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


In this issue

Volume 30, No 216

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 11 國家焦點: 泰國,跨越成長十字路口 14 Cover Feature – Borouge, the polyolefins giant, has opened the doors of its state-of-the-art Innovation Centre in Abu Dhabi, UAE, to serve as the focal point of innovation activity in the field of polymer development and application technology

16 Cover Feature – Borouge relates the successful use of air-cooled blown film to produce packaging material for bread

18 Thermoplastic Elastomers – The TPE market is expected to grow in Asia Pacific, especially in the automotive sector. The soft-touch materials are taking over rubber in a number of applications 20 Processor Report – Thailand’s TPN Flexpak, a flexible packaging producer, is moving forward through innovation and technology

22 Country Focus – Thailand is steering towards economic recovery

through its growth industries, based on interviews with exhibitors at the recently concluded T-Plas show in Bangkok

26 Packaging – Recalls are bad in any sector. In the packaging sector, recalls from packaging errors, ranging from defects to contamination, can cause a huge loss of profits

6 Materials News

Chinese Editor Koh Bee Ling Circulation Abril Castro Email: abril@taramedia.com.my Admin & Finance Manager Tean Arul Email: tean@taramedia.com.my

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8 業界新聞

Supplements 副 刊 Thailand may be facing tough times, but it is still forging ahead, with various machine makers announcing set ups at the recent T-Plas When natural rubber is in short supply, alternative rubbers are sought out www.plasticsandrubberasia.com

Editorial/Production Coordinator Angelica Buan Email: gel@plasticsandrubberasia.com

Printer United Mission Press

2 Industry News

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On the Cover Borouge’s polyolefins are being used in the flexible packaging sector

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Industry News

M&As/Investments • Thailand’s integrated petrochemical company PTT Global Chemical (PTTGC) is ready to invest US$100 million to conduct detailed engineering design for a world-scale cracker on a site on the west bank of the Ohio River in Belmont County. PTTGC America will take up to the next 12 months to determine the feasibility of an ethane cracker. PTTGC America has signed contracts with two consortiums of engineering firms led by Bechtel Enterprises Holdings and Fluor Corporation, which will conduct the preliminary frontend engineering design work and cost estimates. The ethane cracker would convert ethane extracted from the region’s Marcellus and Utica Shale formations into ethylene. PTTGC is expected to make a final investment decision in 2016 or 2017. Construction of the ethane cracker facility would take an estimated 42 months to complete. • Chinese petrochemical firm China Petrochemical Corporation (Sinopec Group) and Russian gas processing and petrochemicals company Sibur have entered into 2

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an investment agreement whereby Sinopec will acquire a 10% stake in Sibur. Sinopec will also take part in implementing projects in Russia, including construction of the gas-chemical complex in Amur region, which is being built in concert with the Power of Siberia gas pipeline. • From 1 September, Germany’s Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) has been operating under the Covestro name. The company is now legally and economically independent, but will remain a 100% subsidiary of Bayer, which wants to float Covestro on the stock market by mid2016 to concentrate exclusively on the life sciences businesses. Covestro’s products include raw materials for polyurethane foam, which in flexible form is used primarily in furniture, mattresses and automobile seats; as rigid foam, it serves to insulate buildings and refrigeration equipment. Covestro also produces polycarbonates for automotive components, roof structures, medical devices and much more. Rounding out the portfolio are speciality chemicals,

including raw materials for coatings, adhesives and films. • US extrusion machinery company Davis-Standard has acquired blown film machine maker Gloucester Engineering from its owner Blue Wolf Capital. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. DavisStandard says the purchase of Gloucester will strengthen its blown film offering by adding experienced design and process engineering capabilities, a large installed base and greater aftermarket capabilities worldwide. Gloucester has been through rough times and went through a restructuring in 2010. Blue Wolf Capital bought the firm in 2011, as well as Indian firm Kabra Extrusion that formed a joint venture, Kabra Gloucester, in 2009, and later in 2011, bought a 15% ownership stake in Gloucester to manufacture lower cost blown film lines in India. Meanwhile, DavisStandard has been owned by private equity firm Oncap, part of Canadian firm Onex Corp, since 2011. Onex also has Germanybased KraussMaffei Group in its portfolio, and owned Husky

Injection Molding Systems before it sold it to Berkshire Partners in 2011. • Belgian chemicals company Solvay Specialty Polymers and US-based compounder RTP Company have entered a licensing agreement that will allow the latter to produce and sell the Radel R-7000 PPSU (polyphenylsulphone) resins, Solvay’s resin line designed for aircraft. Solvay will still manufacture, sell, and distribute its Radel R-7000 PPSU series polymers. The new licensing agreement gives RTP access to polymer formulations and production technology needed to manufacture and sell Radel resins. • Chemours, the performance chemicals company spun off from DuPont in July, is cutting US$350 million in costs by 2017 and reviewing options for its chemical solutions business. Chemours has three business units – Titanium Technologies, Fluoroproducts, and Chemical Solutions – which had more than US$6 billion in combined revenues in 2014. The company said second quarter net sales were US$1.5 billion, a decrease of 10% from US$1.7 billion in the prior-


INDUSTRY NEWS year's quarter. Second quarter net loss was US$18 million. The company has struggled lately with weak titanium dioxide prices and currency headwinds. Chemours said its restructuring moves will cut US$40 million in costs in the second half of the year. • US-based LyondellBasell is acquiring Indian PP compounder SJS Plastiblends to expand its existing footprint in India

and further enhance its position in the growing automotive market. Globally, India represents the fourth largest growth market for automobiles, with 3 million new vehicles produced each year and is expected to continue growing by 6-8% annually through 2021. LyondellBasell has supplied the Indian market through imports and tolling arrangements since 2009. SJS was established in 1996. With plant capacity

of 400,000 tonnes/ year, BASF will employ 300 at the site; One manufacturing site has capacity of 12,000 tonnes/year of polypropylene compounds (PPCs). • Brussels-based International Chemical Investors Group (ICIG) has completed its acquisition of certain chlorvinyls assets being divested by Inovyn, the PVC joint venture formed by Ineos and Solvay. The newly acquired businesses form

a new chlorvinyls platform within ICIG named Vynova Group with total sales in excess of EUR850 million. With the addition of Vynova, ICIG becomes a leading European player both in the suspension polyvinyl chloride (S-PVC) and the potassium hydroxide (KOH) business, resulting in ICIG aggregated sales in excess of EUR2 billion and approximately 6,000 employees in Europe and the US.

Plant Set-ups • Netherlandsheadquartered speciality chemicals company AkzoNobel is to invest EUR1.3 million to build a pilot plant for coating resins at its Performance Coatings site located in Felling, UK. The facility will provide resin samples for product testing and the possibility to scale up to commercial manufacture. Startup is expected in the first quarter of 2016. • US machinery maker Milacron Holdings’s subsidiary Mold Masters has completed the expansion on its Indian facility. The hot runner maker now has a new 930 sq m facility in Chinnavedampati,

Coimbatore, India. It will mostly be producing the Fusion G2 -- Mold Masters’s automotive and large-part hot runner system. • Swedish firm Nynas recently opened an adhesive lab at the company’s Technology Centre in Nynäshamn, Sweden. The speciality oil company said it built the lab to work closer with its clients to meet their individual needs. • German chemicals company BASF recently began producing diphenylmethane diisocyanate (MDI) at its whollyowned site in Chongqing, China. With plant capacity

an investment of EUR860 million. MDI production in the Chongqing site will expand gradually depending on market needs. The company also has production of MDI in Antwerp, Belgium; Yeosu, South Korea; and Geismar, Louisiana, US. The firm also started trial operations at the mononitrobenzene plant within the integrated MDI plant in April this year. Mononitrobenzene is a precursor for the production of MDI. The 50 ha site includes facilities of 400,000 tonnes/year of Mononitrobenzene, 300,000 tonnes/year of aniline, 400,000 tonnes/year of crude MDI, and an MDI splitter with a

capacity of 400,000 tonnes/year. • UK-headquartered fresh food packaging supplier Linpac and Zultec Group, a multinational retail and industrial supplies leader based out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, will build a PET thermoforming facility in Jeddah to supply Linpac branded rigid and flexible packaging materials. Zultec is a multi-faceted conglomerate with 21 locations worldwide and has over 30 years’ experience. Linpac has 18 manufacturing sites where it produces packaging, container, and film products. Its network also includes 23 sales operations. SEPTEMBER 2015

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Industry News

JEC show to honour 14 innovators

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n a global composites market that is growing at 6% per annum, Asia already counts for nearly 50% of the world production in volume. This reflects the major place that holds the region in the worldwide market. The JEC Asia composites show will take place again from 20-22 October, Suntec Centre, in Singapore. Held against this backdrop will be the annual JEC Innovation Awards that will highlight 14 innovators, including a Life Achievement and a Student Award. The Life Achievement Award will go to Professor Gao Yang (China), Founder of STARC and Lianong Best Composites. Born in 1956, he is a Professor of Chemistry, Liaoning University. Specialising in quantum chemistry, resin-based composite materials, he has been working in the composites industry over 30 years. He has researched on the property of resins, gelcoats and colour pastes and has published numerous articles and books. 14 AWARDS FOR JEC ASIA 2015 – INNOVATION AWARDS Category : Raw Materials Winners : Solvay (Belgium) & Advanced Biochemical (Thailand) Solvay’s production process uses an existing by-product – a 100% renewable vegetable glycerol – to create a bio-based raw material for use in composite materials. Epicerol-based resins allow composite materials to address customer needs in terms of performance, while making these materials bio-based and more sustainable. Plantbased renewable origin is a customer demand that traditional petro-based epoxy resins cannot meet. Category : Equipment Winner : Aiki Riotech Corporation (Japan) Partner : University (Japan) Prepreg production with thermoplastic resins has been gaining a lot of attention recently. Until now, the main manufacturing methods were the belt-press as well as direct impregnation. However, there are concerns about high initial investments, running and production costs, and specific requirements for productivity improvements. As a result, based on these specifications and issues, Aiki Riotech Corporation has been developing a new T-Die UD-prepreg machine that realises a wide range of

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material design capability from thermoset to thermoplastic. Category : 3D Printing Winner : Best Composites (China) Light-curing resin systems have demonstrated many advantages such as non-contamination, non-toxicity, no skin irritation and safety of production. Nowadays, “fused deposition modelling rapid prototyping”, “paper laminated rapid prototyping”, “selected laser sintering rapid prototyping” and “stereo lithography rapid prototyping” are the major mature techniques. Best Composites’s 3D printing technology is based on light-curing technology. Category : Thermoset Process Winner

: CSIR – National Aerospace Laboratories (India) CSIR has developed co-infused and co-cured fully integral wing interspar box using VERITy process. This project focuses on the construction of a fully co-infused and co-cured wing interspar box for a medium transport aircraft. This aircraft consists of the bottom skin of a wing, stringers, spars, interspar ribs, and spar/rib gussets, using the VERITy (Vacuum Enhanced Resin Infusion Technology) process. The number of integrated parts is nearly 300. Category : Thermoplastic Process Winner

: Advanced Composite Structures Australia (Australia) Partners : Airbus Operations S.A.S. (France), The University of Sydney (Australia), Bishop GmbH – Aeronautical Engineers (Germany), Pacific Engineering Systems International Pty Ltd (Australia) Many composite structures and assemblies include small brackets, fittings and attachments that support only minor loads but are vital to the performance of the structure as a whole. They are most often attached after the main composite structure has been manufactured, as they can be difficult or expensive to incorporate into the structure during the original manufacturing process. COFA is the rapid welding of thermoplastic brackets to thermoset composite structures.


INDUSTRY NEWS Category : Quality Control Winner : Apodius GmbH (Germany) The new Apodius Vision System 3D (AVS 3D) is an inspection system for composite structures in general and for textile fabrics in particular. It provides measurement results starting from the fiber and ending with the finished composite product. The AVS 3D measures fibre orientation and geometry in handcraft and industrial automation systems. Category : Mining Winner : Advantic LLC (US) Partners : Newmont Mining Corporation (Australia), Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines Pty Ltd. (KCGM) (Australia) In a world-first application of a composite syntactic polymer to strengthen an existing steel structure, has been set up in Western Australia, delivering important cost reductions of up to A$5 million to the client. This innovative effort resulted in the development of the Advantic Structural Composite Jacket (ASC Jacket). In conventional structural engineering practice, long and slender steel or concrete columns, often with circular cross sections, are employed to carry primary vertical loads. The controlling design capacity of a column is typically buckling, which is due to the geometry of the cross section and length of the member, and not due to stress in excess of the material yield limits. Category : Aeronautics: the future of MRO Winner : Republic Polytechnic (Singapore) Considerable progress has been made in the area of composites self-healing. For instance, it has been shown that the integrity loss caused by matrix damage in composite materials (e.g. due to impacts from dropped objects, bird strike and other sources) can be completely restored using techniques that dispense a healing medium into the damaged region and/or provide a thermallyactivated crack removal mechanism. This research was driven by concerns throughout all application areas in connection with the effects of damage. In aircrafts, barely visible damage (BVD) is of particular concern since it can affect strength and safety without the user being fully aware. The types of damage that are of greatest concern are those that principally affect the matrix phase and involve both matrix cracking and delamination between plies.

Category : Transportation Winner : Composites Consulting Group (India) Partners : DIAB Core Materials (India), N.S. Rama Rao Body Works (India) These days, dry, insulated and refrigerated containers made of sandwich composite panels are being made available to customers. Major benefits include lighter weight, higher strength and no tinkering or painting and maintenance work needed. Category : Automotive Winner

: Hanwha Advanced Materials Corporation (South Korea) Partner : Hyundai Motor Group (South Korea) This innovative rear impact beam consists of Glass Mat Thermoplastics (GMT) and aramid fibres, and is a world-first use of thermoplastic aramid prepreg. This type of prepreg has the advantage of being able to absorb crash impact energy. Category : Railway Winners : Beijing Nashengtong (NST) Advanced Material Science & Technology (China), Meishan CSR Logistics Equipment Co. Ltd (China) A new type of continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastic (CFRT) relief valve will be used for railway spats. It is composed of an upper valve cover, a lower valve cover, a sealing washer and a metal screw to tighten them up. The support frame of the upper and lower valve covers is rectangular. There are a pass-through avoidance through-hole pattern and bolt fastening holeslots on the front of the support frame. When the connecting hole is used for connecting valve cover parts of a protruding cylinder structure, the valve cover support frame is assembled with a carbon fibre composite reinforcing rib on the back. The reinforcing rib is arrayed via longitudinal, transverse and oblique cross ways. The support frame of the upper and lower valve covers, sealing washers and metal fastening pieces are an integrated composite structure. Category : Recycling Winner : Connora Technologies (US) Partners : Ecovative Design (US), Enjoy Handplanes (US) The unprecedented recycling of thermoset plastic composites will enable composite manufacturers to meet their cost reduction and regulatory compliance needs in the fast-growing composites industry. SEPTEMBER 2015

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Materials News

Environment awareness is “child’s play” For eco-friendly toys, raising awareness for the environment need not take the fun out of playing with toys for children, says Angelica Buan in this article.

T

he holiday and festive season is coming soon and as usual, toys will top the shopping lists of most parents buying gifts for their children. But today’s consumers are no longer buying toys without being critical of the safety of designs and materials used. How toys will impact the environment at the end of life is also becoming an important basis for purchases. Plastic has been a widely used materials for most toys in the market. According to the Valuing Plastic report commissioned by the Plastic Disclosure Project, with research conducted by natural capital analysts Trucost, and supported by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), production of toys uses 48 tonnes of plastic per US$1 million in revenue annually. The natural capital cost of this plastic at US$3.3 billion/year represents 3.9% of revenue, suggesting that toy sector companies have the most opportunities, and at the same time, the most risks, from a business perspective, the report cited. A majority of the toy companies are “generally poor at disclosing their plastic footprint,” said the report. O n s o m e o c c a s io n s , o ld to y s a r e passed down through generations. However the report stated that in the UK alone, 8.5 million new and useable toys ended up in landfills yearly. Recycling the toys is also becoming a challenge, owing to the various types of plastics they are made of or are combined into their production. Nevertheless, toys are sure crowd drawers in shops. Market research firm Global Industry Analysts (GIA) projects the market to exceed US$135 billion by 2020. In its report, it stated that the largest market patron for toys and games is Europe, with the US being the fastest growing with a CAGR of 9.4% during the report period. By 2017, GIA forecasts that the Asia Pacific, led by China, will outperform the US market. Toy manufacturers have since come up with innovations to keep up with the fast turnover of preferences – from traditional and mechanised to digitised toys. However, a number of toy makers are quick to tap on the emerging group of conscientious buyers who take the proactive approach to choosing eco-friendly products, and that include toys and playthings.

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Lego will be using more sustainable plastics for its popular blocks by 2030

Building sustainable blocks D e n m a r k - h e a d q u a rt e r e d L e g o G r o u p i s i nv e s t i n g an estimated US$150 million for a new sustainable materials centre that is expected to open in Billund, Denmark, by 2016. The research centre will study the feasibility of replacing the traditionally used acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS)-based in its Lego blocks, with a more sustainable material by 2030. T h e p a ck a g i n g f o r t h e t o y s w i l l a l s o h a v e a materials makeover, according to Lego. Speaking for Lego, Roar Trangbaek said that a big portion of the firm’s carbon footprint emanates from the extraction and refinement of oil-based plastics, which are used in the blocks. The family-run Lego produces 60 billion blocks a year. The Lego bricks ’ transformation will not change the look and feel; and they will be made of plastic that is not petroleum-based, assured the company. Tr a n g b a e k a l s o h i n t e d a b o u t t h e p o s s i b i l i t y o f utilising recycled plastics or biobased plastics. Milk jugs turned into playthings Meanwhile, US toy maker Green Toys is turning used plastic jugs into toys. The California-headquartered


Materials News

Green Toys uses pelletised HDPE from milk jugs for its toys

firm recycled more than 24 million jugs to obtain high-density polyethylene (HDPE) used in its ecofriendly toy line. The firm’s rationale is that if the HDPE is safe for food contact applications, it is also safe to be used in children’s toys. Even the packaging used by Green Toys is made from recycled cardboard. Bioplastics can be fun, too Connecticut-based Luke’s Toy Factory mak es toys f r o m a c o m b i n a t i o n o f o r ga n i c m a t e r i a l s s u ch a s s a w d u s t a n d c l e a n c e rt i f i e d p l a s t i c p e l l e t s . T h e uniquely designed toys have the hand crafted

Bioserie's stacker toy is made up of a special blend of PLA that contains no petrochemical additives

wooden-style appearance yet they are injection moulded to add safe colourants to the mix, at high speed rates, for quality. According to the firm, the toys are assembled by hand and use bioplastic material for the packaging, derived from sustainably farmed trees. Meanwhile, Hong Kong-headquartered Bioserie makes baby products, such as teethers, stackers and rattles, using a special blend of polylactic acid (PLA) that contains no petrochemical additives. According to Bioserie, the plant-based toys (the plant sources are annually renewable) do not contain oil-based chemicals. Hence, the toys are reputed as the world’s fir st baby toys that are certified 10 0% biobased by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The colouring used in the toys are specially developed for biopolymers; and are based on sustainable raw materials, as well as meet several global industry and composting standards, including EN 13432 (European Union), ASTM D640 0 (US), BPS GREENPLA (Japan) and DIN CERTCO (Germany), says Bioserie. At play with algae Algix, a clean technology company and producer of algae bio-products, in collaboration with Effekt, a material development company, recently introduced t h e w o r l d ’s f i r s t a l ga e - d e r i v e d f l e x i b l e f o a m s f o r various applications, including toys, footwear, and sporting goods. The two firms have formed a joint venture, Bloom Holdings, to commercialise the foam under the brand Bloom. The foams contain anywhere from 15% to 60% algae component, depending on the formulation and application. Manufacturing will begin early 2016, in both the US and Asia. Rob Falken, Effekt’s and Bloom Holding’s Managing Director, commented on the biobased foam: “For decades, flexible foams have been made out of nonrenewable petrochemicals. Over the past year we’ve worked really hard to create a suitable algae biomass alternative that does not compromise performance and that deli ver s tried–and–true characteristics for all sorts of demanding applications.” Falk en added that the foam is produced in a patented process that utilises Algix’s dried GMO-free algae biomass, which is solely collected from waste streams across the US and Asia. Algal blooms have become prevalent worldwide due to a rise in global temperatures and a subsequent increase in water temperatures. As well, they have been impacted by increasing human population growth and from acti vities lik e overfishing, which have increased nutrient loading in waterways. As a feedstock, algae biomass is a nonfood resource, requiring no pesticides to grow and is found in abundance globally, which bodes well for industries requiring its use. SEPTEMBER 2015

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Cover Feature

Borouge Innovation Centre to further UAE’s impact on global plastics industry Borouge, the polyolefins giant, has opened the doors of its state-of-theart Innovation Centre in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The new Innovation Centre serves as the focal point of innovation activity in the field of polymer development and application technology.

“With the drive for sustainable innovation supported by proprietary Borstar technology and our advanced research capabilities, Borouge is committed to add value to life by shaping the plastic materials of the future," says Balakantha Rao Kona, Product Development Manager, Borouge Pte Ltd

W

ith more than 70 professionals and technicians from 20 different nations, the Centre provides value-added plastics solutions for customers worldwide, focusing on the infrastructure, automotive, and advanced packaging industries. The investment includes extensive laboratory and application pilot resources, supporting Borouge Innovation Centre, Abu Dhabi, UAE Borouge’s unique capability in providing expertise in polymer analysis, processing, and application testing. Innovation plays a vital role in the Borouge strategy and its value creation through innovation’s mission. Product development focuses on high-performance, costeffective, and differentiated polymer solutions that ensure the success of Borouge customers throughout the value chain while simultaneously helping to address some of the major global sustainability challenges. The Borouge Innovation Centre also collaborates with the European innovation centres of Borealis, local and international educational institutions, and many key industry players. BNT technology A great example of innovation is the Borstar Nucleation Technology (BNT). The nucleating effect of BNT is obtained in the polymerisation reactor (in situ) during the manufacture of polypropylene (PP). This is in contrast to the standard approach of adding a nucleating agent during pelletisation. Borstar Nucleation Technology has a number of advantages compared with conventional nucleation:

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• Strong and consistent nucleation effect • Rapid crystallisation and higher crystallisation temperature • Inertness and no effect on taste and odour • No impact of colours on shrinkage of the polymer • Full compliance with food contact regulations


Cover Feature Non nucleated

Nucleating Agent 1

BNT nucleated

Borstar Nucleation Technology (BNT)

BNT advantages translate into benefits for converters and enable sustainability • Improved stiffness allowing for lower wall thicknesses and enables down-gauging of end product without compromising other properties • 10-20% cycle time reduction (mainly through reduced cooling time and easier demoulding due to faster crystallisation) • Up to 10% energy savings through the possibility of reducing extruder temperature • Lower carbon and water footprint achieved by cycle time and energy reduction • Good dimensional stability (limited impact of colouring on shrinkage, which allows fast colour change during production without the need to change process parameters). 2.5 2.0

Natural

Red

White

Blue

1.5

Speciality household products can benefit from the good impact and longer shelf-life properties provided by BNT

Proven benefits of RJ766MO versus a market reference • Excellent processability • >10% reduction in cycle time, leading to higher productivity or lower machine time • Reduction in processing temperatures leading to lower energy consumption • Optimal stiffness and impact balance • Excellent organoleptics • Overall lower carbon footprint

1.0 0.5 0.0 Standard PP

BNT nucleated PP

Shrinkage behaviour with different colored pigments

RJ766MO is a material based on BNT developed by Borouge, it is a clear example of value creation through innovation with delivery of significant benefits from the converter to the end user. RJ766MO is suited for very thin walls and long flow paths and can be used for applications such as large storage boxes, transparent food packaging, media packaging and in-mould labelled packaging.

BNT-based RJ766MO is a highly transparent random copolymer PP that is well suited for thin wall applications SEPTEMBER 2015

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Cover Feature

Air cooled PP blown film solution Polypropylene (PP) is a plastic material that has a number of different uses, hence it is always in demand, especially in the packaging sector. The PP market is already a multibillion dollar industry, and is expected to be valued at US$133 billion in 2023. Meanwhile, Middle East producer of polyolefins Borouge provides an account of using air cooled blown film successfully to produce packaging material.

PP market to soar The world demanded 58.45 million tonnes of PP in 2014. In just seven years, demand is expected to reach 87.35 million tonnes at a CAGR of 5.2%. The automobile, construction, and packaging industries will be main drivers for growth. PP will be most in demand in the Asia Pacific region, concentrated in manufacturing hotbeds like China, India, and Indonesia. In Transparency Market Research’s new report titled “Polypropylene Market - Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast, 2015-2023”, the global PP market was valued at US$81.63 billion in 2014 and is anticipated to reach US$133.39 billion by 2023, expanding at a CAGR of 5.7% between 2015 and 2023. In terms of volume, the global PP market stood at 57,898.9 kilotonnes in 2014.

"Demand for PP is high in Asia Pacific, especially in food packaging, due to increasing population and changing lifestyle."

Rising demand for PP in the packaging industry is likely to augment the global PP market in the next few years. In terms of volume, the packaging industry was the largest consumer of PP in 2014, accounting for over 45% share. Beneficial properties of PP such as transparency, stiffness, sealability, twist retention, and moisture resistance make it one of the most efficient materials for use in packaging. Demand for PP is high in Asia Pacific, especially in food packaging, due to increasing population and changing lifestyle. This is because consumers are opting for easy-to-cook or ready-to-eat food. In terms of volume, Asia Pacific accounted for over 50% share of the PP market in 2014 and is likely to be the fastest-growing region during the forecast period, says Transparency Market Research. Technology for PP blown film More than half of global PP output is processed into packaging products. The largest sales market is flexible packaging made from PP films. PP for blown film has traditionally been produced using the water quenched method, where the film bubble is blown downwards and cooled instantaneously using a stream of water in contact with the outer surface of the film bubble. The difficulty in using PP for air cooled blown film lies in its low melt strength, resulting in very poor bubble stability. Also the film is often splitty and has poor optical properties, due to the low efficiency of the cooling air.

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Cover Feature

"The difficulty in using PP for air cooled blown film lies in its low melt strength, resulting in very poor bubble stability." Middle East polymers producer Borouge has been very successful with a PP blown film solution that can overcome the above issues and benefit customers in the flexible packaging industry. RB707CF is a PP random copolymer material. As a monolayer film, it offers very good optical properties, with a haze value of < 10%, and a stiffness level comparable to a High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) film of density 0.950 g/ cm3. Being a random copolymer, films made of RB707CF can achieve good sealing performance, with sterilisation possible at temperatures up to 121°C.

Bread bag film success story A customer approached Borouge for an improved solution for its bread bag film business. In order to increase shelf appeal for the final product as requested by the end users, the customer was looking for a film with high optical properties. At the same time, the film had to be stiff enough for smooth printing and handling. On top of that, mechanical and sealing performances of the finished film had to be excellent, so that the integrity of the bag would not be compromised. Borouge recommended RB707CF to be in the film’s core layer, together with PE on the outer layers. Trial runs were successful and the film structure proposed by Borouge was highly appreciated by the customer because it had helped to check all the critical boxes of requirements set by this improvement initiative. Another important benefit of RB707CF is its flexibility of allowing blown film converters to process PP on conventional air cooled PE blown film lines with good efficiency. This allows blown film converters to enter new application areas that were previously not accessible to them with the PE product family.

Borouge’s RB707CF is a PP random copolymer material that can be used for a growing list of packaging

RB707CF can also be coextruded with linear low density polyethylene (LLDPE) on the outer layers without the need for a tie layer. With metallocene LLDPE (mLLDPE) as the surface layers and RB707CF as the core layer in a three-layer co-extrusion film, this structure offers enhanced optical properties and sealing performance with a well balanced stiffness to toughness ratio. Converters originally using LLDPE as the core layer in three-layer co-extrusion films can switch to RB707CF and still have the flexibility to downgauge the film. Applications that can benefit from RB707CF are very well spread and still growing. The list is long and includes lamination film, food packaging film, bread bag, tissue packaging film, shrink film, cast PP film replacement and general consumer product packaging film.

Borouge recommended RB707CF to be in the film’s core layer, together with PE on the outer layers, for a bread bag

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Thermoplastic Elastomers

TPEs are silently taking over Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) have found a discreet way to take over the world. The interior of cars, that rubber ducky, toothbrushes, shoes, they are all made of TPEs. We barely notice them, but they’re everywhere.

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hese materials are replacing rubber in many industries. Bulk of the demand is from the automotive industry, but TPEs are also used in the building and construction, engineering, footwear, wires and cable, medical, and many other industries. The TPE production is a billion dollar industry, and is only expected to grow within the next five years. Manufacturers play a key role since they have and continue to innovate TPE, so that it can replace thermoplastics and natural rubber in many applications. Unlike rubber, TPEs are fully recyclable. They possess good mechanical properties and have a lower density than other classes of polymers, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and cross-linked elastomers (EPDM). While the material is manufactured in multiple regions, the supply mainly goes to the two major markets: Asia and North America. Combined, the two regions took up 70% of the TPE market in 2014, according to Markets and Markets. Asia Pacific was the highest consumer of TPE, accounting for 40% of the total consumption last year. Grand View Research says that rapidly-growing countries like India are the major players, making a combined total of 66% of the regional demand. North America is the second-largest market for TPE, backed by its automotive industry. A study by Markets and Markets projects that in 2020, the TPE market size will grow to US$27.8 billion with a CAGR of 8.5% over the next five years. A large chunk of the market - US$11.9 billion to be exact – will come from the automotive industry. Asia will still have the highest demand because of the increasing car sales in countries like India and China. Asia Pacific will still be the market leader by 2020. Freedonia Group came up with similar predictions. The group said China is already the highest consumer of TPEs by volume. The country’s demand will grow at 8% CAGR until 2017. Other regions will also have an increased demand for TPE. Africa and the Middle East region currently have the lowest demand for TPE, but will see an improvement by 2017. Western Europe will also have its share of market growth, but will have only a small share of the global demand. The group also says that by 2017, Styrenic block copolymers (SBCs) will be the leading TPE type, as it is today. Growth will be slow since the market is already saturated with SBCs. POEs or polyolefin elastomers will grow fastest because they are new and steadily accepted as additives for packaging adhesives and plastics. TPVs, or thermoplastic vulcanisates, will also be strong since the material is expanding from the automotive industry to other fields like consumer and medical products. TPEs used in sustainable material For more than five years compounds from TPE specialist Kraiburg have been used in Wopex pencils from manufacturer Staedtler. Since January 2015 the company also offers coloured pencils from the Wopex series with a soft component that comes from Germany-headquartered Kraiburg. When US material company Chase Plastics was working with Innotech Precision, a manufacturer of precision plastic components, on an automotive A-pillar window application for an OEM, the companies used Kraiburg’s Thermolast K TPE for its second shot soft-touch plastic that would adhere to two key hard substrates – ASA & PC/ABS. The manufacturer had previously trialled three different kinds of TPE brands and none were able to fulfill the application requirements, with issues from processing, where it would stick to the mould cavity to adhesion difficulties where the compounds would not bond to the harder substrates. Kraiburg’s TPE materials, based on hydrogenated block copolymers, have since been used as the soft touch element in the A-pillar window for over 250,000 vehicle models. Production is expected to run for five years

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Thermoplastic Elastomers The special feature of the pencils is the sustainable production process: the base material is a natural fibre composite material, with 70% wood and 30% polymers and additives. Since the compound from Kraiburg’s Thermolast K portfolio already demonstrated good adhesion to the wood-polymer material of the Wopex pencil, the TPE is also applied to the coloured pencils, by means of co-extrusion. Kraiburg says that to enable immediate identification of the single colours of the coloured pencils, the decorative coating made of TPE must be the same colour as the lead. Thus, its Thermolast K compounds are available in 24 precision colours

TPE based on SBC for automotive sector TPEs will be high in demand as automobile makers push to reduce their vehicles’ weight. One example of TPE use comes from car windows that can be framed more economically and more securely with a novel TPE based on styrene block copolymers (TPS), as opposed to rubber seals. Advantageously, the typically low viscosity of TPS leads to reduced glass breakage and allows thinner glass to be used. TPS has especially enjoyed stellar growth in the automotive and industrial sectors in recent years as well as in the consumer and medical sectors. A key advantage of TPS is its production flexibility, which opens it up to a diverse range of products. TPS are physically blended formulations that can be customised via the choice of additives, dyes and other thermoplastics. The number of individual ingredients usually ranges from five to ten and can be varied so as to influence properties, such as appearance and weathering resistance or ease of processing. Another plus is that TPS articles can be produced economically by injection moulding. The walls of TPS articles can be up to 10% thinner than commercial TPEs, a fact which reduces the cycle time. Adding to the growth of TPS has been the fact that they can be co-injection moulded, especially with thermoplastics. Manufacturers are now also turning increasingly to TPS for new parts that offer new features. TPS is also much less demanding in terms of processing parameters than other TPE materials, such as TPVs (thermoplastic Kraiburg also designs and produces vulcanisates) and TPUs (thermoplastic special TPS products for the car polyurethane body, interior and under-the-hood applications elastomers).

As a result, they are not expected to experience significant loss of UV resistance at critical processing parameters, e. g. in components exposed to high shear rates or elevated temperatures. Thus, these new high-Flow materials meet all the requirements imposed by automotive manufacturers. With a change of viscosity but all other typical properties retained, TPS can now be moulded around even thinner glass and laminated panes. It is already being used for applications that involve very long flow paths, for example, moulding around rear windows and vehicle roofs. The novel compounds boost flow lengths by 34% compared with those of previous TPS compounds. Because the cavity pressure can be lowered from, 1,000 to 550 bar, and the melt temperature lowered by 35°C, cycle times can be cut by 10%. Medical sector taking an interest While the automotive sector commands the highest use for TPEs, medical market is also growing. Taking this into consideration, Swedish supplier Hexpol TPE, part of Elasto, has expanded their range of Mediprene TPE compounds for plunger seals in single-use syringes. Hexpol has expanded its range of Mediprene TPE compounds for plunger seals in single-use syringes

Niklas Ottosson, Medical Technical Manager for Elasto commented, “Over recent years there has been a rise in demand for singleuse syringes and a clear move from rubber to TPE for plunger seals.” The grades are sterilisable with gamma, EtO and steam and representative grades have passed cytotoxicity tests according to ISO 10993-5 and biocompatibility tests according to USP Class VI. The grades are also available in a range of hardnesses from 43 to 73 Shore A. The TPE seal, which is mounted on the end of the plunger, needs to provide a leakproof seal with the syringe barrel, and TPEs are said to offer low compression set helping to maintain seal integrity. The grades are available as translucent or coloured compounds, made from medical grade raw materials. Alongside their material advantages, because of the cost and speed at which they can be manufactured, the TPEs are being specified as an alternative to thermoset rubber. Consistent shrinkage also allows for tight dimensional tolerances with fewer process steps and without the need for additional operations such as trimming. SEPTEMBER 2015

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PROCESSOR REPORT

Embracing new technology in Thailand’s packaging sector While some companies are followers, others strive to lead. One way of doing this is through innovation and technology. Thailand’s TPN Flexpak, a flexible packaging manufacturer that supplies a host of printed flexible packaging for food and fast moving consumer goods, has chosen to take the latter path.

TPN’s Managing Director Ananchat Thangkasemvathana

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subsidiary of 60-year old paper products specialist Thung Hua Sinn Group, family-run TPN last year took delivery of not one, but three flexographic presses from Germany-based Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H). “We took out two old presses and decided to replace these with three brand new machines,” said TPN’s Managing Director Ananchat Thangkasemvathana. TPN now boasts four Miraflex flexographic printing presses from W&H, which effectively makes it a leader in flexographic printing in Thailand, and maybe even in the region! While gravure presses have been the workhorse of the packaging/printing sector, in recent years flexo printing has picked up mainly because of its versatility, reliability and speed. Another reason is the productivity. “With this new technology, we have moved up another notch. We have improved our capacity by 50%,” said Ananchat, speaking to PRA at TPN’s facility in Wellgrow Industrial Estate, Bangpakong. The Miraflex With its latest addtions, TPN now boasts four Miraflex presses offer flexographic printing presses from W&H wide webs (1,270/1,450 mm); eight to ten colour printing; and speeds of up to 400 m/ minute maximum on the machines at TPN. Other features are "maximum efficiency, robust design for quality and register optimisation on thin substrates". “We also use environmentally friendly non-toluene based inks. These inks use organic pigments and have very low solvent retention, making them safe for food packaging. Our ink formulation and dispensing systems provide a consistent colour every time and batch-to-batch reproducibility,” adds Ananchat. The company still maintains in its stable of presses a Heliostar gravure printing press, also from W&H, that caters to the demand for smaller print orders, thus allowing for easy job change-overs.


PROCESSOR REPORT A host of products Set up 15 years ago, TPN produces film on roll stock, wicketed bags, pillow pouches, stand-up pouches, zipper bags, microwaveable pouches, retortable pouches, side weld bags and shrink sleeves. Besides the printing machinery, the facility houses film extrusion, prepress, and converting/ laminating equipment. In film extrusion, it has two three-layer blown film lines from W&H, with outputs of 300 kg/hour and 500 kg/hour respectively that produce mainly 500 tonnes/month of PE film. The other types of film that go into the packaging are sourced from suppliers, totalling up to a usage of about 2,000 tonnes/month. Adding on investments Ananchat adds, “In the last few years, we have put in a lot of investment in the facility and have continued to invest, even during the slower global growth and against currency fluctuations.” In fact, over the past three years, TPN has invested up to EUR50 million in plant and machinery. “When we upgrade our machinery, we are interested in the most advanced technology, especially if it’s something new.” It also helps that Thailand’s BOI (Board of Investment) encourages technology improvements, and offers tax incentives to companies embracing these new technologies. “The good thing about the government policy is that it wants companies to invest in new technology that saves energy, has more automation, produces less waste and is environmentally friendly.”

TPN uses W&H’s Varex three-layer blown film line

With this encouragement and support, TPN has also automated its operations and managed to reduce its staff force from 500 to 350. “Our aim is to bring it down further, to have more lean operations.” Meanwhile, TPN’s exports have grown too over the years, with almost 50% of its output exported, through indirect and direct exports. It expects a commendable turnover of EUR40 million this year, from its flexible packaging business. “We grew 20-30% in the first few years of our business, but now it has reached a plateau and growth is stagnant,” admitted Ananchat, adding that the business contracted by 5% in the first six months of the year due to the slowdown of the economy and contraction of domestic consumption. Ten years ago, to diversify its product range, the firm set up a medical division. “We have a partnership with a Singaporean company and produce medical devices like pouches.” The controlled environment in place for its food packaging served it well as did the GMP and HACCP certifications, though Ananchat says that medical takes up a small part (4%) of the group’s total business. “A major part, 50%, of our business is for food packaging, followed by consumer products.” The company has also invested in R&D, with an in-house development unit for developing its own branded packaging. A latest innovation is a steam pouch, a self-venting microwavable pouch, which release steam automatically during the reheating process in a microwave. When asked what he foresees in the future, Ananchat replied, “The trend in Thailand is for flexible packaging. It is still a big market. And it is an interesting sector to be involved in because it is changing all the time.” Looking further into the crystal ball, Ananchat says the company will stay close to its agenda of sustainability, by focusing on saving more energy in its operations. “It’s not like the old days. We have to learn from the West where green and sustainable technology is important and follow this trend.” When asked if there were plans for further capital investments, Ananchat replied, “We always have a plan, but it depends on our customers’ needs and we need to match their requirements.” He does not rule out investment in blown film lines that cater to more layers, adding “we need to convey to our customers the new technologies available.” “It is because of our innovative stand that we have been accepted by customers, both locally and internationally. We will continue to keep abreast of the latest trends in printing and packaging technology, to allow our customers to provide quality products,” concluded Ananchat. SEPTEMBER 2015

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Country Focus

Thailand, moving past the growth crossroads Navigating through economic languor, Thailand is steering towards recovery through its growth industries, says Angelica Buan, based on interviews with exhibitors at the recently concluded T-Plas show in Thailand.

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he oft-mentioned bombing incident in mid-August at Bangkok’s major business district was the last string that snapped off Thailand’s stability. Other factors have also added on to the declining economic situation, such as the weakening currency projected to slide further to nearly THB37 per US$ dollar by year end, low domestic demand and exports estimated to contract by 3.5%. Early in July, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had already cut back on its growth forecast for Thailand to 6.1% from 6.3% on an underperforming GDP. With the recent developments, the country has recently devolved its 2015 economic growth forecast from 3% to 2.7%. China’s slowdown is weighing down the Asian economies and particularly, Thailand. The yuan depreciation (by nearly 2% in August) has hit the already weak exports in the country. Nevertheless, Thailand’s resolve against political, economic or even catastrophic havoc is its fighting spirit. Still a manufacturing ghetto The 17th largest manufacturer in the world, Thailand’s manufacturing sector is sitting on a ledge. As of July, Thailand’s manufacturing production index reportedly slid 5.3%, compared to the previous year, based on low production and exports of most key industrial goods, according to the Office of Industrial Economics. This is except for the automotive sector, which showed an increase of exports of more than 14% over the same period. Hope springs eternal. By the time the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) integration takes effect by the end of the year, Thailand is expected to rein in its spot as a manufacturing powerhouse in the region. “Manufacturing in Thailand is the most important sector and accounts for 34% of our GDP,” stated Dr Atchaka Sibunruang, Minister of Industry, during the opening of the recent Pack Print International and T-Plas show held from 26-29 August in Bangkok. Organised by Singapore-headquartered Messe Düsseldorf Asia, the show gathered together international industry players in plastics and rubber products; as well as printing and processing machineries. Sibunruang summed up the current state of the relevant sectors. “The Thai printing, packaging, and the plastics and rubber sectors face immense price pressures, overcapacity in the industry and competition from cheaper regional manufacturers. Rising costs of operations are further eroding their declining profit margins,” she said.

Moretto’s Founder/Owner was at the show to lend his support to a growing market

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Scoring strong points Exhibitors at the Bangkok-held show had mixed opinions about Thailand’s market positioning and its manufacturing industry. “The Thai market is really starting to grow and develop and become of high quality,” Michael Parrington, Partner at Italy-headquartered auxiliary equipment firm Moretto Asia Pacific, told PRA in an interview during the exhibition. “I see the quality of equipment used by local manufacturers and the quality of their products improving. Thailand is in a very good position in Asia to grow and become one of the prominent plastic production countries in the region,” Parrington said.


Country Focus “The recent events that happened in the country are not deterring our plans. We are still forging ahead,” affirmed Raymond Wong, Sales Manager Asia Pacific for Austriaheadquartered recycling machine maker NGR (Next Generation Recycling). “Regardless of the economic Raymond Wong, Sales situation, the market is continuing Manager for NGR, to go up. The Thai market is big if was introducing the we look at the overall Southeast company’s recycling Asia market for Dr Collin, which equipment at the show has been here for over ten years now via our agent LMS,” said Corné Verstraten, Sales Director and Joint Partner of Dr Collin, a German maker of pilot and laboratory lines. “For this reason, we decided to open a service centre here. We will formally open it by the first quarter of 2016. Thailand will be the main service point for the Corné Verstraten of Dr Collin region for the machines we is hedging his bets on the will be selling directly from Thai market to pick up soon Germany. From Bangkok, we can easily go to China and South Korea, for example,” said Verstraten. He also added that Malaysia and Singapore are “very good markets”. Focusing on the medical sector Germany-based co-rotating twin-screw extruder manufacturer Liestritz Extrusionstechnik is focusing on the pharmaceutical segment for its extruders. “There is so much in the pharmaceutical industry that is extruded,” said Alf Hofstetter, General Manager Business Unit Extrusion, adding that the company’s strength is masterbatch and compounding. He also added that Thailand is a good market for Liestritz as it was one of the first markets in Asia that the company entered. “Our machines have been used by chemical companies in the Map Ta Phut area, as early as in the 1990s,” Hofstetter said. At T-Plas, Liestritz was promoting its turnkey solution, the ZSE MAXX series, through which, Liestritz could offer the ideal combination of high specific torque (15 Nm/cm3) and high volume (DD/ID=1.66), according to Hofstetter. “The medical industry is a focus area for us, especially here in Southeast Asia, and likewise in Thailand. This industry is quite strong, with the growing population and therefore increasing support for medical care,” said Collin’s Verstraten. The company introduced its T-filter, which is used for automated quality control in the extrusion and recycling process. “These are very small extruders with the same functionality of big extruders; very simple, lightweight and compact, which can be placed on a table.”

Collin supplies laboratory, pilot and medical lines for testing, product development and quality control. Verstraten explained how these technologies can benefit the Thai market. “There are many big polymer producers here in Thailand that can support their customers in the packaging industry by doing R&D using our lines.” Specific to the Thai market, US extrusion machinery specialist Davis-Standard offers multiple equipment solutions for medical tubing and cast film applications. The company‘s subsidiary in Suzhou, China, also has an in-house laboratory that features a high-speed FPVC extrusion system and multi-purpose microbore tubing line to support process development. The Pawcatuck-based firm has a strong foothold in Asia, particularly with its converting systems. “DavisStandard has always played a significant role in Southeast Asia’s cast lamination film market as the first company to supply five-layer systems and machines over 5 m wide. The market continues to evolve as Davis-Standard has introduced its demands for new dsX flex-film line for blown film improved applications, said to address the price, physical/barrier output, gauge uniformity and delivery properties and requirements of a demanding blown film lower operating marketplace. The line supports speeds up to 180 m/minute and film thicknesses costs drive structures to more ranging from 20 to 180 microns and more layers. Davis-Standard is addressing that need with a new extrusion complex that allows converters to produce CPE and CPP while having the capability to process films with as many as six or seven layers,” said Adrian Gomez, Business Manager Asia Pacific at Davis-Standard. Taste of new breakthroughs Meanwhile, T-Plas also offered a plethora of new products and technologies, which exhibitors said would enhance the products and production quality of the local industry. Wong of NGR said that the manufacturing sector, particularly the plastics sector, can take advantage of what NGR has to offer. “We have manufacturing equipment for recycling for three main markets: post-industrial, postconsumer and PET recycling. In Thailand, we are pushing our main machine, the S-Gran, for post-industrial recycling. It can accept any form of recycled material, which could be in the form of film, sheet or bulk. We are also promoting the P: React system (based on Liquid State Polycondensation or LSP), which is able to increase the IV or viscosity level of PET.” The three-year old technology (launched at K2013) is a process that is said to considerably enhance the material properties of PET for PET converters as well as end-of-life SEPTEMBER 2015

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Country Focus PET recyclers seeking production scrap, such as fibres, fabrics, wovens and non-wovens, preforms, strapping tapes and films, to be re-processed into quality resin. Moretto presented its Original Thermal Exchange (OTX). Parrington said, “We are investing a lot in R&D to develop new technology especially to save energy and to ensure that there are minimal defects.” “With the help of our in-house “super computer”, which Moretto has (via the Leonardo project) and is one of the very few of such computers in Europe (being able to perform 22,000 billion operations/second), we have developed a hopper that allows materials to flow through with the perfect mass flow. This has been a problem of the industry for many years, and one that Moretto has finally solved,” he claimed. The OTX addresses the issue of flow problems of the granule and permits more uniform ppm moisture in less time, said Parrington. “Our technology, which is targeted for PET preform bottle manufacturing, can benefit the local industry in terms of giving manufacturers the chance to be world-class producers as well as export to markets that expect high quality products and at the same time allow savings on manufacturing costs,” said Parrington. Demand in the bag Indian extrusion machinery manufacturer Rajoo Engineers has supplied blown film lines for a wide range of applications from shopping bags to flexible packaging, food packaging and barrier packaging, according to Jinesh Shah, Deputy General Manager-Sales. “I see a huge demand for film and sheet lines for flexible packaging and lamination film, since there are a number of converters who are making flexible packaging and pouches. Meanwhile, shrink film for holding canned drinks, bottled water or small cosmetic items is also popular,” Shah commented. He also said that there is a growing market potential for disposable drinking cups. The Gujarat-sited Rajoo has had a sales representative in Thailand for seven years. BSW Machinery, the Austrian conversion machinery subsidiary of Windmöller & Hölscher (W&H), introduced its newest extrusion technology for indexed perforation. Rene Winkler, Area Sales Manager at BSW, told PRA that with the nanoTex cyclo unit (in line with the converTex valve bag conversion line) the bag’s weight can be lowered significantly through indexed micro perforation, without jeopardising strength. “At the filling stage with the automated filling equipment, these bags are perforated with small holes. The micro perforation has been the industry standard for woven PP bags. This process has been integrated in the converTex bag conversion machine series for many years to create smaller holes than micro perforation for ventilation. The benefit is significant reduction of dust escaping through the vent holes. However, each hole weakens the tapes that define the strength of the bag. Especially the feather edges are vulnerable when handling or dropping the bags.” He also explained that the new technology will allow producers of cement bags to reduce their material usage as well as overall thickness and weight of the bag.

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Another new technology is the tiraTex tape extrusion line for highly oriented PP tapes for woven PP bags. The newly developed extruder E105P for tiraTex allows for increased tape tenacity at high elasticity, said Winkler. Furthermore, the optionally available direct torque drives of the tiraTex extruder lower energy use of the extruders by up to 5%. Malaysia-based Limax Industries, a manufacturer of bag converting machines, presented its new offering, Limax Gapa 1100 machine, which is “the fastest clamp stack bottom seal machine in the market”, according to Director Dr KS Teo. With a mechanical speed of up to 200 cycles/minute and a line speed of 120 m/minute, this machine can convert onelayer 5-micron bags up to four-layer 150-micron bags, with a unique flying knife system. “We have already sold a machine of this type in Thailand,” said Teo. Besides the fast cycle, another feature of the machine is that the components are mainly imported from Europe and the US.

Limax introduced its latest bag converting machine at T-Plas

Healthy neighbourly competition The lingering situation on the economic front has sent some large companies packing up. Investments are also starting to flow to regional neighbours. The Bank of America Merill Lynch cited that in 2013, FDI growths made a jump in Indonesia at 17% and Malaysia at 19%. Meanwhile, Vietnam, although found to achieve a relatively modest FDI increase, is garnering strength as a likely production route for major manufacturers. According to Vietnam’s Foreign Investment Agency of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the country has seen a fresh influx of FDIs over the January to August period, where disbursed capital climbed 7.6% to US$8.5 billion, compared to the same period a year ago. Further, processingmanufacturing accounts for nearly 78% of the newly licenced and additional FDI capital routed to Vietnam over the eightmonth period. Contributing to its appeal, Vietnam has relatively low wages placed at an average US$197/month in 2013, against the US$391/month for Thailand and US$613/month for China, according to the International Labour Organisation. Engel, which has sales representatives and subsidiaries in 85 countries worldwide, will soon be branching out to Vietnam, initially with an office set up in Ho Chi Minh, Robert Bodingbauer, President of Austria-headquartered injection moulding machine manufacturer Engel Korea told PRA.


Country Focus The company picked Vietnam on grounds that several large companies are briskly exporting to Vietnam and production has shifted from China and Thailand to Vietnam. Nonetheless, Bodingbauer opines that the latter’s pace is moderate while Thailand and Indonesia are “a little bit down”; and the situation in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines remains unchanged. Robert Bodingbauer, Meanwhile, Myanmar, President of Engel Korea, Cambodia and Laos, he observes, shared details of the are not yet ripe for broader market company’s plans to set up an office in Vietnam penetration. “By far, China is dominating our Asian operations,” he said, further adding that with the currency and market situation under the weather, “we have to be careful with our money management.” Another company eyeing other countries apart from Thailand is Davis-Standard, according to Gomez, who said that the company is looking to promote its machinery in Myanmar and Vietnam, in the medium to long term. As well, Gomez views India as taking the reins over as China slows down. “Region-wise, India, being part of Asia, will emerge to take over as the fastest growing economy in the world. Southeast Asia is still developing while China has probably reached its saturation point. Its growth seems to be in a plateau, which is expected as it can only develop so much. Although some of its industries are still growing,” he said. Meanwhile, Germany’s Liestritz, which has a regional office in Singapore, sees greener pastures outside Thailand. “In the region, other growth areas are South Korea and Taiwan, since in other Southeast Asian countries the trend is to buy cheaper Chinese machines. Malaysian and Indonesian markets are price-sensitive. We cannot be competitive in markets that have this ‘mentality’ because German products are expensive,” according to Hofstetter, who takes care of the Southeast Asian markets. Another European company that has positioned itself in Vietnam is Italian extrusion machinery specialist Amut. A second-time exhibitor at the Thai show, it maintains a technical service centre each in Thailand and Indonesia, and has operated an office in Vietnam for seven years. “Currently, Vietnam is the best market in Southeast Asia, even overtaking the Indonesian market. Currency-wise, Vietnam is resilient, if compared to Indonesia and Malaysia and Thailand. The market is bolstered by a majority of investments from the likes of Japanese and South Korean companies that are shifting from China to Vietnam. Hence, we are pushing our machinery here,” said Andrea Peretto, Sales Area Engineer & Service Engineer of Amut. He further said that Thailand seems to be inching off the growth grid. “The Thai market has a lot of potential, however investors are apprehensive about investing now that there is an uncertainty in the political situation,” he said. Nonetheless, Peretto sees continued growth in many other sectors. “Rigid packaging, construction and automotive

will continue to go up in Thailand. At the rate things are going, we need to seize the opportunities as they come and always hope for the best.” Attractive market prospects in Thailand Meanwhile, a Vietnamese company is seeking to corner a niche market in Thailand. Vietnam Lime, part of the Quang Ninh-headquartered Huong Hai Group, is a manufacturer of quicklime with technology from the G7 in limestone processing that improves plastics manufacturing with higher quality results. According to Ngo Thanh Hai, Sales and Marketing Director, “We are a new company in Vietnam and at the moment, the only firm in Vietnam that can produce precipitated calcium carbonate (PCC) and nano-PCC. These products not only help to reduce the porosity in plastics like HDPE, but also generate high integrity surfaces to resist ageing and deterioration from natural elements in the environment.” And for the company to meet the demands of customers for high quality calcium carbonate products Huong Hai has invested heavily in R&D for its Vietnam plants, according to Ngo. The effort has paid off, reflecting from the increasing production capacities. “This year, our production capacity is 600 tonnes/day. By 2016, we are projecting to triple our production capacity,” says Ngo, adding that with a total reserve of 360 million tonnes of limestone, Huong Hai will continue to produce high quality calcium carbonate products at competitive pricing. Not put off by the foggy economic climate in Thailand, Ngo said, “Whatever the situation in Thailand right now, we are looking at building up our market over the longer term. We have potential customers here and our competitors in Thailand also want to cooperate with us in terms of production, since our company has access to raw materials for the production of PCC and nanoPCC.” He said that the company is also targeting markets involved in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), of which Thailand is also a part of. “In the future we are looking at the possibility of going into joint ventures in the respective local markets.” Meanwhile, the participation of Davis-Standard at the T-Plas indicates its intent to sink its teeth into the opportunities offered by the automotive industry, amongst others. “Historically, our company has had a strong presence in converting systems in Southeast Asia, but we’re also engaged in serving the automotive segment. For instance, we specialise in providing solutions for hoses, and door and window seals,” remarked Gomez. The prevailing declining automotive sales do not rub off the lustre of Thailand’s competence as Asia’s automotive hub. Gomez opined, “More than a local market, Thailand exports a sizeable volume of automotive components and also assembles vehicles for export across the globe. As it is an important automotive hub within Southeast Asia, it will enhance its positioning and its economy is going to be a double playing field when the AEC comes.” Certainly, Vietnam Lime and Davis-Standard’s participation at T-Plas indicates Thailand’s untarnished market strength, barring the current slack. SEPTEMBER 2015

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Packaging

Packaging in billion-dollar product recalls The risk of recalls from packaging errors ranging from defects to contamination can eat away large chunks of profits for food and product manufacturers, says Angelica Buan in this report.

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t the heart of the threat of packaging recalls are plastics, being the most widely used materials for packaging. Since the first cellulose-based plastic was introduced in the mid-1880s, strings of discoveries and innovations have harnessed the material’s potential for packaging. Plastics exhibit the strength and barrier properties (to keep food safe and fresh) as well as they are light weight. Aesthetically, clear plastic not only protects a food product but also allows consumers to see through the packaging. In the home, sealable plastic bags, wraps and containers render longer, fresher shelf life for perishable foods, according to food safety information from the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The common types of plastic used for packaging, according to UK-headquartered WRAP (Waste & Resources Action Programme), are PET, PE, PP, PS, PVC and PA. Meanwhile, US-based Plastics Industry Trade Association (SPI) says that plastics enable packaging to provide strength and stiffness, barrier against oxidation, resistance to food component attack, and flexibility; not to mention that it promotes long shelf-life functionalities for both rigid and flexible packaging. From plant-based beginnings, most plastics used currently are created from chemicals and synthetic materials. For this reason, safety factors for using foodcontact plastics are a serious criterion. Plastic films in packaging have solicited half-hearted reception from consumers on the basis of their potential to be a health hazard. However, a recent finding by researchers from the Iowa State University (ISU) suggests that while plastics have traces of heavy metals, these do not pose immediate food safety threat. ISU’s food science and human nutrition researcher, Keith Vorst, said, “We found that these metals are in the packaging, but they’re not getting into the food or beverage products.” Regulatory measures from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and other similar regulatory bodies, are enforced on plastics, broadening its usage and becoming functional for more food types. Thus, incidences of recalls have not been far behind.

Kraft Heinz voluntarily withdrew batches of its singles cheese product because of cases of choking

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When goods are pulled off the shelves In the news recently was Kraft Heinz, a North American global food company, that voluntarily recalled select batches of its cheese product on complaints from consumers who choked on the plastic packaging. The firm, newly formed in July this year from the Kraft Foods and Heinz merger, has expunged about 36,000 cases of individually-wrapped cheese slices from the shelves. Based on reports, some portion of the plastic remained stuck to the cheese upon being unwrapped and consumers choked on the left over wrapping. In 2012, Kraft Foods recalled a batch of its cheese product variety, also for a similar complaint of choking on the plastic packaging. Reportedly, about 27,000 cases of the Jalapeno String Cheese variety were pulled off the shelves across the US, following a complaint that a thin film of plastic adhered to the cheese after being unwrapped.


Packaging Meanwhile, US-located parent company of BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie grocery stores, Southeastern Grocers, has also removed a batch of cheese products based on it containing small pieces of plastic packaging. Some 12-oz packages of the Southern Home Fat Free American singles were removed a few months back from all BI-LO and Harveys stores across some states. Not just cheese packaging A potential choking hazard was also reported for baby food pouches sold in 2014. The manufacturer of the affected baby food, Plum Organics, voluntarily recalled some 12,000 cases of the product. It said that the defect along the rim of the plastic spouts may have occurred during manufacturing. The spouts are either fitted with a specially designed spoon for feeding an infant, or alternatively, the baby can suck the food from the pouch. The defective plastic part could potentially be detached and cause choking. Meanwhile, defective packaging can also cause recalls. Among the commonly reported complaints arising from this is that of consumers finding pieces of plastics in their food products. In 2012, a brand of sponge cake was recalled in the US when it was found to contain fragments of plastic.

Plum Organics recalled its baby food pouches because of a packaging defect

The manufacturer Rich Product Corporation voluntarily recalled its quarter Sheet Vanilla Flavoured Pre-Soaked Sponge Cake as a precautionary step. It said that the change in the type of resin used (by the supplier of the plastic packaging) left bits of plastic on the product.

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Packaging In 2013, UK-based KP Snacks also withdrew multipacks of its McCoy brand chips after plastic pieces were found in the packs. The snack company said that a malfunction at one of the production lines at a plant in the UK had resulted in the contamination. Faced with a similar incidence was Switzerlandheadquartered Nestlé, which in the same year recalled select varieties of its best-seller Chunky Kit Kat, over complaints of plastic fragments found in some of the bars.

Nestlé recalled select varieties its KitKat Chunky in 2013 because bits of plastic were found in some of the bars

This year, some 27,000 kg of sausage products were withdrawn by its Massachusetts-based manufacturer Kayem Foods, and select batches of bran flakes revoked by UK’s retail giants Tesco and Sainsbury's. These are some of the cases that have brought focus to the safety features of packaging as well as the manufacturing. Recipe for recall While innovation in plastics packaging promises safer and stronger functionality, there are no guarantees that nothing can go wrong. Product recalls are inevitable, as manufacturers are accountable to ensuring safety for their consumers. According to the Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Fact Sheet, a recall of a product is a corrective action against contaminated, adulterated, misbranded or mislabelled products. Usually, the manufacturer will voluntarily recall the product, or a government agency responsible for the product category would step in by requesting the company to make the recall if the latter has not initiated the step. While, a recall is not a remote possibility, manufacturers are aiming for zero-recall in the products they send out to the markets. Complying with systems of quality product standards, Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) are preventive steps. A product recall is critical for the company because more than the monetary cost, it could also affect the brand’s image. Corrective action entails destroying, replacing and altering the product, according to the OSU factsheet. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDAFSIS) has three recall classifications: Class I says that the use of the product presents a “reasonable probability to cause serious adverse health consequences or death”. Class II states that there is a “remote probability of adverse health consequences”, from using the product. Class III denotes that the use of the recalled product “will not cause adverse health consequences”. Elsewhere, food standard codes ensure packaging in contact with food is safe. In Australia, for example,

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standards are enforced such as those embodied by the Australian Standard for Plastic Materials for Food Contact Use to guide the industry on the production of plastic materials for food contact use, referencing, too, the regulations adopted in the US and Europe for the manufacture and use of plastics. Painful cost of errors A “plastic choking” case in 2011 involving an organic baby food product packed in a pouch that resulted in a recall had caused its manufacturer, New Zealand-based Green Monkey, an estimated US$1 billion worth of sales loss, as well as marred brand image, according to its Founder/ Director, Charlotte Rebbeck. The financial impact of recalls is huge, amounting up to billions of dollars for the manufacturers (of recalled product) and depending on the cause of the recall, costs to public health that cannot be monetised. A recent finding from Swiss Re, a Zurich-based wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurancebased forms of risk transfer, notes that the incidences of recalls per year in the US has nearly doubled since 2002. The increase has been influenced by regulatory changes and an increasingly globalised food supply chain, it said. What challenges food safety is the dynamics of globalised food supply chain, Swiss Re explained. Given the current system of ingredients and technologies being sourced worldwide, this leads to greater complexity for food manufacturers, as well consumer and regulatory demands on companies are continually increasing, the firm added. More than half of all food recalls cost the affected US companies more than US$10 million each and possible losses of more than US$100 million. Hot on the heels of this figure is the reputational damage that may take a company years to recover from, Swiss Re analysts said. Amidst the rising recalls in the US and Europe, the American International Group (AIG) launched in 2013 a webbased service called NOVI to help firms estimate the cost of recalls, which could include replacement and destruction costs as well as profit losses from factory closures, government intervention and brand damage. Free yet confidential, the multi-language service helps qualified food and beverage manufacturers in the US, UK, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland to manage their risks in the event of recalls. “Product recalls are an extreme and expensive remedy,” according to a paper on product recalls published online by the US-headquartered legal services firm Carr Maloney. It also advises that “developing a protocol through which to handle product recalls is essential for any manufacturer.” Being “diligent” in looking out for “triggers” such as customer complaints, test and inspection results, to name a few, must be taken on by the company, said authors, Jan E. Simonsen and Kelly M. Lippincott. “Responsive action is necessary for a recall to be effective and to preserve the brand,” they added. On the other hand, a recall can be viewed as a means to enhancing packaging quality, which is continually being presented by plastics packaging suppliers to OEMs.


Injection Moulding Asia Machinery

Husky: a toast to innovation in packaging Demand for bottled drinks in PET plastic is continuing to

as, to cite a few, simplified operation and fullyintegrated systems; cavity to cavity and shot to shot repeatability to yield more consistent and higher quality parts, at the same time, reducing variability further downstream in the beverage packaging line.

grow, according to a report by the US-based International Market Analysis Research and Consulting (IMARC) Group on the study of the global consumption of PET

Brewing solutions for beverages The company, which is dedicated to promoting innovation, specifically in packaging, has grown to become one of the industry’s primary suppliers of PET preform injection moulding solutions.

bottles. A leading equipment supplier in this sector is Husky Injection Molding Systems.

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Gerardo Chiaia says that in Asia the demand for improved consumer use is driving innovative package designs and manufacturing solutions. “This is leading to the development of packages with added functionality that deliver consumer convenience and brand recognition, smaller sizes and more single serve portion controlled packages, as well as increased levels of customisation, including labelling, decorations, engraving, printing, colours, etc. There has also been a growing demand for liquid dairy products and milk based drinks, as well as an increasing preference for juices and special teas,” he adds

he injection moulding machine industry, which provides vital equipment in the segment of plastic processing, is also growing alongside this increasing demand. This machinery type accounts for 60% to 85% in developed countries, according to a new report by India-headquartered RnR Market Research, adding that key applications are mainly in the sectors of food and beverage packaging, as well as automotive, household appliances, building materials and electronic communications. Amongst the major global injection moulding system manufacturers that drive the growth in this segment is Husky Injection Molding Systems. A leading supplier of injection moulding equipment, headquartered in Bolton, Canada, Husky has manufacturing facilities located in Canada, the US, Luxembourg, Austria, Switzerland, China, India and the Czech Republic. Husky’s broad range of equipment is used to produce an array of products for the beverage packaging, closures, thinwall packaging as well as medical and consumer electronics market. Husky designs, manufactures and integrates a comprehensive range of injection moulding equipment, including machines, moulds, hot runners and auxiliaries, for customers in more than 100 countries. According to the firm, its customers benefit from its expert support backed by over 35 years of experience in the market; and the diverse offerings ranging from preform injection moulding systems, preform design and development, barrier solutions, mould refurbishing and conversion, and factory planning. According to Husky, its systems are designed to deliver the highest productivity levels as well as lower production costs. Its preform solutions are said to pare down total part cost, thus yielding a higher return on investment. Other advantages can be drawn from cutting-edge features such

“Beverage packaging is a key business unit for Husky and we plan on continuing to grow the business through the ongoing development of innovative technologies that will improve quality and push the industry forward,” said Gerardo Chiaia, who was recently appointed President of Husky’s Global Beverage Packaging business, in an interview with PRA. Chiaia, who also previously held the VicePresident post of the division, has been with Husky for 21 years, having previously headed the Boltonbased firm’s Hot Runner and Controllers business, as well as Asia-Pacific Beverage Packaging. Leading on the innovation front of plastics processing machinery in beverage packaging, Husky continues to step up its game. Chiaia says that the company is continuously looking at how to provide customers with added-value solutions. “As an industry leader, we remain dedicated to innovation and ingenuity, and we are committed to continually offering solutions that not only push 1

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Injection Moulding Asia Machinery the industry forward, but create value for our customers.” He also goes on to say, “Our leading position has always been a function of the value we deliver through the development of solutions that increasingly help our customers lower resin costs, improve cycle times, increase part quality and reduce energy requirements. Such examples include continual improvements to our preform and closure moulding systems to make them more productive, intelligent and efficient; as well as the development of technologies to expand the uses of PET as a packaging material beyond the current applications, including sensitive products, juice, milk, food and large volume applications.”

Husky’s recently introduced multi-layer barrier technology, available as a module on its HyPET HPP5 system, was showcased at the NPE 2015 tradeshow that took place earlier this year in Orlando, Florida. This technology enables Husky to produce multi-layer preforms with a wide range of barrier content, even below 3%, while delivering up to 50% savings on barrier material costs for some applications and increasing system availability. Husky’s latest generation HyPET HPP5 system also includes its all-new self-cleaning mould technology feature, which can reduce mould cleaning from four hours down to a matter of seconds.

Remedy for healthcare applications New PET technologies for Asia Apart from the food and beverage segment, another Emerging markets in the Asian region are found to growth area is medical packaging, which market bolster the beverage packaging market through the analyst Visiongain said clinched a significant share coming years, according to a new report by the New in the nearly US$40 billion global packaging market York-based consulting firm Future Market Insights. in 2014. It projected a single-digit CAGR of 3.3% through Responding to this demand, Husky has 2025 to almost US$257,547.9 million for the overall strengthened its position in this market, marked by beverage packaging market, with the APAC region, its acquisition of Schöttli, a Swiss-based company excluding Japan, accounting for 25% of the market that is recognised as a leading medical and closure share in 2014. mould maker. Factors that are driving this growth include “Our recently formed Medical and Specialty the demand for innovative packaging designs Packaging business is a focus of growth for the and manufacturing solutions, which translate to company. The acquisition of Schöttli in 2013 has the development of added functionality (such as allowed us to learn and grow our medical business convenience, single serve or portion sizes, and by focusing on specific applications and developing brand recognition) to the packaging. mould technology that enables customers to bring Hot on the heels of this growth trend in the the highest quality medical products to market, region, Husky is delivering its innovations to including syringes, infusion/transfusion products, address the requirements. and diagnostic systems.” “To meet these needs, Husky is continuously Chiaia also says that Husky’s Speciality looking at ways Packaging “Husky’s latest generation HyPET HPP5 to improve the business design and grew system also includes its all-new selffunctionality naturally of packaging. cleaning mould technology feature, which from its We work Beverage can reduce mould cleaning from four hours Packaging closely with our customers business, and down to a matter of seconds...” to develop combined solutions that will help to improve not only how with its previous acquisition of KTW, Husky is their packages perform, but how their packages continuing to expand its capabilities in this market. can stand out on store shelves amongst their He adds, “This includes providing solutions for competitors,” says Chiaia. sports caps, edible oils, closures for food packaging Specifically citing PET, Chiaia explains, “We are and personal care products, and others.” also exploring technologies to expand the use of PET “My goal is to ensure we continue to work as a as a packaging material. One example is our recently trusted partner to understand our customers’ needs introduced multi-layer barrier technology, which and develop meaningful solutions to support their offers manufacturers new possibilities to explore growth,” concludes Chiaia, on his objectives at the PET as a packaging material for products requiring helm of the global beverage packaging division of enhanced barrier properties.” the company. 2 S E P T E M B E R 2 015

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Injection Moulding Asia Country Focus

Expansions form the basis of Thai show Thailand may be facing tough times, but it is still forging

The decline is not isolated though. “China’s car industry has grown in the last 20 years but in the last two months, it has gone down. The plastics machinery industry depends a lot on the car industry. So if the automotive sector is up then we are up, and vice-versa,” opined Bodingbauer. Automotive makers, such as Mitsubishi and Nissan, are reportedly branching out from Thailand. South Korean car maker Hyundai is already looking to the Indian market and reported a 13.5% jump in sales in August. US car maker Ford‘s investment in India has also been on the upswing. It has, thus, expanded its Chennai plant, where it is building engines and vehicles, and dished out fresh investments for the Tamil Nadu state. But not all vehicle makers have given up hope on Thailand. Toyota Motors recently opened a test drive centre near Bangkok, the 35,000 sq m Toyota Driving Experience Park, which reportedly cost close to US$3 million for the set-up alone. And even with the current state of Thailand’s car industry, Engel remains rooted in the market. “We have an office in Thailand and we have projects here. The country is undoubtedly a key automotive pillar in the region on a long-term,” said Bodingbauer. In Thailand, Engel has had its own sales office in Bangkok since 2010 and opened a subsidiary here in 2013. The privately owned company is the only European injection moulding machine manufacturer with three production plants in Asia: two in China and one in South Korea. “This guarantees short delivery times, flexible adaptation of products and turnkey solutions to meet local requirements, and fast service on-site,” added Bodingbauer. Engel achieved a global turnover of EUR1 billion in the 2014/2015 financial year.

ahead. The recently concluded T-Plas show, held from 26-29 August in Bangkok, co-located with Pack Print International, welcomed around 500 exhibitors from more than 20 countries, including national pavilions and country groups from Austria, Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan. T-Plas, rebranded from Tiprex that was previously held in 2013, boasted about 20% more international exhibitors, according to Gernot Ringling, Managing Director, Messe Düsseldorf Asia, the organiser. Automotive up the curve he world’s seventh largest car producer, Thailand witnessed a slowdown in its automotive industry due to the slackening economy. In May, the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) reported that vehicle production dropped 8.75% compared to the same period a year ago. In the first five months of the year, total production shrunk by 1.1%, compared to last year. The decline presents various scenarios for the industry, including the probability of not reaching the target of producing 3 million cars/year by 2017. Other Asian countries like India, Indonesia and the Philippines are predicted to outpace Thailand in this segment, if the decline is unabated. “There is no doubt that Thailand’s car industry is going down,” observed Robert Bodingbauer, President of Austria-headquartered injection moulding machine manufacturer Engel Korea, speaking at the recently held T-Plas show in Thailand.

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Still rooting for Thailand Another company that is still rooting for Thailand is Austrian auxiliary equipment and injection moulding machine maker, Wittmann Group. It has had a presence in Thailand for more than a decade, since 2004. “Thailand is a good market for our machines and for the robots, too. We have installed quite a number of material handling systems,” Company President Werner Wittmann who was at T-Plas told PRA, further adding that the time has come for the company to “localise”. Wittmann said that the Thai office had now moved to a newer level, with the appointment of a

Engel was one of a few machine makers that displayed a machine at the show

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Injection Moulding Asia Country Focus country manager, effective 1 September. “We see the potential growth of the Asian market for our business. It is now time for us to expand further,” he said, adding that he attended the show specially to appoint the manager, though he did not name Werner Wittmann, Company the person. President of Wittmann Group, “Thailand will was in Thailand to appoint now be exclusively a Country Manager for the managed with a company’s office local person and report directly to the headquarters in Austria rather than through our Singapore office.” The owner/founder also added that the Singapore office would be focusing on moving ahead in the Indonesian market, which was also growing.

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Wittmann showcased its robot at its stand

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Meanwhile, its subsidiary Wittmann Battenfeld has extended its PowerSeries. Following the successful market launch of the all-electric EcoPower, the large machine model MacroPower and the MicroPower specially designed for moulding of micro and nano parts, the new SmartPower was introduced to the market. Besides energy savings, the machine is said to be “unlimited” in terms of precision, efficiency, compact dimensions and userfriendliness. Available in clamping force sizes from 25 to 120 tonnes, a 120/525 SmartPower was shown manufacturing a PETG blood tube with a 16-cavity mould supplied by Omni Mold, Singapore. A W818 servo traverse robot from Wittmann was shown removing the parts.

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“The micromoulding machine for medical applications is quite interesting for the local market. This is one of the biggest markets here in Thailand, otherwise we would not have expanded and invested here,” Wittmann said, noting that one of the company’s key medical customers has a subsidiary in Thailand.


Injection Moulding Asia Country Focus Arburg showcases latest technology German injection moulding machine specialist Arburg has had a Thailand subsidiary, which expanded from a representative office, since 2001. It is, thus, pretty well ensconced in the Thai market. At T-Plas, it presented two new offerings: its Allrounder 570H technology and the Freeformer (AKF) for additive manufacturing. Arburg has been all agog since its Freeformer additive manufacturing machine made its debut at the K show in 2013. Since then the company has shown the machine at Chinaplas in Guangzhou and in Thailand for the first time at the T-Plas for the Southeast Asian market. Already a Freeformer has been sold to Singapore-based moulder Tempco Manufacturing that will be using it for prototyping.

Using the Arburg Plastic Freeforming process, the system additively manufactures design and functional samples from standard plastics based on 3D CAD data, without the need for a mould. At T-Plas, the Freeformer combined a standard ABS granulate with a special support material. The supporting structures used during the additive manufacturing of the gear cards and spray heads for cosmetics containers can be subsequently removed in a water bath. The Freeformer shown at T-Plas will make its way to Indonesia, for another exhibition at the year end, said David. Tempco utilises its injection/compression machines to produce parts for the electric/ electronics market, including companies like GE, Schneider and Hager. Besides the traditional moulding, it undertakes thermoset compression/ injection moulding, insert/SMC moulding and TPE overmoulding. Meanwhile, Arburg’s Allrounder 570H is the second-generation version of the hybrid Hidrive packaging machine that is meant for “very fast cycle rates”. The so-called “Packaging” version is specially designed for the high demands of the packaging industry.

Arburg showcased its Freeformer, shown for the first time in Southeast Asia

“Tempco has 99 Arburg machines and has now ordered the 100th machine that will be arriving sometime in October. The first Freeformer for the Asian market was delivered to Tempco in late June,” said David Chan, Managing Director, Arburg Singapore, and also responsible for the entire ASEAN region.

Specially for the production of screw caps, Arburg presented a hybrid Allrounder in the “Packaging” version

“The machine demonstrated on the floor ran about 260 kg of materials in 8 hours. In fact, an estimated 500 kg of materials can run per day.” The high-speed hybrid Allrounder demonstrated the cost-effective production of drinks bottle closures, said David, adding, “This efficient high-speed machine produces 24 water bottle closures, with a weight of 1.25 g, in only 3 seconds.” Besides the high productivity, it also offers reduced energy requirements for applications in the beverage industry. The exhibit featured a clamping force of 180 tonnes and a size 800 injection unit, and operated with a 24-cavity mould from Z-moulds.

David Chan, Managing Director of Arburg Singapore, said Arburg is doing well in Southeast Asia

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News • Rubber recycler Green Rubber Global purchased a total of US$8.3 million worth of equipment from YMS Processing for its new plant in Putra Industrial Park in Selangor, Malaysia. Green Rubber Global is a whollyowned subsidiary of Malaysian technology conglomerate Petra Group. The new machinery will be housed in a 2,400 sq m factory to be used for Green Rubber’s DeLink elastomer recycling process for used tyres, with a capacity of 25,000 tonnes/year of green rubber. Green Rubber Global is planning to produce 105,000 tonnes/ year of green rubber within three years to meet commercial demand. Green rubber can be remade into a host of applications such as tyres, shoe soles, automotive and industrial products, as well as sporting goods. The new factory will be equipped with a laboratory, R&D and a quality department to back the technical service and support teams in the field, while working with the Tun Abdul Razak Centre in the UK. • SaarGummi, an international manufacturer with operations in Europe, Asia, the US and South America, will begin producing its wide range of rubber seals for passenger cars and commercial vehicles out of its Mexico

facility in September. The Offshore Group, a low-cost alternative for establishing a manufacturing presence in Mexico, has announced the latest newcomer to the La Angostura manufacturing community in Saltillo, Mexico. The move marks SaarGummi’s first foray into the Mexican automotive manufacturing market, creating as many as 30 new jobs over the next year. The Offshore Group’s manufacturing communities are designed to be both flexible and extensible, allowing new entrants to start small and ramp up to fill demand. The strength of Mexico’s automotive industry, and growth in Saltillo specifically, promises to support SaarGummi’s North American operations and plans for growth. • French tyre maker Michelin recently invested in a Chinese start-up called Luli Informartion Technology. The start-up is developing Lu You Tong Xing, an app that offers ride-sharing services. • Construction of Malaysia’s “Rubber City” is set to begin next year, said Datuk Dr Ku Abdul Rahman Ku Ismail, State Industry and Investment, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Committee Chairman. The city would be an industrial area focused on rubber production and will house tyre, glove, and other rubber-

centric industries. RM400 million is allotted for land acquisition and infrastructure development, according to the Finance Ministry. The city will stand on 400 ha of land in Bukit Ketapang in Padang Terap, in the northern state of Kedah. The project was originally planned to be in Durian Burung but was relocated due to rough terrain. The government aims to launch the city in 2017. Thailand and Indonesia are also taking interest in investing in the city. • German speciality chemicals company Lanxess recently opened its new neodymium butadiene rubber (Nd-BR) plant in Jurong Island, Singapore, with a production capacity of 140,000 tonnes/ year. The plant is also the first Nd-BR site in Asia. The new plant is next to the company’s existing butyl rubber plant, also in Singapore. The close proximity of the two synthetic rubber production sites on Jurong Island has enabled shared infrastructure and logistics, resulting in lean operations. Production will be ramped up gradually. The facility will produce Nd-BR for global markets, with an emphasis on the growing Asian markets. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for about a quarter of Lanxess’s sales and is home to key growth markets tied to megatrends involving mobility and urbanisation. • Sempermed, a subsidiary of the Semperit Group, invested EUR50 million to

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Rubber Journal Asia Industry News build a new glove factory at its Kamunting plant in Malaysia last year, the largest investment Semperit has ever made. Construction has been ongoing since 2014, and Sempermed recently said that the plant will open next year. • Tan Bien-Kampong Thong Development Company, an affiliate of the Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), recently opened a rubber latex plant in Cambodia’s Kampong Thon province. • Bridgestone NCR (BSNCR), a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corporation, has stated production of conveyor belts at its facility in Rayong, Thailand. The first shipment of BSNCR belts has been sent to Laem Chabang Port in Thailand’s Chonburi Province. The conveyor belts will be sold to companies in various industries such as mining, steel, and electric power companies, and will be shipped primarily to Australia, the Americas and Asia. Bridgestone also produces conveyor belts in Yokohama, Japan. • PU and recycled rubber products supplier Accella Performance Materials has acquired Burtin Polymer Labs (BPL) and Coating and Foam Solutions (CFS), a manufacturer of spray foams and coatings for insulation and roofing as well as specialised spray elastomers, including the Bullet Liner brand

for truck bed liners and heavy duty coatings. Accella has been owned by private equity firm Arsenal Capital since 2012. • Littlejohn & Co, a private investment firm based in the US, has completed the sale of Henniges Automotive, a provider of vehicle sealing and antivibration solutions for the global automotive industry, to Aviation Industry Corp. of China. Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Henniges manufactures a complete line of vehicle systems for doors, windows, trunks, lift-gates, sunroofs and hoods. The company has nearly 7,000 employees in six countries. Littlejohn acquired Henniges in 2010. Under Littlejohn’s ownership, Henniges completed a strategic add-on acquisition in Eastern Europe, fully consolidated ownership of its joint venture operation in China, and launched production in four new facilities in China and Mexico. The company says it has also been able to secure nearly US$500 million of new business over the last three years • Continental Tires America has broken ground on the expansion of its Sumter facility in the US, which will double capacity from 4 million tyres in 2016, and will double the current 700 jobs. Tyres produced at the

plant will help meet the increasing demand for Continental and General brand tyres from both aftermarket business and automotive manufacturers. The second phase of construction is expected to bring the plant’s full production capacity to 8 million tyres/year by 2021. Altogether, Continental will invest more than US$500 million and create about 1,600 new jobs. With the expansion, Continental has met the total projected investment of more than US$500 million announced in October 2011. • Germany’s ContiTech, a subsidiary of the Continental Corporation, has laid the foundations for a new conveyor belt production facility in Morocco. It will manufacture textile and steel cord conveyor belts in the 6,000-sq m plant in Jorf Lasfar, creating around 120 jobs. The construction of the new location is part of a cooperation agreement with the Moroccan state-owned phosphate producer OCP S.A. In June 2014, ContiTech and OCP concluded a strategic supply and cooperation agreement. The agreement governs ContiTech’s provision of conveyor belts for OCP. The plant will also supply customers in the Maghreb region and in Sub-Saharan Africa. Production is set to begin in the middle of next year.

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Rubber Journal Asia Biorubber

Biorubber can boost rubber security Due to the shortfall in natural rubber, major car

Scottish researcher Antje Ahrends estimated that more than half of the plantations in Southeast Asia may not be sustainable

makers are working with researchers to develop sustainable plant-based rubber, says Angelica Buan in this article.

efficient rubber management methods and policies in the region. Development of synthetic rubbers has been an overture for the shortage of the polymer. However, important applications like tyres and car parts demand the tenacity of natural rubber. For this reason, development of plant-based alternatives to Hevea rubber has begun making inroads that will diversify sources for natural rubber.

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hat would industrial progress be without natural rubber? It’s hardly imaginable. Hevea brasiliensis, the Pará rubber tree, sharinga tree, or most commonly, the rubber tree, is an important commercial source of natural rubber. It has been so since the Hevea trees, native to Brazil (parts of the Amazon Basin and Matto Grosso) and the Guianas became an important source of rubber latex. Only about a century ago was this tree variety transplanted to Africa, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Over time, the latter three countries have become chief rubber producers in Asia and the world. Soon, countries like China, India, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar also emerged as pivotal rubber producers, taking over from South America. Although rubber is still tapped from wild trees in the Amazon basin, production in South American plantations is hampered by a fungal disease known as South American leaf blight. With demand for rubber increasing, glut and shortage or tight supply; rising and falling prices, as well as land conversions to cash crops like oil palm are issues rubber producers have to contend with. Since in many rubber producing countries, cultivation is carried out by small farm holders, thus, farming and harvesting methods or inadequate technologies are found to significantly affect the output. A research published in the Global Environmental Change earlier this year advised that poor farming methods are fatal for the global rubber supply, and action should be taken. Scottish researchers from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the World Agroforestry Centre, led by Antje Ahrends, estimated that more than half of the plantations in Southeast Asia (which supplies about 70% of global rubber) may not be sustainable. Down the line, this could cripple global industries dependent on rubber, said Ahrends, suggesting for more

Cornucopia of solutions: Guayule and Russian dandelion study in 2006, which started the d i s c o v e r y of g uay ule shrub as a viab le natura l rubber source, also raised an issue reg ardin g H ev ea ’ s proneness t o crop diseases due t o it s l a c k o f g enet ic diversit y . Researchers John Ved era s a n d Andrew Scholt e from t he Univ er sity of A l b e rt a in Canada, hence, sug g est ed on deve l o pi n g v i a bl e alt ernat ive sources of rub b er. Apart from Hevea, there are more t h a n 2 , 0 0 0 plant s t hat can y ield rub b er lat ex. H ow ev er, expert s say t hat g uay ule and t he Russi a n dandelion are t he most promising . F or major car mak ers lik e Michig a n - ba sed F o r d Mo to r s, the stakes are high with the d e p l e t i n g supplies of rub b er. Pre-empt ing such a sc en a ri o, F ord has init iat ed t he development o f a more sustainable source of rubber, domes t i c a l l y v i a t he Pr o g r am o f Excellence in Natur al Ru b b e r Alter nativ es (PENR A) C o nso r tium , ba sed a t t h e Ohio State Univ er sity ’s (OSU) Ohio A gri c u l t u ra l R esear ch and Dev elo pm ent C entr e (O A RD C) . The t eam has pick ed t he Russian d a n d el i on and g uay ule shrub , which is nat ive t o t h e sout h west ern US and nort hern Mexico, t o ext ra c t rubber latex from.

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Rubber Journal Asia Biorubber Arizona-based guayule producers Yulex and PanAridus supply the guayule while OSUOARDC is working with Ford in producing a rubber prototype from both guayule and dandelion roots, expected to be unveiled by next year. Latex from guayule is extracted the same way as with Hevea, according to Ford. The resulting rubber materials can be used in many car parts such as the chassis, suspension bushing, vibration damper, isolator pad, engine mount and floor mats.

Japanese tyre maker Bridgestone has also established a research facility in Arizona, the Bridgestone Biorubber Process Research Centre, following its opening of the Agro Operation Guayule Research Farm in Eloy. It expects to undertake further research on guayule, to make it suitable for tyre and automotive applications, as well as increase its production and make it cost competitive with Hevea. Bridgestone’s research delves into plant genetics, process quality and rubber yields. The company projects the period of 2020s as the earliest possible time that guayule rubber can be used in tyres for commercial distribution. Developing prototype tyres from guayule and Russian dandelions started percolating in 2012. Dutch tyre maker, Apollo Vredestein Banden, a subsidiary of India’s Apollo Tyres, piloted tyre prototypes made from the biorubber via the EUR5.9 million-funded EU-PEARLS project. The latter is a European-based initiative for the production and exploitation of alternative rubber and latex sources supported by the Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology (KBBE) theme of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). Search is far from over: prickly lettuce the subject uayule is already being produced on a largescale biomass in Spain. It is found to be not only an excellent rubber alternative as the plant also produces resins that can be used for adhesives aromatics and biofuels, to cite a few other uses.

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Cooper Tire expects to produce a complete tyre from guayule rubber by 2017

Developing further for tyres or tyre applications, the materials are still undergoing further developments initiated by large US tyre manufacturers and PENRA members, such as Cooper Tire & Rubber Co, Bridgestone, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, and Ford. Cooper, as a result of its research undertakings with Cornell University and Clemson University, is expected to roll out a complete tyre from guayule-derived parts by 2017.

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University of Calagry’s Professor Dae-Kyun Ro says that the lettuce stem, once it is bolted, can produce latex

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Rubber Journal Asia Biorubber However, the hunt for natural rubber alternatives continues. A study by a team of scientists from Washington State University (WSU), published online in April this year, highlighted the potentials of prickly lettuce (Lactuca serriola) for providing raw material for rubber production. Prickly lettuce is a common winter weed that is a member of the sunflower family with flowers resembling dandelions. A native of the Mediterranean region, after which it was introduced to Ontario, Canada, in the late 1890s, its leaves, roots and stems give off a milky sap when damaged. Study author and ESU weed scientist, Ian Burke, started exploring the rubber potentials of prickly lettuce and its cultivated cousins after reviewing many studies related to it. One study that was published in 2006 found that the latex in prickly lettuce was akin to the polymers found in natural rubber. The WSU study was funded in part by a special US Department of Agriculture/NIFA grant. An earlier published study carried out by the Faculty of Science, University of Calgary team, likewise focused on various plants as sources of rubber. It initially looked into the lettuce’s promise as a sustainable source of natural rubber. The team, led by associate professor Dae-Kyun Ro and PhD Edison Agrosciences is developing a sunflower rubber crop student Yang Qu in the Department of Biological Sciences, used lettuce stems “to identify one of the Edison said that it will use its integrated suite key enzymes required to synthesise natural rubber of technologies, including proprietary rubber in lettuce and other plants”. pathway engineering technology, to increase the According to Ro, the stem of a lettuce, once levels of rubber production in sunflowers. it is bolted, can produce latex, which contains Rubber accumulates in commercial sunflower biopolymers. The lettuce, being a common plant leaves to levels of 1-2% of dry weight. Increasing that cross-pollinates itself, makes it ideal for this level four to five times of rubber production continuous analysis. would be sufficient to make sunflowers a The study findings were published in the commercially viable Journal of Biological source of natural Chemistry in “Apart from Hevea, there are more r u b b e r , t h e f i r m s a i d . January this year. The US had 1.56 “It represents than 2,000 plants that can yield million acres of the first natural rubber latex. However, experts sunflower crops biosynthetic model in 2014 according for rubber production say that guayule and the Russian to Edison’s data. supported by concrete dandelion are the most promising.” A d d i n g t o t h e experimental data sustainability of in over 50 years of sunflowers is its short growing season, relatively research,” the researchers said. low water requirements and tolerance to stresses induced by both high and low temperatures. The sunflower approach Moreover, sunflower production is “highly breakthrough development effort using mechanised”, thus enabling large-acreage sunflowers is being carried out by North cultivation with minimal labour costs. Carolina-headquartered Edison Agrosciences. Thus, it can be concluded that the research being The US-based agricultural biotechnology firm is undertaken by US firms on alternative sources of developing a sunflower rubber crop that it says rubber latex point to a non-reliance or lessened will diversify global rubber production, as well as reliance on Asian supplies of rubber. provide the US with an alternative source of rubber.

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