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The Bioplastics Award ceremony, which will take place this year for the twelfth time, is an annual highpoint in the global bioplastics calendar. Fondly known as the “Bioplastics Oskar”, the Award is presented each year during the European Bioplastics Conference in honour of the latest achievements, innovations and successes of manufacturers, processors, brand owners, and users of bioplastic materials. This year’s conference will be held on Nov 28-29 in Berlin, Germany. The Awards are an initiative of bioplastics Magazine and presented by that publication’s founder and editor, Michael Thielen.
Entries were submitted from around the world for careful evaluation by the five judges hailing from the academic world, the press and industry associations from America, Europa and Asia, who have now announced the shortlist of finalists for the Award.
To be eligible for consideration, the proposed company, product, or service must have been developed or have been on the market during 2016 or 2017.
This year’s final contenders, in no order of ranking, are:
TU/e Eindhoven University of Technology (the Netherlands): Fully biobased pedestrian bridge
A fully biobased pedestrian bridge has been installed at the TU/e campus in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The bridge, the first of its kind, spans the Dommel river and is wholly made from biobased materials. Strength is provided by the flax and hemp fibres which are used to reinforce the biobased epoxy resin, around an internal core of PLA bio-foam. The PLA foam is used as lost formwork for the structural biobased composite skin. Weight was an important consideration, as the bridge was transported in its entirety to its final location and put in place in one piece.
After a successful load test for the building inspection of the city of Eindhoven (5,0 kN/m2), the bridge was installed during the Dutch Design week in October 2016. The project was the result of a research collaboration between the universities in Eindhoven and Delft, the Centre for Biobased Economy and NPSP, a specialist producer of sustainable composites. Using High Tech Glass sensor technology, the bridge is now monitored during use.
Biobrush - Bioplastic toothbrush made of wood scrapsBiobrush turns wood scraps into toothbrushes. The handle, as well as the packaging, are made from bioplastics based on cellulose made of the wood waste from sustainable forestry. The bristles are made of 100 % renewable polyamide: the main component is castor oil, without harmful emollients, the colour masterbatches are tailored for use with bioplastics. The toothbrushes are clearly designed and, in line with the company’s ambition to make sustainable products accessible to as many people as possible, are available at a fair price. The toothbrush body and packaging are biodegradable; the bristles are not.
MAIP (Italy): I am NATURE: the first Bio-Technopolymer
I am NATURE is a special PHBH based compound, available in tailor made grades and suitable for high temperature applications. It offers a sustainable solution preserving the technical properties of a traditional thermoplastic material. For a new series of switch cover frames, ABB was looking for a bioplastic material that could replace engineering polymers such as ABS or PC/ ABS. In a joint development, ABB and Maip created a special I am NATURE grade able to meet all the requirements of the component. The new compound exhibits properties such as high dimensional stability, thermal resistance (about 130 °C), superior UV and light resistance, easy colourability and easy mouldability in multi cavity moulds. Easy processability and specific electric features such as, for example, a glow wire of 650 °C at 2 mm. Exceptional scratch resistance was obtained, even for matte textures. The outstanding mass colourability of the new I am NATURE compound allows the painting step to be eliminated, thus dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of the component.
Adidas and Amsilk (Germany): Futurecraft Biofabric shoe
The adidas Futurecraft Biofabric shoe features an upper made from 100% Biosteel fibre, a nature-based and completely biodegradable high-performance fibre, developed by the biotech company AMSilk (Planegg, Germany). The material offers a unique combination of properties that are crucial in performance, such as being 15% lighter in weight than conventional synthetic fibres as well as having the potential to be the strongest fully natural material available.
According to AMSilk, the fibres are made of 100 % nature based biopolymers, are 100 % vegan and biodegradable. The company’s process uses genetically engineered E. coli samples to express silk protein derived from the DNA of the European garden cross spider, and can generate about 20 different silk grades from four silk varieties
ICEE Containers (Australia): Foldable, reusable insulating box
Since commercial production of expandable polystyrene in 1952, the industry worldwide has been attempting to mould a durable, living hinge in particle foam. ICEE’s patented innovation means insulated boxes are no longer disadvantaged by their bulk as they can now be economically stored and transported flat, making them easy to return for reuse or recycling. ICEE has successfully moulded a living hinge in various particle foams including BASF’s ecovio a plant based compostable biofoam. The superior insulating and cushioning properties of particle foam makes them ideal for the expanding ecommerce grocery market, paddock to plate and the traditional markets such as pharmaceuticals, fresh produce and seafood. ICEE’s fold flat insulated boxes are 98% air, 100% recyclable and now available in compostable plant-based biofoam.
Photo by Caroline Seidel KraussMaffei CEO Hans Ulrich Golz at Fakuma.
KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH is introducing a new manufacturing execution system called MaXecution at Fakuma 2017.
The new software offering is "tailored to the requirements of small injection moulding companies," KraussMaffei said.
The company said the software provides greater transparency in manufacturing through productivity indicators regarding overall equipment effectiveness, mould and resource management, and statistics on machines and rejects.
"In total, using this software means better capacity utilisation of the machinery pool, fewer rejects and higher overall equipment effectiveness," the company said.
The new offering features three versions, allowing processors to decide what features they want to utilise in their MES.
MaXecution is based on MES Hydra from MPDV Mikrolab GmbH of Mosbach, Germany.
"The increasing digitalisation does not stop on account of minor plastics processors. However, the procurement of a complete MES system often involves excessive expenditure. With the new MaXecution, we offer our customers, in addition to the appropriate injection moulding machine, a compact solution tailored specifically to their processes," said Hans Ulrich Golz, president of KM's injection moulding machinery segment, in a statement.
MaXecution, the company said, "offers reliable real-time data throughout the production phase, thus facilitating the ? planning, control and monitoring of the entire production process."
"With the new MaXecution, we support our customers in the long term on their path to digital, paperless production and offer them a tailored system to improve the capacity utilisation of their machinery pool and to increase their overall equipment effectiveness," Golz said in the statement.
Creation of MaXecution, the company said, adds another offering in KraussMaffei's portfolio of Plastics 4.0 products.
KraussMaffei, with partner MPDV, is presenting live demonstrations of MaXecution for the first time ever at Fakuma 2017.
"Visitors can experience live how manufacturing data for the injection moulding process are collected and evaluated. In addition, in several brief presentations each day KraussMaffei will provide information on useful MES functions in plastics processing," the company said.
Photo by Surface Generation
Surface Generation has announced that is has opened a new research and development facility for advanced composites manufacturing at its headquarters in Rutland, UK. The new PtFS Innovation and Application Centre was opened by Sir Alan Duncan MP, Minister of State for Europe and the Americas and Member of Parliament for Rutland and Melton, who commended the company’s role in “turning a small corner of Rutland into a centre of excellence for advanced manufacturing and composites research, creating high value jobs and revolutionising how cars, aeroplanes and electronic devices are built.”
A provider of advanced carbon fibre processing technologies, Surface Generation invested in the new 10,000 square foot PtFS facility, comprising a fully equipped workshop and research laboratory, with as goal to develop advanced composite processing technologies and automated production techniques.
PtFS, or Production to Functional Specifications, developed and patented by Surface Generation, is advanced manufacturing process that enables manufacturers using compression and injection moulding applications to adapt heating and cooling levels in real-time to meet the exact requirements of each part, improving both component production quality and throughput.
The opening of this facility is a major milestone for Surface Generation, said Surface Generation CEO, Ben Halford. “This new facility provides the environment we need to expand that work and apply our processes and approach to larger and more complex components.”
New technologies will also be investigated including graphene, 3D printing and nanocomposites, which have the potential to significantly improve the cost, quality and throughput of high volume composite component manufacturing.
Seven engineers and technicians will work at the facility initially, and Surface Generation plans to recruit 12 more people to its research and development team as part of its expansion plans over the next two years.
Photo by Sanner
One year ago, the family-owned Germany-based manufacturer of high-quality primary plastic packaging and medical devices embarked on the modernization of its headquarters in Bensheim, an initiative the company says has now been successfully concluded - on schedule and within the designated budget.
Known within the company as the “future project production area South”, Sanner spent close to € 3m on the expansion of the site and new machines, readying the plant for what it referred to as “future-oriented manufacturing”.
Fourteen new, state-of-the-art injection-moulding machines were installed to improve production processes, readying the plant for the challenges of industry 4.0.
“Our goal was to further automatize production and consequently increase capacities and efficiency,” says Dirk M?hr, Managing Director of Sanner GmbH. “A goal we have definitely achieved.”
The new machines, all of the latest generation, can be further automatized at any time, rendering the plant optimally for further optimization projects. Over the next few years, for example, Sanner plans to expand its portfolio in the areas of capsules and desiccant packaging.
As a result of the expansion and modernization of the site, Sanner has been able to implement a significantly more energy-efficient manufacturing process – “in line with the Sanner sustainability concept,” said M?hr.
Next to a renewed media supply for cooling water and compressed air, a better raw material supply and new cranes, the company also installed new lighting and implemented measures to reduce the noise level, thus improving workflows and working conditions.
Photo by Martin Storz / Graffiti The "100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg" award was presented to Susanne Palm, Team Manager Public Relations at Arburg, by the State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Katrin Schütz (left).
On 22 May, German injection moulding machine manufacturer Arburg, became one of sixteen latest recipients of the "100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg" award, an initiative of the "Industry 4.0 Alliance for Baden-Württemberg" network to honour "flagship projects for manufacturing of the future" – companies who have actively embraced the opportunities posed by Industry 4.0.
At the award ceremony, State Secretary for Economic Affairs, Katrin Schütz, praised the family-owned plastics machinery manufacturer for its “outstanding innovative strength”, and noted that "the production of 'smart' luggage tags offers impressive proof of how Arburg products can be used to implement Industry 4.0 in practice."
Calling the company one of the “pioneers in the implementation of "Industry 4.0", she commented that the judges had been impressed by the demonstrated concept of flexible high-volume production of single-unit batches.
The "Industry 4.0 Alliance for Baden-Württemberg" network initiative seeks to pool expertise in production, information and communication technology, by bringing key players and small and medium-sized enterprises together, to promote the transition towards Industry 4.0 through innovative information-sharing initiatives. The "100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg" competition honours forward-looking companies who have demonstrated that they have taken successful steps or developed solutions in this area.
“Our aim with this award is to promote tangible solutions from the region, which create added value,” Schütz said. She added: “The aim is to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to actively exploit the real opportunities offered by Industry 4.0.”
Arburg received the "100 Centres of Industry 4.0 Excellence in Baden-Württemberg" award in the "New Software/Networking Solutions" and "New Production Process" categories.
The solution the company showed was the flexible, automated, IT-networked and spatially distributed production of "smart" luggage tags, which demonstrated how mass customisation can be achieved relatively simply by combining injection moulding and additive manufacturing - without sacrificing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness offered by high-volume production. An Allrounder injection moulding machine, a Freeformer for industrial additive manufacturing, as well as automation and IT solutions from Arburg form a flexible cyberphysical production system.
By fitting the injection moulded product produced on the Allrounder with an individual NFC chip, it becomes the data and information carrier, controlling all further production operations to become a one-off part. The product communicates with the machines at the various production stations, knows its own history and status, as well as navigating its own path through the process chain. The individual plastic design is applied in an additive process using the Freeformer. The various stations are all connected via Arburg's proprietary ALS host computer system, which records the product, process and quality data and transmits it to a web server. In the "luggage tag" example, each part has its own website. The data for each component can be retrieved and traced at any time, even after many years.
Thorsten Kühmann (left), secretary general of Euromap, and Stefan Hoppe, vice president of OPC Foundation, at the signing.
Euromap, the European umbrella organisation of plastics and rubber machinery manufacturers, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with OPC Foundation, which develops common standards for industrial process controls.
Euromap said it has been working for three years in the development of Industry 4.0-ready interfaces based on OPC Unified Architecture, which is a machine to machine communication protocol for industrial automation.
At K 2016 in October, the organisation released Euromap77, an interface between injection moulding machines and central computers/MES, based on OPC UA.
Further specifications for the networking of different machines are being developed with the assistance of the OPC Foundation, said Euromap.
As an expression of this cooperation, OPC Foundation vice president Stefan Hoppe and Euromap secretary general Thorsten Kühmann signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 1 February.
“This will form the basis for close cooperation on future projects too,” said Euromap. “Their common objective is to publish interface descriptions for plastics and rubber machinery as Companion Specifications. These uniform information models eliminate the cost associated with the adjustments that the networking of machinery previously required.
“Components from different manufacturers can be combined into installations more easily if each manufacturer provides its data in the same form. This is essential if Industry 4.0 is to be made a reality.”
Photo by Preh
Preh Group, the German-based supplier of injection moulded electronic controls to automotive companies, has formed Preh Car Connect, a 50:50 joint venture with its parent company, the Chinese Ningbo Joyson Electronic Corp.
The new venture combines Preh’s existing business in human-machine interface systems with TechniSat Automotive, a supplier of infotainment, connectivity and telematics technology, which Preh and Joyson acquired earlier this year.
Ralf Voss, who was appointed as CEO of Preh Car Connect in July, said: “Cars not only bring their occupants from A to B, they are now a mobile control centre. The data exchange of the vehicle with mobile devices like smartphones or hands-free equipment is growing in importance and networking beyond the boundaries of the vehicle is increasingly expanding.
“Whoever wants to be on board of the mega trend of networked vehicles and the global platform requests of car manufacturers needs a certain size as a company and correspondingly high technological and financial resources.”
Preh Group is expecting double-digit growth for Preh Car Connect, with the predecessor company recording €400m in sales in 2015. TechniSat Automotive’s staffing level was 1,200.
Preh Car Connect has its headquarters at the previous TechniSat Automotive location in Dresden, where it is currently working on expansion plans. In the meantime it has created 120 new jobs in Dresden.
Stefan Gottschlag, CTO of Preh Car Connect, described the combined capabilities: “For example, it is possible to integrate the haptic feedback from Preh operating systems into our Dresden based navigation and infotainment systems, while our tuners or internet-connected assistance systems can supplement Preh central consoles.”
Photo by Engel Engel Victory machine with the group's new injection unit.
Market research company, Ceresana, has produced a report on global injection moulding, saying that 54% of plastics used for injection moulding were consumed in Asia-Pacific.
Meanwhile North America saw a share of 15.4% of plastics being used for injection moulding and Western Europe 14.3%.
Ceresana highlights that the most important sales market for injection moulding is the packaging industry with the second largest sales market being products for the transportation industry. From 2015 to 2023, the market research company estimates global demand in the transportation application area to increase by 3.7% per year.
The report analysed the market for plastics used for injection molding, particularly for polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (LDPE, LLDPE, HDPE), polyamide (PA), acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polystyrene (PS), polycarbonate (PC), and other products.
The company found that over the past eight years global demand for products made of polypropylene, the most popular for injection moulding, rose by an average of 3.8% per year.
The second biggest plastic for injection molding is polyethylene with a market share of 20%. But the company points out that the share of demand for polypropylene in the segment of packaging is nearly 70% while its share in the construction industry only totals 12%.
Photo by Treff Treff's medical products include syringes.
Swedish injection moulder Nolato is acquiring Treff, a Swiss medical device manufacturer. The transaction, financial details of which were not revealed, is expected to complete in the first week of October. However the deal would be funded through "existing credit agreements", Nolato said.
Treff sales in 2016 are estimated at just over SEK 450m (€47m), with an EBITDA margin of around 11.5%, according to Nolato. Treff manufactures syringe barrels and other injection moulded products for medical and industrial applications.
The acquisition moves Nolato into German-speaking Europe, strengthening the customer base and geographical expansion of both Nolato Medical and Nolato Industrial, company representatives said.
“We think the combination is a good thing for the long term, to be in two market segments with one company,” Nolato president and chief executives Christer Wahlquist told reporters and investors.
About two-thirds of Treff’s business will fall under Nolato’s industrial side and a third under Nolato Medical, although there will be no restructuring and Treff will continue its operations as is, Wahlquist said.
Treff employs about 190 at its plant in Degersheim, in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland.
Based in Torekov, Nolato has operations in Europe, Asia and North America, working in plastic, silicone and thermoplastic elastomers for the medical, auto, telecommunications and some industrial markets.
The bolt-on acquisition of Treff is a continuation of Nolato’s expansion on the medical moulding side.
Earlier this month the company announced the acquisition of Poland-based Grizzly Medical, a medical device assembly, post-processing and quality assurance company that has been a Nolato partner since the 1990s.
Solvay's headquarters in Belgium
Solvay has qualified the manufacturing site of Quadion LLC (dba Minnesota Rubber and Plastics) in Suzhou, China, as a certified injection moulder of Solvay’s ultra-high performance Torlon polyamide-imide (PAI).
This is the second certification for Minnesota Rubber and Plastics, as the company’s River Falls, Wis., plant was similarly qualified in 2015.
“Solvay’s stringent certification process confirms that our Chinese facility has the equipment and expertise necessary to injection mold Torlon PAI,” said Lih Fang Chew, global vice president of marketing, Minnesota Rubber and Plastics. “Torlon PAI allows our customers to explore and improve new product designs for automotive and other application markets. This certification will help our Chinese customers comply with demanding regulatory and agency approvals, such as ASTM D4000, ASTM D5204, Mil-P-46183 and Mil-P-46179A, together with specific material certifications at key OEMs and tier suppliers serving important markets across Asia.”
Torlon PAI, one of the highest performing thermoplastics in Solvay’s specialty polymers portfolio, combines the exceptional performance of thermoset polyimides with the melt processing advantage of thermoplastics.
This portfolio encompasses wear-resistant grades that offer unsurpassed performance in both dry and lubricated environments, and high-strength grades that retain their toughness and high strength and stiffness at temperatures up to 275°C (525°F), establishing them as the industry’s highest performing thermoplastics in this regard. It further offers outstanding creep resistance, an extremely low coefficient of linear thermal expansion and excellent abrasion and chemical resistance. The material is ideal for many precision components used in repetitive-use, load-bearing applications, such as automotive seal rings and transmission thrust washers, ball joint sockets, molded gears and slide elements for steering systems.
Photo by Plastivaloire
Interior automotive parts supplier Plastivaloire is set to start up production at its latest manufacturing plant in San Luis Potosí in central Mexico before the end of this year.
The France-based injection moulder, which already operates 26 production units across Europe and in Tunisia and Turkey, is locating its first North American operation at the heart a major automotive manufacturing zone.
Mexico is second only to the US in the continent among the largest producers of motor vehicles and seventh ranked worldwide. Meanwhile, its San Luis Potosí state is home to many of the world’s top motor manufacturers, Plastivaloire pointed out.
Audi has recently established an assembly plant in San Luis Potosí to join othersalready being operated by groups including Nissan, Chrysler, Ford, Fiat, General Motors and Volkswagen. They are set to be joined by other German groups with Mercedes Benz expected in 2018 and BMW in 2019, the French supplier said.
Its launch of new facility is consistent with the Langeais, France-based group’s current policy of international expansion. “It is in line with (Plastivaloire’s) strategy of geographical diversification, allowing it to cement its position among the world’s leading plastics industry players and work very closely with client contractors,” it said in a June statement.
Plastivaloire, which already runs more than 600 injection machines ranging from 25 – 2,700 tonnes clamping force, intends to ramp up Mexican output at the facility, accelerating production to full capacity through 2017, the firm said.
This region of Mexico is also home to leading OEMs in other industrial sectors which Plastivaloire believes will generate fresh opportunities for “the group’s non-automotive activities in line with its strategic roadmap”.
Group business is dominated by the automotive sector which currently represents about 70% of its overall sales, but it also produces moulded components for the consumer electronics and household appliance markets. It stressed the Plastivaloire Mexico will allow it to “reinforce its position with its longstanding clients and win over new market share”, Plastivaloire predicted.
The group saw its sales grow 26.7% in the first quarter of the current year ending this September, reaching a record of more than €134m. Over the first half of 2015-16 Plastivaloire achieved turnover worth €285.3m, up 24.2%, partly reflecting recent acquisitions.
Photo by Phillips-Medisize Phillips-Medisize posted total corporate sales of $620m (€547m) in 2015, with $355.4m (€314m) coming from North American injection moulding.
Medical injection moulder Phillips-Medisize is being acquired by Molex LLC, a global manufacturer of electronic, electric and fibre optic systems, in a deal announced 17 August.
Terms of the deal, expected to close this fall, were not disclosed.
The sale comes a little more than two years after Hudson, Wisconsin, US-based Phillips-Medisize was purchased by private equity firm Golden Gate Capital.
“Molex’s global scale in electronics, coupled with Phillips-Medisize’s strength in designing and manufacturing innovative products for medical device customers, will help us become a global leader in connected health solutions,” said Phillips-Medisize chairman, president and CEO Matt Jennings in a news release.
Phillips-Medisize had total corporate sales of about $620m (€547m) in 2015, with $355.4m (€314m) of that coming from injection moulding in North America, placing the company at No. 18 in PNE's sister publication Plastics News' most recent ranking of injection moulders.
The purchase is not the first foray into medical devices for Molex. The company acquired Irish custom medical injection molder ProTek Medical in May 2015.
“Phillips-Medisize has a talented, experienced and innovative team that has strong customer relationships because of its outstanding ability to serve the unique needs of the medical solutions market,” said Tim Ruff, senior vice president of business development and corporate strategy for Molex in a release. “Combined with Molex’s expertise in electronics and broad global manufacturing presence, we are confident that together we can significantly expand our medical solutions capabilities globally.”
Phillips-Medizise has been on a acquisition tear of its own lately, extending its global manufacturing capabilities to the Northeastern United State with the purchase of Injectronics, 30 June and breaking into Denmark with the 1 June announcement it was buying Medicom Innovation Partner A/S, both for undisclosed amounts.
Phillips-Medizise employs more than 3,900 at 17 production locations in the United States, Europe, Mexico and China. It also has a global design network with hubs in Hudson, Suzhou, China and Stuer, Denmark.