Archive for December, 2003

Maguire: New blender-based yield control

Thursday, December 4th, 2003

Gravimetric blenders powered by new LineMaster (TM) software from Maguire Products, Inc. raise extrusion yield control to a new level of simplicity and accuracy and enable processors to enhance product consistency, save on raw material, shorten setup times, and reduce scrap, the company announced at NPE 2003 (Booth 9101). The yield control system has already been used commercially-see accompanying news release on blown film producer Coextruded Film Technologies for an example.

The new technology makes advanced yield control available without need for large, complex, and costly hardware systems such as loss-in-weight blenders, according to B. Patrick Smith, vice president of marketing and sales. ‘It is now possible to achieve consistent accuracy in material consumption and product quality using nothing more elaborate than the Maguire (R) Weigh Scale Blender,’ Smith said. ‘The simplicity, ease of use, and low cost of this system have made it by far the most widely used blender in the world, yet its precision and reliability also make it eminently suitable for governing the entire extrusion process with unvarying accuracy.’

The LineMaster system combines advanced blender controller software with Maguire’s Gravimetric Gateway (TM), or ‘G2,’ software for integrating blenders in a computer controlled network. This integrated system makes it possible for the blender controller to adjust two critical process parameters simultaneously.

In standard extrusion control, the blender controller automatically adjusts only one parameter-extruder speed-to achieve a manually set target throughput (weight of raw material processed per unit of time). Somewhat more advanced is a basic type of yield control, in which the controller once again automatically adjusts only extruder speed, but does so by first calculating target throughput on the basis of two manually set parameters: target line speed (length of product per unit of time) and target yield (weight per length of extruded product). In contrast with these systems, the LineMaster system simultaneously adjusts both throughput and line speed to achieve target yield, providing complete control of the process.

‘Until the advent of our LineMaster technology, the vast middle ground of extrusion processors have had to choose between cumbersome and costly loss-in-weight yield control systems or very basic forms of extrusion control,’ said Smith. ‘Now any extrusion processor armed with our software can lock in desired product yields via simple connections between a standard Maguire blender and the extruder-screw and hauloff-speed controls. Once set up, this system quickly establishes control over the amount of material per length of product, without need for prolonged setups in which operators must optimize speed settings.’

Three yield-control configurations are possible with the LineMaster system, in each of which 1) the blender is connected to the downstream speed control and automatically adjusts it to maintain line speed; and 2) the desired yield is entered by the operator. The three configurations vary according to which other parameter is to be set as a target by the operator:

▪ Line speed. Blender calculates required extruder throughput based on pre-set line speed and yield and automatically adjusts the extruder speed control.

▪ Extruder throughput. Blender calculates required line speed based on pre-set throughput rate and yield and automatically adjusts the extruder speed control.

▪ Extruder speed. Blender calculates required line speed based on pre-set extruder speed and yield and automatically adjusts downstream speed control.

Gain-in-Weight Blending and Advanced Software Are Keys to Precision Yield Control

Mounted directly over the throat of an extruder, a Maguire (R) Weigh Scale Blender controls raw-material metering by weighing each recipe batch. Recipe ratios can be varied from 0.01 to 100% with simple thumb-wheel settings. In operation, the blender sequentially dispenses all ingredients, in their targeted recipe proportions, from separate hopper bins into a weigh chamber (hence the term ‘gain-in-weight’). From the weigh chamber the batch falls into a mixing chamber, then is fed directly into the extruder. In subsequent batches, small corrections are made automatically. Added to this precise information about the weight of each batch (in grams) is information about the exact time (in tenths of a second) required for each batch to be consumed by the process.

These data enable the blender to adjust the speed of the extruder screw to maintain a targeted throughput rate. To carry out coordinated, simultaneous adjustments of both line speed and throughput to ensure maintenance of targeted product yield, the blender must be used in combination with G2 software.

POLY Tower: Double-digit growth in exports

Thursday, December 4th, 2003

POLY Tower Ventures Bhd, whose initial public offering of three million shares has been oversubscribed by 74.59 times, expects double-digit growth in its export of plastic bags and films to the US and Africa next year. Group managing director Lew Chin Kwee said the forecast was in line with increasing demand from overseas markets as well as the company’s expansion into New York and Angola in Africa.
“The company is currently looking for an area for our sales office in New York,” he said after the balloting of Poly Tower shares in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday. Lew said the company was also appointing an agent in Angola . Its exports to the US and Africa currently account for 3.5% and 14.5% respectively of its total annual revenue.
Poly Tower, en route for a listing on the KLSE second board, exports about 95% of its output to 16 countries including, Britain, Japan, Taiwan, Czech Republic, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
Equipped with 57 plastic extrusion machines churning out 2,100 tonnes of output monthly, the company is focused on manufacturing a wide range of products from customised shopping bags, specialty shopping bags, garbage disposal bags to bio-degradable bags. It also produces construction and agriculture films.
The company’s customers consist of international supermarkets, hypermarket, retail chain stores, convenience shops and fast-food outlets like Tesco, Woolworths, Sainsbury, Greggs, Carrefour, Sogo, Bata, Shoprite, Nike, Laura Ashley, Homebase, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Spar, 7-Eleven and Smorgan Steel.
Poly Tower also has the technology to produce bio-degradable plastic bags, which could provide a new revenue stream.
It is planning to introduce new products including agriculture mulch films, industrial packaging films, bin liners, building industry films and landfill covers using totally degradable plastic additives.

Teknor Apex: Plasticizer-free vinyl compounds eliminate volatiles

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003

Chemistry that combines polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyolefin elastomers (POEs) has yielded a new series of flexible vinyl compounds that perform better than conventional plasticized PVC at high and low temperatures and avoid problems caused by plasticizer volatilization or migration, it was announced today at NPE 2003 by Teknor Apex, Vinyl Division (Booth 9755). The FreeFlex (TM) 4002 series includes four grades with Shore A hardness ratings of 81, 82, 85, and 90.

‘While a degree of plasticizer loss is acceptable in many applications for flexible vinyl, the resulting falloff in mechanical properties, though typically marginal, has limited or prevented use of conventional compounds in applications that demand outstanding performance at temperature extremes or after outdoor exposure,’ said industry manager Philip Morin. ‘Because the flexibility of FreeFlex compounds is inherent in their elastomeric component, products manufactured from them avoid embrittlement and provide as-new performance after prolonged service under such challenging conditions.’

Potential applications include hose and tubing and sheet products such as tank and pond liners, added Morin. ‘FreeFlex compounds are particularly promising for applications involving transport or containment of fluids that have a chemical affinity with conventional plasticizers,’ he said, ‘or in parts for assemblies in which plasticizer migration can mar the surface of adjacent components.’

The new compounds will be priced approximately 40 to 80% higher than high-performance conventional vinyl with low-extractible, low-volatility polymeric plasticizers.

FreeFlex Products Are The First Fruits of a Major Compounding Innovation
The technology underlying new FreeFlex compounds involves 1) use of high-performance new-
generation POEs that typically are immiscible with PVC, and 2) development of proprietary compatibilizer chemistry enabling Teknor Apex to alloy them with PVC. ‘Unlike plasticizers, the POEs in FreeFlex compounds stay permanently blended with PVC,’ said technical manager Maryellen Cox, ‘making possible material systems that remain fully homogeneous throughout their end-use service life.’

Plasticizers typically constitute a third of flexible vinyl compounds by weight and vary in their rates of extractability.

The FreeFlex 4002 series is just the first in a broad range of compounds anticipated as a result of the new PVC/POE technology, according to Cox. ‘In comparison with plasticizer additives, our elastomeric alloy components make possible greater retention of elongation upon heat aging, greater resistance to embrittlement at very low temperatures, superior electrical properties as reflected by a lower dielectric constant, and improved chemical resistance. We intend to develop a range of other PVC/POE alloys, all of them designed to expand the applicability of PVC to product areas where conventional vinyl does not meet existing requirements.’
Visit the web site: www.teknorapex.com.

Pechiney Plastic: Massive lay-off

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003

Facing a weaker U.S. market, Pechiney Plastic Packaging Inc., USA, has laid off 40 percent of its workforce at its food and dairy facility in Des Moines. The company filed a notice with the Des Moines-based Iowa Workforce Development agency stating that it had laid off 90 workers Nov. 17. The facility, which makes film for cheese, meat and other food, employed 220.

PolyOne: Development agreement with Merquinsa on TPU specialty compounds

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

PolyOne International and Merquinsa have signed a partnership and development agreement to jointly develop and distribute new thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) specialty compounds. The new TPU product range will be marketed under the brand OnFlex-U thermoplastic elastomer compounds.
Under the agreement PolyOne will develop OnFlex-U TPU compounds based on Merquinsa’s PEARLTHANE® TPU specialty elastomers. Further, the Merquinsa-PolyOne alliance provides plans to coordinate research and development efforts to expand OnFlex-U applications and to develop a wide range of novel TPU compounds for extrusion and injection molding markets.
The partnership creates a complementary product line to PolyOne portfolio that already includes OnFlex-S & Bergaflex® (TPE-S), and OnFlex-V (TPE-V) thermoplastic elastomer compounds. The alliance also enables Merquinsa to consolidate its position as a world leading thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) specialty producer by having access to a broader range of specialty markets and applications for its polymers.
OnFlex-U thermoplastic elastomer compounds, based on Merquinsa’s PEARLTHANE ® TPU material give the following properties:
• Excellent abrasion resistance
• Retains flexibility at low temperatures
• Good tensile strength
• High resistance to cut & tear

Typical applications of these OnFlex-U compounds are found in cable sheathing and automotive wire, where halogen-free flame-retardant compounds with increased abrasion resistance, and improved resistance to oil and hydrolysis, are advantageous. Other possible OnFlex-U applications include power cable, hose and conveyor belts, cable jackets, gaskets, hoses, and profiles.
‘This agreement offers our customers a wider range of TPE compounds and supports PolyOne’s continuing efforts to develop our TPE product platform,’ said Marc Setzen, TPE product manager for PolyOne. ‘ Customers will greatly benefit from the combination of PolyOne’s formulation and compounding expertise, and Merquinsa’s PEARLTHANE® TPU technology.’
Speaking for Merquinsa, Jean-Marc Galvez, global business manager, TPU elastomers said “The market for TPU compounds is growing fast in automotive, industrial and ergonomic applications. We see great value in working with PolyOne, a strong market-development partner for high-performance elastomers compounds. This agreement is an example of Merquinsa continuing commitment to invest in and strengthen its PEARLTHANE® TPU specialty elastomers business, which includes a full technology portfolio of TPU tailor-made solutions for the global market place.”
The production of OnFlex-U compounds will begin in Europe & Asia during 2004.

Hancor: HDPE pipes have 50% recycled content

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

Hancor Inc. officials say they’ve achieved an industry first.The Findlay-based maker of high density polyethylene drainage pipe now is marketing its EcoFirst pipe, an HDPE product sized from 4-30 inches in diameter containing a minimum of 50 percent recycled content. The product is intended for use in drainage applications that may include installation beneath pavement and driving surfaces.
It is not the first time recycled resin has been used in pipe products, officials acknowledge, but the blending technology is original. Hancor expects to receive a patent any time on that process. Officials would say only that the product does not contain curbside post-consumer waste and that the material stream is scrutinized closely. There are certain standards, though, for HDPE pipe installed in road and highway applications. The American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials has performance requirements for cell classification and slow crack growth resistance. AASHTO specifies virgin polyethylene for those applications.
Hancor is not saying EcoFirst is an AASHTO product, officials said. “We go beyond measures to make sure standards are adhered to,” Altermatt said in a recent interview at Hancor’s headquarters. “We can comply with the performance requirements.”

Atofina: New PA12 for automotive applications

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2003

French chemical producer Atofina (www.atofina.com), Paris La Défénse / France, has introduced a new polyamide 12 grade with special properties suited for use in motor vehicle gasoline hoses. The ‘Rilsan’ M-AESN Black P 212 CTL grade is described as providing good mechanical properties and electrical conductivity as well as permitting cost-efficient processing. The product’s low-temperature impact strength is at -40 0C. The material will be used in the new Ford model for the first time.

Entek: Expansion of capacity

Monday, December 1st, 2003

Entek Extruders is making a US$5.8-million expansion of its manufacturing faciltities. It is investing US$3 million in equipment for production of screws, barrels, and extruders and is planning a 30% to 50% addition of manufacturing space. Entek builds corotating twin-screw compounding extruders as well as OEM replacement parts for Leistritz, Coperion, and Berstorff machines.

Duraflex: Expansion of UK operations

Monday, December 1st, 2003

UK extruder Duraflex is expanding its operations with a new 27,000 sq metre site to be completed in June 2004. The company will consolidate its three sites into purpose-built headquarters in Gloucestershire. Duraflex makes bespoke PVC-U window and door systems and turns over more than Euro 43m. It currently has separate sites in Gloucestershire for its head office and manufacturing and distribution operations. The development will add extra floorspace; the company also intends to expand its manufacturing facilities with more capacity. Duraflex has already spent around Euro 5.7m over the last three years on plant, new tooling and premises. It was acquired by US building products firm Masco last year.