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Plastics Fabricators Flock to IWF for New Machining Technology

New technology for machining plastic sheets and formed parts will be on exhibit at the International Woodworking Machinery & Furniture Supply Fair, to be held Aug. 20-23 at the Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

This year, more so than ever, there has been a concerted effort by show management to attract plastics fabricators. Among the estimated 1,200 exhibitors will be companies displaying new production methods and applications for machining plastics as well as wood. Shown will be a variety of equipment and supplies, including: CNC and manual routers/trimmers, CNC panel saws, boring machines, bandsaws, cutoff saws, lathes, cutting tools, computer software, finishing equipment, adhesives, abrasives and sanding equipment.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 visitors are expected to attend the biennial event, according to Ingrid Volk, IWF '98 chair and vice-president of IMA-European Woodworking in Franklinton, NC.

"IWF '98, more than at any time in the past, will be the best opportunity for attending companies to bring teams of personnel because there will be more new product advancements and in-depth learning opportunities," Volk said. "This is especially important as manufacturing demands increase in an upbeat economy and companies who want to keep ahead of the competition will need all the information they can get."

In addition to 670,000 square feet of exhibits, IWF will conduct a technical conference seminar program which will cover key areas of production and allow participants to bring real-life manufacturing problems to participating experts for help in solving them.

IWF is sponsored by the Wood Machinery Industry Assn., the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America and the American Furniture Manufacturers Assn. For more information on attending IWF, contact show management at: (770) 246-0608; FAX (770) 246-0620 or e-mail: The Web address is:

MAAC's Purchase of CAM Unites Three 'Chicago-Style' Thermoformers

The recent purchase by Itasca, IL-based Maac Machinery Corp. of CAM (Central Automated Machinery) has resulted in the unification of the nation's three "Chicago-style" heavy-gauge thermoformers &emdash; Maac, CAM and Comet &emdash; under one roof. According to Paul Alongi, CEO of MAAC, projected sales for the company are expected to be in the range of $14 million.

Alongi said the acquisition of Gladwin, MI-based CAM on March 31 has fulfilled his goal to "pull together under a single operating umbrella" the "Chicago-style" technology founded by Comet Industries back in the 1950s, and refined by the two spinoff companies, Maac and CAM. MAAC acquired Sanibel, FL-based Comet Industries in November 1996 from Robert and Judy Kostur, and transferred all assets to Itasca.

"Chicago-style" heavy-gauge thermoforming machines are distinguished by a specially-designed motorized platen, as opposed to air-driven platens. "Some of the benefits we see with motorized platens are that you have constant speed and it has an auto brake system. We've taken out the variables such as the air pressure supply in the shop," said Alongi.

Currently, plans call for the rotary- and sheet-fed machines to be produced under the Maac name, although Alongi did not rule out the possibility of a CAM or Comet "model" at a later date. Maac Machinery's current product line consists of four models, available in 36 sizes with 83 different options.

Future plans also call for the company to increase its focus on turnkey systems, "where we will supply all the engineering, from extruding and forming to machinery selections, tooling, making the product and trimming &emdash; a complete package," Alongi said.

APR Calls PVC Post-Consumer Bottles a 'Contaminant' to Recycling of PET and HDPE Bottles

The Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recylcers recently announced that efforts to establish long-term, economically viable markets for post-consumer PVC bottles, with the assistance of the Vinyl Institute, have proven unsuccessful. Because of this, APR is declaring that post-consumer PVC bottles are a contaminant to the recycling of PET and HDPE bottles. The APR's position was announced after more than a year's effort to re-establish markets for the material.

"The Vinyl Institute had indicated that they would present a solution to our dilemma at our February board meeting, but they didn't," said Robin Cotchan, APR's manager. "Our members are doing their job to collect the bottles, only to find that they can't sell them."

"We have met numerous times with representatives from the Vinyl Institute, and they have come up empty-handed," said Gary Pratt, APR board member and president of P&R Environmental Industries. "We are being told that it is not economically feasible to convert PVC bottles into pellets. We say that it is too expensive for us to process PVC bottles, only to throw them away. It's time to tell it like it is: PVC bottles have no place in post-consumer plastic bottle recycling."

PVC packaging has been found to be a major contaminant to PET recycling, and its removal comes at a substantial cost to recyclers and reprocessors that they are unable to recover. "They've only given us lip service &emdash; the vinyl industry better realize how serious that is," said Steve Babinchak, president of St. Jude Polymer Corp. "We're going to view this material as a contaminant, and you sure won't find PVC packaging listed as a recycled plastic in APR's revised design guidelines. This stuff is a real problem and the industry has to do something about it."

PVC has also become a problem for HDPE reprocessors. Recently, a major Midwest dairy began using shrink labels made of PVC on milk bottles. Because the labels are difficult to completely remove in the washing process, it presents reprocessors with new challenges. Arthur Ferguson, division manager of KW Plastics' recycling division said, "We are concerned that the appearance of PVC in the HDPE stream could shorten the life of our equipment."

U.S. PET Resin Use to Grow 7.3 Percent annually

U.S. polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resin demand is forecast to increase 7.3 percent per year, to 6.3 billion pounds in 2002, according to a study from The Freedonia Group Inc. Advances will come from opportunities in beverage bottles as well as film and sheet products. Photographic film and magnetic tape, however, will continue to be low growth markets.

Packaging will remain the leading PET market, expanding 8.3 percent annually to 5.4 billion pounds in 2002. This will be from beverage applications, particularly smaller-sized soft drink bottles, juice bottles, bottled water and iced teas. Maturity in the two-liter carbonated soft drink segment will be offset by the introduction of new soft drink sizes, such as the 24-ounce bottle. Twenty-ounce and 2-liter sized bottles will remain dominant, together accounting for nearly three-fourths of all PET soft drink bottle demand.

Food packaging markets will increase 8.3 percent annually, to 1.4 billion pounds in 2002. This is based on growing bottle applications for salad dressings, sauces, jams and other foods. Slower growth is expected in crystallized PET tray demand due to saturated frozen food uses, with better opportunities expected in amorphous PET use in food trays, clamshells and other containers.

PET film advances will result from opportunities in snack food and other packaging applications such as popcorn bags, cheese and frozen foods.

PET demand in audiovisual media will increase slowly due to saturated photographic film and magnetic tape uses, as well as heightened competition from new technologies such as digital photography and digital versatile discs (DVDs).

Anchor Advanced Products Purchased By George Votis

Moll Chairman and CEO George Votis has acquired Anchor Advanced Products Inc., a designer, manufacturer and packager of precision-molded plastic products for a wide range of consumer applications. Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.

Anchor will retain its name and will be run as an independent operation under the leadership of a new president, Charles Schiele. Schiele assumes the presidency from Francis Olmstead Jr., who is leaving to pursue other interests.

Anchor makes a variety of items, including toothbrushes, compacts, lipstick containers, molded medical devices, surgical scrub brushes, personal computer components, point-of-purchase displays and other consumer products. Based in Knoxville, TN, Anchor recorded sales of $162 million and has nine facilities throughout North America, including plants in Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Connecticut and Mexico.

Moll Industries is a $250 million manufacturer of a broad range of custom-molded and assembled plastics components as well as molds. Based in Nashville, TN, Moll owns and operates 17 plants throughout North America and Europe.

Recently, Moll acquired Somomeca Group, a leading supplier of injection-molded plastic components to the automotive and appliance industries. With annual sales of approximately $90 million, Somomeca owns and operates eight facilities throughout France and Portugal, and is the second largest manufacturer of plastic molds in France.

1997 Laser Shipments Up 16%

At $585.4 million for 1997, shipments of industrial laser equipment and systems for North America, including U.S. exports, were up 16 percent from 1996 levels, according to the Laser Systems Product Group of AMT &emdash; The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Industrial laser equipment and systems shipments within North America by the 43 companies reporting to the LSPG statistical program totaled $431.7 million while exports amounted to $153.7 million.

The report from the LSPG shows cutting applications are the largest source of business activity in 1997, accounting for more than 50 percent of all shipments. In addition, nearly 60 percent of all industrial lasers shipped were of the CO2 variety and just over 75 percent of total shipments were configured as laser systems.

1997 dollar figures are based on data supplied by contributors to the LSPG statistical survey. Year-on-year growth of 16 percent reflects the contributions of only those companies who participated in the statistical program in both 1996 and 1997. The report does not include increased shipments reflecting the addition of new program participants in 1997.

"1997 proved to be another strong year for growth in the market for industrial laser processing. We are looking forward to continued growth in 1998 as more and more companies become aware of the cost, speed and flexibility advantages that laser processing provides to the manufacturer," said Bob Zimmerman, LSPG chairman.

CI Recommends Joining CFA

Robert DeRoma, outgoing chairman of the Composites Institute board of directors, announced the board's recommendation that all CI members affiliate with the Composite Fabricators Assn. Further, the board recommended that members not participate with the Composites Institute of The Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.

"With our industry being threatened by new and very challenging regulatory demands, it is now more important than ever that we speak with one strong voice," DeRoma said. "Our entire Board agrees that the wisest strategy for our industry is to join forces with the CFA. This will allow us to consolidate our strengths, as well as our assets and create one powerful and unified organization focusing specifically on issues affecting our industry."

Key strategies outlined include: greater emphasis on regulatory matters and market development: promoting new uses for composites; and producing an annual, unified trade show in October 1998 &emdash; two years ahead of the previously scheduled joint trade show.

Fred Dierks, CFA president, said, "These strategies will complement and enhance the CFA's traditional strong level of service. The leadership of CFA has worked closely with the outgoing CI Board to identify the needs, wants and expectations of composites professionals. We believe that the new focus and the expanded services will enable our member companies to get the assistance they need to grow their businesses and grow the industry. We welcome the opportunity to expand our umbrella to encompass the complete needs of the Composites Industry."

Trexel Announces New 'MuCell' Process for PP

Trexel Inc. announced that its proprietary, microcellular polymer foaming process produces extruded foam sheet and profiles with general purpose polypropylene grades.

Trexel's process replaces chemical blowing agents with CO2 and N2. Both homopolymers and copolymers with melt flow indices ranging from 0.5 to 5 g/10 min. have been processed. Specific gravities of 0.5 to 0.8, with or without talc, have been produced. With the MuCell process, products ranging from 0.006-in. to 0.06-in. thick are possible.

"This creates new product opportunities for lightweight products in the packaging and thermoforming industries that were previously limited to more costly, high-melt strength polypropylenes," said Trexel technical director Dr. Kent Blizard. "MuCell technology can be applied to thin films, coatings and other products previously unfoamed due to past technology limitations."

GE Marks PPDC Anniversary with New Developments

GE Plastics's Polymer Processing Development Center in Pittsfield, MA, marked its 10th anniversary with announcements of developments in the areas of thermoforming, injection molding, blow molding and turnkey operations.

Under development in the thermoforming area are applications utilizing multi-layer sheet material systems. GE also plans to expand its technology capability with a four-station rotary machine enabling increased part performance data on larger applications, including twin-sheet forming.

Developments in injection molding involve: thin-wall technology, precision molding, optical molding and insert-mold decorating, which allows printed films to be insert molded, producing printed components in a single step. Other work includes developments in injection molding control and two-shot molding, allowing simultaneous injection of a thermoplastic and liquid silicone in the same cycle.

In the extrusion blow molding area, GE is looking at spiral flow head technology. GE says it offers the following benefits: no discernible weld lines, rapid material changes and improved parison control.

In addition, GE's new Integrated Product Development Center in the PPDC creates turnkey manufacturing cells that integrate the technologies developed with specific customer program requirements.

For more information on the PPDC, call GE Plastics at (800) 845-0600 or visit its Web site at

NASFM, POPAI and PMA Host Joint Seminar

The National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers, the Point-of-Purchase Advertising Institute and the Promotional Marketing Association have announced a first-ever joint program, scheduled for Feb. 9, 1999.

The day-long seminar will take place at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City. Presentations will be made by industry executives as well as mergers and acquisitions experts including Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corp., Ernst & Young, and S.K. Platt & Co. Also covered will be: industry needs, analysis of recent industry transactions, valuation, initial public offerings, financing transactions and global implications.

In a joint statement, POPAI president Dick Blatt, NASFM Executive director Klein Merriman and PMA president Claire Rosenzweig wrote: "It is incumbent upon our associations to help member companies review their strategies so that they can be advantageously positioned for the next five years. The recent wave of acquisitions has further blurred the historic distinctions between our industries. A joint seminar program is the best way to ensure that our members are kept well informed on this issue."


Plastics Machining & Fabricating
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