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.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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