DSM Bioplastic Gains Traction in Electronics, Faucets

While renewably sourced plastics are not the primary focal point at DSM Engineering Plastics, they are experiencing solid growth rates and above-average investment in corporate R&D, said President Roeland Polet in an interview at K2016 in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Trademarked EcoPaXX, the specialty long-chain polyamide grade (46) is about 70 percent based on castor oil beans. The grade is designed to provide excellent chemical resistance, low moisture absorption, combined with a very high melting point (highest of all bioplastics) and high crystallization rate (comparable to PA66 and PA46).

Brass replacement is a hot topic for water-mixing valves.

Brass replacement is a hot topic for water-mixing valves.

“EcoPaXX is experiencing growing rates of ten to fifteen times per year, but from a very small base,” said Polet. “Right now we are really starting to get traction.”

One interesting new application on display at DSM’s stand is water management, specifically water-mixing faucet parts. “There is growing interest in replacing brass because it has some lead content,” said Polet. The grade used in the valve is 50 percent glass reinforced. Components for ski boots are also on display.

The material offers performance advantages, but it also comes at a higher price.
“Most successes we have come when a customer is looking fir a sustainability solution,” he said. Electronics is a particularly promising market because many big players have appointed chief sustainability officers.

DSM is looking for growth opportunities, but carefully. New sources of renewable materials are being explored.

“We could come up with 17 eco products tomorrow, but you still have to have the right cost/performance ratio.”

Injection Molding ,

K2016: DSM Introduces New Plastic

At K2016 today, DSM Engineering Plastics introduced what it described as an all-new plastic, a polyphthalamide (PPA) called ForTii Ace that is directly aimed at replacement of die-cast aluminum in automotive parts.

“We are targeting ForTii Ace at die-cast metal replacement applications that require a high mechanical performance that stays constant even at constant-use temperatures as high as 150 degrees C, as well as superior chemical stability,” said Konraad Dullaert, global business manager for the new product. “Such applications may also have design space restrictions and/or NVH (noise, vibration, harshness) challenges.”

Auto part on displat at K2016 made from new DSM plastic.

Auto part on displat at K2016 made from new DSM plastic.

The glass transition temperature of 160 C is significantly higher than other PPAs and at least 80 C higher than polyamide 66, according to Dullaert. The new grade is also said to possess higher resistance to various automotive oils and chemicals, even compared to PEEK. Other key properties will be comparable to PEEK, “but at a much lower price,” said Roeland Polet, president of DSM Engineering Plastics.

The price for the material was not disclosed, but “it will be in the single digits”. Polet said the cost for a part made from the new plastic will be comparable to the same part made from die-cast aluminum after finishing costs are figured in. He said it can be used as a drop-in with current designs and can be designed to take advantage of functional integration with injection molding in the future.

Specific target applications include powertrain, transmission, chassis, and thermal management components.

Injection Molding ,

SABIC Will Expand Ultem Capacity

SABIC is committing to meeting demand in the fast-growing Ultem polyetherimide (PEI) market and is expected to make a decision “very quickly” on a major capacity increase.

Those statements were made by Ernesto Occhielo, who took charge of the SABIC specialties business when it was formed Jan. 1 as part of a sweeping reorganization that included the closing of the headquarters offices in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, established by GE Plastics.

SABIC acquired GE Plastics in 2007 and ran it as SABIC Innovative Plastics until its two volume products—ABS and polycarbonate—hit hard times of slack markets and weak pricing. The “commoditization” of those two plastics was one of the drivers in last year’s shakeup. ABS and polycarbonate are now part of SABIC’s petrochemical business unit, which includes polyolefins.

The Specialties business includes high-performance plastics like Ultem PEI, which has experienced growth rates “significantly above” global gross domestic product (GDP), said Occhiello. A supply crunch in Ultem began to surface about 18 months ago as customers in several markets embraced the plastic’s optimal basket of properties, including thermal and mechanical.

Occhiello told The Molding Blog that leadtimes remain extended despite capacity enhancements in SABIC plants in Mount Vernon, Indiana, and Cartagena, Spain. Occhiello would not indicate the potential geographic location of the anticipated new Ultem capacity.

In an interesting development, Occhiello said that the Polymer Processing Development Center—one of the jewels remaining from the GE Plastics acquisition– will remain open and, in fact, has added new “Centers of Excellence” in additive manufacturing and composites. SABIC had said last year that the  PPDC  may close, with  R&D moving to upstate New York.

It’s not a surprise that Occhiello liked what he saw at the PPDC. He is the former Chief Technology Officer at SABIC and had been based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Occhiello is also a former technology executive at Dow Chemical. He said there also will be emphasis on research collaborations with technical groups around the world. He specifically mentioned institutes in China and Germany. SABIC will also aggressively pursue new high-end technology through acquisition. Recent examples include carbon nanotubes and carbon composites.

Occhiello’s office is in Amsterdam, and he said operates Specialties as a “virtual” business.

Occhiello was interviewed following a SABIC press confetence on the opening day of K 2016.

Additive manufacturing ,

K2016: Arburg Extends Machine Range With New Design, Control

Arburg, known as a specialist in small injection molding machines since its 1950s beginnings, is introducing a 6,500 kN (727 tons of clamping force) model at K2016, extending its range from 500 tons.

Gerhard Bohm, who joined the company last year as managing director, sales, said in an interview that the move to larger model machines is driven by customer requirements. He said that molders in medical, packaging, automotive and other markets are moving to higher cavitation tools requiring bigger presses.

Dubbed the Allrounder H, the new model has a new Star Trek-like design and a new tablet-like control called Gestica that can speed up machine movements with the swipe of a finger. Taking a cue from an Austrian competitor, Arburg designed the machine to accommodate large molds. The distance between tiebars is 1,120 mm.

The electric toggle-type clamping and injection unit has a 2.4 seconds dry cycle time. “The Allrounder 1120 H combines electric speed and precision during mold movements with hydraulic power and dynamics during injection,” said Heinz Gaub, managing director of technology and engineering at Arburg.

The machine is being demonstrated at the K Fair molding an eight-part folding step stool, which is assembled within a molding cycle.


Arburg execs pose in front of brand-new Allrounder 1120 H at K2016

Injection Molding

K2016: Covestro Is Going Commercial On Carbon Dioxide Foam

Plastics made from carbon dioxide will debut soon in commercial products.

Belgian manufacturer Recticel says it will launch polyurethane foam made from carbon dioxide before the end of the year. Examples of the foam were on display at the Covestro stand at K 2016 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Covestro is the former Bayer MaterialScience.
Covestro has developed a way to make polyol, a component of foam, with a carbon dioxide content of around 20 percent. Trademarked cardyon, the new foam is made at a newly commissioned manufacturing plant in Dormagen, Germany. It’s located next to a factory that produces ammonia. The carbon dioxide is a waste byproduct of the ammonia production.

cardyon foam sample at Covestro's K2016. This is the company's debut at K since its spinoff from Bayer a year ago.

cardyon foam sample at  K2016.

Several more commercial cardyon products, including elastomers, will debut soon, said Kirsten Maisch, cardyon product manager.
The program to make plastic from carbon dioxide is financially supported by the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT).
“Everyone thinks of carbon dioxide as a bad greenhouse gas,” said Covestro CEO at a press conference at the company’s stand at K 2016. “We view at as a valuable source of carbon.”

Injection Molding ,

K Chair: Machinery Shipments Will Continue Growth Through 2017

Plastics machinery shipments are expected to grow 2 percent this year and continue to expand next year, said Ulrich Reifenhauser, chairman of the Exhibitors’ Council, at a press conference a day before the opening of K 2016 in Duesseldorf, Germany.
“The United States is especially excellent; business is booming,” he said. The only economies showing weakness are China, Russia and Brazil, in Reifenhauser’s view. He is also the managing partner of Reifenhauser GmbH & Co. KG Maschinenfabrik, Trisdorf, Germany.

Opening press cnference at K2016

Opening press cnference at K2016

No surprise then that the 19- hall K Fair, a triennial show, is once again sold out with 3,285 exhibitors representing 61 countries. Two countries noted for significantly higher participation are Turkey (113 exhibitors, up from 96 at K2013) and Iran (13 exhibitors, up from three at K2013).
Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, Messe Duesseldorf. CEO, said that 200,000 visitors are expected at K2016, making it the most well-attended plastics event in the world. It’s not clear how many of those are unique visitors as a person is counted as a visitor each time he comes into the show.
The major theme that will be addressed at this hear’s show will be the increased wireless connectivity of equipment in an effort to make optimum use of data collected by sensors and other instrumentation. That trend is called Industry 4.0 and will be featured at many booths. Milacron, for example, is introducing the Smart Mold, which collects and the transmits data collected from a hot runner.
Another focal point will be marine litter and re-use of plastics waste generally. Reifenhauser said, in his opinion, there needs to be much better education on waste collection starting at a very young age,

Injection Molding

PolyOne Pultrudes CFRP Brace for Corvette

CFRP brace.

CFRP brace.

Compounder PolyOne of Cleveland, Ohio, is producing a carbon composite brace for General Motors using the pultrusion process.

It’s an interesting twist because most new carbon composite automotive applications use low pressure molding approaches.

The underbody brace is now offered as a performance upgrade for the current C7 generation of the Chevrolet Corvette sports car.

PolyOne says that the brace reduces weight and retains torsional stiffness versus aluminum versions used on production models while also increasing flexural stiffness for improved structural integrity and long-term fatigue strength.

“Our Glasforms team evaluated several composite types and identified a solution with optimal performance. The carbon fiber-reinforced composite part is 17 percent lighter than the stock aluminum part, and the composite held up well in GM’s extensive vibration, shake and road test regimen,” said Matthew Borowiec, general manager, PolyOne Advanced Composites.

The Corvette Z06 won last year’s Car and Driver Lightning Lap with the fastest speed, which also ranked as the second fastest lap time in the history of the event.

Automotive, Carbon Composites, Design, Injection Molding, North America

K2016: Dolomite Will Show 3D Printer for Microfluidics

Some specialized 3Dprinters will debut at K 2016. I wrote earlier about the first 3D printer dedicated to silicones.

A company called Dolomite, which specializes in microfluidics, will show the first commercially available 3D printer for sealed microfluidic devices. It will be printing cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) from Topas Advanced Polymers.

Fluidic Factory

Fluidic Factory

“We gave careful consideration to a range of materials for our breakthrough 3D fluidics printer and selected Topas COC due to the unique properties and benefits it offers over other polymers, making it ideal for microfluidics in biology and medical environments,” said Dr. Omar Jina, Dolomite’s chief commercial officer. “It is the polymer most frequently requested by biologists and has won acceptance in the microfluidics industry.”

Dolomite is giving its 3D printer a pretty fancy name: Fluidic Factory.

It will be used for rapid prototyping of fluidically sealed devices such as chips, sensor cartridges, fluid manifolds, valves, connectors, and medical devices. The device is said to allow the creation of precise channel geometries and various features not possible using etching, embossing, molding, or machining techniques. 

Topas Advanced Polymers business was launched in 2006 by Daicel Corp. and Polyplastics Co., based on assets originally created by Hoechst Celanese. 

Additive manufacturing , ,

SABIC Invents Dry Ice-Assisted Processing

SABIC is exploring use of dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) as a coolant and plasticizer to reduce processing temperatures to process high-temperature plastics.

The approach makes it possible to make certain types of articles from neat PAN, neat PPO, and neat polyvinyl chloride. Use of dry ice reduces energy costs and boosts productivity for other tough-to-process plastics.

“Polymers having a high viscosity and/or a high glass transition temperature can be challenging to process via injection molding or extrusion”, states the patent. “High temperature and high pressure are often needed in order to process these materials…Often with such polymers, the temperatures needed for melt extrusion overlap with the degradation temperature.”

PVC cannot be extruded without thermal stabilizers and/or lubricants. PTFE can only be processed via ram extrusion.

In the SABIC invention, neat plastic and solid carbon dioxide are mixed in the hopper of a vented extruder and then plasticized to form a polymer melt with dissolved carbon dioxide. The dry ice cools the polymer melt and then is vented as gas before the die.

A U.S. patent for the technology was awarded today.

Dry ice is mixed with plastic in the hopper. Carbon dioxide gas is vented at the fifth barrel segment. (USPTO)

Dry ice is mixed with plastic in the hopper. Carbon dioxide gas is vented at the fifth barrel segment. (USPTO)


Injection Molding

Mold-Masters Announces ‘SmartMold’

Mold-Masters has developed a product called SmartMold that is described on the Milacron Web site as “a small powerful PC fully integrated with sensors in the hot runner.”

The technology is an interesting attempt to gather conditions in the hot runner and communicate that information wirelessly to give engineers another tool to help improve processing conditions.

SmartMold (Milacron)

SmartMold (Milacron)

Milacron says the SmartMold allows different pieces of equipment to talk to each other, while collecting and reporting data. The  SmartMold also allows for the scheduling of regular and preventive maintenance.

More details will be available at the Milacron exhibit at K2016, where it will be shown on on the MPET 300 machine producing PET preforms with co-injected barrier layer. Established in 1963, Mold-Masters is a leading suppliers of hot runner technology and systems that was acquired by Milacron three years ago.


Molds & Moldmaking, North America , ,