves, is investing RM220 million to expand its capacity at its facility in Perak, Malaysia. Semperit has been operating six production facilities for medical and protective gloves since its acquisition of Latexx Partners in 2012. The firm says its new plant for nitrile gloves will consume 50% lower energy and is expected to be completed by 2016. • South Korean tyre maker Kumho Tire has expanded its testing capabilities in Europe, with the set up of a tyre preparation facility at the ATP Automotive Testing Papenburg centre in Germany. It will allow Kumho to improve its ability to assess subjective handling, wet-handling characteristics, aquaplaning, driving comfort, interior/exterior noise and braking. Last year, Kumho opened a US$90 million R&D centre at Yongin City, South Korea. • South Korea’s tyre manufacturer Hankook Tire and Spain’s engineering services firm

Applus+IDIADA are collaborating on a variety of research initiatives to support Hankook’s expanding OE business in Europe. As part of the contract, Hankook is opening a technical office at Applus IDIADA’s proving ground near Tarragona to serve as its European testing centre. It will facilitate shorter development time and improved test accuracy. • US-headquartered Green Tokai, a manufacturer of rubber, plastic and injection-moulded parts for the automotive industry, is investing US$4.4 million to expand its weather stripping and automotive trim facility in Kentucky. The company, a subsidiary of Japan-based Tokai Kogyo, says the expansion will allow it to develop new processes. • Indian tyre maker MRF (Madras Rubber Factory) has inaugurated its new tyre retreading facility located at Salalah, Oman. With an initial production capacity of 1,500 tyres for trucks and tractors, the factory has an expandable capacity of 300 tyres/month. T h i s is the seventh retreading plant in Oman. • Germany-based Pyrolyx, which has developed the first green, sustainable process for the recovery of carbon black from end-of-life tyres, has patented its method for the US and Chinese markets. It expects it to be patented in other countries during the course of 2014 and is constructing its first commercial Pyrolyx plant in Germany. • US micronised rubber producer Lehigh Technologies is raising US$11 million in venture capital, to invest in a global expansion. Lehigh, which converts discarded car tyres and

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News other post-industrial rubber into micronised rubber powder, has raised about US$7 million of the planned raise. • Dutch firm Sensata Technologies is to acquire the Schrader Group from Madison Dearborn Partners for US$1 billion. Schrader is a global leader in tyre pressure monitoring sensors (TPMS). The transaction provides TPMS and additional low pressure sensing capabilities that address large and fast growing sensing markets and adds to Sensata’s sensing position. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval and is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2014. Schrader is expected to generate

US$550 million in revenue in 2014. Schrader pioneered TPMS for global OEMs, a safety feature now standard on all cars in North America and growing globally in Europe and Asia. • Germany-based Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, the Freudenberg Group’s global sealing specialist, is to acquire Tobul Accumulator, a manufacturer of hydraulic accumulators. The family-owned company has various sites in the US, together with a sales office in Shanghai, China, and employs some 120 people. The company manufactures piston and bladder accumulators for industrial applications.

• Anhui HeDing Tires Technology has commissioned production at its new factory in Bengbu, Anhui province, 17 months after beginning construction on the US$323 million project. The plant is designed to produce up to 4 million steel-belted radial tyres/year in the project’s first phase. The company reportedly invested US$145 million in this first phase of a what eventually will become a 12 million-tyre/year factory. When completed, the project is expected to generate US$48 million in profit on US$645 million in annual revenue.

Rubber Journal Asia Materials News

Recycled carbon black to power electric vehicles? Yes, the possibility of recycled carbon black being used to power electric vehicles could be a reality. Old tyres have never had it so good. In a bid to divert them from the landfills, tyres are often recycled for use on basketball courts; new shoe products; in children’s playgrounds; as furniture, clothing and mats and many other uses. And now a research institute in the US has developed a novel idea that could see old tyres powering vehicles.


he global battery market for vehicles and military applications is approaching US$78 billion and the materials market is expected to hit US$11 billion in 2018. One such contributor to the vehicle market could be recycled tyres that could see new life in lithiumion batteries for providing power to plug-in electric vehicles and store energy produced by wind and solar, say researchers at the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). By modifying the microstructural characteristics of carbon black, recovered from discarded tyres, a team led by Parans Paranthaman and Amit Naskar is developing a better anode for lithium-ion batteries. An anode is a negatively charged electrode used as a host for storing lithium during charging. The method has numerous advantages over conventional approaches to making anodes for lithium-ion batteries. “Using waste tyres for products such as energy storage is very attractive not only from the carbon materials recovery perspective but also for controlling environmental hazards caused by waste tyre stock piles,” Paranthaman said.

which exceeds the best properties of commercial graphite. Researchers attribute this to the unique microstructure of the tyre-derived carbon. Anodes are one of the leading battery components, with 11 to 15% of the materials market share, according to Naskar, who noted that the new method could eliminate a number of hurdles. “This technology addresses the need to develop an inexpensive, environmentally benign carbon composite anode material with high-surface area, higher-rate capability and long-term stability,” Naskar said. ORNL plans to work with the US industry to license this technology and produce lithium-ion cells for automobile, stationary storage, medical and military applications. The researchers are working on a pilot manufacturing process to scale up the recovery of material and demonstrate applications as anodes for lithium-ion batteries in large-format pouch cells. Researchers expect these batteries to be less expensive than those manufactured with commercial carbon powders. The research on conversion of recycled tyres to graphite powders was funded by the laboratory’s Technology Innovation Program while the research on battery fabrication and electrochemical testing was sponsored by DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division. Transmission electron microscopy research was supported by ORNL’s Centre for Nanophase Materials Sciences, a DOE Office of Science user facility.

Perfecting the technique for anodes he ORNL technique uses a proprietary pretreatment to recover pyrolytic carbon black material, which is similar to graphite but manmade. When used in anodes of lithium-ion batteries, researchers produced a small, laboratory-scale battery with a reversible capacity that is higher than what is possible with commercial graphite materials. In fact, after 100 cycles the capacity measures nearly 390 milliamp hours/g of carbon anode,


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Rubber Journal Asia Rubber Sector

Asian Rubber: Thriving against rubber volatility Given that rubber is a volatile commodity, the

The world’s top producer, Thailand, which presently exports 90% of its domestic output, is struggling to cope with declining prices, which have dropped for the third year to 50 baht/kg from 100 baht in 2012. The price slump is set to wipe off 36 billion baht from the local rubber industry this year, according to a rubber researcher. Thus, the country is revising its long-term and short-term rubber infrastructure to buffer the price declines (as well as address the rubber glut). A budget of 5.9 billion baht has been allocated by the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) to implement measures to overhaul the sector, consisting of nine policies and 12 projects over a period of ten years. The measures involve maintaining a stock to stabilise prices, improving planters’ liquidity, developing the rubber market and conducting R&D on rubber products, said Winthai Suwaree, an NCPO spokesman. For the short term of up to ten years, product prices will be buoyed by increasing market liquidity, adding value and improving quality of products and more lending to rubber operators. Suwaree said, “In the short term, more markets must be found and products traded at appropriate prices. In the long term, domestic use should be optimised and a balance between demand and supply must be maintained.” This action comes after representatives of the rubber farmers’ network submitted a letter to Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to propose measures for their survival. The six-group network suggested two emergency measures, which includes stopping the sale of the 210,000 tonnes of rubber in the government’s stockpile, saying the move would further push down prices. They also urged all agencies to think of how to process or add value to rubber such as adding latex to asphalt in road construction or building playgrounds or futsal fields. The government should also keep track of the quantity and quality of the rubber in its stock to stabilise prices. In the medium term, the farmers suggest a restructuring of the Thai rubber market so it can be used as a reference for prices for Asean and the world instead of foreign futures markets. The planters say they should take part in the making of rubber products while the government can help in terms of financing and marketing. They also want the government to approve a revolving fund worth 10 billion baht for stockpiling and 5 billion baht in credit for processing rubber. In Nakhon Si Thammarat, ten representatives of the farmers’ council of the southern province worst

Asian bloc, being the world’s largest rubber supplier is not spared from the travails of high inventories, unpredictable demand, and price swings. But is the region coping, asks Angelica Buan in this report.

Low prices due to glut situation he world’s rubber consumption of natural rubber reached 11.3 million tonnes in 2013 and the requirement is predicted to rise to 11.8 million tonnes in 2014. At the onset of the year, rubber prices were projected to hit bedrock amidst the low-production season, thus resulting in low inventories for sale especially in Asian rubber producing countries, according to the International Rubber Consortium (IRCO). A tripartite group comprising Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, IRCO accounts for about a third of global output. A previous strategy IRCO had implemented had seen curbing of exports by 300,000 tonnes. The cartel failed in this strategy, henceforth contributing to a pessimistic precedent to the state of rubber prices this year, which some analysts expect to hover low for some time. However, stockpiles rose at the end of the first quarter, with supply again outpacing demand. Surplus supplies of rubber have spiked further as demand from natural rubber buyers like the US and China remains languid. The latter, which accounts for almost a third of global rubber demand, is in itself steeped in a high rubber inventory. The glut, according to New York-headquartered industry information provider Platts has seen a 30% fall in prices of rubber in Asia. Meanwhile, the low-production season could only provide a sliver of relief to the glut. The UK-headquartered industry analyst The Rubber Economists reports that global stockpiles are rising, with inventories likely to reach 3.79 million tonnes by the end of 2014 and 4.33 million tonnes by 2015.


Planters in Thailand offer price relief suggestions ffected countries in the region have sought remedies to shore up prices, or to say the least, reverse the effects of declining prices.


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Rubber Journal Asia Rubber Sector affected by the rubber prices and glut said that about 100,000 families of rubber growers in the province were in deep trouble. Prateep Kleepkaew, Chairman of the local farmers’ council, said the rubber prices were much lower than production costs leading the families of rubber growers to be short of funds to maintain their livelihoods. In Trang, the Bank of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperative (BAAC) is speeding up payments under the farm essentials subsidy programme. BAAC Trang Director Panumas Tunnsu said planters should look for extra incomes and apply the sufficiency economy principle. Some 58,000 planters registered in the programme, of whom 12,630 were paid by the BAAC. However, most of their documents were either redundant or incomplete, causing payment delays. The earlier Yingluck Shinawatra government approved a subsidy for farm essentials at 2,520 baht/acre. The BAAC has already paid 1.27 billion baht under the programme. Since most rubber planters are small, with an average plantation of 10 acres a household and production of 264 kg/year, they earn more than 100,000 baht/year.

the small plantations sector to accelerate growth of small rubber industries, said Sunarso. This especially since small plantations account for 85% of the country’s rubber production and, therefore, deserve financial support from banks. “We are confident that Indonesia’s natural rubber industry would continue to grow with the growing demand for the commodity,” he said. Pricing relief exercise in Malaysia alaysia, the region’s third largest natural rubber producer, is regulating rubber prices at the plantation level through a RM6.4 million-funded scheme to be implemented by the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB). The mechanism will ensure that rubber smallholders enjoy profits of between RM0.20 to RM0.30 cents/kg, by taking the middlemen out of the trading picture and coursing the rubber trading in some 64 smallholders’ cooperatives. Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas explained that the mechanism will enable MRB to oversee the daily proposed/reference prices for the cooperatives so that the rubber will be sold at a higher price.


Indonesia aids farmers with credit limits ollowing Thailand, in terms of production, Indonesia is against the 10% value-added tax (VAT) to be levied on certain agricultural products, including rubber. The Indonesian Rubber Producers Association (Gapkindo) explains that the tax could burden the sector’s production and exports. Specifically, part of the rubber growers’ working capital will only go towards paying taxes instead of spending on production, says Gapkindo. The association adds that the untimely proposition will further strain farmers’ declining incomes, which are already affected due to falling prices as well as competition from emerging new industry players. Offering some relief, Indonesia’s state bank PT Bank Mandiri increased the credit limit for the rubber plantation and rubber processing industry to Rp7.3 trillion in the first half of this year, from Rp6.9 trillion in the same period last year. Commercial and Business Banking Director of the publicly traded bank, Sunarso, said he is optimistic the rubber industry would revive with the improvement of the performance of the automotive industry in the US and Asia. In addition, the implementation of export retail policy by the world’s three largest producers, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, would help sustain the rubber market, Sunarso said. Credit commitments of Bank Mandiri for the rubber industry reached almost 10% of its total credit commitments of Rp88.6 trillion in the plantation sector by June 2014. Indonesia is forecast to produce 3.205 million tonnes of the commodity in 2014. Bank Mandiri will continue to consider financing


Pseudo-benefits of demand in Indochina ietnam, the region’s fourth largest rubber producer with a market share of 11.1% of the global market, is currently contending with low rubber export prices due to declining uptake by its top markets of China (which accounts for about 60% of its export volume) and Malaysia. According to the Vietnam Rubber Association (VRA), the export price of rubber in Vietnam fell by US$500-700/tonne to US$2,000/tonne against last year. To offset this, VRA has reportedly advised domestic producers to reduce their production this year and to refrain from selling rubber below international prices. In Myanmar, where rubber cultivation is a means of livelihood for local farm holders, the surging global demand for rubber has resulted in large-scale investors buying land to open up rubber plantations. At its worst, land grabbing is occurring, with large tracts of forest reserves being converted to such plantations. This has also resulted in local inhabitants being displaced from the potential plantation land. According to a 2014 report by UK-based NGO, Global Witness, Myanmar’s land tenure, ecosystem and forests are imperilled with the government’s policies to expand agribusiness, which focuses on rubber cultivation. Nonetheless, production is high while the price of the rubber is low. Local rubber producers, especially ones that produce inferior varieties, are hardest hit by a growing deficit between production cost and the price, pegged at US$1,700/tonne in June from US$2,600 at the end of 2013.


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Rubber Journal Asia Rubber Sector A flowering shrub native to the southwestern US and northern Mexico, guayule is touted as an alternative to natural rubber

Moreover, Global Witness also reported on the acquisition of vast tracts of land in Cambodia and Laos for rubber planting by two of Vietnam’s largest companies, Hoang Anh Gia Lai (HAGL) and the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG). It says that these firms are financed by foreign investors, including Deutsche Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private lending arm of the World Bank (WB). Demand not wavering eanwhile, the use of rubber is expanding, especially in tyres and non-tyres segments and this increased demand could also put a strain on the supply of rubber. According to a World Rubber Market report by research firm Freedonia, tyres account for nearly two-thirds of all rubber demand. Production of nonmotor vehicle tyres, including bicycles, motorcycles, and industrial vehicle tyres will post stronger gains than motor vehicle tyres, especially in the Asia Pacific region. It, however, will show slower sales, compared to the non-tyre segment, through t o 2015. Asia is a key producer of non-tyre rubber products, and it is expected to account for 80% of world market growth in volume terms through 2015, the research firm said, adding that industrial applications like sealing and vibration control will further pad up growth of this segment. A leading non-tyre item is the disposable medical gloves sector that contributes to growing rubber demand, according to TechNavio. It also forecasts global rubber market to grow at a CAGR of 5.89% and 6.36% respectively on the basis of production and consumption, over the 2013-2018 period. Meanwhile, the collaboration project of Malaysia and Thailand, the Rubber City, which will be located at the Thai-Malaysian border and is proposed to come on stream next year (fast tracked to an earlier date than the initial plan of 2017), is aimed to boost rubber prices. It will also provide 20,000 tonnes in additional demand of raw rubber/year and generate industrial investment of 4.3 billion baht. Its rubber output may include rubber gloves, condoms, automobile tyres, rubber hoses, and furniture. Rubber City is intended to support Thailand’s mid and downstream rubber manufacturing as it buffers the country against the erratic global rubber prices. These developments may be seen to provide a respite to the region’s woes against the cycle of low prices of rubber.


shrink 46% in 2015, in the light of expanding demand and reduced tapping. The IRSG says that production will outpace demand by 202,000 tonnes from 371,000 tonnes in 2014 and 650,000 tonnes last year. It says the glut is now contracting as profits decrease for small farmers who represent 80% of world supply, amidst forecasts for record global car sales and boost in tyre demand. Analyses conducted on rubber have become unanimous in projecting that rapid worldwide demand will continue to outstrip supply. This is echoed by the prognosis of IRSG that by 2020, the demand versus supply gap will reach 10% to 1.4 million tonnes. But if the situation of supply and pricing does not normalise in the natural rubber sector, it may be that rubber product companies will reach out for other solutions like synthetic rubber alternatives or developing rubber from dandelions or even using guayule, instead of natural rubber.

Will the cost/supply situation normalise? ingapore-headquartered International Rubber Study Group (IRSG), meanwhile, has an optimistic forecast that the global surplus of natural rubber will


Natural rubber may also face a threat from the Russian dandelion since researchers are optimising it to make it suitable for large-scale rubber production

6 S E P T E M B E R 2 014

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