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Steep Plast Slovakia
A French-owned automotive plastic parts producer is investing €5m in a significant expansion project at its plant in Slovakia.
Steep Plast Slovakia, an offshoot of French Steep Plastique group, proposes to extend the production hall of its existing plant at Nitra in western Slovakia and construct a new warehouse on site.
The Slovak subsidiary, based in the capital Bratislava, plans to grow its facility in Nitra, close to the site of a €1.3bn assembly plant planned by Jaguar Land Rover nearby. Under construction from this year, the plant is due to turn out 150,000 vehicles annually from 2018.
Work on the Steep Plast project, plans of which still await the green light from the Slovak environmental authorities, is expected to begin later this year. The expansion is set to be completed during 2017.
Steep Plast Slovakia specialises in producing large sized automotive mouldings including covers for the vehicle engine compartment and under body at its site in the Nitra Sever industrial park.
The tier one supplier of injection moulded plastics components is expected to enlarge the plant to an area of 5,200 square metres and the expansion is due to create 60 new permanent jobs on site.
Steep Plastique group, based at Saint-Maurice-de-Beynost near Lyon, France, established its first plant in Slovakia in Bratislava in 2005 and launched the second facility at Nitra in 2008. The latest project at Nitra is reported to be the second of three development phases originally planned by the group. Steep Plastique, which manufactures a range of moulded vehicle interior and engine compartment components, has already embarked on a new project aimed at establishing a plant in India.
It operates a production site at its headquarters in Saint-Maurice-de-Beynost along with the second moulding unit at Décines, France.
Close-up view of Cold Jet dry ice cleaning demonstration at Euromold
At the Euromold and Fakuma exhibitions in Germany last year, Cold Jet, the US dry ice mould cleaning technology firm, showed its new Plastics Edition. This is a line of accessories which is packaged with Cold Jet’s enhanced Aero Series dry ice cleaning systems and dedicated to the plastics industry.
The company has streamlined the Aero Series to three levels of functionality. In addition to the standard benefits of the Aero base model, the mid-level Aero 40FP and top-of-the-line Aero 80FP systems offer full range of pressure (FP); increased feed rates; compatibility with larger blast hoses and more innovative applicators; advanced SureFlow agitation systems with thumper, ramrod and vibrators; and feature an innovative Advanced Radial Feeding System.
Cold Jet’s patented shaved dry ice MicroParticle technology is used in other ranges, the i3 MicroClean and SDI Select 60.
In a Cold Jet webinar hosted by Plastics News Europe in November, Steve Wilson, managing director for vertical markets, said dry ice particle size ranges from 3 mm down to 0.3 mm. The microparticles can penetrate complex geometries in moulds, he said.
Dry ice cleaning is up to six times faster than other methods, said Wilson, as the cleaning can be done while the mould is still in the machine. As there is no wear from using dry ice, mould life can be extended.
“We often get asked about thermal shock. Dry ice slightly lowers mould surface temperature, but not to the extent that it damages the mould,” said Wilson.
Cold Jet also promotes the environmental benefits of using dry ice. It is a byproduct of CO2 used in largescale processing plants at distilleries, fertiliser plants and other industries. There is no waste and no VOCs arising from its use in mould cleaning, said Wilson.
He highlighted other uses for dry ice, including deflashing and deburring of moulded plastic parts, for which Cold Jet technology is suitable.
The BMZ Group's Lithium-ion home storage systems use Bayblend FR3040 from Covestro to safely position the individual battery cells in a so-called cell holder.
German battery manufacturer BMZ GmbH, a system supplier for lithium-ion batteries, has successfully developed a range of stationary Li-ion home batteries for solar power systems with the support of polymer speciality company Covestro AG.
These battery home storage devices make the power generated by solar panel systems available independent of the time of the day and the position of the sun. BMZ, which markets the devices under its own name as the EES 7.0, EES 9.0 and ESS X storage series, uses Covestro’s fire-retardant polycarbonate blends with tailored properties – Bayblend (PC+ABS), which offer good mechanical properties, high impact strength, and high flowability.
Such features allow the material to achieve “the thinnest possible walls” between the individual battery cells when the cell holders are injection moulded.
Covestro supported the various BMZ battery projects with material selection, during plastic-compatible component design and with CAE-based component simulations to meet the requirements of the UN Transport Test for Batteries (UN 38.3).
It also helped the company with mouldflow analyses and technical injection moulding support.
"Every battery project is technically demanding, which is why I am all the more pleased that plastics from Covestro can make an important contribution here," said Jens Ufermann from Covestro, who works with BMZ GmbH directly.
Covestro particularly noted the importance of its “in-depth” understanding of battery systems in the safety aspects of the batteries developed.
"Our… many years of experience in materials for battery applications enable us to provide our customers with both technical expertise and suitable products," added Julian Marschewski, market development manager in Electric Vehicle Battery Packaging.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (centre) on a visit to a Yug Rusi oil bottling plant with group owner Sergei Kislov (left).
A leading Russian agro industrial group, Yug Rusi is continuing to invest in the modernisation of its bottled vegetable oil business as it grows its packaging production.
During 2016, the group based in south western Russia, is spending around €3.87m on construction and renovation at its Labinskiy oil processing plant in the Krasnodar region.
The project has included the construction of a boiler room with new boilers to replace outdated units, aimed at reducing emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere. Other modernisation work will cover electrical and automation equipment.
The Labinskiy facility is also growing the output of its recently installed plant to produce injection moulded PET preforms and bottle closures to provide packaging for its own oil product range.
Its 1,000 square metre moulding hall has the daily capacity to turn out up to 700,000 preforms for 1-litre bottles and 130,000 5-litre containers for vegetable oil. The building, which began operating with a 19 strong workforce, is equipped with injection moulding machines supplied by Husky.
Preforms are not only used by the Labinskiy operation for its own products but are shipped to a number of other bottled vegetable oil and oilseed plants run by the Yug Rusi holding company across the south west of Russia.
Yug Rusi group is Russia’s number one vegetable oil producer supplying around 30% of its vegetable oil market and 20% of the market in Kazakhstan, where it has a processing plant. The firm, with a turnover approaching €1.84bn, is also a major exporter of bottled and bulk vegetable oil and grain from its 19 farms across the Krasnodar, Rostov and Volgograd regions.
Yug Rusi exports to the CIS nations as well as to Germany, the Czech Republic, Georgia, the Baltic States and as far as Afghanistan and Mongolia.
Hasco has 3D printed plastic inserts in high-heat ABS
In this feature for Plastics News Europe David Vink reports on 3D printed mould inserts and other innovations from Hasco Hasenclever.
Hasco’s stand at Euromold featured a prominent display of moulds fitted with plastic mould inserts as part of the Hasco K3500 quick?change mould system. The inserts had been 3D printed “within hours” by the company in the Stratasys Ultra?tough Digital ABS 5161 and 5131 materials on Stratasys Objet 500 Connex inkjet equipment.
Dirk Paulmann, Hasco executive VP sales and business development, stressed the new plastic inserts approach as “providing moulders flexibility to quickly produce and switch inserts. This is the future of prototype and low volume production”.
The mould insert on display and its slides had been printed for moulding screw-threaded sealing plugs in several colours for mounting onto the stainless steel base plates of the Hasco A8001 clamping fixture system. Hasco printed the parts in six hours compared with 24 hours needed when machining metal equivalents. After optimization, Hasco had moulded plugs within four days from starting the printing of the mould inserts.
Hasco also displayed the A8001 modular clamping system onto which the plugs are mounted. The precisely bored positioning holes permit fast variable clamping of different mould sizes with repeat accuracy of around 10μm. The plastic plugs’ function is to prevent machined metal particles from entering unused positioning holes, reducing mould cleaning time during mould changes.
The company points out however that the plastic mould inserts served only as a basis for trials prior to producing metal insert tooling for serial production. Hasco is working here with the WI-SWF Werkzeugbau-Institut Südwestfalen tool construction institute in Lüdenscheid as part of the institute’s Course4 technology project.
3D printed plastic mould inserts were also featured by Dr. Boy on its stand at Fakuma. A Stratasys 3D printer was set up on the stand to produce the inserts. These were then installed in a mould holder on a Boy XS machine which moulded karabiner hooks made of various materials.
Hasco showed at both Euromold and Fakuma new stack mould technology involving a Z1545 gear housing and a Z1547 rack unit. Hasco says that aside from usual stack mould advantages, the Hasco components enable small distances between injection moulding machine tie bars, while diamond-like coated (DLC) slideways keep wear down and extend maintenance intervals.
DLC also features in new Z443 DLC-coated shouldered long-life ejector pins, enabling high surface hardness, and favourable tribological properties of friction, wear and lubrication. In fact, Hasco says that as the pins can be used without lubrication, they are well suited for cleanroom moulding of food processing and medical parts. There is a stepped diameter version with a fully hardened shaft ensuring high stability, despite small demoulding diameter.
Shown on a video screen at Euromold, new A4300 cylindrical permanent magnets retain metal inserts in cases where there are no other retention options. The magnetic core material of the brass-housed magnets consists of samarium cobalt (SmCo), a material that can withstand continuous temperatures up to 200°C and 300°C for short periods. The A4300 magnets are available in 6mm, 8mm and 10mm diameters. Hasco also talks about the possibility of contouring the front side by up to 2.5mm in order to align it to metal inserts.
To concentrate the magnetic force at the point where it is needed, the pill-shaped magnet is set in a brass housing.
New Z8021 valveless adapters for 9mm and 13mm mould and cooling system connections enable connection of system diameters on injection moulds. The connectors can be used for both water and oil cooled systems.
At the 2015 Hasco open house, Prof. Thomas Seul, president of the VDWF association of German mould and tool producers, talked about potential and application possibilities of what he called “Mouldmaking 4.0”. Hasco is also here making a contribution to corresponding Industry 4.0 principles in mould technology with, for example, a new A5800 mould USB 2.0 Mould Memory data storage device with 16Gb capacity, which archives individual mould and moulded part data. This provides full traceability by storing design, injection parameters and milling program data.
GE staff working at the firm's Appliance park plant
US consumer goods giant General Electric (GE) has agreed to sell its appliances business – a unit that claims to be the fourth largest US injection moulder – to a Chinese firm for $5.4bn (€5.0bn).
Buying the US operation, Chinese appliance major Quingdao Haier has a long-term agreement to use the GE Appliance brand and Louisville in Kentucky will remain the headquarters for the business.
The companies expect to complete the deal in mid-2016, subject to regulatory approval.
“Haier has a stated focus to grow in the US, build their manufacturing presence here, and to invest further in the business,” GE chairman and chief executive Jeff Immelt said in statement. “Innovation, new product introduction and brand management are fundamental to their overall strategy.”
Haier Group chairman and chief executive Zhang Ruimin added: “Haier is committed to investing in the US.” He said the two firms will explore opportunities for joint collaboration.
Beyond the appliance business agreement, GE and Haier said they would form a long-term strategic partnership to look at cooperating in the areas of industrial Internet, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. GE also will help Haier improve its manufacturing efficiency.
GE has invested significantly in its massive Appliance Park operations in Louisville and the operation has become one of the most frequently cited examples of reshoring manufacturing work to the US.
When GE announced plans to invest $150m (€138m) in its Louisville dishwasher plant in 2012, the company claimed the Appliance Park operation was the largest plastic injection moulding facility in Kentucky, and the fourth-largest in the United States.
GE said it was spending $1bn (€917m) to expand and modernize its Appliance Park, introducing lean manufacturing with an improved plant layout and ergonomics. The company hired a slate of engineers to oversee the overhaul.
GE had been trying to sell the appliance business since 2008 but the recession made it impossible for it to get the sale price it was looking for. It subsequently spent big money on GE Appliances to make it more attractive to future potential bidders.
The $5.4bn price tag is about 10 times the unit’s previous 12 months of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation.
“GE Appliances is performing well and there was significant interest from potential buyers, helping drive a good deal which will benefit our investors, customers and employees,” Immelt said.
GE’s announcement came about five weeks after Swedish firm Electrolux revealed it was abandoning negotiations to buy GE Appliances.
Electrolux’s negotiations were cut short when the US Justice Department advised a federal court to halt a possible deal because of antitrust concerns. Electrolux is a major global appliance OEM and its North American operations are centred in large factories in Mexico.
Photo by AE-Plasztik Kft AE-Plasztik Kft's moulding shop.
The Hungarian Ministry of Economy has announced that it will distribute a total of HUF 3bn (€9.5m) in investment grants among 14 Hungarian producers with the aim to support their technological development, market expansion and the creation of about 500 new jobs.
The firms which are to obtain the non-refundable financial support will comprise local plastics industry players, reports local news agency MTI.
Among the others, the companies which will obtain state aid from the Hungarian ministry include plastic car parts maker AE-Plasztik Kft whose portfolio comprises a wide range of interior and exterior plastic parts, plastic cable producer AXON Kabelgyarto Kft which makes its output with the use of PE, PA and other plastics, and Videoton Elektro-Plast Kft whose product portfolio includes various household appliances and plastic parts for coffee machines, juicers and irons, according to data released by the firm.
The amount of the funds which will be allocated to each company was not disclosed by the Ministry of Economy.
Under the plan, the investment aid is designed to be allocated to Hungarian companies which failed to obtain funds from the EU programmes, says the country’s government.
The Finland-headquartered group is boosting production of its moulded fibre egg carton range
Foodservice packaging specialist Huhtamaki is boosting capacity at its Lurgan plant in Northern Ireland with an investment of around ￡5m (€6.8m).
The Finland-headquartered group's Lurgan facility manufactures moulded fibre packaging products including egg cartons and trays, and cup carriers.
The growing demand for eggs in the UK was behind the capacity expansion, the firm said. Installation of the new equipment will be completed in early 2016, it added.
Petr Domin, interim executive vice president of Huhtamaki’s moulded fibre division, said: “We have expanded our product range and improved our operational efficiency in the UK during the past years.
“More importantly, we’ve been able to differentiate ourselves from our competitors, offering real value and service to our customers.
“With this new, state-of-the-art machinery we invest in the future growth, and in serving our customers better.”
Last month Huhtamaki announced it was investing around ￡7m (€9.5m) in its Gosport operation, extending its manufacturing and warehousing areas at the site.
Photo by Victrex Valve seat insert made from VICTREX CT? 200
Victrex is launching a new high-performance polyether ether ketone (PEEK) polymer for sealing solutions this year at the Valve World event, held 27-29 Nov in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The new material, Victrex CT 200, has been developed for cryogenic applications and offers an alternative to polymers such as polychlorotrifluoroethylene (PCTFE).
The 200-grade series, said the UK PEEK supplier, shows improved sealing over a wide range of temperatures compared to PCTFE, and can be used in cases where gases such as LNG are stored and transported at low temperatures of -150°C to -200°C.
The material’s high performance at low temperatures is linked to its greater ductility, and at high temperatures to its “superior" creep resistance.
The polymer, according to Victrex, maintains better dimensional stability, with a lower coefficient of thermal expansion than existing materials in the market.
It also offers high thermal conductivity, which enables a fast response to temperature changes, ensuring the material is engaged with the counter-surface at all times.
In addition, laboratory testing has indicated that the material may require less torque to actuate since it has a lower static and dynamic coefficient of friction compared to PCTFE.
This results in less wear, enhanced performance and a potential for cost savings.
According to James Simmonite, director energy at Victrex, the new material compares favourably to its predecessor Victrex CT 100, especially as regards its higher strength and improved ability to withstand aggressive chemicals, in addition to its featuring a lower coefficient of friction.
“All of these characteristics put Victrex CT 200 ahead of materials such as PCTFE for cryogenic applications involving gases such as LNG and nitrogen,” he said.
Set to be commercially available in December, the material can be injection moulded, compression moulded and extruded.
Victrex expects the new product to be of interest to valve manufacturers, processors, and operators in the oil & gas industry.
Photo by GCS
Global Closure Systems (GCS), a global injection moulding producer, has announced it has produced new bi-injected plastic jar packaging with the aim of replacing glass packs.
The jars are shatterproof says GCS and are safer than glass whilst still being aesthetically pleasing. The product is more efficient to produce and so reduces GCS’ overall carbon footprint.
GCS states it uses bi-injection and cube technology to manufacture the double-walled jar composed of two layers. The inner part is opaque whilst the outer is translucent, and both the PP and PET jars are supplied by Bender, GCS’s production plant in Germany, which has invested in injection-moulding and packing lines that can produce the products at high volumes.
Cube technology used to create the jars means that single steps such as the mould filling and the cooling phase, are carried out simultaneously.
GCS saw sales of €591m in 2014 and currently employs around 3500 people.
Photo by Petainer PetainerCooler is blow moulded at the Petainer Innopac Packaging plant near Mumbai.
A joint venture in India between Petainer UK Holdings and Innopac Containers has opened a blow moulded PET container plant.
The JV company Petainer Innopac Packaging officially opened the new manufacturing facility close to the Mumbai region in India on 7 December.
At the new plant, Petainer’s 20-litre bulk water cooler jar, called PetainerCooler, is blow moulded. Preforms for the plant’s output are supplied from Petainer’s manufacturing sites in Europe.
The facility also has an on-site design studio, laboratory services and warehousing.
Officially opening the plant, Atit Bhatia, managing director of Petainer Innopac Packaging, said: “This is an exciting day and we are delighted that we have delivered on our timely promise to the market by bringing a world-class facility and a world-class product to the Indian market. The plant and its strategic location supports our ambitious growth plans for the region which is based on providing customers with an exciting portfolio of innovative and gamechanging solutions.”
Nigel Pritchard, group CEO of Petainer UK Holdings, said: “India presents an exciting and dynamic market opportunity for our innovative packaging solutions. There is huge interest and demand from brand owners in India who genuinely recognise that Petainer’s advanced polymer engineering brings significant benefits in terms of reduced cost of ownership and improved sustainability.”
The joint venture business was formed in early 2015 to target Petainer’s PET products at brand owners in India. Petainer and Innopac said they have agreed to a phased approach, “with our joint goals for the region at its core the introduction of proprietary high performance packaging solutions made from specialist materials with integrated barrier technology and a focus on sustainability and the building of commercial advantage”.
Petainer Innopac Packaging has also introduced the PetainerKeg into India. This is a one-way 20 or 30-litre plastic keg made for the beer, wine and other beverage markets. It said more equipment and products will be brought online in the coming months.
Photo by Hasco Hasenclever GmbH + Co. KG The Mould Memory A5800 can be flush mounted directly in the mold.
Hasco Hasenclever has introduced new mould memory information storage A5800 for use directly in the mould: Mould Memory A5800.
A special design allows flush-mounting directly in the mould, preferably in the risers.
The unit is permanently installed in the mould, and is used to archive all the mould and/or article-specific data. The data storage device has a capacity of 16 gigabytes and a USB 2.0 interface.
A two-component protective flap, with a TPE seal, protects against splashes and soiling.
Also new from Hasco: the H4070 compact hot runner system, an extension of the company’s multi-shot range. Hasco officials say the company can, in just five working days, deliver a complete hot runner system with modified Techni Shot nozzles and a naturally balanced manifold, fully assembled.
Nozzle lengths of up to 125mm are available.
Hasco is based in Lüdenscheid, Germany. Hasco America is in Fletcher, North Carolina.