Dow Auto launches composite centers
MIDLAND, MICH. — Dow Chemical Co.'s automotive unit has opened two technology centers focused on carbon-fiber composites for the automotive and commercial transportation industries.
A 2,000-square-foot tech center opened in April in Freienbach, Switzerland, with a high-pressure resin transfer molding machine for prototype production. The site also has an adhesives training center.
The second center, with more than 5,000 square feet of space, opened in June in Dow's hometown of Midland, Dow Automotive said in a July 9 news release. The Midland site will have development space for direct long-fiber processing, prepreg, preforming, compression molding and laminating.
Carbon fiber and other lightweight composite alternatives have been gaining additional attention from the auto industry as it works on reducing vehicle weight and meeting higher fuel-economy requirements.
“In two key locations, we now offer critical on-site composites material and processing development capabilities that will further our expertise in this area,” said Peter Cate, global strategic marketer for composites.
PolyOne opens larger China innovation site
SHANGHAI — With a drum roll and a burst of confetti, PolyOne Corp.'s global leaders recently convened in Shanghai to open the doors of the company's new innovation center.
“[This] will anchor PolyOne's presence in this fast-growing region,” said Shang Wenyu, global technology director for PolyOne's color and additives business.
The center is one of three in Asia for Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne — the other two are located in Suzhou and Singapore — but Shanghai is the largest. The 108,000-square-foot center replaces a smaller facility in Shanghai. The new site employs 200 and boasts 55 kinds of processing and testing equipment.
A tour included a glimpse at the rooms for material aging, film casting and injection tests.
The center represents an investment of around $8 million, according to Shang, who said the center is likely to focus on “green” packaging and construction applications, health care and automotive.
PolyOne had global sales of $2.9 billion in 2011, with 9 percent from Asia.
“Nine percent is not small,” said Bob Patterson, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “But it's something we believe should be growing faster.”
As a whole, PolyOne recently has hired 150 employees or, as Patterson called them at a news conference, “commercial resources.” Two-thirds of those hires were made outside the U.S.
“We believe that our greatest growth opportunities are outside the United States — in Asia, Brazil and Eastern Europe,” he said.
Arkema expanding in fluoropolymers
COLOMBES, FRANCE — Fluoropolymers leader Arkema SA will spend almost $90 million to increase capacity for that material by 50 percent at a French plant.
The investment will increase capacity for Kynar-brand polyvinylidene fluoride resin at Arkema's site in Pierre-Benite, France, by 2014, officials said in a June 28 news release. The project also will include installation of a new high-purity process and a new effluent-treatment plant.
“This ambitious program will provide long-term visibility for fluorochemicals activity as a whole in France,” officials said.
Global fluoropolymer demand is growing at more than 7 percent per year. Common applications for Kynar include oil extraction, cable manufacturing, chemical engineering and semiconductor production. Officials listed drinking-water filtration, lithium ion batteries and photovoltaic panels as “emerging markets” for Kynar.
Colombes-based Arkema claims to be the world's largest fluoropolymers maker. In addition to Pierre-Benite, the firm has fluoropolymer production in Zaramillo, Spain; and Calvert City, Ky.; as well as at three sites in China. Arkema also makes fluoropolymer feedstocks at a plant in Saint-Auban, France.
News of the expansion caps off a busy first half of 2012 for Arkema. In April, Arkema sold its U.S.-based Tuffak-brand polycarbonate sheet business to Bayer MaterialScience LLC. Media reports also surfaced that Arkema was looking to sell its PVC stabilizer unit.
Arkema in February finalized a partnership to develop renewable specialty polymers with Elevance Renewable Sciences Inc., a technology firm based in Woodridge, Ill. Also in April, Arkema announced it would be consolidating its U.S. acrylic sheet production from Kensington, Conn., to a plant in Louisville, Ky.
Arkema has annual sales of more than $7 billion and ranks as the world's largest maker of acrylic resin and sheet, which it sells under the Plexiglas and Altuglas trade names.
Industrial Heater buys Hi-Tech Fabricating
CHESHIRE, CONN. — Chesire-based Industrial Heater Corp. has purchased Hi-Tech Fabricating Inc. in Wallingford, Conn., bringing a large amount of sheet metal and manufacturing experience to Industrial Heater.
Hi-Tech Fabricating will move into the Industrial Heater plant in nearby Cheshire by the end of July.
Industrial Heater makes heaters for industrial processing including band, cartridge, immersion, in-line water and air, radiant, strip, tubular and nozzle band heaters; ovens and furnaces; and temperature sensors.
John Berges, who founded Hi-Tech Fabricating, will join Industrial Heater and bring his experience in engineering, fabricating, machining and welding.
Hi-Tech makes precision sheet-metal assemblies for a range of industries including medical, aerospace, electronics and telecommunications. The operation does computer numerically controlled punching, eight-axis CNC forming up to 8 feet, shearing, welding, finishing and silk screening.
Industrial Heater President Tad McGwire called the deal “a very strategic fit.” Industrial Heater does sheet-metal work now, but the addition of Hi-Tech brings experience in higher-precision products. Industrial Heater now will be able to supply metal guards and covers for barrels for plastics machinery.
“Their enormous amount of sheet-metal and manufacturing experience will help Industrial Heater add new capabilities into our product line, particularly in air-cooled shrouds [for extrusion barrels], radiant panels [used for thermoforming sheet] and open-coil air heaters,” McGwire said.
With the addition of Hi-Tech, Industrial Heater employs 45 people.
McGwire serves on the executive board of the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc., as officer at large.
National Bulk gains General Processing
HOLLAND, MICH. — National Bulk Equipment Inc., which makes systems for dry-material handling, has purchased General Processing Systems Inc., maker of the ProductSaver packaged material reclamation systems.
“ProductSaver … enables processing and packaging operations to recover not only packaging material, but also the dry or wet contents from packages that may be off-spec, mislabeled or for other reasons unsalable,” said Todd Reed, president of NBE in Holland.
The equipment completely separates the contents from the packaging, reclaiming the contents and recovering the packaging for recycling.
Jeff Swiatlo, former president of General Processing Systems in Oswego, Ill., is now directing ProductSaver sales.
NBE also makes bag dischargers and unloaders, bulk-bag fillers and container dischargers.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Sumitomo buys back leased Schwaig site
SCHWAIG, GERMANY — Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. is investing 20 million euros ($25 million) to modernize Sumitomo Demag Plastics Machinery GmbH plants located in Schwaig and Wiehe, Germany.
The main part of the investment will buy back the Schwaig site from Segro plc, a real estate investment company that bought the plant in 2008 and has been leasing it back to the machinery company.
The investment also will be used to buy new equipment and modernize the production facilities.
“With this investment, Sumitomo Heavy Industries is acknowledging the growing market share captured by Sumitomo (SHI) Demag over recent quarters,” the company said in a June 20 news release. “The buy-back of the production site underlines the high level of confidence placed in Germany as a production location.”
The main Demag facility in Schwaig produces its hydraulic Systec machines and hybrid El-Exis machines.
In 2009, after Sumitomo Heavy Industries acquired Demag, the Wiehe facility was expanded to become an international center for electric machines. Wiehe supplies the IntElect series of electric injection molding machines to worldwide customers.
Sumitomo Demag also makes presses in Chiba, Japan, and Ningbo, China.
EFactor3 LLC moves to larger site nearby
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Recycling equipment supplier eFactor3 LLC has tripled its space by moving to a new, 1,600-square-foot building just a few blocks from its old headquarters, President Hartmut Bendfeldt said.
“The larger, more accommodating location and amenities will allow us to better serve our rapidly growing customer base, with added room for future growth,” Bendfeldt said. “We tripled our space and have enough space to double our business before we have to move again.”
Charlotte-based eFactor3 supplies equipment and designs and does system integration and installation of recycling systems. The company's partners are: Weima America Inc., which makes shredding equipment; Tria SpA, a manufacturer of granulators and grinding systems; Westeria F"dertechnik GmbH, which makes conveying and sifting equipment; Maschinen und Anglagenbau Schultz GmbH (MAS), a supplier of plastics washing machinery; shredder maker Metso Denmark; and Spaleck Group, a builder of conveying and separation systems.
Sacmi cites growth in compression blow
IMOLA, ITALY — In its first year of commercialization, Sacmi Imola S.C. said it has had strong response to its compression blow forming technology.
If everything goes according to plan, Sacmi will install 10 of the CBF machines this year at companies in North America, Europe and Asia, said Luca Nanetti, sales and marketing manager for Sacmi's closures and containers division.
CBF combines elements of compression molding and blow molding to make containers. Material is extruded, cut and transferred into a compression cavity. A preform is produced, bottles are pre-blown and then blow molded or stretch blow molded in the same cavity without the need for station-to-station transfer. Using the continuous rotary machines, processors can go directly from resin pellet to finished container in one step.
According to Imola-based Sacmi, CBF machines are cost-effective, offer advantages in flexibility and productivity, are more sustainable and produce a higher-quality product.
In May, Amcor Rigid Plastics became the first company to use CBF on a commercial scale. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based manufacturer uses its three CBF systems to make pharmaceutical packaging.
Nanetti would not disclose the names of its other customers, but said they include one of China's largest dairies and one of the fastest-growing dairies in Vietnam.
Those machines will be used to make single-serve dairy and beverage containers.
The machines have attracted particular attention in emerging economies like the Middle East, he added.
Looking ahead, Sacmi is working to expand the machine's resin range — current machines run high density polyethylene, polyethylene and polystyrene, and should be able to run PET by the end of the year, he said.
The company also is working to expand the machine's size. Currently, Amcor runs a 12-cavity unit and a 20-cavity unit is also available, but Sacmi is developing a range of station sizes, Nanetti said.
BioTork, BASF team for bioplastics work
LUDWIGSHAFEN, GERMANY — BASF SE has struck a bioplastics development deal with BioTork LLC, a U.S.-based biotechnology firm.
Global plastics and chemicals leader BASF will work with BioTork of Gainesville, Fla., to develop microbial strains for industrial production of biopolymers and green chemicals.
The two firms began working together earlier this year. In a June 12 news release, Tom Lyons, BioTork chief scientific officer, said a pilot study between his firm and BASF showed that engineered micro-organisms can be used for optimal industrial performance by using adaptive evolution.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Marc Penicaud, BioTork's business development vice president, said in the release that his firm “will dedicate all the necessary resources to ensure BASF achieves major advancements in the production of high-value, bio-based chemicals.”
BioTork said its mission is to achieve complete replacement of crude petroleum oil with biomass-derived equivalents.
BASF ranks as one of the world's largest chemical companies. The Ludwigshafen-based company employs more than 111,000 and has annual sales of almost $96 billion.