Cyclics launches PBT site in Germany
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. - Cyclics Corp. has launched its first CBT-brand polybutylene terephthalate commercial production - in Schwarzheide, Germany - and has signed global deals to promote the material.
The 5.5 million-pound-per-year operation began production in early March. More than half of the output at the 70-employee facility already has been sold, said officials with Schenectady-based Cyclics. The operation shares space with an existing BASF AG plant that supplies Cyclics with PBT feedstock.
``This is the turning point where Cyclics transitions from development to a commercial enterprise,'' Chief Executive Officer Ted Eveleth said in a news release.
Cyclics obtained almost $70 million in financing from KfW Ipex-Bank of Frankfurt, Germany, as well as grants and subsidies from state and federal governments.
CBT resins melt to a waterlike viscosity when heated, then polymerize into PBT. Early applications include vacuum formed rods, blocks and sheets, as well as turbine blades. Cyclics said the material offers comparable price and performance to nylon 11 and 12 and polyphenylene sulfide.
Cyclics now plans to double its capacity in Schwarzheide by early 2006. The firm also expects to announce the location of its new plant - expected to have capacity of between 50 million and 100 million pounds - by the end of 2005.
Globally, Cyclics has added three partners to expand CBT's reach. ICO Courtenay, a unit of Houston-based compounder ICO Inc., will distribute CBT for the rotational molding market in New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia. In that region, CBT could be used in electrical enclosures, spa tubs and kayaks.
Lomotek Polymers Pty. Ltd. of Cape Town, South Africa, will distribute the product in that country for use in fuel tanks, shipping barrels and mannequins.
In South Korea, Polymers Net Co. Ltd. will develop and sell CBT-based compounds and concentrates for digital products, mobile phones and sheet extrusion. South Korea leads the world in mobile phone production, officials said.
Robot market grew in N. America in '04
ANN ARBOR, MICH. - Robots continued their hot growth in 2004, as the North American market grew by 20 percent, according to the Robotic Industries Association.
North American manufacturers bought 14,838 robots, valued at nearly $1 billion, in 2004, a 20 percent increase over the 12,367 robots purchased in 2003. Ann Arbor-based RIA said it was the second-best unit total ever.
Automotive continues to be the largest robot buyer, accounting for 64 percent of all robots in 2004. But that was down from a 68 percent share the year before, and RIA said buyers are becoming more diversified. For example, North American orders for packaging and palletizing robots - used by a range of industries - jumped 50 percent.
RIA's executive vice president, Donald Vincent, said companies realize that investing in automation can play a key role in keeping manufacturing jobs in North America.
``The message is spreading that robots aren't just for heavy-manufacturing companies, or only for large companies,'' Vincent said. ``At our robotics conferences, we find a growing number of small and medium-sized companies attending from industries where robots may be used in relatively small numbers today, such as consumer goods, but have enormous future opportunities for applications like packaging and palletizing.''
Robots also did well in 2003, when sales climbed 19 percent from 2002. Vincent credited pent-up demand after 2001 and 2002, when manufacturers cut spending for capital equipment. ``Once they resumed buying, robots were near the top of their shopping lists,'' he said.
RIA estimates 144,000 robots are being used in the United States, second only to Japan.
RIA and the Automated Imaging Association are co-sponsoring the International Robots & Vision Show Sept. 27-29 in Rosemont, Ill.