Plastics News correspondent Roger Renstrom reported these items from the ASEANplas 99 trade show, held March 23-26 in Singapore.
Polyplastics plans acetal production
Joint venture Polyplastics Co. Ltd. of Osaka, Japan, plans to begin the first phase of commercial production at its new acetal plant in Kuantan, Malaysia, by October.
``In Polyplastics, we are actually bettering the [Asian economic] crisis,'' said Sunny Chen, business manager of the firm's Singapore-based unit, Polyplastics Asia Pacific Singapore Pte. Ltd.
``The price is eroding, but we have confidence and believe the Asia crisis will be over in one year or two,'' he said. ``By that time, our new plant will be ready so we can capture new market'' share.
Production will begin in two phases beginning in July and December. Polyplastics will have an initial annual capacity of 26.5 million pounds of engineering resins and should reach full capacity of about 66 million pounds about the first quarter of 2000, Sunny said. Construction started in 1997.
Eventually, production could include Duranex-brand polybutylene terephthalate, Fortran polyphenylene sulphides and Vectra liquid-crystal polymers, in addition to Duracon acetal copolymers.
Polyplastics is a venture of Hoechst AG and Daicel Chemical Industries Ltd.
Malaysian mold group seeks national links
The 3-month-old Malaysia Mold and Die Association aims to link the country's mold-making interests, including those of an industry core in the state of Selangor.
Ow Tin Poh, president of the 125-member Selangor and Federal Territory Mould and Die Association, sees a role for the new national group at the June 20 meeting and exposition of the Federation of Asian Mould and Die Associations in Manila, Philippines. The Selangor association was formed in 1994.
Malaysian mold makers generally have held their own since the region's mid-1997 economic crisis, initially working off a backlog of mostly overseas orders.
``They suffered most seriously in mid-1998 until now,'' Ow said.
Ow also is managing director of Kejuruteraan P-M-E Sdn. Bhd. of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which employs 25 manufacturing components for mold makers, mostly in Malaysia. ``We have 70 percent of the Malaysia component market,'' Ow said.
Investment has resumed, and new orders have come in since September, Ow said. Government low-interest loans have helped.
Malaysia plans boost to mold-making firms
Malaysia faces a serious shortage of mold and die workers, and firms are unable to fulfill all their orders, according to the Malaysia Industrial Development Authority's Metal and Engineering Supporting Industries Division.
As a result, processors and end users import most tools rather than sourcing them in Malaysia.
Now the authority, which is an independent agency, and the country's Ministry of Technology are preparing to establish and support regional training centers in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johore. The plan is contingent upon the group receiving funding.
Officials view mold making as an infant industry that must find a way to boost the number of mold makers, designers and technical workers. The shortage hinders Malaysia's drive to become an industrialized nation.
Existing training capabilities and institute resources have proved inadequate. Two years of government-organized discussions have led to the proposed program, which may begin within a few months.