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Milacron Sues SIG Plastics Technologies For Patent Infringement

3/16/2001  Milacron Inc. announced that it has filed suit in Federal court against SIG Plastics Technologies Inc. and related affiliates for infringing its patented technology that integrates personal computers and plastics machinery control systems.

"We were forced to take this action as our good-faith discussions to reach a mutually agreeable settlement with SIG have broken down," said Harold J. Faig, Milacron group vice president of plastics technologies. "In our opinion, SIG's sale of infringing systems is clearly a direct violation of our highly valued patented technology, and we are committed to actively protecting our intellectual property in every way possible. We also intend to pursue all applicable remedies such as proceedings before the International Trade Commission to seek an exclusion order barring further importation and sale of infringing machinery and related components," Faig said.

In 1989, Milacron applied for a patent relating to the use of personal computers as a control system for plastics machinery. After thorough examination, in 1991 Milacron was granted U.S. Patent, # 5,062,052. This patent has withstood numerous challenges by infringers as well as reexamination in the U. S. Patent Office, where its validity has been confirmed.

Having thoroughly examined documents that, according to SIG, question the patent's validity, Milacron remains convinced of the strength of the patent and that SIG is violating it. Milacron has licensed or amicably resolved disputes relating to the same patented technology with a number of other companies including Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. and UBE Machinery Inc.

"We remain willing to license the technology to SIG and/or to SIG's customers on reasonable terms that permit fair competition, as we have licensed others in the industry," Faig added.

Milacron Inc. is a world leader in plastics processing and metalworking technologies with major manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and Asia and 10,700 employees worldwide. Plastics technologies include injection molding machines, blow molding equipment, extrusion systems and wear items, mold bases, mold-making equipment and mold components, as well as aftermarket and MRO (maintenance, repair and operating) parts and services. Metalworking technologies include carbide metalcutting inserts, insert holders, carbide and high-speed steel round tools, metalworking fluids, chemical and tool management services, precision grinding wheels and carbide wear parts. For further information, visit the company's web site, www.milacron.com.


Ticona to Establish MuCell Microcellular Molding Technology in Own Technical Lab

Leading Supplier of Materials to Develop Know-How Concerning Technical Polymers for Use with MuCell

Frankfurt, Germany, and Summit, NJ, March 13, 2001 – Ticona has become the first global materials supplier to purchase a MuCell license and MuCell-capable equipment. MuCell technology places millions of tiny air pockets in molded parts, to reduce weight and improve quality. That system will be part of the technical lab that Ticona is establishing in Kelsterbach, Germany, to study the MuCell process and applications. Trexel is the worldwide leader in the development and commercialization of MuCell Microcellular Process Technology. Ticona is an applications-driven company that uses advanced polymer technology to produce materials for a wide spectrum of applications.

David Bernstein, President and CEO of Trexel, recently noted, "Ticona is building an efficient infrastructure to support licensees who want to design MuCell parts. Ticona’s new capabilities will significantly speed up the development and commercialization process for Ticona customers and Trexel licensees."

Trexel’s European Sales Manager, Rob Janish, observed, "Ticona’s decision to purchase a MuCell license and injection molding machine will be very beneficial to the plastics community in Europe, America, and elsewhere. Ticona will use this new machine to support customer activities and test materials, with the goal of developing application know-how concerning technical polymers for use with MuCell. They will be testing many polymers from their portfolio, including Hostaform® and Celcon® acetal copolymer (POM), Celanex“ thermoplastic polyester, and several others."

Ticona engineers and technologists are excited about this new, in-house ability to evaluate MuCell technology and to help their customers do so. Dr. Mohr-Matuschek, Technology and Service Department Manager for Ticona Europe, said, "With our new MuCell-capable machine, customers will be able to test and compare polymers and molding conditions in our injection molding lab. This will be an extremely valuable service to customers who are considering MuCell, since they will be able to determine the most appropriate resin and processing conditions for each particular application."

About Trexel

Trexel is the exclusive developer of the MuCell microcellular process technology and has an extensive portfolio of patents in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Trexel’s primary business is licensing the MuCell technology to injection molders, extruders, and blow molders. It also provides world-class engineering support, training and other services to licensees, and supplies them with equipment and components integral to the MuCell process. In support of these activities, Trexel operates a plastics development laboratory in its Woburn, MA facility.

About MuCell

The MuCell process is suitable for a wide range of injection molded, extruded, and blow molded products as it allows licensees to reduce product costs while enhancing design and processing. MuCell parts, which have a solid-like appearance, contain less material than parts produced through conventional methods, as millions of tiny air pockets take the place of material while allowing the part to maintain most of its former properties. The process also can reduce stress, warpage, and sink marks, and greatly reduce cycle time. These benefits allow designers to specify lightweight, polymer-saving foam materials for products in which conventionally foamed materials would be unacceptable.

About Ticona and Celanese

Ticona, the technical polymers business of Celanese AG, Frankfurt, produces and markets a broad range of engineering polymers and achieved sales of ¤ 923 million in 2000. The company has about 2400 employees worldwide and production, compounding and research facilities in Germany, the UK, the USA and Brazil.

Celanese AG is a global chemicals company with leading positions in its key products and world class process technology. The Celanese portfolio consists of five main businesses: Acetyl Products, Intermediates, Acetate Products, Technical Polymers Ticona and Performance Products. The Performance Products business consists of oriented polypropylene films (OPP), sweeteners and food ingredients.

Celanese generated sales of around $5.2 billion in 2000 and has about 13,200 employees. The company has 30 production plants and six research centers in 11 countries mainly in North America, Europe and Asia. Celanese AG shares are listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange (stock exchange symbol CZZ) and on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol CZ).

For further information on Ticona and Celanese AG, please visit our websites: www.ticona-eu.com and www.celanese.com

For more information about MuCell activities at Ticona, please contact Rainer Bernstein, Emerging Markets Department, at 49-69-305-24643, or e-mail bernstein@ticona.de.

For more information about Trexel, Inc., please contact Dan Szczurko, Vice President, Business Development, at (781) 932-0202, Ext. 241, fax (781) 932-3324, or e-mail dan@trexel.com, or visit the company website at www.trexel.com.


Machining & Fabricating Conference Focuses on Improving Production, Adding Value to Products

Adding value to your products and profits to your business is the theme of the Third Annual Plastics Machining & Fabricating seminar, co-sponsored by PM&F magazine and the International Association of Plastics Distributors (IAPD).

The seminar will be held June 28-29 at the Holiday Inn City Centre in Chicago, IL. An early-bird reception with tabletop exhibits will take place the evening of June 27, with a second reception occurring on June 28.

The cost for the seminar program, including lunch and the two receptions, is $500. A limited amount of tabletop exhibits will be available for $600 each. To register for the conference, or for information on exhibiting, contact the IAPD at (913) 345-1005, e-mail: iapd@iapd.org

Hotel arrangements can be made by contacting the Holiday Inn City Centre at (312) 787-6100. Rooms can be reserved for $159 (single or double) until June 10. Please specify the Plastics Machining & Fabricating seminar when making hotel arrangements.

Topics Target Molding, Machining & Fabricating

Noted speaker Shawn Chambers will lead off the conference discussing ways for businesses to get a return on innovation. Chambers, the vice president of operations for Warehoused Plastic Sales Inc. is also the author of “Home Run! Sound Advice for Building a Profitable Home Business Without Risk.”

In addition to Chambers, industry experts will discuss specific ways for fabricators and machine shop personnel to improve their production and profit potential. Included will be presentations on: selecting and specifying mechanical plastics; working with acrylics and PETG; new developments and troubleshooting methods for milling, routing and laser machining; software solutions for machining plastics; FAQs on cutting tools; new applications for injection molding; thermoforming tips and techniques; bonding and welding applications; and finishing techniques.

Case studies by leading plastics manufacturers — Pulsar Plastics, Schafer Systems and Seelye Plastics — will also give attendees an inside look into the successful production methods employed at these plants.

For more information, or to receive a seminar brochure, contact Karen Koenig, PM&F, at (847) 634-4366, e-mail: kkoenig@vancepublishing.com. The program is also available for viewing online at www.plasticsmachining.com.


Ensinger Adds A.L. Hyde to List of Recent Acquisitions

Ensinger Industries Inc., the Washington, PA-based manufacturer of high performance engineering plastics, has acquired the A.L. Hyde Co., including its subsidiaries World Plastic Extruders in Moonachie, NJ, and Plastifab Industries in Montreal, QUE.

Ensinger Industries is the U.S. affiliate of Ensinger GmbH & Co., with worldwide headquarters in Nufringen, Germany.

A.L. Hyde extrudes many different grades of engineering thermoplastic stock shapes in its Grenloch, NJ, manufacturing facility, along with proprietary products such as Hydex 4101 PBT polyester, Hydlar ZF Kevlar reinforced nylon and the Hydel family of antistatic and conductive plastics.

The acquisition of A.L. Hyde comes on the heels of Ensinger’s recent acquisition of Greenwood, DE-based Penn Fibre Plastics Inc., a producer of thin section engineering thermoplastic sheets, strips, coils and punched parts.]

According to Ensinger President W. Rick Phillips, these acquisitions “provide our customers with a source of one-stop shopping for all their engineering plastics needs.”


RadTech Forms Plastic Group

RadTech has formed a Plastics Focus group to develop industry programs devoted to the technical and market promotion of UV and EB curing of plastic products, including composites, films, laminates and coatings for plastic products.

“With growth rates of between 10-20 percent per year in the various sectors over the last couple years, UV and EB plastic applications represent one of the fastest growing segments of our industry,” said Jim Reese, DSM Desotech and president of RadTech International.

UV plastic coatings are already in use in a myriad of applications, including eyeglasses, CDs and DVDs, credit cards, cosmetic packaging, flexible film, cell phone covers and automotive lenses, reflectors and trim.

“From aerospace to the auto industry to sporting goods to electronics, manufacturing is continuing to go to plastic, and UV and EB are becoming the natural choice because of their rapid — and relatively cool cure — and process flexibility,” commented Paul Mills, Nutro Corp. and chair of the new committee.

For more information on the committee, contact RadTech at (301) 664-8408, uveb@radtech.org or visit the Web site at www.radtech.org. The first meeting is scheduled for May 1-2 at the Indianapolis, IN, Marriott.


Scientists Developing New Ways to Prevent Sharkskin

Polymer physicists at the National Institute of Science and Technology have made new insights into the causes and solutions for sharkskin. Kalman Migler and his colleagues have performed new experiments using polyethylene and a transparent sapphire tube to discover how the material forms sharkskin and how it can be prevented.

Sharkskin is the name given to the undesired effect in plastic caused by metallocene catalysis polymerization, the process which enables researchers to manufacture cheap versions of expensive, engineering-grade plastics. Sharkskin gives the manufactured plastic a rough surface containing a repeated pattern of ridges.

Currently, sharkskin can be prevented by pushing the polymer slowly through a die or by manufacturing the plastic through highly controlled conditions. Both methods are inefficient for high production operations. Anti-sharkskin additives also can be used to prevent this from occurring.

Using a high-speed video microscope, Migler and his team found that the polymer undergoes extreme stretching as it passes through the exit hole of the tube, causing the material to rupture. The polymer splits into two parts, one consisting of the surface of the polymer and the other consisting of its buried, inner core. The surface of the polymer passes slowly through the tube, sticking to the walls of the tube, while the polymer core passes through quickly. The surface of the polymer accumulates near the wall of the tube and then peels off. Migler and his team concluded that it is the peeling off of the surface polymer that causes the ridges.

During their research, the scientists discovered that a fluoropolymer anti-sharkskin additive prevents the polyethylene from sticking at the walls. This reduces the extreme stretching at the exit, thus inhibiting the formation of sharkskin.

For more information, contact Dr. Kalman Migler, National Institute of Standards and Technology at (301) 975-4876, kalman.migler@nist.gov


Bohler, Uddeholm Unify Sales Forces, Service: Bolher-Uddeholm Corp.

Tool steel suppliers Bohler and Uddeholm have unified their sales groups under one umbrella: Bohler-Uddeholm Corp. The change was announced earlier this year following a two-year study of the market.

“We had customers who understood our ownership structure and wanted to get both products from the same representative. This also increases our (offerings) and helps to differentiate us from our competition,” said Mark Appleton, marketing support manager. The two companies have shared a parent company since 1990 when Voest Alpine Stalh purchased Uddeholm.

Today, the company controls 28 percent of the world’s tool steel market. Bohler-Uddeholm offers tool, die and mold materials for: plastics processing applications, including injection molding and blow molding; hot work applications such as extrusions, die casting and forging; and cold work applications, including blanking and forming. The company has four mills in Austria and one in Sweden.

“Bohler-Uddeholm will have a more rounded portfolio of plastic mold steel. (Combined) we will be able to completely fill this niche market,” Appleton said.

“The U.S. plastics market is the most innovative in the world. By combining our sales, research and service capabilities, this will allow us to focus our energy on an individual product line,” he added.

Among the products offered specifically for the plastics market are ESR (electro-slag remelting)-quality steels, such as Isoplast and Isobloc, and Isomatrix, a high-performance plastic mold steel produced by a powder metallurgical process and designed for molding extremely abrasive plastics. Stainless Concept mold steels such as STAVAX ESR and ELMAX also feature any easy-to-polish surface designed to reduce maintenance by preventing plastic materials from sticking to the mold surface. Another product, OPTIMAX, is a high surface finish steel is designed for optical product molds such as lenses.

For more information, contact Bohler-Uddeholm at (847) 577-2220 or visit its Web site at www.bucorp.com


ANTEC 2001 Scheduled for May 6-10 in Dallas

Billed as the largest plastics technical conference in the world, ANTEC 2001 (Annual Technical Conference) will take place May 6-10 at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, TX. The conference is sponsored by the Society of Plastics Engineers.

More than 700 technical presentations organized by the various SPE divisions will also be offered during the five-day event.The ANTEC seminar series runs from Monday through Friday.

In addition, presentations by plenary speakers will take place on the first three days of the show. Monday’s plenary speaker will be C. Grant Willson Ph.D. from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, University of Texas, who will discuss the “Recent Advances in Imaging Materials for Microelectronics.” On Tuesday, Bernard L. Weinstein, Ph.D., director of the Center for Economic Development and Research, University of North Texas, will present, “Is the New Economy Getting Old?” Wednesday’s plenary speaker, attorney John Iwanicki, of Banner & Witcoff Ltd., will speak about issues relating to patentability of inventions in the plastics industry.

Exhibition hours for the show are: Monday, 5:00-6:30 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.; and Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

For more information or to register for the conference, contact the SPE at (203) 775-0403 or visit its Web site at www.4spe.org


Vegas Hotel Unveils 4-Story Wine Rack Made from Acrylic Sheet

When the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino opened its 3,700-room resort in Las Vegas, it took its interior to new heights by installing the tallest wine rack in the world, within its award-winning Aureole restaurant.

Patrons enter the restaurant via a catwalk-style bridge and stairway that spirals around the acrylic wine tower. This structure was fabricated by Perry Youssefy, president of Crystal Craft in La Verne, CA, and accommodates the weight of approximately 16,000 bottles plus the "Wine Angels," employees trained to retrieve the wine bottles.

"We needed to use a dense cell-cast acrylic material for this tremendous structure," explained Youssefy. Cyro’s ACRYLITE GP acrylic sheet was chosen for its light weight, high-impact strength, optical clarity, and its ability to withstand expansion and contraction due to the refrigerated sections of the tower, he said.

Initially built in four towers, the wine rack was freighted to the assembly site. Each tower measured 12 inches in diameter by 8 feet wide by 42 feet high. Crystal Craft used 1/2-inch thick acrylic sheet for five to ten shelf modules, which hold anywhere from five bottles to a case of wine. To secure the structure and hold modules together, stainless steel screws and inserts were used.

Heavy PS-40 cement that contains both resin and hardening components, was also used. “It is heavier than liquid cement and fills up all cavities. It must be machined, sanded and polished. Ultimately, it becomes extremely strong, remaining stable in terms of expansion and contraction, just like the acrylic,” said Youssefy.

Neon lighting was used to illuminate the inside of the tower. To accommodate this, translucent white acrylic sheet was used to diffuse the light.

The wine cavities were notched together, horizontally, inside the modules. This was necessary to avoid one section pushing too hard against another, which could cause deformation or crazing. The design also had to compensate for the potential weight of a full rack, 16,000 bottles.

“We made these horizontal shelves with negative/positive notches, and depending on the length and size of the module, a gap of 1&Mac218;32 inch to 1&Mac218;16 inch was implemented. Each had to be perfectly notched together or the glue joints wouldn't hold,” explained Youssefy.


Dow to Acquire EniChem’s Polyurethane Business

Dow Chemical has reached an agreement with Italy’s EniChem SpA to acquire its polyurethane business. Under the terms of the agreement, Dow will divest Union Carbide’s 50 percent interest in Polimeri Europa in order to satisfy the European Commision’s conditions for the approved Dow/Union Carbide merger.

The transactions will close pending all required regulatory approvals.


Packaging Demand Benefits from Product Improvements

Demand for plastic and paper packaging in selected U.S. markets where the two materials directly compete is projected to increase more than 2 percent yearly, to 86 billion pounds in 2004. Advances will be stimulated by steady growth in the food service sector and by improvements in barrier properties, strength and other attributes.

According to the Paper vs. Plastic in Packaging study from The Freedonia Group, plastic packaging demand is predicted to expand at a faster pace as a result of its cost and performance advantages. Plastic packaging has rapidly grown its share of the total packaging market via aggressive displacement of traditional paper-, glass- and metal-based offerings. According to the study, the more mature paper packaging segment remains competitive due to its better environmental profile, continued cost efficiencies and entrenched position in areas such as corrugated boxes.

Plastic packaging demand is expected to rise more than 3 percent annually through 2004, to 11.4 billion pounds. Flexible plastic packaging markets will exhibit the fastest growth, 3.3 percent annually, to more than 5 billion pounds. Plastic’s storage production, performance and distribution advantages over other packaging mediums will drive the opportunities, the study says. Other areas of plastic growth include plastic shipping drums, milk and juice containers, food trays and liquid detergent containers.
For more information, contact Corrine Gangloff at The Freedonia Group, (440) 684-9600, Fax (440) 646-0484, or E-mail pr@freedoniagroup.com. Text of the study is also available online at www.freedoniagroup.com.


Mergers and Acquisitions

Gusmer-Admiral Inc. of Akron, OH, announced its business alliance with the CEH Group of Singapore. CEH Group will operate the alliance in China and the southern Pacific Rim under the name of RIM Polymers Industries PTE Ltd. The company will market and sell Gusmer-Admiral polyurethane dispensing equipment and turnkey systems.

MSC Laminates and Composites acquired GAC, a leading brake damper supplier based in Buchenau, Germany. This action represents the first phase of MSC Laminates and Composites’ plan to establish a European base of operations to serve the brake market there. The acquisition will be finalized early this year.

Maag-Textron, a division of Textron Fluid Handling Products, entered into an agreement to acquire Wil-Man GmbH, a manufacturer of screen changers and polymer filtration equipment.

New Castle Industries has acquired FR Gross Co., a manufacturer of heat transfer rolls, industrial rolls and pressure vessels in Stow, OH. FR Gross will maintain its current name, but will operate as the Roll Division of New Castle Industries.

New Jersey-based MedTech Group Inc. has acquired Colony Plastic Molds of Middlesex, NJ. This will expand MedTech’s tool making capability for the production of injection molded medical device components and assemblies.

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Plastics Machining & Fabricating
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