Price and performance benefits promised from new biopolymer resins - company

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Injection moulding Plastic Investment Ingeo

NatureWorks said major investment plans now underway to expand and develop its manufacturing process will lead to high performing bioplastics and give it the economies of scale to compete with oil based plastics on price.

The US-based company told FoodProductionDaily.com that the multi-million dollar cash injection at its Blair plant in Nebraska would help realise significant enhancements to its Ingeo line of biopolymers.

The firm said its currently produces more than 16 commercial grades of Ingeo resin across a range of applications including rigid and flexible packaging, clothing, personal care and foodservice ware.

Samples of the new polymers and new lactide intermediates will be available next year with commercial production due to be rolled out in 2013, the company said.

For injection moulding, NatureWorks claimed the new grades would help lower moulded part costs through faster cycle times and higher production rates.

But a company spokesman said it was difficult to give any general figures on any cost savings or production upturns.

“The degree to which the cycle time is reduced is determined by the specific part geometry as well as the nature of the tooling,”​ he added. “We’ll be working with the moulding community to sort out what this means to them individually.”

Economies of scale

“The new capital investment will significantly broaden our processing capabilities, allowing us to produce with appropriate economies of scale additional Ingeo products well suited to the global injection moulding and fiber/nonwovens markets,”​ said chief operating officer Bill Suehr.

The firm added that while injection moulding and fibre/non-woven markets are the “sweet spots” for the new range, it would also be working with clients in other markets such as thermoforming and film extrusion to see “if these grades bring anything to the table in their applications​”.

The spokesman explained that the economies of scale meant that the grades would be produced at the company’s 140,000 tonnes capacity site to allow polymer production that “will be competitive with existing oil based plastics”.

"This is in marked contrast to other, more recent market announcements from a variety of biopolymer suppliers, some of them direct competitors of ours, who reportedly offer performance grades, yet because of their smaller production scale, apparently are not able to offer the products at prices the market sees as interesting,"​ he said.

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1 comment

Rexnord Industries

Posted by Barry Simon Engineering Manager - North America,

We are a manufacture of plastic components used to convey products. Some of the issues we have with our customers is providing a low friction material compatible with conveying their plastic containers such as PET bottles. Do you see this as a replacement for the PET bottles used in the beveragre industry? If so, can we conduct a frictional compatibilty study between our product and that of the new resin should our customers switch to this packaging material, we would understand it performance with use on our products.

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