Crane to split off Timbertech business
COLUMBUS, OHIO - Crane Plastics Co. is forming a subsidiary to focus on its line of composite decking called Timbertech Ltd. and is exploring the possibility of splitting other parts of its business into separate branches.
Timbertech is Crane's line of plastic and wood composite decking, which it introduced three years ago. Timbertech will continue to operate out of Crane's Columbus headquarters, but will become its own entity July 6 under the Crane corporate umbrella, said Timbertech President Stu Kemper.
Timbertech also has entered a joint venture with Crane subsidiary Compression Polymers to build a new plant in Scranton, Pa., Kemper said in a June 29 telephone interview.
The new facility will be in operation by late July and will increase Timbertech's capacity by 50 percent, Kemper said.
Crane manufactures vinyl siding and gutters, wood piling and various custom profile extrusions and moldings.
Crane ranked No. 21 in Plastics News' recent survey of North American pipe, profile and tubing extruders, with $148 million in annual sales. It placed eighth among profilers. The firm has 790 employees at two plants.
Pet Plas blow molding beer bottles
LEEDS, ENGLAND - Pet Plas Packaging Ltd. of Leeds has begun blow molding multilayer PET beer bottles using preforms shipped from the United States.
The company is using one two-stage Sidel machine to make the beer bottles.
As demand for the barrier packaging grows, Pet Plas expects to install its own multilayer injection presses to feed the bottle-blowing process, said General Manager Tony Cain.
Commercially, Pet Plas is producing 111/2-fluid-ounce bottles. Cain said the bottles have a nine-month shelf life for products such as beer. He added that while beer is an important segment, Pet Plas can produce multilayer containers for juices, tea and other beverages and food products that require oxygen and carbon dioxide protection.
Pechiney International SA bought a majority of Pet Plas in January. Pet Plas is using multilayer preforms from Pechiney's American National Can Co. division, which manages Pet Plas.
Schwarzheide increases PBT capacity
BRANDENBURG, GERMANY - BASF GE Schwarzheide GmbH & Co., a European engineering plastics joint venture in Brandenburg, has raised its capacity of polybutylene terephthalate by 30 percent to meet rising regional demand.
The German plant is a 50-50 partnership between BASF AG of Ludwigshafen, Germany, and General Electric Plastics BV of Bergen-op-Zoom, Netherlands. BASF announced that the Schwarzheide plant modified existing equipment to boost annual capacity to 176 million pounds.
Each partner in the venture takes half the unit's resin output for finishing in its own compounding facility. The companies then market the polyester compounds independently.
Demand for PBT is growing for automotive and electronics applications, primarily in Germany. Much of the extra demand has been coming from GE Plastics, which formerly imported PBT resin from the United States.
Witt Plastics adding extrusion equipment
GREENVILLE, OHIO - Witt Plastics Inc. will invest more than $1 million to expand sheet capacity this year.
The Greenville-based firm will install a new sheet extrusion line and auxiliary equipment and add 20,000 square feet to boost its total space to 95,000 square feet. Witt Plastics President John Witt said the expansion is spurred by growing sales in thin-gauge polypropylene film for packaging, including form-fill-seal uses, and sheet for thermoforming and die-cutting applications.
The program represents the third year in a row that the sheet producer has invested more than $1 million in expansion. This year's project will boost capacity by 30 percent at Greenville. It includes realignment of current extrusion lines.
Witt said the firm's investment is directed toward specialty market customers rather than ``growth for the sake of growth.'' He also noted the number of custom sheet extruders has been shrinking through acquisitions.
Witt's main markets include food, medical, electronics and printing and graphic arts industries. The firm had sheet sales of $26 million in 1997.