Canadian Plastics

Demand Is Good

Canadian Plastics   

According to a recent report by Freedonia Group, growth for most independently compounded TPEs, polypropylene and engineered thermoplastics will be above average through 2008.

According to a recent report by Freedonia Group, growth for most independently compounded TPEs, polypropylene and engineered thermoplastics will be above average through 2008.

TPEs will see the fastest yearly growth at 5.5%. The growth in compounded TPEs is mostly a result of the use of TPE as a direct replacement for natural and synthetic rubber, as well as the growth of soft-touch applications.

Independently compounded engineered thermoplastics will grow at a rate of 4.4% annually to 1.9 billion lb. in 2008, according to Freedonia (see table). Electronic and electrical motor vehicle applications will drive growth of compounded engineered thermoplastics, especially polycarbonate, nylon and ABS. These applications will be stimulated by the need for higher heat and chemical resistant materials in electronic/motor housings, connectors and plugs.

Note: The study applies only to compounding done by companies legally unaffiliated with a resin producer.


The only gray in this balmy outlook is ongoing concern among both compounders and their customers about steady increases in raw material pricing, which has cut across all market segments.

“In the last three to four months it seems the cost of nearly every raw material has gone up,” says Albert van Tol, sales manager at A. Schulman Canada (Mississauga, ON). “In automotive, our main market, most of our customers are under pressure to reduce costs, so it’s been very tough.”

Others in the industry concur.

“We’re not making a lot of friends right now,” says Lyle Hoegy, account manager, Ingenia Polymers, Toronto. Hoegy notes that in addition to the increase in the price of raw material, transportation costs have also risen, driving up costs even further.

Compounders argue that some of the rising costs may be offset by newer materials with cost-performance benefits.

Technology still moves the market

The growth predicted above might not be nearly so robust without on-going additive and masterbatch product innovations, as exhibited by number of compounders. The innovations are targeted for the packaging, medical and injection molding markets.

A. Schulman Inc. recently received two Nortech Innovation Awards for the development of a new water-soluble polymer, and also for a new thermoplastic ionomer resin. AquaSol, the water soluble polymer, is based on a proprietary polyvinyl alcohol technology. It is targeted for film and injection molding applications, including packaging for detergents and chemicals, barrier films, graphics films and disposable medical supplies. Other comparable water-soluble polymers for packaging are usually produced by solution casting. AquaSol is manufactured with less costly blown or cast film equipment.

“AquaSol has similar physical properties to other polyolefins and it provides exceptional tensile strength and clarity, yet it dissolves completely when immersed in water in as little as 60 seconds,” said Oscar Mascarenhas, business manager, Polybatch Film Concentrates.

Completely biodegradable, AquaSol is currently available in cold water formulations, with a hot water soluble formulation expected in the first quarter of 2005. One application, according to Mascarenhas, would be an AquaSol-based laundry bag that allows safe handling of contaminated laundry but completely dissolves in the washing machine.

Clarix, A. Schulman’s new ionomer thermoplastic resin, is based on ethylene acid copolymer and targeted for film, blow-molding, injection molding and coating applications. Clarix provides exceptional toughness, clarity and flexibility, and adheres well to glass, metal, textiles and paper, according to the company. In packaging applications, Clarix can provide a fast, reliable, easy-to-open seal, or be used as an adhesive binder for both woven and non-woven materials. Clarix resins are capable of withstanding multiple exposures to heat without a significant loss of mechanical properties. The product is being positioned to compliment A.Schulman’s line of advanced Polybatch additive and color concentrate masterbatches.

The Pigments and Additives Division of Clariant GmbH has begun building the first plant dedicated to the production of metallocene-catalyzed waxes. The $20 million euro investment will allow Clariant to design and manufacture waxes with critical properties–hardness, melting, and viscosity, for example–with greater flexibility and precision.

Clariant’s new family of metallocene-catalyzed waxes, called Licocene, is targeted at a number of specific compounding applications. TP Licocene PE MA 4351 is polar-modified polyethylene wax that acts as an optimal coupling agent and compatibilizer in natural fiber-filled PE composites. TP Licocene PP 4201 is a new nucleation agent for the manufacture of foamed polystyrene, EPS. TP Licocene PE MA 4221 is a colorless and multi-functional lubricant, developed specifically for color-sensitive applications in polyamide and polyester. Start-up for the large-scale plant is set for early 2006.

Easy to: use, handle, mold

Albis has launched a new line of flow-optimized nylon compounds, Alcon. The compounds use controlled pigment particle size and other proprietary technology to eliminate flow-line blemishes often produced in nylon parts in black and other opaque colors. Additionally, the materials can be effectively colored, giving manufacturers more options for under-the-hood components, such as bright metallic colors. Alcon materials can provide the user with molded-in color without swirl-line defects frequently observed with such materials. For instance a BMW Series 3 engine cover uses a flow-line-free Alcon nylon 6 compound with a brushed-silver effect.

CSP Technologies has recently launched Activ-Pak, a line of engineered polymer materials that are designed with specific absorption or release rates for moisture, gases, volatile odors and flavors. The patented technology employs a channeling agent to create a microscopic channel structure throughout a polymer. An active component, for example a desiccant or oxygen absorber, is entrained in the channels where it can absorb or emit the desired small molecule. In traditional compounding, the active ingredient is typically put into a thin film, where most of the active agent is at the surface. The channel structure of Activ-Pak polymers provides pathways to the active component using a relatively thick part that is highly loaded with the active agent. The plastic retains the channel structure after melting and reforming, according to CSP.

Ingenia Polymer’s dust-free SuperBlends are homogeneous pelletized formulations of additives in very high concentrations ranging from 50 to 100% active ingredients. The formulation are used to add UV’s, slip agents, antioxidants, processing aids and other additives to various thermoplastics, all in one pelletized compound.

SuperBlends come in three types. Type A is an ultra-high concentration pelletized blend composed of 50% or more active ingredients in a polymer-based carrier; Type B is a melt formulated blend typically comprised of 100% of active ingredient with no polymer carrier; Type C is a compacted pellet blend typically comprised of 100% active ingredient with no polymer carrier.

One of the primary advantages of the SuperBlend line is ease-of-handling, according to Lyle Hoegy, account manager at Ingenia’s Toronto sales office. The blends are designed to eliminate dust exposure to operating personnel. Typically SuperBlends can be packaged in supersacs, boxes, bags or drums, or in the case of Type A, in railcars and bulk trucks. They can be conveyed using pneumatic or mechanical transfer systems.

In response to strong demand for high-performance polyethylene, DSM’s Dyneema division has opened new yarn production line at its facility in Greenville, NC. Dyneema is a high-strength PE fibre used in military, law enforcement and security clothing, as well as a key component in ropes, cables, fishing nets and other sports and medical applications. The PE fibre is 15 times stronger than steel and, weight-for-weight, 40% stronger than competing aramid fibres.The new
production line has a capacity of 600 to 750 tons per year.



A German additives/compound manufacturer, Addicell Additive GmbH, recently purchased a new extrusion line in order to manufacture a chemical blowing agent in pellet form. In the past, such an additive or compound would have been supplied as a powder-like compound; however a newer trend is to supply blowing agents and similar compounds in micro-pellets, which are easier to handle and eliminate dust.

The company chose an extrusion line consisting of a Berstorff ZE 50A UTX twin screw extruder, an underwater pelletizer and a gravimetric dosing system for up to three components. Berstorff worked closely with Addicell in the development of a universal “blowing agent screw”. The line is used to produce micro-pellets containing between 35% and 75% blowing agent.

Labtech Engineering of Bangkok, Thailand has recently signed a manufacturing and marketing agreement with Hoshipia of Japan to produce its patented Sidecut strand pelletizer. The pelletizer uses a fan-shaped cutting wheel to cut the strands sideways with a scissors action. The cutting motion produces a gentle shearing action, which facilitates pelletizing of even highly filled and brittle strands without generation of dust. The pelletizer was introduced to European and North American suppliers at the K Show.

Draiswerke Inc. is launching its unique mixing and compounding technology, Gelimat, to the North American market commencing with the K 2004 Show. Gelimat technology is based on thermokinetic principles, reducing compounding time to a matter of seconds. Compounded material quickly attains flux temperature and is ejected automatically by an electronic temperature sensor through a discharge door. The compounded material can then be fed into a melt pump, a short barrel extruder, calender, molding system or any other shaping equipment. The process is suited for virgin or recycled materials, and for the production of highly loaded compounds.



Sportsguard Laboratories (Kent, OH) has partnered with A. Schulman to jointly develop Polypur 1405, a material used to create a custom-fitted mouth guard that provides more than 150% greater shock/energy absorption than standard mouth guards made of EVA. Polypur 1405 is a proprietary, high-performance thermoplastic compound with unique properties that allow it to be both extruded and injection molded. The compound is now being used to manufacture a custom teeth-whitening tray, marketed under the name “Preview”.

“Its low durometer properties offer increased softness compared to other materials used in the manufacture of mouthguards and whitening trays,” said Brian Fairchild, product development manager, Polypur. “For whitening trays the result is a better fit, greater comfort and better wear resistance at the key bite points.

“Polypur thermoforms beautifully over a dental mold, so it is ideal for a custom application such as a whitening tray, noted Daniel Brett, D.D.S., president of Sportsguard Laboratories. An anti-microbial agent added to the Polypur formula kills bacteria that causes dental decay and gingivitis.


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