Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Putting Life Back Into Life—A Conversation with Two SCAD Design Students and Their Project Coordinator about the Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show

NPE2015 opened in style this morning with the Pursuing Zero Waste Fashion Show, which showcased garments designed by students from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) made using only post-consumer recycled plastic materials. After the Fashion Show the garments were moved to the Zero Waste Zone in the South Hall, where they’ll stay for the remainder of NPE._F4C5072_web

SPI caught up with two of the students who participated in the project and attended the show, Adewunmi Adetayo and Siobhan Mulhern, and SCAD School of Design Resources and Projects Coordinator Tenley Gilstrap to talk about their work with SPI, what it was like working with recycled plastics, 3D printing and what they hope everyone gets out of seeing their designs.

SPI: How did this project get started and how did things work?

Tenley Gilstrap: SPI came to SCAD and they were interested in collaborating. Here at SCAD we have what we have the CLC, also known as the Collaborative Learning Center. The CLC is where we engage students with real world company experience.  Companies that we’ve partnered with include anyone from Coca-Cola, to HP to Gulfstream.

The companies sit down with SCAD and try to figure out what the deliverables could be that could actually come from a great partnership and then we try to structure an actual course around the goals and the outcomes and what we actually want to accomplish.

Siobhan Mulhern: They created what they called the zero waste design lab. They gathered 9 students—eight of us were senior design fashion students and one sculpture student. And they basically asked us to create a line of garments made out of post-consumer recycled plastics.

TG: The sculpture student is responsible for most of the jewelry in the show and also in the catalog that was created from the course. (more…)

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

NPE2015 Preview: Time to Shine for Startups

StartupGarageThe story of how NPE’s Startup Garage came into its current form sounds a lot like how any startup company hopes their story will go: it started off small and humble, but after people found out about it, it really took off and the rest is history.

Though it was originally envisioned as a smaller portion of the NPE2015 show floor, the NPE team had to expand the Startup Garage (twice) to keep up with industry demand. Now it’ll be an important fixture of the West Hall (in Room W203A) and, given its running start, potentially an even greater part of NPEs for years to come. Now, however, the Startup Garage will provide “an unprecedented opportunity for startup companies with connections to the plastics industry,” according to Gerald Elderling, founder of Startup.Directory, a new-venture tracking company with which SPI partnered to create the Startup Garage. “Participants will be meeting hundreds of potential buyers, investors, distributors and strategic partners, all in one location.”

Companies will highlight their innovations in such diverse, cutting-edge fields as bioplastics, recycling, 3D printing, polymerization, resin processing, antimicrobial polymers and even the burgeoning field of graphenes—defined as two-dimensional carbon-atom nanostructures that can be used for formulating plastics composites with dramatically enhanced properties.

Here’s some more detail on all the startups that will be exhibiting in the Startup Garage. Get a closer look at their innovative products by swinging by the West Hall during your trip to Orlando, Fla. for NPE2015:

  • Aguas Pristinas S.A. Patented zero-waste beverage container and packaging system, with products designed to be recovered for re-use in other forms. One example is roofing products derived from bottles.
  • Biobent Polymers. “Bio-composite” polymers with up to 40% renewable content from soy or other renewable agricultural products. www.biobent.com.
  • The Center for Regenerative Design & Collaboration (CRDC) – AGUA Costa Rica. AGUA-Costa Rica is a patented and “state-of-the-art” new zero waste beverage product that regenerates itself into a value-added secondary use as a highly-efficient and durable building tile.
  • cycleWood Solutions Inc. Compostable and sustainable resins produced from lignin in tree byproducts generated during papermaking. LDPE-like film grades are 100% compostable. Injection molding grades are available in either compostable or sustainable (blended with polyolefins) versions. www.cycleWood.com.
  • Garmor Inc. Graphene priced for high-volume plastics applications. The company also has developed methods for incorporating graphene into plastics and shares this information with customers.
    www.garmortech.com.
  • GlowLit. GlowLit’s free website provides an option for previously untapped information providers to receive market intelligence in return for their insight. Anyone can log in and check whether the last purchased they made saved (or cost) money to the shareholders. Not all companies use the same information, pounds and KGs, delivered price vs ex works, railroad order of 4,000 tons or spot orders of 20,000 lbs. We provide the data you are interested in, for your industry, location, and volumes. www.glowlit.com.
  • Graphenics. Engineering services and materials based on a patented process to produce graphene and incorporate it into plastic with minimal disruption of plastics processes and minimal darkening of the composite. www.plusgraphene.com.
  • iQLP LLC. Development of polymer materials and manufacturing processes for polymer suppliers, converters, and end users. Solutions highlighted at NPE2015 will include semiconductor packaging, film and laminate extrusion, and structural polymers. www.iqlp.net.
  • One Moving Part. Digital printers for all types of extrusions. As simple as “0-1-2″: ZERO maintenance, ONE moving part, and TWO–the typical cost of less than $2 per day. Offering a FREE 30-day in-plant trial.
  • Plastic EQ Corp. Web marketplace where companies post offers of and requests for recycled plastics online. The company integrates the full sales cycle, including paperwork, payment / collection, freight management, credit check, etc. www.plastic-eq.com.
  • Productfast Automation. Technology for monitoring a manufacturing operation that replaces the Andon light system with wireless audio and visual effects. www.productfast.com.
  • QTEK. QTEK will bring “Copper-based mineral additive” and “Copper-based antimicrobial plastic masterbatch pellets” to NPE2015. QTEK technology is unique by employing ionic copper as antimicrobial agent. NSF funded research has demonstrated the antimicrobial efficiency (against bacteria and fungi), processability, durability, and environmental safety of the plastic masterbatch pellets. The mineral additive also has fire-retarding activity. http://www.qtekllc.com.
  • Sharklet Technologies, Inc. The company’s core technology, called Sharklet™, is the first no-kill, non-toxic and environmentally-friendly surface texture designed to inhibit bacterial growth. The Sharklet surface is comprised of millions of microscopic diamonds that are arranged into a distinct texture. www.sharklet.com.
  • Smart E2 Solutions, LLC.  System for producing fuel products from non-recyclable plastics. About a gallon of fuel is produced from 8 to 10 lb. of un-washed, un-sorted waste plastic at a cost of less than $1. www.se2sol.com.
  • TiFiber Inc. Anti-microbial polymers that exhibit broad-spectrum activity against bacterial species, including drug-resistant strains such as MRSA. Among potential applications are medical devices and disposables, synthetic textiles, and consumer goods. www.tifiber.com.
  • Zzyzx Polymers. New “mechanochemical” process for compatabilizing, encapsulating, and fully dispersing materials into plastics, with a pilot plant established in Pennsylvania. To be highlighted at NPE2015: graphene conductive polypropylene; high-impact polyethylene; and a polycarbonate-like PP. www.zpolymers.com.

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

A Different Kind of Conversation: SPI Member Kenrich to Introduce New Compatibilizer at NPE2015 that Gets Mixed Resin Streams “Talking to Each Other”

NPE_logoCompatibilizers: hard to say three times fast, but a remarkably simple concept. These items make two or more typically incompatible substances compatible.

Long used in the prime resin industry to create special blends that give plastic materials desirable properties that any individual polymer would lack on its own, compatibilizers get resins that would not neatly blend together to “talk to each other,” as it were. Companies continue to explore new applications for compatibilizers in the recycling industry, where at least one SPI member is trying to start a similar sort of conversation between mixed recycled resin streams.

At NPE2015, SPI member, and member of the SPI Recycling Committee’s Technology and Equipment Subcommittee, Kenrich Petrochemicals (Booth #S20027) will introduce a new additive that can be used to recycle the mixed resin streams that are increasingly posing challenges to the world’s recyclers. The long name for the compatibilizer is Ken-React® CAPS ® KPR ® 12/LV Pellets, and KPR for short; it regenerates post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic mixtures in the extruder melt and gives them virgin resin-like properties, all while getting dissimilar polymers to talk to one another.

Here’s some more technical information from Kenrich President Salvatore Monte, who invented KPR, about how the additive can be put to good use: “Normally—although polypropylene (PP) and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) are both considered olefins—HDPE cannot accept more than 5 percent PP without creating incompatibility issues. Add a third polymer and it really gets complicated.” The KPR® additive pellet can help make these issues disappear, which could provide a huge benefit to recyclers who, in an age of widening “single stream” recycling procedures, frequently have to handle various types of plastic materials that may be present in a recycling feedstream, or even in a single product. KPR® aims to change that.

“Conventional discussions on recycled plastic center around equipment that sorts, cleans, demagnetizes, washes, granulates, bales or melt processes recycling—or polymer compatibilizers based on maleic anhydride chemistry or bipolar thermoplastics that have affinity for two select recycle polymer streams,” Monte continued, referring to other additives with fewer potential applications than KPR. “Our new KPR® catalyst causes multiple polymers of divergent chemistry to repolymerize in the melt to form not alloys, but new complex co-polymers having much higher mechanical properties.”

SPI and its Recycling Committee have repeatedly urged plastics manufacturers and brand owners to consider PCR when making their materials decisions, for its sustainability bona fides and contributions to SPI’s goal of helping the industry achieve zero waste in manufacturing, among other things to recommend it. But part of what makes some companies reluctant to use PCR for all their plastic needs is that, in the process of being ZWZlogoWeb2used and recycled, the plastic materials themselves lose some of the properties that make them desirable for use in consumer plastic products. However, compatibilizer manufacturers, like Kenrich, are attempting to offer a unique solution to the problem, by making it easier for recyclers to produce higher-quality materials from lower-quality bales.

“It’s a new way to look at PCR and achieve high loadings of PCR in virgin polymers to meet sustainability mandates in consumer plastic packaging products such as blow-molded soap bottles,” Monte said.

Learn more about Kenrich at NPE2015 and more about new recycling technologies and SPI and its Recycling Committee’s efforts to achieve zero waste at the Zero Waste Zone.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

At NPE2015, Plastics Hall of Fame Program Honors Plastics Pioneers, Innovators, Educators and Leaders

At NPE2015: The International Plastics Showcase, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association and the Plastics Academy will induct nine global manufacturing innovators, educators and plastics industry leaders into the Plastics Hall of Fame, awarding them the highest honor bestowed by the plastics industry.

The ceremony will take place on Sunday, March 22 at the Linda W. Chapin Theatre in the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, Fla., one day before NPE2015 officially kicks off.

This year’s Hall of Fame honorees hail from across the globe, and are receiving the honor of induction for a diverse array of reasons, achievements and contributions to the plastics industry as a whole.

John Beaumont

John Beaumont

John Beaumont of Beaumont Technologies, Inc., for example, was one of three founding members of Penn State Erie’s Plastics Technology Program, and has helped shaped the future of hundreds of plastics professionals by working as a professor at the same school for 25 years

 

 

 

 

 

Terry Browitt

Terry Browitt

Terry Browitt, director and founder of Terinex International, Inc. has also continually supported the cause of plastics growth and education through the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), formerly serving as the organization’s president and continuing to support it while founding and running Terinex.

 

 

 

 

William Carteaux

William Carteaux

2015 is also a year of milestones for the Plastics Hall of Fame. William Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association will become the youngest-ever Plastics Hall of Fame inductee, for reinventing SPI by taking a business approach to association management and reenergizing SPI’s triennial trade show NPE, which will break all records for exhibition space this year.

 

 

 

Maureen Steinwall

Maureen Steinwall

Dr. Maureen Steinwall, president and owner of Steinwall, Inc. is only the second woman to ever be inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame, and received the honor for her outspoken advocacy for employee training and motivation, her leadership activity with SPI and her success in growing Steinwall, Inc. into a well-respected, profitable injection molding business.

 

 

 

 

Robert DeLong

Robert DeLong

All of this year’s nominees are known as innovators, and many of them have made contributions and inventions that are used throughout the plastics industry. Robert DeLong of Blasformen Consulting is a major pioneer in blow-molded dairy bottles like the kind that contain milk in supermarkets across the globe who also supervised the formulation of a best-in-class dairy blow-molding resin in the 1960s.

 

 

 

Eugen Hehl

Eugen Hehl

Eugen Hehl, co-founder of ARBURG GmbH & Co. KG helped grow his company from its humble roots in Germany’s Black Forest into a major international player in injection molding machinery, patented the “ALLROUNDER principle” for achieving up to 10 different working positions on a machine in 1960.

 

 

 

 

Edward Hunerberg

Edward Hunerberg

Edward Hunerberg of Uniloy Milacron is a leading expert in the plastics industry niche field of structural foam molding, known for his reputation for world-class customer service and an inventive streak that resulted in several notable improvements to structural foam molding machines industry-wide.

 

 

 

 

Manfred Lupke

Manfred Lupke

Manfred Lupke, president and CEO of Corma, Inc. and a leader in the field of creating equipment for manufacturing corrugated plastic pipe has registered 848 patents in countries around the world and led Corma to become an industry leader in the field of corrugated plastic pipe-making machinery.

 

 

 

 

Donald Norwood

Donald Norwood

Finally, Donald Norwood is the father of several industry-advancing technologies, most notably the loop reactor, used for ethylene and polypropylene polymerization, that he invented decades ago and has continued to develop and improve over the course of his career.

 

 

 

 

On March 22, all of these individuals will join their colleagues in the Plastics Hall of Fame, which resides at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, honored for their dedication and perseverance that have significantly contributed to the development and growth of the plastics industry. “We are thrilled to welcome this diverse group of industry innovators, from across the globe and across the global plastics supply chain, into the Plastics Hall of Fame,” said Don Loepp, a board member of the Plastics Academy and editor of Plastics News. “Each of them embodies the spirit of what the Plastics Hall of Fame was founded to recognize: leadership, creativity and above all commitment to the growth and development of the entire plastics industry.”

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Processor of the Year Award Validates the STIHL Approach to Automation, Employee Engagement

“For us, we can’t just hire people and put them in a job; we need to qualify them in order to do the job,” said Benjamin Hoffmann, manager of polymer technologies at STIHL Inc.

Benjamin Hoffman, manager of polymer technologies, STIHL Inc. accepts the Processor of the Year award from Plastics News Senior Reporter Bill Bregar.

Benjamin Hoffman, manager of polymer technologies, STIHL Inc. accepts the Processor of the Year award from Plastics News Senior Reporter Bill Bregar.

Plastics News named STIHL Inc. their Processor of the Year at their Executive Forum in Lake Las Vegas earlier this month. For Benjamin Hoffmann, manager of polymer technologies at STIHL Inc., who accepted the award on his company’s behalf, the occasion was cause for gratitude, but also for gratification. “For us, we wanted to see how we benchmarked against others in the industry, and see if what we’re doing was the right thing, or if there were others we could learn from. That was really why we participated,” he said. “Receiving the award is confirmation that all we’ve been doing has been in the right direction, and so we’re going to continue doing what we’ve done so far.”

When asked what distinguished STIHL processing operations from other processing operations, Hoffmann’s first thought was that company’s commitment to automation. “When you look at the size and the level of automation I think that’s where we had a lot of things to show,” he said. “The scope of the automation we have, and also the pure size of our operation were some of the main differences. We have about 90 machines. Others typically only have between 20 and 30.”

STIHL committed to the concept of factory automation early, sometime in the 2000s according to Hoffmann, but the negative connotations that often go with the term “automation” don’t apply to STIHL. “We have embraced the automation concept in order to stay competitive. By the end of this year we’ll have about 151 robots, but one of the remarkable things is that no full time employee has ever been laid off due to automation,” Hoffmann said. “Through automation, we make our processes more efficient, and give people the opportunity to train to get into higher paid jobs, like programming robots or maintaining them. It’s a huge efficiency gain for us.”

“It’s a big advantage for us because among our employees there’s no hesitation when you put a new robot on the show floor,” he added, noting that some employees even make suggestions for what can be automated next. “A lot of employees will come up and say ‘I’m doing this repetitive task, can we automate this?,’” Hoffmann said.

STIHL_PlantPhoto2STIHL has also operated an apprenticeship program since 1984, long before the manufacturing skills gap threatened companies with staffing shortages. “At that point the skills gap wasn’t that predominant,” Hoffmann said, noting that today the STIHL apprenticeship program looks much different from how it looked 30 years ago. “We have varied class sizes and apprentice programs. It used to be more of the mechanical side, but the focus has really shifted over the last two or three years to mechatronics, so really what we need are people that understand the mechanics, but also the electronics,” he said. “For us, ultimately we don’t get the skilled people out on the job market or straight from college or high school. We can’t just hire people and put them in a job; we need to qualify them in order to do the job.”

SPI operates its own workforce management tools to members (see more here) but the STIHL philosophy regarding automation as a means to increase efficiency rather than reduce head count, and its approach to educating and building its own workforce, should serve as an example of the ideal way to run a modern manufacturing facility. They remain among the most innovative, automated companies in the industry, but they still recognize that their most valuable resource is their people. Prioritizing the things that STIHL prioritizes goes a long way toward supporting the plastics industry’s continued growth and development, with an eye toward who’ll be running facilities not today, or tomorrow, but years down the road.

STIHL_PlantPhoto

“The companies that comprise SPI’s membership are on the cutting edge of their industry and are consistently innovating—technologically, operationally, environmentally—in a way that’s a credit to plastics,” said William R. Carteaux, SPI president and CEO. “STIHL makes bold, innovative investments in their operational infrastructure, all while showing as much respect for their business as for their employees, and serves as a model of modern corporate stewardship and a long-term commitment to growth and productivity. Their win of this year’s Processor of the Year Award is richly deserved.”