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 , ,

New Insert Molded Electronics Are Very Thin

Polycarbonate film replaces light pipes in newly developed electronic illumination devices that are very thin.

TactoTek, a Finnish manufacturer of 3D injection molded structural electronics is commercializing the technology that enables sophisticated lighting in very thin 3D plastic “smart surfaces”.tactotek_electronics_within-_plastic

“This (is) a key innovation for IMSE technology—employing the plastic material that is the structure of a part as a light guide,” says Antti Keränen, TactoTek CTO and co-founder. “Using this technique we can create very bright, evenly distributed illumination within structures as thin as 2 millimeters.”

Traditional electronics typically include a cosmetic surface structure and use a separate light pipe structure to direct lighting. In the TactoTek invention, printed electronics and light emitting diodes (LEDs) are insert molded and use the optical plastic layer to conduct light.

Hasse Sinivaara, head of product management, says: “By using the molding material of a cosmetic surface as a light guide, TactoTek IMSE technology removes design constraints that have prescribed thick, multi-part assemblies, and as we remove parts, we remove design time, weight and minimize electrical and mechanical assembly—very appealing when considering form factor innovation and total cost of ownership (TCO).”

The design accommodates printed electronics, such as circuitry, touch controls and antennas, and discrete electronic components, such as LEDs and ICs.

The company prototypes and manufactures products in its Oulu, Finland, factory that includes complete, vertically integrated production capabilities; mass production can be performed by TactoTek or TactoTek-licensed production partners.

Eighty percent of its business is automotive, with most of the rest in appliances. Applications include:

  • Control panels in cars and home appliances with mode-specific lighting, and “intelligence”,
  • Encapsulated sensors, such as accelerometers, impact and ambient light sensors molded directly into the surface skins of designs,
  • Printed capacitive buttons and sliders for responsive soft touch controls, and
  • Sophisticated lighting for advanced styling,

The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under grant agreement No 725076.


Capacitive buttons are shown as 305; LED leads as 310; and the masking layer is 121. (United States Patent 9,297,675)








Automotive, Consumer Goods, Design, Electronics, Europe, Injection Molding, Insert Molding ,

Brad Cleveland: 1960-2016

One of the most understated (and best) people I have met in the plastics business was Brad Cleveland, who passed away last week from cancer.

In a story he told often, he was paging through the Sunday Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2001 when he saw a tiny agate-sized classified ad. Larry Lukis, a tech guy who had an idea for an injection molding company, was looking for a CEO. The company? Protomold.

He was hired and headed up the business and manufacturing side of the 10-employee company.

Lukis had developed algorithms to quote  parts over the Internet, eliminating most of the time-consuming and expensive skilled labor conventionally required. It was a dream for industrial design engineers who could quickly, and inexpensively, receive demonstration or starter production parts made in production plastics from aluminum molds.

Brad was good at building a customer base, a manufacturing team, marketing, and attracting investors. Communications and responsiveness may have been his best skills. He was doing what the 3D printing business was hyped to do, but he and Lukis–who operated behind the scenes–did it more effectively.

By 2013, the company employed 730 people globally and had more than 7,000 customers in the product development and engineering communities.

By that time, the firm had added a CNC-machining service, had manufactured millions of plastic and metal parts, changed  its name to Proto Labs and went public on the New York Stock Exchange.  Revenues in 2013 rose above $150 million.

That year, he announced plans to retire to attend to his health and work on other interests.

Injection Molding

K2016: Engel Will Show New IMD Technique

The latest in efforts to replace painted interior automotive parts with in-mold decorating (IMD) will be shown in the Engel booth at K2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany Oct. 19-26.

In the DecoJect approach, the film is punched out and stays on the component, allowing surface structure and haptics as well as color and pattern. In other systems, the paint is transferred from the film onto the part.

Surface textures can be achieved with a new approach to in-mold labelling. (Engel)

Surface textures can be achieved with a new approach to in-mold decorating. (Engel)

The technology will be shown in a fully automated production cell on a duo 5160/1000 injection molding machine making Mucell-foamed door panels with a leather grain.

Following part removal, the DecoJect thin film is drawn in, heated by an IR radiator located in the gripper and preformed directly in the mold with the aid of a vacuum system. The film is then immediately back-molded and punched out before the robot removes the component and transfers it to an integrated laser station for fine trimming. A ready-to-fit component leaves the production cell every 60 seconds.

Designs can be changed with roll replacement, making smaller batches more economical, according to Engel.

The polypropylene film in the demonstration comes from Benecke-Kaliko (Hannover, Germany), which belongs to Continental technology group.

Other partners in the technology demonstration include Georg Kaufmann Formenbau of Busslingen, Switzerland, the Galvanoform Gesellschaft für Galvanoplastik in Lahr in southern Germany, hot runner manufacturer HRSflow, headquartered in San Polo di Piave, Italy, ICO System International in Lüneburg, Germany, and Borealis headquartered in Vienna, Austria.

One of the challenges in mold technology was very fine controllability of the electric valve gate drives.





In-Mold Decorating, Injection Molding, polypropylene ,

Thermoformed PA66 Sheets Offer Promise For Auto Lightweighting

DuPont is advancing its Vizilon thermoplastic composite technology in European demonstration projects with the goal of automotive lightweighting.

It’s an interesting composite: A polyamide 66 matrix is used in continuous-glass fiber woven reinforced consolidated sheets. The sheets can be stamped or thermoformed into various shapes and then can be overmolded with an engineering thermoplastic so that inserts or complex part features can be included.

Vizilon TPCs are used for the large structural floor pan, lower and upper windshield cross members and B-pillar of the Renault EOLAB prototype. The TPC floor pan is 16.5 kg lighter than a conventional steel vehicle floor, and is said to offer outstanding mechanical performance.

A Vizilon TPC oil pan concept is getting financial support from the English government as part of a light-weighting initiative called Alive6. Total project funding is $13.8 million and is led by Jaguar Land Rover.

The composite oil plan developed by DuPont and injection molder Nifco weighs 1 kg less than the steel version. It “has been engineered with continuous glass fibers that are infinitely longer than those used in normal reinforced plastics, to deliver optimum performance while remaining lightweight,” according to a press release issued by Nifco last week.

The goal of the ALIVE6 project, which was launched last year, is to create a prototype engine.

Automotive, Composites, Europe, Polyamides , ,