How do you cover a trade show that includes 15 huge exhibit halls, 2,655 exhibitors, and drew 265,000 attendees? The answer: very judiciously! That's the scenario for K'98, said to be the largest plastics and rubber exhibition in the world. With three years between shows, it seemed logical to assume that most of the major resin producers and plastics equipment makers would reserve the show to make major product announcements. But that didn't prove to be the case. Instead, the biggest breaking news stories at the show involved buyouts, mergers, licensing agreements, and similar joint ventures that have once bitter rivals joining forces in an attempt to capture the world's materials marketplace. Here's a sampling:
Sign of the times
To begin with, BASF and Solvay announced that they intend to create a joint venture that incorporates the European operations of the two companies for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) operations. Dow Europe reminded visitors that it has formed a 50/50 limited liability company with Cargill to develop new biopolymer technology based on polylactic acid (PLA) that uses renewable agricultural resources, such as corn or sugar beets, as the feed stock. C-MOLD, a global supplier of advanced and desktop plastics CAE applications, disclosed it has a collaborative agreement with Rapra Technology Ltd., a European plastics and rubber consultancy, that will offer a "migration path" to C-Mold's products. DSM and BASF revealed they have signed a letter of intent to study the possibility of BASF acquiring DSM's ABS business. GE Bayer Silicones focused on the joint venture of GE Silicones and Bayer to "satisfy the growing need for silicone solutions." LNP Engineering Plastics disclosed it will acquire the Faradex® conductive compounds business of DSM Performance Polymers.Montell Polyolefins, Showa Denko, and Nippon Petrochemicals announced their intention to establish a polypropylene joint venture in Japan. Owens Corning and DSM Automotive Polymers will form a joint venture to market long-fiber-reinforced polypropylene for automotive applications. RTP Co. reaffirmed its agreement with Shell Chemicals to make and sell Shell's Carilon® thermoplastic polymers compounds worldwide; ICI Polyurethanes and Shell have signed a letter of intent to form a strategic alliance in the global rigid PUR market, and Shell will share the development of a new process to make polytrementhylene and terephthalate (PTT) with Lurgi Zimmer AG. Finally, PetroFina and Solvay have concluded two cooperative industrial and technological agreements to produce and sell high-density polyethylene (HDPE) materials.
The resins scene didn't fade out of the picture altogether at K'98, however, as these announcements illustrate: AlliedSignal Plastics launched InfinityTM resin, a recycled post-consumer polyamide 6 material based on the company's patented depolymerisation process. Allied says the resin will aid the automotive and other industries to meet increased European Union pressure for polymer re-use…BASF debuted a new Ultraform grade of highly crystalline thermoplastic, polyoxymethylene (POM) with improved fuel resistance for automotive applications… Elastogran GmbH introduced Elasturan® 6050 and 6060, two cold-cast polyurethane elastomers that combine dynamic stability with strength…Cabot Plastics announced Plasblak® UN2000, a new universal masterbatch that gives thermoplastics a high-gloss, jet-black appearance …Ciba Specialty Chemicals launched Chimassorb® 2020, a high-molecular-weight, hindered amine light stabiliser (HALS) for polypropylene and polyethylene with "exceptional" levels of UV and long-term thermal stability…Cytec Industries introduced a high-performance tertiary hindered amine light stabilizer, Cyasorb® UV 3529, sanctioned as an indirect food additive by the FDA…DuPont highlighted a new family of highly versatile Biomax® hydro-biodegradable polyesters that decompose "without harm to the soil or environment"…DuPont Dow Elastomers spotlighted its new Kalrez® SaharaTM UltraPureTM perfluoroelastomer parts said to offer longer seal life in aggressive semiconductor plasma/gas applications …Dyneon introduced Dynamar FX 5911X, a 100% active fluoropolymer that works by forming a low surface energy coating on die walls, allowing the melt to slip easily, reducing gate pressure and machine torque…Elf Atochem launched Thermolite® 410 and 450 sulfur-free, tin-based stabilisers for PVC exterior applications…BF Goodrich Specialty Plastics spotlighted four new polyester-based products from its Estane TPU Div., 58680 and 58238 with abrasion-, cut-, and tear-resistance qualities for extrusion applications, and 58172 and 58175 for ease of processing in injection-molding applications…M.A. Hanna revealed an extended range of reinforced polypropylene and flame-retardant Maxxam ® compounds for large sound-damping components and wire-and-cable applications…LNP Engineering Plastics launched the STN 4.6 PA series, high-heat-resistant polyamides that bridge the gap between high-temperature plastics like PPS or PEEK and engineering plastics such as PA 6.6, PBT, or PET, and a high-flow, fast cycling polycarbonate Thermocomp® D-EP series of resins …Menzolit-Fibron, a Dynamit Nobel Kunststoff GmbH company, reported the development of a novel class of SMC materials suitable for processing at low pressures and temperatures…Moldflow Corp. introduced its first true 3D filling and packing analysis simulation software, MF/FLOW3D, that addresses "previously unsolvable problems using traditional FEA techniques"…Vantage Polymers revealed the development of a recyclable self-reinforced thermoplastic composite, COMTEX, made entirely from high-stiffness polypropylene fibers …Victrex announced that all grades of its unfilled PEEKTM polymer are now compliant with FDA regulations for repeat use in food-contact applications …Zeon Deutschland GmbH highlighted Norsorex®, an elastomer that can absorb vast amounts of oil without bleeding or becoming sticky.
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.