A major new player in global engineering plastics was officially launched today following the purchase of GE Plastics by the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC). The name for the new entity is SABIC Innovative Plastics, reflecting GE Plastics’ long-standing role in developing not only new plastics, such as polycarbonate, but whole new application categories, particularly in automotive. The only potential problem was the stiffening of credit markets, but SABIC has a solid credit foundation, reaffirmed by Fitch Ratings service two days ago. The official announcement contained no news or surprises. Brian Gladden, who had been general manager of the Lexan brand, takes over as CEO of the company.
SABIC Innovative Plastics employs 11,000 and is a leading manufacturer and compounder of polycarbonate, ABS, ASA, PPE, PC/ABS, PBT and PEI resins. A few issues had to be ironed out before the completion of the deal:
GE Plastics acquired the entire equity of MCI and Nagase in their Japanese joint venture.
GE Plastics also bought out the equity position of Bayer MaterialsScience in Exatec, which develops protective coatings for the polycarbonate automotive glazing market. BMS will continue to develop glazing applications independently.
The two moves, completed this month, are an early sign that SABIC will be an investor in the plastics business. SABIC has already purchased the assets of DSM’s and Huntsman’s petrochemicals businesses in Europe. The GE Plastics move represents a major move into the engineering plastics area. Previously, its assets had been heavily focused on volume plastics, which are generally sold more on price than engineering features.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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