SPE Industry Update
May 25, 2011

Industry trends: Emerging opportunities
The global outlook for the plastics industry this year is positive, as North America and Western Europe continue to emerge from the deep recession of 2007–10, and developing countries such as China, India and Brazil post double-digit gains in materials consumption, production and trade. In the U.S., signs of recovery will be apparent across most sectors; high-volume markets such as automotive, packaging, medical and healthcare, consumer electronics and infrastructure repair will drive manufacturing and shipments at annual growth rates of 3–4 percent, greater than the 2.5–3.3 percent GDP gain forecast by economists.

This article appears in the May 2011 issue of SPE's Plastics Engineering magazine. More

Stochastic modeling of gelation time in photopolymerization
SPE Plastics Research Online
Photopolymerization (i.e., light-induced hardening) is the chemistry that underlies rapid-prototyping techniques for converting 3D computer-aided drawings of any shape into solid objects with desired properties. The technology has growing application in a wide range of fields, including electronics, medicine, aerospace, and transportation. Measuring the kinetics of photopolymerization is critical for understanding the bulk properties and structure of the polymers used in manufacturing. Especially important for both basic understanding and practical application is the gelation point at which a liquid monomeric resin becomes a highly cross-linked gel, and the gel's viscosity. More

Equal-channel, multiple-angular extrusion of semicrystalline polymers
SPE Plastics Research Online
Semicrystalline polymers are materials used widely in the machinery construction and chemical industries, among others, where they are prized for their chemical and heat resistance. Their advantageous properties can be further enhanced by means of solid-phase processing, which includes a number of approaches based on plastic deformation, mostly aimed at creating highly oriented states. One of these methods is solid-state extrusion, which normally involves forcing a polymer through a conical- or slot-shaped die. The technique increases the rigidity and strength of polymers, but it also significantly reduces the initial cross-section of the billet (semifinished cast). More

After a decade of contraction, injection molding poised for growth
Plastics Today
The total value of the injection molding business declined from $62 billion at the start of the ought's to $50 billion by 2010, and yet some major molded part markets proved relatively recession-resistant, and in 2011 almost all the others are rebounding with an average annual growth of 4.1 percent for injection molded output in real (volume) terms forecast to 2014.More

Survey: Global packaging community stays focused on 'green'
Packaging Digest
The need to package food, consumer and industrial products in a more sustainable and affordable way dominates the worldwide packaging industry, according to DuPont's global survey of consumer packaged goods companies and packaging converters. More than 500 packaging professionals were surveyed and more than 40 percent sited sustainability as the toughest challenge while 33 percent named cost as a major factor.More

Economist: China to lose manufacturing edge over US by 2016
Canadian Plastics
China stands to lose significant manufacturing market share in the years to come, and will have lost its cost advantage over U.S. manufacturing by the year 2016, according to a leading manufacturing sector economist.More

BASF takes practical approach to biodegradable plastics
Plastics News
After more than 10 years in the biodegradable plastics business, BASF SE has grown tired of waiting for the market to develop on its own. Through composting pilot programs and awareness building initiatives, the global chemical company is taking a practical approach to going green.More

China's carmakers boosting plastics use
Plastics News
China's rapidly expanding auto market seems poised to increase its plastics use quickly, shortening the gap with more-mature markets like North America and Europe. For example, by some rough estimates Chinese-built cars use just 20 percent of the engineering plastics used in vehicles in those markets. But material suppliers interviewed at the Auto Shanghai 2011 show said they expect that gap to close, and fast, based on strong interest shown by model developers in China.More

Conductive films for flexible touch display sensors and solar cells
Nanowerk News
It works like a charm - easy, intuitive touch navigation within the screens of smart phones and tablets. Touch control, based on innovative large-area capacitive sensors, is enjoying exponential market growth. LOPE-C 2011 in Frankfurt, Germany, will present the state of the art and the trends of touch. The new capacitive touch sensors are transparent and flexible. They are films of organic materials, functionally coated with nearly invisible conductive polymers or metallic grids in micrometer dimensions. More

EC seeking views on reducing plastic bag use, mulling EU-wide ban
The European Commission is seeking views from the public on how to best reduce the use of plastic carrier bags, European Commissioner for Environment Janez Potocnik said in a statement. The statement added that effective EU-level action was needed considering the environmental impact of and other concerns related to plastic carrier bags.More

New material to combat counterfeit banknotes
BBC News
Scientists have developed a material which mimics the rainbow effect of butterfly wings to help the fight against counterfeit money. The intensely-coloured polymers are difficult to copy, researchers at the universities of Hull and Sheffield say. They do not use pigments but exhibit intense color due to their structure, similar to the way nature does on beetle shells and butterfly wings.More

US ethylene derivative prices too high for spot exports
The primary ethylene derivatives PE, PVC, MEG and styrene are unworkable on the spot market as U.S. prices are too high to sell into regional import markets, sources said. "There's nothing from the US that works," a polyethylene trader said. In polyethylene, traders said they would need at most a price in the mid-60's cents/lb in railcars for blow molding and at most 68 cents/lb FAS Houston for LLDPE to try and attract South American buyers' attention. More

Sabic venture to tap China's plastics demand
The Wall Street Journal
Saudi Basic Industries Corp., the Middle East's largest listed company, said that it plans to build a $1 billion polycarbonate plant in northern China with joint-venture partner Sinopec, tapping the Asian country's surging demand for plastics. The new plant at the joint venture's petrochemical complex in Tianjin will have an annual production capacity of 260,000 metric tons and is expected to be operational by 2015, Sabic said.More

Faurecia and Rhodia partner to replace metal with plastics in car seats
Plastics Today
Faurecia and Rhodia are partnering on plastic seat cushion structural components they believe will be 20 percent lighter than conventional steel parts, without compromising safety. The automotive supplier and specialty chemicals/plastics manufacture have worked together since November 2009 on next-generation lightweight, structural seat components using polyamide, officially signing a joint-development agreement in February 2011.More

Record efficiency of 18.7 percent for flexible CIGS solar cells on plastics
Scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, have further boosted the energy conversion efficiency of flexible solar cells made of copper indium gallium (di)selenide (also known as CIGS) to a new world record of 18.7 percent — a significant improvement over the previous record of 17.6 percent achieved by the same team in June 2010. The measurements have been independently certified by the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems in Freiburg, Germany.More