PMF News Archives
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Methylene Chloride Compliance
After an appeal from a number of industry and labor
groups, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration
has agreed to an "interim stay" in certain of the key
compliance dates for the new methylene chloride
In January 1997, OSHA published a new standard for
employee exposure to methylene chloride (MC), a chemical
used in the manufacture of polycarbonates, flexible
polyurethane foam, furniture strippers, metal cleaners and
photographic film. The standard lowered the permissible
exposure limit (PEL) from 500 parts per million to 25 parts
per million over an 8-hour period and a short term exposure
limit (STEL) of 125 ppm during a 15-minute period.
In November, OSHA received a joint motion for
reconsideration of the standard from industry and labor
groups including the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance
and the United Auto Workers. Both the HSIA and the UAW had
earlier agreed to drop independent lawsuits if OSHA would
The joint motion asked that the engineering control
startup date of April 10, 2000 -- which is now limited to
employers with 20 or fewer employees -- be applicable to all
companies using MC with 20-49 employees and specifically
foam fabricators with 20-149 employees. The motion said that
it would be better to let companies use their resources
toward meeting the engineering control deadline, rather than
diverting part of those resources to interim respiratory
protection. (Unlike for most substances, inexpensive
respirators do not protect against MC exposure because the
molecule is so small it can pass through some
The federal agency agreed, granting a deadline extension
while it studied the issue further. Until a final ruling is
made on the joint motion, companies that need to use
respirators to meet the 8-hour standard will have an
additional four months, until Aug. 31, 1998, to comply. The
date set for compliance with the 8-hour PEL and the STEL
through engineering controls was pushed to Dec. 10,
OSHA also reserved the right to extend the compliance
date again if it found that a final ruling on the motion did
not give companies ample time to comply.
Bull Market Predicted for '98
Contract, POP Sales
Manufacturers of plastic components sold to the contract
furniture and point-of-purchase display industries should
see increased profits as projected sales in these markets
are expected to grow, according to industry experts.
Office Furniture Nears $12 Billion Sales Mark
In 1997, the office furniture industry saw sales top the $11
billion mark for the first time, jumping 12 percent to
$11.25 billion, according to the Business and Institutional
Furniture Manufacturers Assn. -- International. Over the
next two years, the industry is projected to grow by 6
percent annually, reaching $12.6 billion by 1999.
In addition to increased sales activity, many of the
nation's top office furniture companies made strategic
business moves to shore up their companies. Throughout the
year, many of the big players made acquisitions, sold off
divisions or, in the case of Steelcase, the world's largest
office furniture maker, went public.
According to Thomas Reardon, who took over the
association as the acting director after the Nov. 8 death of
executive director Russell Coyner, the office furniture
industry is going through changes. "The industry continues
to experience many mergers and acquisitions as companies are
increasingly vulnerable in a mature product market," he
said. "Many manufacturers (such as HON) acquire other
companies in order to enter market niches they were not
previously competing in."
POP/Fixture Markets look to break records
Also in 1997, the point-of-purchase display industry built
upon its already staggering sales volume, totalling nearly
$13 billion, while the store fixture industry amassed $7.5
billion. The new year sees a number of signs pointing to
these two markets hitting new strides.
With well-known name brands taking their campaigns
international, the POP and store fixture industries are set
to experience what Doug Hope, producer of GlobalShop (the
large annual retail design exposition), terms "display
With new corporate logos and rollouts being introduced
(such as Pepsi and Gillette), new POP displays are required,
fueling the growth of the industries, Hope said. The
industries are calling this wave of increasing need for
displays the "New Millennium."
"Markets such as tobacco, cosmetics, health care,
breweries and soft drinks are good at rollout innovations,"
Hope said. In 1997, convenient stores implored the large
volume programs of these markets, accounting for a large
percentage of POP's overall annual sales, he added.
For 1998, Hope said he sees the store fixture market
increasing its sales numbers by 6 to 7 percent with the POP
market growing by at least that figure. "I haven't seen a
cycle like this in the last 10 years," he said.
-- Larry Adams and Kevin Bastian
IAPD Creates new membership
category; Elects New President
The European Plastics Distributors Assn. could be the
first group to join the Leawood, KS-based International
Association of Plastics Distributors under the IAPD's newly
created association membership category.
The IAPD has presented a formal request to the EPDA and
the matter will be discussed at the EPDA's meeting this May
in Dublin, Ireland.
The overture to the European group is part of the IAPD's
Mission: 2000 Strategic Plan. The bylaws amendment
establishing the new category was voted on Oct. 31, 1997, at
the 41st IAPD Annual Convention in New Orleans, LA.
Members also voted on a new president. Elected was James
Conway, owner of ACI Plastics Inc., a St. Louis, MO-based
plastics distributor. Conway, a former mayor of St. Louis
and state senator and representative, founded ACI in 1967
and has been a member of the IAPD for 27 years.
Merit Award Presented
Also at the convention, former IAPD executive director Carol
Wagner was presented with the Paul Davis Award of Merit. The
award, named for the founder of the IAPD, honored Wagner for
her 14 years of service to the organization.
Wagner served as executive director from May 1983 to
December 1996 when she retired. In that time, membership
grew from 200 to 400 companies, a four-color, bi-monthly
magazine was launched, a permanent headquarters was
established and the budget was increased from $150,000 to
Cargill Dow to Make Plastic from
Starch and Sugar
Dow Chemical Co. and Cargill Inc. have formed a joint
venture to make plastics from starch and sugar, creating a
biodegradable synthetic that may replace plastics made from
Called Cargill Dow Polymers LLC, it will employ as many
as 100 people its first year and will make resins for use in
films and food packaging. The companies declined to disclose
Cargill Dow will make polylactic polymers, a type of
resin, from corn and sugar beets. The polymers have the
potential to replace some of the most widely used plastics,
including polyethylene used in garbage bags; polystyrene,
used to make foams, and polyethylene terephthalate, or PET,
used to make soft drink bottles, Cargill Dow said.
Many plastics makers have been seeking ways to make
products that are as strong as those made from
petrochemicals but decompose quickly in landfills, analysts
These new plastics are similar in gloss and clarity to
plastics derived from oil. Like PET, they resist oil and
grease and keep in flavors and odors, Cargill Dow said.
The new company will operate at a former Cargill plant
near the company's Minneapolis headquarters.
Joint Venture Expands Plastics
A new partnership has been created between Industrial Shows
of America and the Traverse Lerew Group. The result of this
venture is new shows for the plastics industry.
The group will kick off their joint venture at The
Plastics Show in Philadelphia, April 7-9 at the Pennsylvania
Convention Center. "The marriage between ISOA and The
Traverse Lerew Group is a natural one," said Charles Cross,
vice president of ISOA. "We are excited about the vast
possibilities before us and look forward to expanding into
the field of plastics."
For more information about upcoming shows, contact Becky
Lerew at (216) 826-4069.
Plastics Processes Featured at
Educational sessions on plastics processing will be held
March 23-26 at Westec '98, the 35th edition of North
America's largest annual metalworking and manufacturing
Sessions pertaining to plastics include: Fundamentals of
Injection Molding, Troubleshooting for Injection Molding,
Fundamentals of Powder Coating, Cost Analysis for Powder
Coating and Short-Run Prototype Tooling for Plastic Part
The conference program is just part of Westec '98 which
will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Products
from more than 600 exhibitors will be spread out over more
than 250,000 net square feet of exhibit space.
For the plastics industry, Westec '98 also features
products and services for integrated design and
manufacturing, as well as exhibits displaying injection
molding machinery and mold- and die-making equipment. Also
on display will be equipment from 150 technology categories
including: machine tools and accessories, cutting tools and
inserts, milling, grinding and deburring, drilling and
tapping, EDM, machine controls, finishing and laser
For more information on Westec '98, phone (800)
Plaskolite Purchases Division
of Ram Products
Plaskolite Inc. recently purchased the mirrored sheet
division of Ram Products of Sturgis, MI.
"Ram has an excellent reputation and completed our
product line with the 29 cast colors it manufactures," said
Mitch Grindley, vice president of marketing and sales. "This
means the ability to better serve our distributors, which
continues to be Plaskolite's mission."
"What's exciting to us is that the combination of the two
companies' product lines make it convenient for our
customers to fill their acrylic mirror needs," Grindley
The acquisition of Ram Products makes Plaskolite the
largest manufacturer of mirror acrylic sheet, and the only
mirror company worldwide which manufactures acrylic sheet
for the final mirrorized product, the company claims. "While
this acquisition is exciting, it will not be the last one,"
added Grindley. "Plaskolite will continue to build on
strengths and look for ways to strengthen its customers in
Duall Acquires Tri-Seal Profile
Duall Plastics Inc. has acquired the operating assets of
the Profile Division of Tri-Seal International Inc. in
Blauvelt, NY. L.C. "Neil" Drozeski Jr., president of Duall's
parent corporation, Bunzl Extrusion, announced that Duall
will move Tri-Seal's extrusion operations to its plant in
Athol, MA, in the early part of 1998.
One of the largest custom profile extruders in the United
States, Bunzl Extrusion is a subsidiary of Bunzl plc, a
publicly traded company headquartered in London. Bunzl
Extrusion has annual sales of more than $100 million through
its seven subsidiaries: A&B Plastics, Yakima, WA;
A&B-Southwest, Phoenix, AZ; Duall Plastics, Athol, MA;
Porth Plastic, Des Plaines, IL; Southern Plastics, Columbia,
SC; Tri-Lite Plastics, Fallsington, PA; and Tri-Lite South,
Pell City, AL.
"Bunzl Extrusion's A&B Plastics and Duall
subsidiaries are two of the major producers of fence
slatting in the United States," Drozeski said. "With the
acquisition of Tri-Seal's top locking and full privacy fence
slatting products, Bunzl Extrusion will be able to offer a
complete line of fence slatting products."
"We intend to broaden our fence product line and continue
to grow this portion of our business," he continued.
Drozeski added that the non-fence products of Tri-Seal's
Profile Division will also complement Duall's other custom
profile markets. The company's non-fence markets include
medical, transportation, and industrial.
ANTEC '98 Set for April
Billed as the world's largest plastics conference, ANTEC
'98 will address all aspects of plastics engineering,
including: design, processing, properties, production and
product performance. Sponsored by the Society of Plastics
Engineers, this year's technical conference will be held
April 26-29 at the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel in Atlanta,
This year's Super Session on the topic of Life Cycle
Analysis -- the environmental impact of making a product --
is set for Wednesday, April 29, from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Speakers include: Dr. Ronald Liesemer, American Plastics
Council; Tom Kornegay, Amoco Chemicals; Patricia Calkins,
Xerox Corp.; and James Fava, Roy F. Westin Inc.
In addition to the more than 100 technical sessions,
there will also be a three-day exhibition of machinery,
materials and related equipment for the plastics industry.
For more information, contact the SPE at (203) 775-0471.
Composite Association Honors
Fred Dierks, president of the Composite Fabricators
Assn. (CFA), presented the 1997 President's Award to Larry
Craigie of Dow Chemical Co. Presented at Composites '97, the
award is given annually to the individual who has
contributed to the CFA and the composites industry in
Craigie has been active in the industry for the past 25
years. He has also been instrumental in working with the CFA
and the industry on the comprehensive testing on styrene
emissions. He is an active member of the MACT Development
Work Group, chairs CFA's Composites Care Initiative and
serves on CFA's Executive Committee as its supplier
Plastics Machining & Fabricating
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