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Converting Industry News

Covering the Full Spectrum of Industry News, Events & Activities

Awards
Mebane Wins Five NPA Awards

MEBANE, NC, USA—Mebane Packaging, a Westvaco Packaging Resource, earned five awards in the 50th packaging competition sponsored by the National Paperbox Association This is the seventeenth consecutive year in which Mebane has received at least one award from NPA for package design.

Mebane earned three gold awards in the categories of pharmaceuticals, tobacco and tobacco-related, and combination packages. The company received two excellence awards in the healthcare products/non-pharmaceutical category. For more information on the NPA awards, see the August issue of PFFC, p50.

Max Daetwyler Earns Golden Cylinder Award
HUNTERSVILLE, NC, USA—Max Daetwyler Corp. received the Gravure Association of America's 2000 Golden Cylinder Award for Technical Innovation in the post-press category for its Renzmann Washing Systems. The Renzmann cleaning product line comprises spray, brush, and ultrasonic cleaning systems that can use solvents, water, or caustic as a cleaning media. These systems are used for cleaning gravure cylinders, anilox rollers, doctor blade holders, ink trays, and an assortment of other printing press parts. The operation of the equipment is said to be simple and economical and reportedly leads to quicker turnaround time. The systems also are designed for minimal VOC emissions, says the company. For more information on the Golden Cylinder Awards, see the May 2000 issue of PFFC, p52.


Supplier News
Coast to Build Web Guides in Europe

SARASOTA, FL, USA—Coast Controls, manufacturer of all-air automatic web guiding systems that operate entirely on plant air, has opened a manufacturing facility in Rotherham, England. Coast Controls Ltd. will build a complete line of intermediate steering and displacement guides for single or multiple webs up to 150 in. wide and shifting rollstands for unwind and rewind guiding. Coast says the plant expansion increases manufacturing and fabricating capacities and allows it to better serve European-based converters and converting machinery builders.

Test Facility Offers Coaters
ARLINGTON HGTS., IL, USA—Yasui Seiki USA is conducting development and test coatings for customers on two coaters at its Bloomington, IN, facility. Typical applications for both coaters are high-value-added products and problem materials. The 300-mm-wide coater features micro gravure and slot die capabilities for high quality coatings from 1-400 microns wet and for speeds from 1-30 mpm. The Patch Coat slot die system offers continuous pattern coating.

A recently installed, 700-mm-wide test coating machine has what are described as high quality coating capabilities. Webs up to 740 mm wide may be wound up to 500-mm dia on 3- or 6-in. cores. Drying ovens are capable of temperatures to150 deg C. For more information contact Yasui Seiki Co., Bloomington, IN; 812/331-0700; yasui.com

CHA Awarded Development Contract
FREMONT, CA, USA—CHA Industries has been awarded a multimillion dollar contract with the US Display Consortium (USDC) to build a web coating deposition tool. CHA will develop a roll coater for depositing the materials required to fabricate thin film transistors on plastic webs. In addition, this tool will be utilized for the examination of OLED film deposition on webs. CHA president Richard Roth states, "We're pleased to continue our involvement in the flat panel display [FPD] industry through our partnership with the USDC. Our delivery of such a new, application-specific web roll coating system represents a significant advance in FPD technology."

Equipment Concepts to Represent Top Tier
NORTH ADAMS, MA, USA—Top Tier Palletizers has selected Equipment Concepts Unlimited, Hancock, NH, to represent its product line. Top Tier manufactures two models of automated palletizers. The Tower is designed for high infeed applications, and the End-of-Line is designed for production lines that introduce boxes on a conveyor at floor level.

MagneTek Regroups to Focus on Key Markets
NEW BERLIN, WI, USA—MagneTek Drives and Systems will regroup into two new business units, Drive Products and Industrial Controls. The Drive Products Business Unit will concentrate mainly on the rapidly growing market for high-volume standard and quickly modified AC drives, while expanding support for independent systems integrators serving customers in the paper, film, and converting industries. Led by Michael Knapek, VP and general manager, the Drive Products Business Unit will be based at the company's headquarters in New Berlin.

Chromas Technologies to Reorganize
FT. LAUDERDALE, FL, USA—Chromas Technologies will reorganize to coincide with an equity investment from American Capital Strategies, Bethesda, MD. Significant funds will be invested in customer service and manufacturing, reports the co., as well as the expansion of Chromas' Canada operation in Boucherville, Que., to support demand for new products, including the Argio digital printing product lines. Didde Corp. is expected to maintain a minority interest in Chromas; the reorganization includes shifting manufacturing of the ZigZag and Webtron product lines to the Didde Web Press, Emporia, KS, facility.

Price Increases Announced
CHAM, SWITZERLAND, DUBLIN, OH; MT. OLIVE, NJ; LEHIGH VALLEY, PA; & BRIDGEWATER, CT, USA—Cham Paper Group raised prices 10% on deliveries from all mills of all grades effective July 1, 2000. Cham says this was caused by unabated rises in pulp prices, made worse by the strength of the dollar and energy costs.

The Composites Polymers Div. of Ashland Specialty Chemical Co. is increasing by 3 cents/lb (USD) the price of its specialty, general-purpose, isophthalic, and vinyl ester resins, effective with shipments on and after Aug. 14, 2000. The increase, reports Ashland, is due to continued, significantly rising costs of key raw materials.

BASF announces it increased the prices of Ultramid nylon resins and compounds by 10%, effective June 15, 2000. Demand for nylon products has increased substantially, says BASF, resulting in tightness through the entire nylon chain.

Due to rapidly escalating raw material costs, National Starch and Chemical Co. will add a 9.5% surcharge to the price of all liquid adhesives sold in the US, effective Aug. 21, 2000.

Air Products and Chemicals will increase prices of all grades of PVOH, marketed under the Airvol trademark, effective October l. Prices will increase by 5 cents/lb in the US and Canada, and $100/metric ton outside the US and Canada.


Capacity Expansion
UCB Suspends Sales Control of Four Monomers

SMYRNA, GA, USA—UCB Chemicals Corp. has suspended the sales control that was placed on its four major acrylated multifunctional monomers (TMPTA-N, TRPGDA, HDODA, and TMPEOTA). The company recently implemented several de-bottlenecking measures at its Pampa, TX, facility as part of an expansion plan to increase worldwide capacity of acrylated multifunctional monomers. The company reports that these steps have contributed to the plant's increased output of material to record levels of production.


New Venture
Smurfit-Stone Launches NextPak

CHICAGO, IL, USA—Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. has launched NextPak, a business-to-business company focused on providing brand-driven packaging and supply-chain solutions to Internet retailers. NextPak is intended to increase "e-tailer" profitability by integrating packaging, fulfillment, and shipping activities into one seamless operation. Raymond M. Curran, president and CEO of Smurfit-Stone, says, "We recognize the significant growth opportunities in the e-commerce marketplace. We are targeting e-tailers—a segment expected to grow from $20 billion in 1999 to $141 billion in 2003. This segment is moving so fast that e-tailers have not captured the benefits of comprehensively managing their brand and supply-chain synergies." The new venture is based in Canton, MA. John Kiley will serve as VP and general manager; Greg St. Laurent is director, finance and alliance management.


Acquisitions
Casola Buys Star Metallizing

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO, CA, USA—Bob Casola, president and CEO of Socopac Co. has acquired Star Metallizing, Escondido, CA. Star Metallizing specializes in custom metallizing, slitting, and rewinding; Socopac is an international distributor of custom packaging films.

Grace Buys Colloidal Silicas Business
COLUMBIA, MD, USA—W.R. Grace & Co. has acquired the global Ludox colloidal silicas business of the DuPont Co. With worldwide sales of approximately $30 million, the acquired business is located in East Chicago, IN, and will be integrated into W.R. Grace's Davison Silica Products business. Terms were not disclosed. Typical end-use markets for colloidal silicas include coatings and ink-receptive papers. According to Paul Norris, chairman of W.R. Grace, "The acquisition of DuPont's Ludox colloidal silica business is consistent with our plan to grow our revenues and earnings in businesses we know well. It opens new markets to us and broadens our product offering to better serve our customers."

Westvaco Acquires Two Packaging Operations
NEW YORK, NY, USA—Impac Europe Ltd., a sub. of Westvaco Corp. has acquired DuBois Holdings Ltd., global licenser and European manufacturer of the Amaray DVD package. DuBois has manufacturing facilities in Corby, England, and near Hannover, Germany. The acquisition of DuBois by Impac Europe, a supplier of printed material and packaging to music and multimedia markets, reportedly enhances Impac's participation in entertainment packaging.

Another Westvaco sub., Rigesa Ltda., has acquired the assets of Agaprint Embalagens, a supplier of consumer packaging in Brazil. Agaprint's manufacturing assets, including prepress equipment and new offset presses, will be installed in Rigesa's consumer packaging plant in Valinhos, Brazil. According to Mark R. McMahon, president of Rigesa, "By combining Agaprint's offset printing capabilities with a flexographic press that we installed just a year and a half ago, we will provide our customers with a broader range of packaging solutions. That enhanced capability is at the core of our strategy for continued growth in Brazil's high-value packaging markets."

Plystar Adds Three Companies to Its Operations
GREER, SC, USA—Plystar has acquired R-P Packaging, Plicon, and Columbus Packaging, all located in Columbus, GA. Following discussions with officials of both states regarding incentives, Plystar will determine whether the acquired businesses, with 40 employees, will remain in their present location or move to South Carolina. According to John Felinski, president of Plystar and affiliate company Filmquest, "Sales of the acquired companies in the last fiscal year were $5 million compared with $40 million only a few years ago." He expects the newly acquired properties to double in sales in the fiscal year ending July 31, 2001.

Scholle Buys Custom Packaging Systems
NORTHLAKE, IL, USA—Scholle Corp. has acquired Custom Packaging Systems, Manistee, MI, a manufacturer of intermediate bulk containers. Bill Scholle, CEO of Scholle, says, "This acquisition will complement our current large-bag product line for liquid applications. It will also add two new lines to our product offering: flexible intermediate bulk containers and FIBC liners. This will position Scholle as a more versatile supplier and one-stop source for bulk packaging."

Newark Boosts Capacity with Fibor Acquisition
CRANFORD, NJ, USA—The Newark Group has acquired Fibor Packaging B.V., the Dutch laminating and converting operations of BPB Paperboard Ltd., from BPB Plc, U.K. Fibor Packaging, located in Zutphen, Netherlands, is a manufacturer of laminated solid board and solid board packaging. With the acquisition of Fibor and its existing converting plants, Newark's solid board operations will have capacity of more than 110,000 annual metric tons.


Association News
Flexo Group Adds New Member Categories

CHARLOTTE, NC, USA—The High Definition Flexo Consortium (HDFC), dedicated to promoting flexo directly to print buyers, has created three new membership categories—Associate Sponsor, Affiliate Sponsor, and Educational Inst. The Associate Sponsorship level was created to make participation easier for organizations that, by profile and product offering, fit the Sponsor category, but by revenue, are categorized as small companies. The Affiliate Sponsor program promotes the membership of companies that are subsidiaries or wholly owned subsidiaries of active HDFC Sponsors. The Educational Membership enables accredited high schools, colleges, vocational schools, and technical institutes to participate. For more information contact HDFC at 937/293-8381; hdflexo.com.


Industry Studies
NPES to Study Color Management

RESTON, VA, USA—NPES, the Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing, and Converting Technologies, has initiated an analysis of Trends and Issues in Adoption of Color Management in the Graphic Arts. The study aims to analyze the drivers and impediments to the adoption of effective color management in a digital workflow. The study is being conducted under the direction of the NPES Market Research Subcommittee by Nima Hunter Inc. The research director is Don Carli, president of Nima Hunter. For more information contact NPES, 1899 Preston White Dr., Reston, VA 20191; 703/264-7200; npes.org

Convenience Drives Snack Food Sales
ALEXANDRIA, VA, USA—Sales of snack foods in the US increased 6.2% in 1999 to reach $19.38 billion, according to the annual State of the Industry Report released by the Snack Food Association (SFA) and its partner Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine. Included in this figure are potato chips, tortilla chips, pretzels, popcorn, cheese snacks, and meat snacks. When sales of cookies, crackers, and snack bars (a category that didn't exist 20 years ago) are included, sales of snacks in 1999 topped $30 billion. According to Jim McCarthy, president of SFA, "Americans' on-the-go lifestyle creates a desire for convenience. That desire is the driving force behind the increases we've seen."


Industry Shipments
Resin Sales Surpass 100 Billion Lb

CHICAGO, IL, USA—Resin sales and captive (internal) use reached 100.3 billion lb in 1999, a 6.7% increase over 1998, according to year-end data released by the Plastic Industry Producers' Statistics Group of the American Plastics Council (APC). Resin production climbed to 97.5 billion lb in 1999, up 6.3% over the previous year's total. Domestic sales of the major resins were up about 7.8% in 1999, while export sales were up 2.3% from 1998 figures. The improvement in export sales was a turnaround from the decline in 1998, due primarily to the improving Asian market.

Sales and captive use for the major commodity thermoplastic resins (including PE, PP, PS, and PVC) grew by 7.3% in 1999, and production showed a 6.8% increase over 1998's figures. This group of resins makes up 70% of the total volume of plastic resins sold to and exported from the US each year.

LLDPE and PP were the top-performing thermoplastic resins in 1999, each registering double-digit sales growth over 1998 levels. LLDPE production was up 12.2%, with total sales up 12.6%. Domestic sales were up 5.8%, driven by the continuing strong growth in the economy. The price of LLDPE increased throughout the year, driven by the increase in the price of ethylene, which was driven by the increase in the prices of crude oil and natural gas. Purchasers of LLDPE resin attempted to mitigate the impact of these price increases by buying more resin than they needed, ahead of the increases. Consequently, their downstream customers purchased more plastic goods in order to mitigate the increase in their prices. These increased purchases along the supply chain resulted in the additional sales growth during 1999, in all process areas.

PP sales jumped 11.5%, and production grew 12.1% over 1998. Some of these large increases are due to the substitution of PP for conventional materials such as glass and other plastics in many applications. Injection molding applications, 33% of the market for domestic PP, were up 19% in 1999. Markets for film also were up in 1999, as were sales of PP resin to distributors and compounders.

While sales of LDPE increased by 3.7% in 1999 over 1998, the long-term demand has been flat, between 6.2 and 6.4 billion lb, for several years. Growth in 1999 was driven by the same factors affecting LLDPE. HDPE sales increased 8.6% over 1998, with production up 7.3%. Domestic sales jumped 11.1%, driven by the strong growth in the economy.


Name Change
Harper Renames Flexo Supplies Division

CHARLOTTE, NC, USA—After restructuring its Nobel Supplies Div. two years ago, Harper Corp. has now renamed the division HarperScientific.com to more accurately project the scientific nature of its line of products for the flexographic printer. Since restructuring, revenues have more than quadrupled, according to Mary Keeney, global communications manager. She adds that sales are projected to more than triple over the next two years.


Education
Slitting Seminars Will Cover the Basics

SPENCER, MA, USA—Dienes Corp. offers a day-long seminar entitled "Slitting and Practical Applications." The seminar is designed for operators as well as production and design engineers and covers the basic theories and practical uses of shear, crush, and razor slitting. Topics will include slitting geometry; knife metallurgy; the role of knife holders; common problems and their solutions; how to make daily setups efficient; and cost savings. Seminars are offered in locations around the country, and interested companies can request a seminar be held in their area. For more information contact Dienes Corp., Spencer Corporate Pk., Spencer, MA 01562; 508/885-6301; 800/345-4038 dienescorp.com.



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