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JANUARY/FEBRUARY ISSUE 2018

www.plasticsnewseurope.com

Machines get a mind of their own ‹‹ Dennis Jonsson: We believe that

only renewable materials have the potential to be fully circular by nature ‹‹

›› Viktoria Bodnar: Machine

learning presents a real opportunity to reduce costs ››

a

publication


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THIS MONTH

CONTENTS Volume 45 • Number 1 • Incorporating European Plastics News and PRW • Price £22

Q&A INTERVIEW 28 Dennis Jonsson Dennis Jönsson, President & CEO of Tetra Pak, on how his company stays ahead in a competitive market. “It’s all about the consumers,” he explains.

IN THIS ISSUE 7

Markets & Business The European Commission releases its long-awaited plastics strategy, which will “transform the way products are designed, produced, used and recycled in the EU”.

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Packaging The past few years have seen exciting advances in packaging technology advances. One of the latest: interactivity.

14 Packaging Child resistant packaging is a packaging success story, says Stephen Wilkins, chief executive of the UK’s Child-Safe Packaging Group. He explains how they did it. 18 Machine learning Are thinking machines on their way?

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Markets & Business: ‘Only 5% of the value of plastic packaging material is kept in the economy’

14

Child resistant packaging: Maintaining child safety in packaging is an ongoing challenge

22 Machine learning In the plastics industry, machine learning could well be a source of innovation, says Viktoria Bondar, of BitRefine. 25 Biomimicry Nature has evolved design solutions over the past 3.8 billion years that work. Why not take a leaf from her book?

30

IKV preview: Among the themes: additive manufacturing of extrusion dies

30 IKV colloquium At the two-day International Colloquium Plastics Technology, the IKV will present the results of its research to the public. A preview.

REGULARS 5

Reflection

6

Design Landmark Pro-Ject’s The Classic turntable

34 Polymer Prices Relatively stable prices and a balanced supply 37 Products and Services 38 Events & Movers

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

22

Source of innovation Machine learning can open up new vistas for the plastics industry 3

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reflection

Hold that thought

I

t may at first glance appear an odd combination: features on machine learning and biomimicry, side by side in one and the same issue. After all, machine learning is a branch of computer science – not an area usually associated with ‘bio’ or ‘nature’. And, more to the point: what does either one have to do with plastics? The connection between the two, however, is not as far-fetched as initially would seem. From the very beginning, the brain has been a source of inspiration in the development of the computer – almost a kind of biomimicry right there. Ever since, scientists have been working to develop computers that simulate the way the brain works. The problem with this was the fact that humans can adapt: when conditions change, we adjust and respond accordingly. We learn from experience. Building this capability into a machine was another story. A conventional, digital computer excels at computing, but it cannot ‘think’. It, literally, follows instructions – which is what software is. By contrast, a brain is packed with billions

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upon billions of interconnected tiny cells called neurons that generate electric signals, allowing information to be transmitted. For over fifty years, scientists have been working on ways to mimic the working of the brain more realistically, developing what have become known as artificial neural networks, made up of artificial neurons arranged in layers, and modelled on the biological neural networks in the brain. These networks make it possible for machines to be ‘trained’ and to ‘learn’. It is not hard to imagine, just what benefits an intelligent machine that is able to learn can bring to industry and manufacturing. In the plastics industry, where, increasingly, machines and systems are equipped with a multiKaren Laird, Editor tude of sensors collecting real-time data on the production process from start to finish, there are, say the experts, plenty of opportunities for machine learning to shine. Biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus once said: Biomimicry is “the conscious emulation of life’s genius”. And so, in its own way, so is machine learning.

Benelux, France Arthur Schavemaker Kenter & Co. B.V., Spoorstraat 21, NL-7470 AC Goor, The Netherlands Tel: +31 (0)547-275005 Fax: +31 (0)547-271831 Email: Arthur@kenter.nl Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Eastern Europe Randolf Krings Emcmedia UG, Kaiser-Friedrich-Ring 46, D-65185, Wiesbaden, Germany Tel: +49 (0)611 5324 416 Mobile: +49 (0)176 384 23044 Fax: +49 (0)611 5324 519 Email: epn@emcmedia.de Italy Fabio Potestà Mediapoint & Communications SRL, Corte Lambruschini, Corso Buenos Aires, 8, V piano - interno 7, 16129 Genova - Italy Tel: +39 010 570 49481 Fax: +39 010 553 0088 Email: info@mediapointsrl.it United States Patrick Cannon Sales Director, Plastics News 1155 Gratiot Avenue, Detroit, Michigan, 48207, USA Tel: +1 313 446 1625 Email: pcannon@crain.com

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Plastics News Europe (incorporating European Plastics News) is published by Crain Communications Ltd. Registered Office: 100 New Bridge Street, London EC4V 6JA United Kingdom Registered No. 1576350 England. V.A.T. No. GB 577 6905 84 Printed by Warners Midlands, Bourne, Lincolnshire. ISSN 2058-7902 Advertising terms and conditions are available at www.plasticsnewseurope.com © 2018 Crain Communications Ltd. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reprinted without the permission of the publishers. EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS Email to: epnnews@crain.com

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design landmark

Pro-Ject The Classic O

Design Landmark is researched and written by James Snodgrass

n first glance, there isn’t an awful lot about Pro-Ject’s The Classic that screams “plastic”. The simple and functional wood and aluminium design harks back to audiophile products of the 1960s and 1970s from companies such as Thorens and Linn (the latter’s Sondek LP12 turntable being an obvious influence). There are questions over whether vinyl delivers the audio fidelity that its adherents claim but most will agree that vinyl sounds “warm” and familiar. But there is no question that the form allows for more substantial cover art; and there is more ceremony to the act of removing a PVC disc from the sleeve, placing it on the platter and lifting the tone arm over and onto the groove, than pressing play on Spotify. These are among the reasons why vinyl records have had a renaissance. Sales of vinyl LPs are back to 1991 levels, a time when Nirvana were riding high in the charts and a small Austrian manu-

(2017)

Cutaway showing one of the TPE balls (coloured green, right)

facturer of turntables, Pro-Ject was just starting out. The Classic clearly references a bygone era but it isn’t as conventional as it first appears. First there’s the tonearm, which is made from CFRP with an aluminium core – the lightness of the material means that the tonearm doesn’t exert unnecessary force on the record and the stiffness reduces vibration. Vibration is the vinyl purist’s biggest enemy. Traditional decks like Linn’s LP12 used damping springs to mitigate against the distortion created by vibration. The suspended

decks required expert tuning of the damping springs – a process usually carried out by accredited dealers and repeated whenever the turntable was moved from one location to another. The Classic does away with damping springs. Instead the damping is effected using TPE. Inside the aluminium platter is a soft TPE (3040 Shore). And the chassis rests upon injection-moulded balls of a harder TPE (50-60 Shore). This means that The Classic can be used straightout-of-the-box and moved from room to room without requiring expert calibration.

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january/february 2018


MARKETS & BUSINESS

Commission launches new plastics strategy to boost recycling Liz Newmark covered the debate in Brussels

T

he European Commission has released its long-awaited plastics strategy, which, claims the European Union (EU) executive, will “transform the way products are designed, produced, used and recycled in the EU”. Brussels has now declared – on 16 Jan – that it wants to ensure that all plastics packaging put on the EU market will be recyclable by 2030; the consumption of single-use plastics will be reduced; and the intentional use of microplastics – plastic particles smaller than 5mm, for example microbeads in exfoliating products - will be restricted. “If we don’t change the way we produce and use plastics, there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans by 2050,” said Commission first vice-president Frans Timmermans, responsible for sustainable development. He told MEPs at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, on 17 Jan that he was not “an enemy of plastics”, but they must be the right ones. That is why the Commission is earmarking an additional €100m into research through Horizon 2020, the EU’s programme for research and innovation, with the goal of developing new sustainable materials.

Economic sense Jyrki Katainen, Commission vice-president in charge of jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, said plastics recycling made economic sense. “According to estimates, only 5% of the value of plastic packaging material is kept in the economy, the rest goes to waste after a very short first use. The annual bill accounts for up to €105bn, we simply cannot afford it.” The strategy comes after the European Parliament, EU Council of Ministers, and the European Commission struck a preliminary agreement in December to impose EU-wide 70% packaging recycling and 55% plastics packaging recycling targets for 2030.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

The much-debated proposal on how to reduce single-use plastics other than plastic bags, for example cotton buds or cutlery, is only scheduled for May but measures to reduce the impact of plastic water bottles could be released later this month (January), the Commission said. MEPs welcomed the strategy at a parliamentary debate: “The Commissioners will have huge support in the European Parliament to help them deliver it,” claimed Romania’s Adina-Ioana Valean from Parliament’s largest group, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP).

Quality standards “We all agree that high-quality recycling of plastics is key, yet we need a viable market for them,” Valean added, applauding how the Commission has said it wants to introduce quality standards for recycled plastics. She also urged “more ambition” in deterring the use of micro-plastics in detergents and cosmetics. Fellow EPP member, Ireland’s Mairead McGuinness noted her country’s introduction of a plastic bag tax in 2002, resulted in “an immediate 90% reduction in plastic bag use”. She was concerned about the fate of unwanted plastic following China’s ban on plastics waste imports. But Mr Katainen said this move would encourage European industry to find solutions. European association PlasticsEurope has embraced the challenges of the Commission strategy. In a statement, executive director Karl-H. Foerster said the call for harmonised rules to ensure all plastics packaging would be reusable by 2030 “will help achieve our goal of 100% reuse, recycling and recovery of all plastics packaging at European level by 2040”.

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Foerster also welcomed the strategy’s bid to cut landfill, but added that initiatives to reduce single-use plastics “should be proportional, effective and harmonised at EU level”. In the UK, British Plastics Federation (BPF) sustainability executive Helen Jordan told Plastics News Europe to meet the plastics recycling targets, “there needs to be incentives for companies to use recycled content within their products and for products to be designed to maximise recyclability.” Jordan said as Brexit loomed, it was impossible to say what impact the strategy would have on the UK plastics sector now. But, “when Brexit happens, we expect good trade relations to continue with Europe,” so even if the strategy was not implemented, “many companies may choose to meet these requirements anyway.” The BPF official added microbead controls should “exclude microbead applications where there is a clear benefit in their use and an extremely low risk of them entering the marine environment”. Every year, Europeans generate 26 million tonnes of plastic waste, but less than 30% is collected for recycling – with 31% landfilled and 39% incinerated. Plastics constitute 85% of beach litter worldwide.


smart packaging

adding interaction to containment and protection Technology advances coupled with component and system production cost reductions are opening up huge potential for flexible circuits in smart, interactive packaging. David Vink reviews the various solutions and some of the companies involved

S

mart packaging originated with barrier technology and incorporation of oxygen scavengers within plastics, in order to extend food and beverage shelf life and has been followed by universally-applied printed bar codes to ease store checkout staff work and speed up checkout times. But the “holy grail” has been further progress to “active packaging”: packaging that is able to indicate the state of contents and shelf life status. Achievement of this goal, and much more, is already well within reach with advances in flexible circuitry, based on printed tracks, components and batteries on circuitry that is hardly thicker than the plastic film, metal or paper substrate on which it is printed. This is a paradigm shift towards packaging which can communicate information interactively throughout the value chain in terms of Industry 4.0 principles and consumer interfac-

Bacardi Bombay Sapphire gin bottle pack with electroluminescent illumination

es, as well as providing enhancement with printed electro-luminescent, LED and most recently OLED illumination features. Smart handheld communication device use plays an essential role; so do falling chip prices, as production volumes increase. But the technology has not stopped there: today, there are sophisticated communication means printed onto packaging circuitry – devices providing near-field communication (NFC) and radio frequency identification (RFID) interactivity from the producer all the way to the consumer. This is now achieved with printed circuits that also provide flexible battery, temperature and pressure (touch) sensors, NFC antennae and even displays.

Applications & projects

OLED-illuminated prototype label, developed by Knauer and Inuru, as applied to a Coca Cola bottle

Plastics packaging group Wipak was in the interactivity forefront with a 2012-2016 SelfTalk concept project led by Jaana Kilpinen, first shown at the Interpack 2014 packing industry fair. This interactive packaging, aimed primarily at medical device packaging, involved augmented reality and a “Wiki” 3D animation character reading product features to consumers from invisible codes in the packaging, and passing data and images to a smart handheld device app loaded from a QR code on the pack. Interactive packaging seen by Plastics News Europe on Wipak’s Interpack 2014 stand also included “fraud detective” measures against

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counterfeiting and brand imitation. Also at Interpack 2014, Fraunhofer IVV processing and packaging technology institute showed Plastics News Europe electro-luminescent illumination, applied since 2012 to the Bacardi Bombay Sapphire gin cardboard pack by German packing producer Karl Knauer. The lighting is activated when the pack is lifted. The application had earlier won a 2013 LOPE-C large area organic & printed electronics association demonstrator award. Knauer has been working meanwhile with Inuru in Berlin, Germany on the application of Inuru printed sensor solutions and “HiLight” printed OLED illumination, 100-500 times brighter than electro-luminescence. Knauer applied these to a prototype Coca Cola bottle label with printed batteries powering the illumination “for many weeks or months”. The application won a 2017 new material category German packaging award. Inuru says HiLight flexible OLED lighting can be printed “on every surface”. The Medea “Light up a Room” vodka bottle, featuring individually programmable – manually or via Bluetooth – illuminated label greeting messages was among exhibits at the Drupa 2016 printing industry fair and the 2017 LOPE-C convention. LOPE-C 2018 takes place in Munich on 14-15 March and includes 100 exhibitors supporting the conference programme.

➡ Continued on page 10 january/february 2018


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SMART PACKAGING

➡ Continued from page 8 Having worked earlier with the former Xerox Parc research company, the Norwegian company ThinFilm Electronics licensed printed memory circuit label technology to Xerox in January 2015. As a result, Xerox has an annual 1.3 billion units/year memory-label capacity on a production line at its base in Webster, New York state.

Medea vodka bottle with an OLED-illuminated message label, shown at Drupa 2016 (left) and LOPE-C 2017 (right)

This type of label “could place electronic connectivity via packaging within the budget of the consumer mass goods market”, the companies say. They are targeting a USD 0.10 unit price to make this viable, by converting a segment previously focussed on printed electric into next generation printed electronics smart solutions that simultaneously serve a number of functions.

Xerox has gone into mass production of memory chips with ThinFilm Electronics technology

ThinFilm showed Johnie Walker’s Black Label whisky bottles with prototype interactive NFC tagged labels at the 2015 MWC Mobile World Congress, saying they would run in production in 3Q 2015. Pond’s Pure Elegance Age Miracle cosmetic cream packaging was due to use ThinFilm’s Opensense technology tags by the end of 2015. ThinFilm Electronics itself started by printing PET- and PEN-substrate flexible circuitry in single sheets in Linköping (Sweden), later adding stainless steel backed roll-to-roll production, also at the end of 2017 in a new San José (California) plant taken over from Qualcomm. Printed electronics and smartphones can also democratise the battle against fake or grey-market products, by “placing the verification tool directly in consumer hands”, ThinFilm Electronics says, adding that “prevalence of domestic counterfeiting makes China a focus for such applications”. Although food packaging is more price sensitive than pharmaceutical packaging, Plastics News Europe saw Fraunhofer IVV displaying a thermoformed plastic fruit pack bearing a ThinFilm flexible circuit temperature sensor on its Interpack 2014 stand and a similar smart fruit pack was shown at Drupa 2016. ThinFilm Electronics signed a pressure-sensitive label cooperation agreement in February 2016 with the Constantia packaging group. “Constantia Interactive” has then developed interactive FlowPack flexible packaging with smart circuitry hidden inside the pack. Constantia announced in June 2016 that it had developed NFC labels based on ThinFilm Electronics’ Opensense technology for Hopsy, a local craft beer marketplace and beer delivery service based in San Francisco, US. Constantia converts and prints the Hopsy labels in Cwmbran, UK. Sint Niklaas, Belgium based flexible circuit producer Quad Industries showed with the Portuguese company Ynvisible electrochromic printed NFC (RFID) tag demonstrators on the Quad Industries stand at the May 2017 IDTechEx Printed Electronics Europe 2017 conference and exhibition in Berlin. Ynvisible colour-changing electrochromic graphics enable more graphic and object embedded visual features than with conventional graphic materials. Ynvisible talks of “a mission to provide a practical human interface to the Internet of Things [IoT] as it becomes the Internet of Everything” through development and marketing of low power, low weight, thin, flexible, transparent and robust

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ThinFilm Electronics temperature logger

printed electrochromic displays. It says printed electronics with lower cost and lower power than conventional electronic circuitry “is a key enabler in an IoT market that is just at the beginning, still in its infancy, but set to explode with increasing numbers of IoT products launching in different market niches”. Quad Industries R&D director Wim Christiaens told Flemish-Belgian TV in May 2016 that chip-based flexible circuits had been so far produced commercially for pharmaceutical packaging, but should become universal in food packaging within several years. Christiaens showed in an IDTechEx 2016 presentation how Quad Industries has produced temperature

Constantia produces interactive labels with ThinFilm Electronics circuitry for the Hopsy craft beer

loggers using chip sensors from NXP Semiconductors in Eindhoven, Netherlands and printed soft batteries from Enfucell in Vantaa, Finland. Enfucell says new printed electronic components and small printed power sources enable packaging of the future to go beyond containment and protection with new functional packaging features, such as changing texts, displays or sounds,

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


SMART PACKAGING

providing proof of authenticity and having a growing impact on final buying decisions. As a producer of FlexIC circuitry printed on plastic film substrates and associated production lines, PragmaticIC also believes the time is ripe for NFC- and RFID-based solutions to go beyond present prime use in higher value spirit, beer & wine bottles and pharmaceutical packaging, into fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), e.g. food packaging. The technology is available and proven, but cost has been the drawback. However, that has been changing with chip costs continuing to fall, from $100 each for the 300m/year computer market, through $1-10 for handheld smart devices (50 billion/ year) towards the 1-10 US cents range for a potential packaging market (over one trillion units/year), with the company suggesting that “sub-cent electronic solutions” can be envisaged. A fully integrated FlexIC line with capacity to produce “thinner than a human hair” FlexICs in billions/year involves a capital expenditure 100–1000 times less than for conventional silicone integrated circuit (IC) production. PragmaticIC leased space at the CPI National Printable Electronics Centre in Sedgefield (UK), adding to existing PragmaticIC pilot production. With equipment installed at CPI in December 2017, PragmaticIC is now ramping up and optimising production there in 2018. Full-scale production implies 90% lower IC costs than for silicone ICs, finished tag costs coming out at 80% lower cost. The company also offers companies migrating from silicone IC to FlexIC solutions complete FlexLogIC “fab-in-a-box” systems for “fast, cost-effective and scalable distributed production”. Among the partners working with PragmaticIC are label producer Avery Dennison, RFID and NFID smart anten-

na solutions provider Smartrac in Amsterdam (Netherlands), smart systems solutions company Talkin’ Things in Warsaw (Poland) and consumer goods producer Unilever. Smartrac says silver inks can be printed on PET substrates as well as on temperature-sensitive substrates in e.g. PPG Industries “Teslin” synthetic papers, PC, PET-G and PVC. PragmaticIC and Smartrac are involved with playing card producer Cartamundi and cardboard packaging producer Van Genechten Packaging, both based in Turnhout (Belgium),

➡ Continued on page 12

Schreiner Printronics interactive label applied to a cardboard package

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

11

FlexIC printed flexible circuitry produced by PragmaticIC


SMART PACKAGING

➡ Continued from page 11 in the PING consortium for Printed Intelligent NFC Game cards and packaging, a EU Horizon 2020 project with the goal of enabling commercially viable production of smart printed objects in high volume production of ultra lowcost smart packaging. Flexible printed circuit producer, Schreiner Printronics in Oberschleissheim (Germany), won the 2017 OE-A competition best prototype/new product category award. This was for multilayer film circuitry that can be mass-produced in a roll-to-roll process and that combines printed conductive circuit tracks and printed antenna functions with an embedded battery. It also has a RFID sensor for tem-

Kisico’s interactive NFC Cap contains an in-moulded NFC chip

Production of thin printed flexible circuitry was shown in the PEPSO printed electronics area at Drupa 2016

perature logging throughout the supply chain and a NFC sensor to detect package first-opening as a measure against tampering. The company says it will be possible to use the chip in future to also store and read biomedical data or physical effects on the label, such as humidity or shock. Plastics closure moulder Kisico in Oestrich-Winkel (Germany) has launched a “NFC Cap” closure with an in-moulded NFC chip that is tamper-proof by being hidden, yet communicates data to smart handheld devices. The new cap won a PackTheFuture award at Interpack 2017 and a 2018 WorldStar packaging award. The NFC cap enables checking of

product authenticity, use limit data, product information and treatment advice. Kisico says it can be applied in most of its standard closures without requiring additional injection moulding tool costs or adjustments. The company considers the hidden NFC solution as superior to visible QR codes on the outside of caps and points out that the chip never comes in contact with the bottle contents, as it is enclosed by plastic. Kisico sees NFC Cap as of particular interest for high-price products producers and brand owners who are at particularly high risk of product counterfeiting, with a bonus of “a unique customer experience”.

The original zipped files Less sophisticated, perhaps, but in its own way ‘smart’: tamper evident security.

V

ersapak, a UK-based manufacturer of tamper evident solutions has developed a range of bags and seals that have found application in a wide range of industries, wherever security is demanded. The Tamper-evident zippered closure with security seal

company’s medical bags, for example, are suitable for storing confidential patient medical records; however, it also produces security bags to transport cash, diplomatic papers, tamper evident document pouches, and much, much more. What sets these products apart is a proprietary, patented, plastic two-pronged security seal – the T2 – that acts as a zip puller. Attached to the zipper, it locks into position and cannot be removed unless broken, making it clear when the bag has been tampered with. The seal has a printable surface space to accommodate a barcode or other personalised information, which can be easily scanned and read, for traceability purposes. Next to security, the company has also made the environment an important topic. While reducing the consumption of plastic has always been a striving, it has now become more urgent with the UK government’s new

12

long-term plan to eradicate all avoidable plastic waste in the UK by 2042. According to Versapak, its bags and document pouches have been designed to be used over 2,000 times; in fact, they come with a five-year guarantee. The tamper evident seal, if broken, rather than jamming the mechanism, falls away, ensuring the bag can be continued to be reused. The seals can be returned to Versapak for recycling. “Our products, services, suppliers and company operations are maximising reusability and efficiency on a daily basis,” says the company. “From the recycling of wasted injection moulded parts in the factory, to encouraging and rewarding the return of the used ‘single use’ plastics for re-introduction into the manufacturing process. We have customers who have been using the same bags for decades. For us, that is just our starting point.”

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


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NX UltraClear PP – which can be only be made with Milliken’s Millad® NX™ 8000E clarifying additive – yields polypropylene bottles with improved optical properties, specifically better clarity, superb gloss both inside and outside, lower haze, a low yellowness index, and an overall fresher look. This new additive yields excellent results in both productivity and optics. Milliken designed Millad NX 8000E specifically to provide a step change in optical properties with standard ZieglerNatta polypropylene EBM resins, and it also makes bottle aesthetics less process dependent.

As a result, transparency in extrusion blow molding is no longer limited to PVC or PET. The additive enables PP to replace more expensive, less functional, or difficult-to-process materials. For example, NX UltraClear PP’s high clarity makes it an attractive alternative for polycarbonate in baby bottles, for PET in personalcare and detergent bottles, and ideal for glass-replacement applications such as easysqueeze bottles. Bottles made with NX UltraClear PP offer lower density and weight compared to glass and all alternative EBM plastics. Clear handleware bottles made using the resin have a density of 0.9 g/cc compared to PET’s 1.35 g/cc, while delivering the same clarity level. NX UltraClear PP also makes it is possible to integrate handles and soft-touch features, while enabling the creation of complex designs in a blowmolded bottle. As an added benefit, tests have shown that bottles made with the resin are easier and faster to empty than other options, thereby reducing product waste.

Unclarified

Clarified with Millad® NX™ 8000E

For more information, please contact Eurochem@milliken.com or visit our website chemical.milliken.com © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. Millad is a registered trademark of Milliken and Company. NX and Milliken are trademarks of Milliken & Company. Please Note: As each customer’s use of our product may be different, information we provide, including without limitation, recommendations, test results, samples, care/labeling/processing instructions or marketing advice, is provided in good faith but without warranty and without accepting any responsibility/liability. Each customer must test and be responsible for its own specific use, further processing, labeling, marketing, etc.


smart packaging

Blister-pack challenge: How does this open, anyway?

Can she figure it out?

packaging challenges Packaging designs must overcome numerous challenges, including meeting the needs of groups at both ends of the age spectrum. Stephen Wilkins discusses how standards can promote accessible design for all in packaging. A success for our industry

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s the post second world war consumer economy got into its stride during the 1950s; when austerity was cast aside and the 1960s, that great decade of consumerism, got under way, attention turned to safety issues. Totally new household products coming on to the market, and over the counter medicines not only had side effects

but, in the wrong hands or misused, could be dangerous, and even life threatening. One result of these concerns was the introduction in the early 1970s of child resistant packaging, initially in the USA but quickly spreading to the UK and the rest of Europe. This type of packaging was effective because its opening method consisted of two simultaneous and often counterintuitive actions. Examples are the now very familiar push and turn and squeeze and turn closures. Later developments to create child resistant blister and strip packs used sequential actions, an example is the now equally familiar peel back and push through pack. This type of packaging has worked. It is a real success story not only for the plastics and packaging industries, but also for those industries that have espoused and speci-

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fied it. In the developed world, it is almost impossible to buy a household, horticultural or automotive product or, indeed, an over the counter medicine that is not packed in a child resistant container. In its report on child health published in 2008, the World Health Organisation described child resistant packaging as the best documented method of reducing poisoning in childhood in the developed world. Maintaining this success and the concomitant level of child safety has and continues to be a major research, development, regulation, standardisation and testing task. It is fairly easy to evaluate the changes in packaging performance as materials, production methods and marketing needs change. It is less easy, however, to evaluate the increasing manual dexterity and transferable skills of children as education develops into

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smart packaging

areas of ever more intricate problem solving. For that matter, it is equally difficult to evaluate the increasing needs of our ageing population. Elderly people, those over 65 comprise a substantial constituency. The World population of elderly people numbers 597 million, of which 92.7 million live in the European union, representing 18.21% of the EU population (source CIA world fact book).

Standards and regulations matter Child resistant packaging is not ‘child proof’. To be child resistant, it must comply with one of a number of International Standards (ISOs 8317,14375 and 28862) or in the USA with chapter 16 of the Code of Federal regulations. It is defined by these standards as ‘Packaging which is difficult for a child under 52 months to open but not difficult for an adult to use properly’. Each standard, which is a type as opposed to a process test, incorporates two separate panel tests. These are the child test, where a variable sized sample of children, minimum 30 maximum 200, aged 42-51 months, try to open the pack. They try for two five-minute periods between which they witness a silent demonstration. The second is the adult test, where a sample of 100 adults aged 50-70, after familiarisation, must open and properly re-close the pack in one minute. To comply with the standard, 90% success is required for the adult test and 80-85% success for the child test. This testing regime has been successful. In Europe, the standards have been regularly revised and the latest versions are 2015/16. In addition, within ISO, the International Organization for Standardisation, work has been done to write standards devoted to ease of opening for people aged 65-80 and to creating a standard, ISO 13127:2012, which describes a series of mechanical tests to re-certify a previously panel tested pack that has been subjected to a minor change or series of minor changes. It is in these two respects that the ISO system of standards differs from the USA regulation, 16CFR1700.20.

it is worth considering some key words in all European and International standards. • The word SHALL indicates a requirement. • SHOULD indicates a recommendation. • MAY indicates permission. • CAN indicates a potential. This is important, because it enables standards to be adapted for use in any nation in the international community. Conversely, the US regulation has been written for the fifty United States, and it does not always adapt well to other cultures. However, standards are written to be tools for voluntary compliance and indeed more than 95% of them are totally voluntary. An anomaly arises, though, as in the case of child resistant packaging, where the standards are cited in regulations, such as the EU Reg. 1272/2008, The Tobacco Products Directive and the UK Human Medicines regulations 2012. It is a case of “you will do this but there is a breadth of latitude about how you do it”. The second point of difference between ISO and US is the flexibility in the ISO standards that carry substantial favourable cost implications for ISO users. There is the general flexibility already referred to, but more importantly, there are specific

Let us examine how the two systems differ First, the USA system is a regulation, not a standard. Regulations must be obeyed to the letter. By contrast, a standard is not a set of rules but a set of concepts from which we make our own rules. To better understand this,

january/february 2018

KidloK child-resistant caps with liner

15

areas for flexibility, making it easier to achieve compliance, with in this author’s opinion, no detriments to performance or safety. A good example is the testing and certification of a range of packaging: ranges differing only in capacity are very popular in the pharmaceutical industry and sometimes these are quite wide; perhaps from 25ml to 500ml with ten intermediate sizes. Using the ISO standard ISO 8317:2015, it is necessary if “the packages differ only in capacity but are equal in all other respects,” to test only the largest and smallest capacities. By contrast the US’s 16CFR1700.20 requires that each size shall be tested. This means ten tests as opposed to two; the cost implications are self-evident. There are other cost saving examples: in the US, the minimum child sample is fifty, in the ISO community it is thirty – again with evident cost savings; in this case, the statistical inference with the smaller sample is no worse than with the larger. The third and probably most important difference is the development of two additional standards by ISO, whilst the CFR regulation has remained static.

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smart packaging

➡ Continued from page 15 Standardised mechanical testing ISO 13127:2012 deals with mechanical testing in the event of a minor change being made to a pack previously successfully tested for compliance with ISO 8317:2015. The mechanical testing standard, ISO 13127 is only capable of testing the effect of changes that may be measured by unidirectional linear or rotational forces. It cannot be used in the case, for example, of changes to weight, shape, flexural strength, surface friction or any other factor that interfaces between pack and user. This standard sets out ten tests in ten normative annexes. These tests, applied to the original ISO 8317 compliant pack, generate reference data and, applied to the changed pack, generate new data. The two data sets are compared using the t-test, a tool allowing statistical inferences to be drawn using small samples. If there is no statistically significant difference then the changed pack is compliant. If there is a statistically significant difference then the changed pack requires either the ISO 8317 child test, the

adult test or both to comply. Mechanical testing under ISO 13127 is not designed to replace panel testing under ISO 8317 but rather to work alongside it. ISO 8317 and its predecessor BS and CEN standards always accepted mechanical testing by inference but this was either not standardised or not performed at all. The increasing use of ISO 13127 is therefore a major step forward and will make for better child resistant packaging by increased control in the inevitable event of minor changes during a pack’s life and the elimination of dimension creep.

Panels of elderly hardly representative Both the ISO standards and the USA regulation for child resistant packaging have faced criticism because of the age of the adult test panel. In all cases the panel consists of 100 adults aged 50-70, 70% female, half evenly spread between 50-59 the remainder between 60-70 not necessarily evenly spread. Clearly, this sample does not represent the population, it is only a benchmark. Resistance to a more representative adult sample has

KidloK caps on bottles

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plagued the standard writers since the early 1970s. The initial age range in Europe was 18-45 then 18-60 then 18-65 and by 2003 50-70. In the USA 16CFR1700.20 offers two adult sample options the young adult 18-45 and senior adult 50-70. The young sample is used for products that would not be needed by seniors for example, Evening Primrose Oil, and other products limited to women of child-bearing age.

Towards accessible design for all In the ISO community, work has been ongoing for a number of years to create a suite of standards devoted to accessible design for all packaging. The first to emerge was ISO 17480:2015: Packaging-Accessible design-Ease of opening. This standard deals with all packaging for any product provided that packaging does not need a tool to open it. ISO 17480 deals with design criteria and considers such factors as dexterity, opening strength and more importantly, cognition. The standard also includes both instrument based and user-based evaluation. As with all standards, the adoption and use of ISO 17480 is voluntary and optional. Interestingly the panel for the user based test consists of up to 100 adults aged 65-80, in other words that unfortunately too often ignored group of 92.7 million EU citizens. Although ISO 17480 is not dedicated to child resistant packaging there is nothing to prevent the adult user test being employed alongside the adult test, 50-70 sample in ISO 8317. We have conducted such tests with the older panel with initially surprising levels of success. The older users, 65-80 are successful when the opening task is ‘obvious how and easy to do’ and achieving this need not compromise child resistance. The advantages to the supplier or specifier of child resistant packaging complying with ISO 17480 as well as ISO 8317 are manifest and will give substantial competitive advantage as well as being of real help to elderly people. A case of ‘not just doing things right but finding the right things to do’. Summing up, within the ISO community we have progressed child resistant packaging by creating greater flexibility, easier routes to compliance with no adverse effect on safety, standardised mechanical testing and an opportunity to provide real help to our aging population. We have also used standards alongside regulation to create a system of use in any country and any culture.

january/february 2018


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machine learning

machines can really learn by doing Machine learning is part of what is driving the shift to manufacturing intelligence. Already used for prediction, detection, classification and regression purposes, research is now ongoing to implement this in plastics injection moulding, and specifically, the set-up process. But what is it?

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here are various ‘definitions’ of machine learning to be found, some more complicated than others, but all sharing the same basic principle: machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that enables computers to learn on their own. A machine’s learning algorithm enables it to identify patterns in observed data, build models that explain the world, and predict things without being explicit pre-programmed (Vishal Maini & Samer Sabri, ‘Machine Learning for Humans’). In other words, machine learning is about teaching computers to “learn in the same way we do, by interpreting data from the world around us, classifying it and learning from its successes and failures”, wrote Bernard Marr in his What is Machine Learning article (2017/05/04, www. forbes.com). “Building algorithms capable of doing this, using the binary “yes” and “no” logic of computers, is the foundation of machine learning – a phrase which was probably first used during serious research by Arthur Samuel at IBM during the 1950s.”

to the rise of data sets so voluminous and complex that traditional data processing application software proved inadequate to deal with them. Today’s more powerful computers, data centres, extensive storage capacity and the emergence of the Internet of Things have brought changes to all that, while at the same time, the amount of data that can rightly be called ‘big’, has also changed. More importantly, however, the focus has shifted: while quantity is, obviously, important, the real interest is now on the analytics that can be used to extract or ‘mine’ value from the data. As a result, big data is now being adopted for use in sectors ranging from health and government to sports – and industrial processes. The manufacturing industry, which includes the plastics industry, increasingly makes use of machinery and devices that generate enormous amounts of data. These data provide real-time status updates of processes and machinery, making it possible to

Input is key Without data, however, a machine can’t ‘learn’, and this was, until very recently, the main reason for the relatively modest achievements in this area over the years. After all, for algorithms to be smart enough to detect patterns, staggering amounts of input data are required – for many years, far in excess of the storage capacity of the computers then available. As data sets continued to grow, this led to the phenomenon known as ‘big data’, a term whose origins are debated, but referred

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utilise these, for example, to optimise production processes and maintenance schedules, enhance cybersecurity and to improve efficiency, to name but a few. Already, machine learning is being used in manufacturing for various process optimsation, monitoring and control applications in manufacturing, and for predictive maintenance. Yet this can only be achieved with machine learning. Image analysis and image recognition, say, can be used for process optimisation, but only after the machine has ‘learnt’ the patterns to be recognised from the input data.

Set up optimisation In the plastics industry, plastic injection moulding is the most common process used to produce plastic parts, and in that process, the most important step is setting up the injection moulding machine. This involves determining the basic process parameters, which will produce products of the desired quality, and then optimising these. Inappropriate settings adversely affect the quality of the parts. Determining the right settings is done by machine operators, who rely on a combination of skill and experience when carrying out mould trials to establish the appropriate settings for defect-free part production. For the past several years, IKV, the Institute of Plastics Processing at RWTH Aachen University, in Germany has been studying whether it would be possible to use machine learning to optimise this process and, in the longer term, to automate it. Within the BRAIN project – where BRAIN stands for Biologically Inspired Learning Processes for Machines in Production – researchers at the Institute are working to develop a new approach combining simulation with real test data in order to make the overall set up process easier. “The project started in August 2016 and will continue to the end of 2018,” said IKV scientist Julian Heinisch. “However, we would like to use the knowledge of this project as preliminary work for a possible next Cluster of Excellence – ‘Internet of Production’.” Funding for this latter project has been applied for.

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machine learning

Facilitating the injection moulding set-up process. Model developed by IKV within the scope of the BRAIN project

The question the researchers asked themselves was: “How can a production system autonomously optimise itself with regard to the pre-defined quality characteristics of the manufactured parts?” Machine learning, which draws up relationships from complex data and uses them specifically for tuning the process, presented good possibilities, although it would require the algorithms used – for example artificial neuronal networks – to first be trained with the help of complex injection moulding tests. To do so would also involve a huge amount of work, which is why, according to the IKV, ‘machine learning has not yet become established’ despite the increasingly more efficient algorithms. Their solution was to use numerical simulations that could be performed automatically. Injection moulding simulations are used in order to learn about the relationships between setting parameters and resultant quality data, with-

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out having to resort to complex, time-consuming trials. Hitherto, however, it has not been possible to produce simulations using model assumptions that reliably simulate the injection moulding process ‘without deviations from reality’, according to the researchers. Hence established models and process data serve as the starting point for the machine set-up, and, in most cases, need to be readjusted in several iteration steps. IKV is now trying to find suitable machine-learning models which would allow the process to be set up using simulations in combination with real test data (cf. diagram). By using this combination of data, the researchers hope to be able to minimise the number of mould trials needed, which would make the use of machine-learning processes economically viable. A viable machine-learning process would not only enable the process set-up to be carried out systematically, it would also dispense with the reliance currently placed on the intuition and experience of the

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operator. In addition, a precise knowledge of the relationships and optimised parameters would ensure a higher quality of the moulded part and greater economic efficiency of the overall process. To date, the project has only used data generated in the lab. Julian Heinisch: “Nevertheless, we would like to validate the developed methods and models with injection moulders in an industrial environment at the end of the project.” He emphasised that BRAIN was a basic research project and that “rapid commercialisation was not the objective of our work”, adding: “At the moment we are still in a too early phase for a commercialisation.” “For the latest results, I can only invite everyone to visit us at our International Colloquium Plastics Technology on 28 February 2018 – 1 March 2018. At the lab tour (IKV-360°) and during the presentations, we will present some new features we realised with machine learning for everyone to experience,” he said.


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machine learning

a source of innovation for plastic industry Over the past decade, companies that actively use big data have been shown to grow 50% faster compared to non-users. BitRefine, a pioneer in the area of machine learning and computer vision talks about how machine learning can benefit the plastics industry.

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lthough machine learning has become a buzzword only in recent years, the concept itself has been around for over 75 years, according to BitRefine, a Hong Kongbased company specialised in the development of machine learning and computer vision applications for clients in a wide range of sectors. Machine learning is a specialised branch of AI in which the machines learn from their environment or the datasets given. Machine learning algorithms are employed in tasks where designing static instructions is difficult or even infeasible, such as finding patterns and anomalies, or making predictions from large complex datasets. Converting big data into meaningful insights has today become possible because of growing artificial intelligence capabilities; capabilities that are forecast to add over $15 trillion to the global economy for the industrial sector alone by 2030. And while the company points to the machine

learning platforms developed by big tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook over the past five years, the true beauty of machine learning, says Viktoria Bondar, of BitRefine, is that its application is not limited to the tech industry. Machine learning applications can benefit manufacturing, in particular, the plastics industry, as well.

Quality prediction system As plastic continues to replace the use of traditional materials such as metal, wood or glass in a wide variety of industries, it becomes ever more important to ensure the optimum utilisation of available resources. One way to do so is to incorporate machine learning into the plastics industry. In injection moulding, the final quality of the moulded plastic parts is dictated by a number of factors such as pressure, injection velocity, barrel temperature, etc. Maintaining this set of variables at an optimum level is crucial. However, because of the lack of consistent relationships between these process parameters, optimisation through conventional mathematical modelling becomes an extremely challenging problem. The traditional approach is therefore to use manually preconfigured discrimination parameters based on rigid threshold levels. According to BitRefine, an innovative approach that is part of the Industry 4.0 transforma-

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tion can exploit machine-learning algorithms and provide a new regulation tool that allows the optimisation of the whole set of parameters in real-time. Unlike the conventional approach, in which the various parameters are adjusted based on the operator’s experience, machine learning does not rely on domain expertise. The main source of knowledge about process properties is the historical data, recorded by sensors from the relevant moulding equipment. Machine learning requires sets of intermediate readings from sensors along the process, together with parameters of the final product. After processing thousands of such sets, the machine learns to recognise the complex dependencies between intermediate parameters and quality of the product. In other words, the system builds the required prediction mathematical model by itself. This is called training the machine learning model. After the machine learning model is trained, it can process live data from the sensors and predict the final quality of the plastic part. The accuracy of this prediction depends on a number of factors, such as the quality and volume of training data, level of data readiness and cleansing, the chosen machine learning algorithms, the experience of the data scientists and so on. According to the latest research, prediction accuracy now reaches 98%.

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MACHINE LEARNING

This new type of insight is being utilised in the latest models of injection moulding machines, which incorporate quality control mechanisms that can shut down production if the machine’s injection moulding parameters deviate from those defined as optimum, thus saving energy, material and time. Nevertheless, they fail to specify the resulting part defect or to provide individual part traceability. Machine learning models capable of distinguishing and predicting types of defects, such as unfilled areas, streaks or warped parts are under development. The machine learning model moreover provides an operator with additional, precise insight into the process, which allows further optimisation of the moulding process parameters.

Viktoria Bodnar: “To be a part of these exciting times, the leadership in plastic businesses needs to take steps now and incorporate machine learning into their workflow. Tomorrow starts today.”

Predictive maintenance The development of predictive maintenance systems using machine learning technology has also garnered significant attention from the entire manufacturing industry. Downtime reduction is an outcome of predictive abilities of ML algorithms. Many manufacturing units operate around the clock, 365 days of the year. When the equipment breaks down, the resulting downtime leads to decreased production and a waste of raw materials. This can be prevented by conducting predictive maintenance, which raises an early warning of critical failures to avoid downtime. Building a predictive maintenance system requires two main groups of data to be captured: in the first place, the parameters of machine health status that reflect degradation; and secondly, the failure history. Only after ‘learning’ these data will the machine be able to identify specific patterns as being alarming. The difference between the classic rule-based approach and a data-driven approach is that predictive main-

tenance solutions based on machine learning recognises complex patterns in readings from a wide number of sensors and evaluates the equipment’s current condition based on these patterns, instead of just comparing static values with reference numbers. ML models reliably estimate when maintenance servicing is needed. Preventative and corrective action, taken when indicated, will considerably reduce downtime.

Implementing data science An organisation looking to implement machine learning solutions, needs to adopt a structured approach that includes a number of essential steps, starting from exploring opportunities and ending with building maintenance routine for the deployed machine-learning model. Data acquisition and data cleansing – the process of ensuring that a set of data is correct, consistent and

For many, machine learning is still a dark secret

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

accurate – are the most important and also time-consuming phases in such a data science project. More than 20 independent parameters can be included in a dataset used to train a plastic injection moulding process model, the most important of which are cycle time, material blend, injection time, barrel temperature, injection velocity, pressure, screw speed, coolant temperature. A general rule for initial data acquisition holds that, the more diverse the data, the more accurate a model can be built. The manufacturer must keep a record of raw data from sensors and telemetry from tens of thousands of pressure cycles. Signals from sensors must be registered at a sufficient sampling rate within the single injection cycle. For example, in order to pass a detailed representation of pressure dynamics to the machine learning model, the sampling rate needs to be from 100Hz to 1kHz. In most cases, data obtained from real-world equipment cannot be used as is. For example, a broken sensor will return a constant value of 150˚C temperature, or even nothing for some time until it this is replaced. The task confronting a data scientist is to resolve issues such as missing values, incorrect values, constants, noise, and duplicates prior to building machine learning model. The next step is to build a mathematical model of the moulding process. To that end the most appropriate algorithm – logistic regression, a decision tree, support vector machines, an artificial neural network – or combination of algorithms for

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machine learning

➡ Continued from page 23 building the required machine-learning model is selected. After the model is built and tested, software engineers deploy this on a runtime platform. Quick integration of the machine learning system into existing processes is possible without having to develop a complex application.

Opportunity As business leaders in the plastics industry grow increasingly aware of the real opportunity which machine learning can offer to reduce costs as well as to improve overall production quality, a few are already assessing the next step. Should they form their own data science department or start working with external data consulting agencies? Both are options worth exploring, although many companies opting for the former route find it difficult to retain talented employees – data scientists are currently in extremely short supply. Others pursue a combined strategy; they set up a small department of their own which seeks support from a consulting agency, for example, to shorten the timeline of the project. According to estimates – among

Computational processing is becoming increasingly powerful

others, from Oracle – by 2020, there will be 45 Zettabytes of data available in storage for various industries, including manufacturing, says Viktoria Bondar. “With the global market for injection moulded plastics projected to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 4.9% in the five-year period 2015-2020, and to be worth some

$162B by the end of the forecast period, it would not be exaggerating to say that the plastic industry is in an exciting growth phase.” “To be a part of these exciting times, the leadership in plastic businesses needs to take steps now and incorporate machine learning into their workflow. Tomorrow starts today.”

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january/february 2018


biomimicry

Design that comes naturally From sharkskin and slug slime to owls and eagle wings, the forms, systems and structures found in nature are increasingly inspiring technological innovation. Called biomimicry, a new field has emerged which seeks “sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies”. Biomimicry basics

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his definition of biomimicry comes from the website of the Biomimicry Institute, an organisation co-founded in 2006 in Montana by one of biomimicry’s earliest pioneers, Janine Benyus. Benyus is credited with popularising the term biomimicry – from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and mimesis, to imitate – through the publication of her 1997 book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature. As Benyus explained: “Biomimicry brings us novel solutions that have evolved over 3.8 billion years. They are just novel to us because we never looked at them as models before.” Yet the solutions that nature has produced over the course of these 3.8 billion years have been tested by the various forces of nature itself, in the design process known as evolution and natural selection. In short, biomimicry is the practice of applying lessons learned from the study of natural methods and systems to the design of technology. It is a design strategy that incorporates biology into the process, based on what have become known as ‘life’s principles’: design lessons from nature, deep patterns inherent in the strategies that all organisms have evolved over 3.8 billion years to survive and thrive, whatever their context that were first identified by Benyus in her book and now embraced by biomimicry practitioners around the world.

Where do plastics fit in? While plastics are, in the eyes of many, a modern-day evil, they offer a unique range of properties which has made them into the “ubiquitous workhorse material of the modern economy”, as they were referred to in the New Plastics Economy report published in 2016. However, the way they are used could be markedly improved upon. An article by Audrey Laforest that ap-

january/february 2018

peared in December in our sister publication Plastics News pointed to the fact that “25 to 45% of consumer goods eventually fail in the marketplace and 95% of new products miss their sales and performance goals”, according to data cited by Seth GaleWyrick, senior mechanical engineer and sustainable design specialist at Bresslergroup, a product design and development firm in Philadelphia. GaleWyrick suggested that instead of asking, “Has someone else done this before?” a better question would be:”Has something else done this before?” “What if in the 3.8 billion years between that first organism and when [humans] show up, maybe living things have got a few things figured out,” he said. “Maybe there are some things that we can learn from them.”

Nature’s way Learning from nature is not new. The development of Velcro, one of the oldest and most well-known examples of biomimicry dates back to the middle of the last century. Moths’ eyes have been an ongoing source of inspiration in the development of higher-efficiency solar panels and anti-reflective surfaces. Moths’ eyes have a specific anatomy that prevent light from being reflected, making them invisible in the dark. These insects have eyes that are covered with tiny, uniform bumps that cause light to refract and interfere with one another, which substantially reduces the amount of light reflected. Films and coatings have been developed that take advantage of this phenomenon, which holds particular potential for new low-reflectivity surfaces for electronic displays. In addition, researchers have long

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Life’s Principles Credit: DesignLens, Biomimicry.net

Life’s principles According to Benyus, the nine basic principles of biomimicry are: 1 Nature runs on sunlight 2 Nature uses only the energy it needs 3 Nature fits form to function 4 Nature recycles everything 5 Nature rewards cooperation 6 Nature banks on diversity 7 Nature demands local expertise 8 Nature curbs excesses from within 9 Nature taps the power of limits

looked at biological systems that can heal themselves when damaged and tried to emulate these. Self-healing polymers and even self-healing composites are currently under development, bringing in-situ repair within reach. Inspired by the near-silent flight of owls, a company called Ziehl-Abegg has developed quieter fans, with blade profiles mimicking the serrated fringe design of owls’ wings. German Akro-Plastic GmbH partnered with

➡ Continued on page 26


BIOMIMICRY

➡ Continued from page 25

Grasshopper feet A very recent example of biomimetic design comes from Switzerland and is based on grasshopper feet. The foot soles of grasshoppers are covered with a multitude of tiny pads, in the form of a mosaic. When they come into contact with another surface, an adhesive effect occurs, known as Van der Waals interaction. Research based on this principle at ETH Zurich – the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich led by Janos Vörös, Professor of Bioelectronics, and Christopher Hierold, Professor of Micro and Nanosystems, led to the development of a barely-there ECG electrode, elastic as skin, with excellent adhesive qualities yet virtually unnoticeable by the wearer. Two of the members of the team working on the project – Séverine Chardonnens and Simon Bachmann – have now established a spin-off

Bionic fan blade

company called IDUN Technologies, in Zurich, and are working to bring the new electrode to the market as early as this year. The new electrode is made of a soft material, non-irritant mixture of silicone rubber and conductive silver particles developed during an earlier research project of Vörös’ group. Nature, however, was the inspiration for the ingenious surface structure of the electrode, consisting of an array of microscopic bumps, and which allows signals from the heart and brain to be recorded in high quality even under extreme conditions.

Séverine Chardonnens and Simon Bachmann, cofounders IDUN Technologies

Why grasshoppers? Obviously, the first question that arises is what made co-founders Séverine Chardonnens and Simon Bachmann think of grasshoppers’ feet in the first place? CTO Chardonnens: “We were doing our internship together with Christina Sauter; she was doing her master’s thesis on the electrodes, as well. Christina had assessed different sizes of microstructures – simply dots, no specific geometric structure. We could see that the smaller the microstructures were, the better the signal. From the theory, we also knew that maximum contact with the skin, in other words, an electrode that adapted to skin movement and did not lose contact with the skin, would have a great advantage for the signal.” This led them to deduce that microstructures were needed that were soft, conductive and self-adhesive. “So, before starting my master’s thesis, I screened a great many papers targeting self-adhesion, and naturally came to the well-known gecko,” said Séverine Chardonnens. “A specific study also tested the different geometries given in the animal realm, and found that the grasshopper had the most adhesive geometry.” Chardonnens’s master’s thesis focussed on finding a way to produce those structures; Simon Bachmann’s thesis demonstrated the advantages of the new electrodes in different user cases (swimming, running, cycling).

Impressive results A fabrication process was developed to develop the initial prototypes, which were tested on a swimmer. The results were impressive: the quality of the signals recorded by the new electrodes was significantly better than those achieved with the gel electrodes also worn by the swimmer. Zurich’s lake rescue service has already shown interest

26

Photo: ETH Zurich

ZIEHL-ABEGG SE to develop a polyamide-6.10-based Akromid S compound for what it called the “bionic bio-fan”. The noise-reducing bionic fans are applied in refrigeration technology (refrigeration chain to the supermarket), heaters and heat pumps, and for electronics cooling (computing centres and switchgear-cabinet and inverter cooling).

in the new electrodes and is using them as part of an ongoing study. Next to ECG electrodes, an electrode able to measure brain signals has also been developed. These are likewise equipped with bumps, but this time two to four millimetres in height that allow contact with the scalp even through thick hair, eliminating the need for shaving and gel. “Our long-term strategy is currently to build products for different applications in body monitoring.,” explained CEO Simon Bachmann. “We have identified three different segments: cardiac monitoring (ECG), brain and muscle monitoring (EMG). There are a variety of applications in these segments already, such as brain-computer interfaces through EEG, or a EMG/EEG combination for next-gen virtual reality applications. Of course, there is also the more established medically certified (93/42/EEC) market for medical ECG monitoring – stationary and long-term – EEG monitoring and EMG monitoring, for example, for neurorehabilitation or functional electrical stimulation. We have not yet looked into applications that are not related to body monitoring. This might be a possibility in the future but is not a part of our current core strategy.” What about price? Making comparisons is tricky, said Bachmann, as prices range from $0.1 USD for disposable ECG patch electrodes to $30 USD for dry EEG electrodes. “We are not competitive in pricing to disposable ECG patch electrodes, but this is not our application. We are enabling unobtrusive long-term monitoring where higher prices are justified. We are definitely competitive with dry EEG electrodes,” he added.

Wanted: a partner Bachman and Chardonnens are currently in discussion with a variety of industry partners and research groups. With the successful development of the prototype, Idun Technologies is working on the industrialisation and medical certification of the technology, with a patent application in progress. Chardonnens will focus on the process of industrialisation in her role as head developer. As CEO, Bachmann will be responsible for the acquisition of partners and customers. “We are very eager to find an innovative production partner in conductive silicones who can produce complex geometries,” Chardonnens emphasised. “And if all goes according to plan, the first electrodes will be on the market this year,” she added.

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


machined. melted. extruded. welded. compounded. blow molded. injection molded. We’ve got it covered. casted. fabricated. foamed. thermoformed. rotation molded. vacuum formed. cooled. heated. sealed. Innovation. Technology. Sustainability. From equipment and trends to the people advancing thermoset. plastics manufacturing, NPE2018: The Plastics Show has it covered. Be there to discover new ways to packaged. maximize efficiency, advance your operations and achieve success. transported. consumed. REGISTER TODAY AT NPE.ORG recycled. MAY 7–11, 2018 | ORL ANDO, FL , USA


PACKAGING

Q&A

All about consumers

Environment, sustainability, health-conscious customers and smart technologies are increasingly influencing the packaging industry, as Dennis Jönsson, President & CEO of Tetra Pak explains

Let’s start with the bigger picture: What do you see as the biggest challenges for the packaging industry within the next five years? One of the biggest challenges that the packaging industry will face in the next five years is the growing consumer demand for environmentally sound products. In fact, 85% of consumers believe the focus on environmental issues will increase in the next five years. Globally, the sustainable packaging market is expected to grow more than 6% from 2017 to 2021 across a broad spectrum – from the green credentials of supply chains, to improving the recyclability of products (Sustainable Packaging: Global Market Intelligence (2012-2021)). One way that food and drink producers can take advantage of these new market opportunities is by creating innovative products that adhere to sustainability principles. Moving forward, it will be crucial for food and drink producers to continue exploring using renewable materials that are traceable and certified, helping consumers make green purchasing decisions. Packaging is the first thing that consumers see when they buy food and drink products, and, environmental credentials heavily influence their buying decisions. It makes good business sense for producers to continue to develop innovative and sustainable packaging. At Tetra Pak, we are on a journey towards 100% renewable packaging, starting with the first ever package made entirely from plant based materials – the Tetra Rex Bio-based, launched in 2015. In 2016, JUST Water Tetra Top launched a new carton (water) bottle that comes with a cap and top made from bio-based plastic. As a result, more than 80% of the packaging material is made from plant-based materials. In 2016, we also launched the Tetra Brik Aseptic 1000 Edge with bio-based LightCap 30. It is the first aseptic carton package in the world to receive the highest class of certification from Vincotte for its use of renewable materials.

Our research anticipates that worldwide demand for portion packages under 250 ml will grow to 72 billion litres by 2019, up 10% from current volumes

our products. Our long-term goal is that all our packaging will be made from 100% renewable material, without compromising food safety, quality or the functionality of the package. Recycling is an investment for the future and essential for the circular economy, but we also believe that only renewable materials have the potential to be fully circular by nature and climate neutral. This is why we focus our pledge both on increasing the use of renewables and increasing recycling. Young and health-conscious groups of consumers are seemingly drivers of growth in new packaging trends. Can you tell us what the trends are and how they are modified by consumers? Today’s consumers lead busy lifestyles. Their eating routines are now more flexible resulting in many meals consumed on-the-go. Consumers are also increasingly concerned about their health and well-being. Portion control can play a significant role in helping them make healthy choices and we are starting to see the industry implement changes to address this. Not only does this avoid over consumption or offer indulgence with less guilt, but producers can now help meet the changing needs of consumers as they increasingly struggle in accessing healthier food while on the go. Our research anticipates that worldwide demand for portion packages under 250 ml will grow to 72 billion litres by 2019, up 10% from current volumes. Back in April 2017, we expanded our packaging offering for the fast growing on-the-go beverage market with two new portion size packages, the Tetra Prisma Aseptic 200 and 250 Edge with DreamCap 26. The new packages offer consumers smaller size options with the same re-sealable one-step closure for an optimised drinking experience.

Tetra Pak is indeed seen as one of the leading packaging innovators in the area of sustainability and recyclability. Can you tell us a little bit about what is further in the R&D pipeline? We announced our pledge to support the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy on 16th January 2018. We believe this strategy is an important step towards a low-carbon Circular Economy based on recycling, renewables and responsible sourcing, and we are ready to make our contribution as a leading food processing and packaging provider. With that, we commit to: • Work with industry partners to ensure that by 2030, recycling solutions are in place for all components of beverage cartons so they can be fully recycled across Europe • Substantially increase the use of plastics made from renewable feedstock • Use recycled plastics once they are validated as safe and are legally acceptable for use as a food contact material We continuously improve the environmental profile of

28

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


PACKAGING

Smart packaging for food and beverages is What is Tetra Pak’s stance towards smart forecast to double to $43 Billion by 2026. Expackaging? Is this something you’re cited by the opportunities this brings for our looking at? industry, we plan to continue to test the capaThis is definitely an avenue we are exploring. bilities of packaging as a bridge between the Our research shows that 40% of millennials online and offline world, and use it as an imwant to participate in the co-creation of prodportant communications platform in an inucts and brands, and consumers are willing to creasingly digital world. pay 150% more for custom items. These trends indicate a continued rise in the personIndustry 4.0 is now the name of the alisation of products through user-generated game in many sectors. How is Tetra Pak content and consumer engagement. The embracing the new technological wave? package has become a gateway for interacFrom a food manufacturer’s perspective, the tion with consumers by using technology such opportunities presented by these changes are as QR codes. enormous. Tetra Pak is already partnering with All packages can now carry these unique customers to ensure they capitalise on the latcodes offering personalised consumer engageest digital technologies, which will help to ment and two-way communication. By scangrow their business. ning the code printed directly on the package, This involves ensuring our customers’ consumers can have access to a wealth of inforequipment is connected, and that they are mation that wouldn’t normally fit on the packable to take actionable insights from the data aging itself. This could include the details about they collect. We help them to better collect the supply chain with end to end traceability, or more data, in real time, and analyse it more nutritional/recipe information. swiftly, developing insights on how to better Recently, we field tested a scan-and-win con- Smart packaging for food and sumer campaign with Suntop in Saudi Arabia. beverages is forecast to double to $43 manage their systems, and ensuring they have the tools required to make better informed Together we developed a consumer app, and Billion by 2026 decisions. digitally printed over 30,000 packages, with a We have launched a suite of new services in 2017 for data matrix unique identifier on each package that allowed our customers, focusing on improving the ability to predict the consumer to scan and collect points. machine errors, accelerating response times, and giving When a consumer purchased one of the participating the customer faster, more direct access to our global expacks they scanned the unique code, and logged into their pertise. For example, Tetra Pak is supporting its field sersocial media profile so they could collect points towards a vice engineers with HoloLens devices, Microsoft’s augfree ticket to an amusement park. In store promotions and mented reality technology. With the help of the Hololens, social media advertisements promoted the campaign, and Tetra Pak field engineers can virtually connect to customabout 7,000 consumers scanned the packs and participater’s equipment. ed during the test.

SAVE THE

DATE! 28 September 2018 VIEW THE PLASTICS INDUSTRY AWARDS 2017 EVENT:

WWW.PLASTICSAWARDS.COM JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

29


ikv preview

Four main themes at ikv colloquium David Vink previews themes at the 2018 IKV plastics technology colloquium in Aachen on 28 February to 1 March 2018: integrative plastics technology, Industry 4.0, lightweight construction and additive manufacturing

N

ot only will IKV researchers present their work there – in all, 36 papers – but industry experts are also contributing with keynote and other speeches at the 29th bi‑annual international plastics technology colloquium. To find out more, Plastics News Europe attended a colloquium preview briefing in Aachen in November 2017 by the in‑ stitute’s head Prof. Christian Hop‑ mann and IKV researchers. Hopmann talked about the IKV’s interpretation of integrated plastics technology, encompassing the join‑ ing of materials, integration of pro‑ cesses and functions, supported by simulation integrated with processes. Metals and plastics, for example, can be combined in‑mould by injection moulding, or metals bonded to plas‑ tic composites by welding processes. A prime example of process inte‑

Selective laser melted (SLM) extrusion dies offer several advantages

gration is the use of pultrusion to produce a fibre‑reinforced thermoset‑ ting plastic profile in combination with thermoplastic extrusion, which results in a completely different ther‑ moplastic surface compared with the pultruded thermoset core. And inte‑ grating conductivity functions into a fuel cell bipolar plate creates a more complex part with integrated support elements, Hopmann pointed out.

SLM extrusion dies

Selective laser melted (SLM) has been used to produce complex static mixers

Additive manufacturing plays an im‑ portant role in profile extrusion. SLM (selective laser melted) steel powder is used to rapidly produce extrusion dies (with assistance from the neigh‑ bouring ILT institute for laser technol‑ ogy in Aachen) at a cost that makes smaller production lots economically feasible, thus promoting individualis‑ ation. It also enables greater design freedom for complex profile geome‑

30

tries without the effort and limita‑ tions of building up dies with steel plates. Additionally, the dies pro‑ duced in this way are potentially lighter: as SLM steel has 80‑90% of the strength of milled steel, less steel is used. Interestingly, SLM dies do not need finishing to a high gloss level throughout the die length, said IKV researcher Florian Petzinka – ‘just at the tip where the polymer exits as a profile’. Research has shown that the relatively rough interior surfaces of such dies provide less resistance to the melt “rather like lotus effect sur‑ faces”, he said, which facilitates die purging with product changeovers, e.g. for a colour change. Petzinka added that IKV is investigating fluid temperature control as a means of replacing traditional electrical die and

➡ Continued on page 32 january/february 2018


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IKV PREVIEW

➡ Continued from page 30 barrel heating methods.

Printing CFRP The institute also demonstrated its own flexible additive manufacturing system, first demonstrated on the IKV stand at K 2016, which recently 3D printed 30% carbon fibre reinforced PA66 into a 800mm long scaled-down model of a windmill rotor blade weighting 216g. The 1.5mm thick part, reinforced with carbon fibres averaging 0.3mm in length, was built up in 0.4mm layers and required 72 minutes build time. According to Hopmann, the slow cooling speed resulted in partially crystalline structures. IKV researcher Nicolai Lammert told Plastics News Europe that the material is extruded through a 16mm diameter screw, as a carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) filament would be too brittle. Hopmann hinted that maybe full-scale rotor blades could be printed this way in future by using a row of printers.

Partial view of scaled-down windmill rotor blade printed by IKV

quium as part of an Industry 4.0, or rather “Plastics Industry 4.0”, theme. This involves a new way of combin-

Self-learning machines Self-learning injection moulding machines is one of the subjects to be presented at the collo-

ing simulation results with real test data from moulding machines and ancillary equipment via the Cloud, thereby facilitating and optimising moulding machine set-up for production. This is achieved by using algorithms developed from real machine data in e.g. artificial neuronal networks. IKV says that although it has been working on and promoting self-learning machine concepts for many years, the key to practical implementation is automatic numerical simulation, along with benefiting from algorithms being much faster than in the past, along with improved sensors and greater awareness and application of Internet 4.0 principles.

iComposite 4.0

Above: iComposite 4.0 work takes place with equipment at the AZL integrative lightweight construction centre. Inset: Preform produced in IKV’s 3D spraying process ready for pressing at the AZL integrative lightweight construction centre

32

Industry 4.0 principles are also at work in IKV’s “iComposite 4.0” project, conducted in partnership with the AZL Aachen Centre for Integrative Lightweight Construction. The results show that “an enormous increase in efficiency and associated 50% cost savings” are possible in fibre reinforced plastic composite parts, IKV says. This can be achieved through “a paradigm change from tolerance-controlled production to production oriented to self-regulation of product functions and part manufacture without rejects or offcuts”, IKV maintains. Key to this is IKV’s 3D fibre spraying process, which enables the preparation of near net shape close-contour preforms in an easier and also more efficient way than with conventional draping processes. This process includes inline monitoring, allowing fluctuations due to fibre orientation and distribution to

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


ikv preview

be compensated. The AZL equipment includes a 1,800 tonne clamping force Schuler press, Frimo tooling and an Apodius optical control system. It can also apply tailored reinforcement in an adaptive resin transfer moulding (RTM) process that adjusts the injection profile and flow gap to the individual preform.

Leaf springs IKV has also partnered with the Ford research centre in Aachen on research to reliably predict the longevity of fibre reinforced plastic composite leaf springs – the lack of knowledge here has significantly limited the introduction of GFRP leaf springs in the automotive industry. 3-point dynamic flexural load testing was carried out on Instron equipment fitted with a PA66-GF30 tool; finite element (FE) analysis was performed, with a view to reducing the number of individual load cycle calculations, with Ford providing a load spectrum that represents damage occurring under real load conditions, reducing testing time. IKV researcher Florian Becker pointed out that most damage is caused when vehicles drive over tramlines and on cobbled roads.

Tensile testing GFRP leaf springs at IKV

May 29-31, 2018

MECC, Maastricht, The Netherlands

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REGISTER NOW FOR QUICK AND EASY ENTRANCE TO THE EXHIBITION AND CONFERENCE Make travel plans and book your hotel today! ORGANISED BY

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33


polymer prices

n December, European standard thermoplastic prices faced upward cost pressure as a result of rising crude oil and naphtha costs. The ethylene and propylene contract prices both settled €32/tonne higher while the styrene monomer reference price surged by €95/tonne. Polymer producers subsequently announced planned price increases which were in most cases higher than the cost rise to improve their margin position. To the disappointment of producers, polymer markets were too quiet in December to absorb much higher prices. LDPE prices remained unchanged from November while LLDPE prices fell between €5-10/tonne. HDPE blow moulding material prices also remained unchanged with small gains for blown film and a €20/tonne gain for injection moulding material. For PP, there were small price increases for injection material while homopolymer film material prices rolled over. PVC and PET prices also barely shifted during December. Polystyrene producers, on the other hand, managed to raise notations in line with the increase in feedstock costs. In January, European polymer markets were more bullish as converters began to restock after

PVC sales were surprisingly lively for the time of year.

the holiday lull. Standard thermoplastic prices tended to closely follow the movement in raw material costs. L/LDPE producers attempted to recover some of the lost margin from the previous month by announcing planned price increase of €2050/tonne, despite a rollover for the January ethylene contract price. However, L/LDPE prices gained just €5/tonne while HDPE and PVC prices were broadly un-

prices monitor January 2017–January 2018 Source: Plastics News Europe

2.5

PS (general purpose) PP (homo injection) LDPE (film grade) HDPE (injection moulding) LLDPE (film grade) PVC (high quality) PET (bottle grade)

2.0

Dec 2018 Jan

Nov

Oct

Sept

Aug

July

June

May

Apr

Mar

2017 Jan Feb

1.5

1.0

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Buyers resist planned hikes in balanced markets I

changed. Polypropylene and polystyrene prices matched the respective €20/tonne and €10/ tonne increases for propylene and styrene monomer.

Supply balanced Material was available in sufficient quantities across all polymer sectors during the last two months. Most cracker plants were running at high rates and very few production issues were reported. The upcoming maintenance season is however likely to constrain monomer and polymer supply. Only two supply restriction were announced during December with no major announcements in January: • German chlor-alkali producer, Vestolit, declared allocation on caustic soda on December 19. The allocation followed a technical failure at the company’s chlorine electrolysis unit in Marl, Germany. The technical issues have also impacted VCM and EDC, with the company having to look to external supply sources. • On 12 December 2017, an explosion in a partial oxidation (POX) unit at Unipetrol’s site in Litvínov, Czech Republic caused a shutdown of its POX and ammonia units. As a result, refinery activities at both Litvínov and the affiliated site in Kralupy were re-

34

duced. However, the steam cracker was quickly up and running again at full output and the prior reduction in operations ultimately had no significant impact on polymers production.

Demand brisk In December, there was an element of pre-buying taking place across most polymer classes for fear of further sizeable price hikes at the start of the New Year. In January, demand gradually recovered to more normal levels as converters returned to work after the holidays. However, the excess buying of the previous month dampened sales for certain polymer classes such as LLDPE, whereas PVC was surprisingly lively for the time of year.

February outlook In February, European standard thermoplastic prices are set to rise further. Crude oil prices continued to increase during January and the monthly monomer contracts are expected to be settled at a higher level. Petrochemical feedstock supply is tightening due to production disruptions and demand is more bullish. However, the recent weakening in the dollar against the euro is expected to dampen the likely feedstock cost rises.

january/february 2018


polymer prices

plastics price report August 2017–January 2018 (€/tonne) dEc ’17

Market Price JAN ’18

1420-1460 *1370-1410 1370-1410 *1340-1380 1430-1470 1395-1435

1390-1430 1345-1385 1395-1435

1390-1430 1350-1390 1395-1425

● ▲ ●

liNEAr low dENSity PolyEtHylENE (lldPE) Film grade (butene-based) 1295-1315 1345-1375

1395-1425

1330-1370

1320-1360

1325-1365

low dENSity PolyEtHylENE (ldPE) Film grade 1355-1395

1405-1445

1440-1480

1410-1450

1410-1450

1415-1455

PolyProPylENE (PP) Raffia film Homo injection Copolymer injection

1315-1355 1260-1300 1350-1390

1355-1395 1300-1340 1410-1450

1385-1425 1330-1370 1410-1450

1370-1410 1310-1350 1380-1420

1370-1410 1325-1365 1390-1430

1390-1430 1345-1385 1410-1450

▲ ▲ ▲

PolyStyrENE (PS) General purpose High impact injection

1785-1825 1880-1920

1975-2015 2070-2110

1860-1900 1775-1815 1960-2000 *1860-1900

1865-1905 1950-1990

1875-1915 1960-2000

▲ ▲

PolyviNyl cHloridE (Pvc) Pipe grade 1395-1435 High quality grade 1500-1540

1415-1455 1520-1560

1445-1485 1525-1565

1445-1485 1525-1565

1450-1490 1520-1560

1450-1490 1520-1560

● ●

PolyEtHylENE tErEPHtHAlAtE (PEt) Bottle grade 1110-1150

1155-1195

1135-1175 *1100-1150

1105-1145

1110-1150

Product

Aug ’17

HigH dENSity PolyEtHylENE (HdPE) Injection moulding 1355-1395 Film (extrusion) grade 1300-1340 Blow moulding 1370-1410

SEP ’17 1390-1430 1340-1380 1400-1440

oct ’17

Nov ’17

Commodity resin pricing data based on average net prices for standard grades delivered in western Europe to large consumers in 20-25 tonne lots. Source: Plastics News Europe

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january/february 2018

35

*revised since last edition


polymer prices

petrochemical feedstock contract prices February 2017–January 2018 (€/tonne)

ethylene Propylene

change Dec/JanE

Feb

mar

Apr

may

Jun

Jul

Aug

sep

oct

Nov

Dec

Jan

1020

1050

1050

1050

1015

965

965

995

1025

1025

1057

1057

0

815

865

880

880

840

790

790

830

860

860

892

912

20

Styrene

1560

1650

1375

1130

1173

1200

1170

1360

1250

1160

1255

1265

10

benzene

983

937

745

754

737

695

645

655

671

702

847

792

-55

Paraxylene

865

870

832.5

805

760

715

720

735

745

765

765

*765

0

Note: January paraxylene contract not fully settled at time of writing

Source: Plastics News Europe

l/ l D p e

PE markets were too quiet in December for many producers to pass through the €32/tonne increase in feedstock costs. The majority of converters were well stocked and therefore faced no pressure to buy additional volume, especially as the holiday period was approaching. As a result, LDPE prices were largely rolled over from the previous month while LLDPE prices slipped between €5-10/tonne. The January ethylene contract price remained unchanged

from the previous month at €1,057/tonne. However, following their inability to raise prices in December, producers called for price increases ranging between €20-50/tonne. To the disappointment of producers, L/LDPE markets were once again too subdued to support the planned price hikes. While demand recovered to normal January levels after the holiday lull, there was a plentiful supply of material available. Consequently, L/LDPE notations managed gains of only €5/tonne.

H D p e

HDPE producers were mostly unable to pass through their targeted price increases to customers last December. They initially planned to raise prices by at least the €32/tonne rise in the ethylene December contract price. For blow moulding grades, there was still a surplus of material and prices rolled over. Blown film grades registered small gains as previous surpluses started to disappear. The injection moulding segment was better balanced and producers man-

aged a €20/tonne price increase. In January, the ethylene contract price settled on a rollover basis. Despite stable raw material costs, HDPE producers planned to recoup the margin they had lost in the previous month by raising prices up to €50/tonne. However, for injection moulding and blow moulding grades notations remained largely unchanged from the previous month, while there were small gains for blown film grades.

p p

Following a €32/tonne increase in the December propylene contract price PP producers targeted price increases at least matching the monomer rise. However, producers were not entirely successful in raising prices across the board. Injection moulding material registered gains averaging €15/ tonne as producers drew down stocks towards the end of the year. Copolymer material also saw double-digit gains. Injection material demand was better than expected as converters feared

further price increases at the beginning of the New Year. Blown film material, on the other hand, was well supplied and prices rolled over. In January, PP prices increased in line with the €20/tonne rise in the propylene reference price, despite producers’ attempts to include a margin increase in their price negotiations. The PP market was bullish following a pick-up in purchasing after the end of the holiday period.

p s

Styrenics prices surged again in December following a couple of months of falling prices. Following the benzene-driven rise in styrene spot prices, the styrene monomer (SM) reference contract settled €95/tonne higher in December. General-purpose polystyrene (GPPS) and high impact material saw prices climb more or less in line with the rise in SM costs. There was generally a sufficient volume of material available and demand was quite brisk for the time of year. Many convert-

ers were speculating on higher prices to come and were stocking up. In January, the SM reference price, contrary to expectations, increased by just €10/tonne. Nevertheless, sellers raised their nominations between €15-35/tonne in a bid to raise margins. However, the pre-buying of GPPS in December dampened buying interest in January. Consequently sellers were able to raise GPPS prices by only €10/tonne.

p V c

The €32/tonne increase for the December ethylene contract price meant a proportionate €16/tonne rise in the base PVC cost base. Sellers attempted to recover the cost increase but converters strongly resisted price hikes. There were sufficient quantities of material available and demand was at a seasonal low level. Overall, base PVC prices registered gains of less than €5/tonne. For rigid PVC compounds, prices edged €5/tonne higher in

December due to firmness in titanium dioxide costs. Flexible PVC compound prices softened as a result of lower plasticiser prices. With ethylene costs stable in January PVC sellers struggled to boost prices and margins. PVC base material and compound prices remained largely unchanged compared with the previous month. There was a steady supply of material available. Meanwhile, seasonal demand was somewhat better than normal for the time of year.

p e T

December saw lower PET prices at the upper end of the price range and higher prices at the lower end. Lower volume buyers caught up with the price discounts of the previous month, while medium volume purchasers saw a modest price upswing. The price upswing was prompted by higher feedstock costs and a lower volume of imported material. Nevertheless, there was sufficient material available from local suppliers

and demand was somewhat better than expected for the time of year. Following a slow start to the New Year, European PET prices began to tick higher as the month progressed. PET raw material costs moved ahead by around €10/tonne fuelled by higher oil prices as well as rising Chinese demand for virgin PET on a recently implemented ban on imports of 24 grades of solid plastic waste.

36

january/february 2018


products services

MateriaLs

Machinery

power cut protection The new CPP – ‘Controlled Production shutdown during a Power outage’ option developed by Netstal has been designed to offer peace of mind especially to manufacturers who regularly face brief power failures or fluctuations in the grid. In the case of momentary power failures, the system will provide enough power to continue operation of the current cycle. In the case of longer lasting outages, sufficient power is provided to reliably and controllably shut down the cycle. Preforms are fully injected and demoulded, preventing short shorts. Meterage for the next shot is stopped and the entire system is controllably brought to a halt. The innovation increases the robustness of the PET-Line system and reduces

Available on new PET-LINE systems

Electroplatable grades added to portfolio

unscheduled standstills, increasing the availability of the system. “All axes are returned securely to their end position. As soon as the power returns, production can be simply started up again,” explained Stefan Kleinfeld, Product and Application manager at Netstal, Kleinfeld. Investment in this option is recouped after only a few power outages. CPP is now available as a sales option for all new Netstal PETLINE systems.

Laser processing

Laser marking and welding systems Panasonic Electric Works offer turnkey systems for laser processing – marking and welding – of plastic components. Laser marking is a robust mark and read method for quality and traceability purposes, that offers a solution able to withstand numerous everyday actions. Direct part marking on, for example, automotive components not only has to guarantee a high readability for safe traceability but also has to be resistant to abrasion, temperature, light and lubricant, so that they last throughout the entire life cycle of the product. With laser marking, the mark virtually flows into the material. The integrated dynamic Z-axis control in the laser head means 3D markings can be applied accurately and quickly without the need to reposition or move the product or laser marking head.

january/february 2018

K.d. Feddersen and eLiX polymers expand cooperation Hamburg-based plastics distributor K.D. Feddersen, which in 2017 signed a deal for the distribution of ABS materials produced by Tarragona, Spainbased plastics manufacturer ELIX Polymers in Germany and, via its sister companies and local offices, in Austria, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland, has now broadened its portfolio of Elix products. With Elix’s ABS high-heat products with improved flow properties and significantly lower emissions already in the portfolio, K.D. Feddersen will now

also supply the new ELIX ABS electroplatable grades, offering higher temperature resistance and lower emissions than other available electroplating-compatible materials on the market. ELIX ABS HH P2MC has a Vicat Softening Temperature (VST/ B120) of 105°C. ELIX ABS Ultra HH 4115 PG, an ABS modified with PC, was designed for applications requiring higher temperature resistance and impact strength resistance. Both types ensure a high-quality surface, which results in a lower percentage of rejects during further processing.

robotics

Laser marking Also, laser welding of plastics offers significant advantages: joining by means of laser energy does not cause adhesive residues and also does not produce any abrasion particles which can subsequently lead to problems on the finished component. In addition, with laser-welded components, it is possible to introduce the process energy required for joining in a targeted manner and at low pressure into the joining surface, for energy-efficient, stress-free and low-distortion joining of the components.

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small footprint, large reach Fanuc has introduced a new member of its well-known R-2000iC series: the rack-mounted six-axes R-2000iC/100P. Compact and slender, the rack mount configuration offers a space-saving alternative to traditional, floor-mounted robots and facilitates die change, press maintenance and optimal robot path programming. With a faster J1 and J6 axis speed, the R-2000iC/100P is able to meet shorter standard press motion (SPM) cycle time.

Fanuc’s R-2000iC/100P Boasting a reach of up to 3540mm, the robot is equipped with motor fan cooling systems, allowing it to meet continuous, high-duty cycle time with a repeatability of ±0.05mm. It has high wrist moments and inertias for large parts. The E200iC/100P has a payload of 100 kg.


diary dates people

CoNFereNCes & eVeNts

BasF German chemicals manufacturer, BASF SE, has appointed Martin Brudermüller to succeed Kurt Bock as chairman of the board of directors in 2018. Brudermüller’s new role will officially commence at the end of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting on 4 May 2018. He is currently vice chairman of the board of executive direc-

Feb 7-12 PlastIndia 2018 – Trade Fair Location: Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India Organiser: PlastIndia Foundation Tel: +91-22-26832911-14 Web: plastindia2018.plastindia.org

February 14-15 The European Biopolymer Summit 2018 Location: Dusseldorf, Germany Organiser: ACI Tel: +44 20 3141 0614 Web: www.wplgroup.com/aci/event/biopolymer-conference-europe

February 25-28 International Polyolefins Conference Location: Houston, Texas Tel: +1 (713) 529-2272 conference

Organiser: SPE Web: spe-stx.org/international-polyolefins-

April 10-11 International Silicone Conference Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio Organiser: Crain Communications Tel :+1 330-865-6119 Web: www.cvent.com/events/2018-international-silicone-conference/eventsummary-2ef7728622bb49a69f384731e1502bc5.aspx

April 24-25 Plastics Recycling Show Europe (PRSE) – Conference & Exhibition Location: RAI Amsterdam, The Netherlands Organiser: Crain Communications Tel: + 44 7813 947161 Web: www.prseventeurope.com

April 24-27 Chinaplas 2018 – Exhibition Location: Shanghai, China Organiser: Adsale Exhibition Services Tel: + 852 2516 3311 Web: www.chinaplasonline.com/CPS18/Home/lang-eng/Information.aspx

April 26-27 Polytalk 2018 – Conference Location: Malta Tel: +32 (0) 2 676 17 33

Organiser: PlasticsEUrope Web: www.polytalk.eu/polytalk2018

Organiser: Plastics Industry Association Web: www.npe.org

May 15-16 International Conference on bio-based materials Location: Cologne, Germany Tel: +49 (0)2233-4814-49

Organiser: European bioplastics Web: bio-based-conference.com

May 29-June 1 2018 Plast 2018 – Exhibition Location: Milan, Italy Tel: +39 02 8228371

Organiser: A PIU s.r.l Web: www.plastonline.org/en

June 11-13 Materials Science and Engineering – Conference Location: Barcelona, Spain Tel: 0 800 014 8923

Organisers: Materials Conferences Web: materialsscience.conferenceseries.com/europe

June 19-20 Plastics Meetings Location: Lyon, France Tel: +33 1 41 86 49 40

Organiser: Advanced Business Events Web: www.plastics-meetings.com/en/

June 19-20 PDM Event Location: Telford, UK Tel: +44 (0) 1622 370570

Organiser: Crain Communications Web: www.pdmevent.com/pdm2018/en/page/home

September 28 Plastics Industry Awards Location: London, UK Email: jackiehughes@live.co.uk

alBis Albis UK has appointed Josephine Bagnall as its managing director effective 1 Jan 2018. Bagnall succeeds Ian Mills who was appointed Albis Plastics Group’s chief sales officer in October 2016. Bagnall has been commercial director of Albis (UK) Ltd since January 2017 and will con-

tinue to perform this role alongside her new responsibilities. Commenting on the appointment, Mills said Albis UK was responding to Brexit challenges and building on its recent investments in capacity expansion and development of the local team.

CoVeris Chicago-based packaging company Coveris Holdings SA has introduced Jakob A. Mosser as chief executive officer, effective 8 January. He takes over the CEO responsibilities from interim CEO Dimitri Panayotopoulos, who will

continue to serve the company as chairman. Mosser, said Coveris on 20 Dec, has over 30 years of experience with a number of senior leadership roles in the packaging industry, both in Europe and North America.

KraussMaFFei

May 7-11 NPE – Exhibition Location: Orlando, Florida Email: exhibit@npe.org

tors and chief technology officer of BASF SE. With the move, Bock, who has been the BASF chairman since 2011, will become eligible for election as a member and chair of BASF’s supervisory board in 2020 following the statutory two-years cooling-off period. Hans-Ulrich Engel was named the new vice chairman of the board.

Organiser: Crain Communications Web: www.plasticsawards.com

October 16-20 Fakuma – Exhibition Location: Friedrichshafen, Germany Organiser: P. E. Schall Tel: +49 7025 9206 0 Web: www.fakuma-messe.de

Phillip Zimmermann has been named as the new Head of the composites/ surfaces business unit for reaction process machinery at KraussMaffei since 1 Jan 2018. The German machinery manufacturer announced 10 Jan that Zimmerman succeeds Erich Fries, who

has left the company to become managing director at Hengrui Germany GmbH. Zimmermann has been working at KM’s reaction process machinery division since June 2012, and took on the role of product and sales manager for fibre composite technology in 2014.

Birla CarBoN India’s Birla Carbon has appointed Todd Cottrell as president, Specialty Blacks Business (SBB), to replace Jas Sandhu who has decided to retire from Birla. Cottrell joined Birla Carbon

on 11 Dec, the company said in a statement. As the new president of the SBB and a member of Birla Carbon’s senior management team, Cottrell will report to COO John Loudermilk.

eNgel italia Engel Italia has introduced Matteo Terragni as its new managing director as of the beginning of 2018. The Austria-based machinery

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supplier announced 10 Jan that former managing director, Maurizio Passalacqua, will remain on the board of management as advisor for “some time”.

january/february 2018

Plastics News Europe Magazine January-Fabruary 2018 Issue  

This month's issue of Plastics News Europe is now available to read on your mobile device or desktop. Reading your digital edition couldn't...

Plastics News Europe Magazine January-Fabruary 2018 Issue  

This month's issue of Plastics News Europe is now available to read on your mobile device or desktop. Reading your digital edition couldn't...

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