Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sales Job Opportunities

NOVACHEM has opportunities available for Inside Sales Representatives.

We're located in Bridgeport, CT and do virtually all of our sales over the telephone. Our reps contact production and manufacturing staff at plastic processing facilities to identify needs for our products and to develop solutions for purging issues. This is not "boiler room" telemarketing – it is professional consultative selling that happens to occur over a telephone line.

You can learn more at this link.

If you know anyone we should speak with, we'd appreciate the referral.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Welcome to HYBRID™ Purging

For a long time there have been two basic classes of purging compounds for plastics processing equipment - chemical purging compounds and mechanical purging compounds. Each class offers advantages and disadvantages to the processor. Recently, NOVACHEM introduced a new, third class of purging compound that combines advantages of each of the legacy classes while mitigating their disadvantages.

Chemical purging compounds have been regarded as the most effective products with regard to their ability to facilitate dark-to-light color changes or material changes and to control degradation. But they require the user to adhere closely to a multi-step process and they need a fair amount of time to do their work.

Mechanical purging compounds are, in contrast, easy to use ("Just run it through!") and are comparatively quick. Their downside is that they are just not as effective in difficult purging situations as chemical purging materials. Sometimes that's OK, but sometimes it isn't.

The new family of HYBRID™ Purging Compounds from NOVACHEM are formulated to provide effectiveness comparable to chemical purging compounds while offering ease-of-use and quickness similar to mechanical purging compounds. They can give the processor the "best of both worlds."

To get a good overview of these new products, please visit the HYBRID™ Purging web site.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It Ain't Necessarily So!

Now comes another story wherein one of the fundamental tenets of the "Plastics vs. the Environment" conflict turns out to be not so much of a sure thing. These interesting instances of elegant theories slain by ugly facts seem to be recurring with fair regularity.

Back in December, this blog took note of a study that found the total life-cycle environmental impact of petroleum derived polyolefins to be less than that of "green" biopolymers such as PLA and PHA.

Then last month, we pointed out the work of an Oregon State University oceanographer who finds the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to be far less menacing in its reality than in its media hype.

Now, we have a study by the UK's Environment Agency that analyzes the life-cycle carbon emission "footprint" of various types of supermarket bags. Guess what? The best alternative turns out to be the thin-gage HDPE bag so often deprecated by environmentalists.

Plastic or paper? The study concludes that a paper bag would need to be re-used three times to meet the standard set by the HDPE bag.

Re-usable cotton bags must be the answer, right? Well, not so much. According to the UK study, the manufacture of the cotton bag is so carbon-intensive that it must be used 173 times to catch up to the HDPE alternative. But (again, according to the study) the typical cotton bag has a life expectancy of 51 uses.

Of course, this study looks at only one dimension of the problem. We still have to develop effective ways to capture single-use HDPE bags so they can't escape into the wild and litter the beaches, etc.

Our primary point is that the conventional wisdom ("Plastic = Bad!") that is so often the starting point for shrill debates about our industry's stock-in-trade is very likely fallacious. We shouldn't allow such assumptions to go unchallenged.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Purging Tip of the Week: #33

Deciding when to purge a system that runs 24/7 can be difficult. Waiting until the contamination is so bad that you just can’t keep making good product is probably not the best plan. To keep contamination from getting out of control, you will need to purge – and to do it quickly - when contaminants first appear in the product.

Experience tells you that the situation will certainly get worse with time. Remember that it’s always better to avoid contamination buildup than to address it after it’s established and causing trouble.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Purging Tip of the Week: #32

Sometimes, due to excessive contamination or the requirements of a Preventive Maintenance program, you just have to tear down a piece of equipment. Split a die, pull a screw, open up heads…all unpleasant tasks. Often a purging compound, used as a pre-tear-down aid, can make the job easier.

Some resins are tacky and difficult to remove from metal surfaces but purging compounds are designed for removal from the system – they should peel off quite readily. Just run the purge in accordance with the supplier's instructions and when you reach the stage where the system is run empty, cut the heats and begin your tear-down.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Purging Tip of the Week: #31

When purging extruders that normally run with screen packs in place, be sure to discuss with your purging compound supplier whether the purging material will be able to pass through the screen mesh without hanging up.

And even if it will, don’t forget that part of a purging compound’s job is to break loose contaminants. If, for any reason, your screw and barrel is badly contaminated then even a purging compound that, by itself, would clear the screens with no trouble may break loose enough degraded material to clog the screens and rupture the screen pack.

If there probably is a significant amount of degraded material in the screw and barrel then the screens should come out.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Is the Giant Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch Imaginary?

Were we to give credence to the media reports describing the purported pollution of the North Pacific Gyre by plastic debris, we'd probably think you could walk from Oregon to Japan on the trash. But now a serious scientist is saying that it ain't necessarily so!
Dr. Angel White
Dr. Angelicque White, an oceanographer at Oregon State University, has been out there, on an actual boat, looking for all the plastic. It turns out that there's not much there. Sort of like those reports of Mark Twain's demise, the tales of catastrophic levels of plastic pollution may have to be relegated to the "Greatly Exaggerated" category.


In an article in Innovations Report, Dr. White debunks, among other things, claims that the plastic debris in the Pacific covers an area twice the size of Texas and that it's been doubling very ten years. She observes:

“There is no doubt that the amount of plastic in the world’s oceans is troubling, but this kind of exaggeration undermines the credibility of scientists. We have data that allow us to make reasonable estimates; we don’t need the hyperbole. Given the observed concentration of plastic in the North Pacific, it is simply inaccurate to state that plastic outweighs plankton, or that we have observed an exponential increase in plastic.”
“The amount of plastic out there isn’t trivial. But using the highest concentrations ever reported by scientists produces a patch that is a small fraction of the state of Texas, not twice the size.”

Dr. White clearly is NOT suggesting that oceanic plastic contamination is a non-problem, in part because the material would be devilishly hard to remove without a raft of unintended consequences. She appears to believe that concern is appropriate but alarm is not. Her conclusion:

“If there is a takeaway message, it’s that we should consider it good news that the ‘garbage patch’ doesn’t seem to be as bad as advertised, but since it would be prohibitively costly to remove the plastic, we need to focus our efforts on preventing more trash from fouling our oceans in the first place.”

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Purging Tip of the Week: #30

Many mechanical purging compounds increase effectiveness by incorporating fillers or abrasive resins. These ingredients cover a range from quite gentle “polishing” agents to quite aggressive scouring materials.

Because the residence time of the purging compound in the machine is brief, there’s no reason to shy away from a filled purging material unless:

  • There are narrow flow paths in the system that increase the risk of filler agglomeration and consequent blockage;
  • Highly polished production equipment surfaces (for exceptional end-product surface finishes) are susceptible to scratching or marring by an aggressive filler;
  • The next production resin is of such low viscosity that it would have trouble displacing a stiffer purging material.

Therefore, go ahead and use a purging material that contains a “scrubbing” ingredient unless you have a significant concern about one of the areas noted above.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Sage of Omaha says: "Plastics!"

In case you're bearish about the prospects for the plastics processing industry, be advised that Warren Buffett would appear to disagree. It seems that Berkshire-Hathaway (via its CTB, Inc. subsidiary) has acquired Michigan-based Ironwood Plastics.

CTB is focused in the main on agricultural products and Ironwood's primary market sectors are automotive and military components. Press reports indicate that Ironwood will now move into the ag area while continuing to support its current customer base.

It's nice to know that the Sage of Omaha thinks well of the fundamentals of the plastics processing industry. NOVACHEM has known the good folks at Ironwood for many years and we're unsurprised to learn that they impressed Mr. Buffett enough to get him to buy the company. Congratulations to all.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Purging Tip of the Week: #29

Occasionally, it can be difficult to find a way simply to introduce a purging compound into the production system. Especially in large equipment, the feed system may be fully closed from the supply silo to the throat.

If this is your situation, look for an auxiliary feeder port or a hopper magnet drawer that can be removed to allow access. If a substantial amount of purging compound must be fed into the extruder it may be possible to fabricate a chute or funnel from sheet metal or even cardboard and rig it to a temporary access opening. A little mechanical creativity will usually save the day.