Melvin (Mel) W. Ettenson of Ain Plastics of Michigan, Inc., B.S., Engineering, Lowell Technological Institute; M.B.A., NYU.; Lt. Comman-der, U.S. Navy; Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp., Mktg. Research Director; Uniglass Industries, Regional Sales Manager ; Dayco Corp., Sr. V.P. Cadillac Plastics Division; Member of the Society of Plastics Engineers, and The Society of the Plastics Industry. 810-356-4000.
As this first quarter of 1998 is ending, it is noteworthy as having been the start of another zero inflation year for our plastics industry. Although the expected deflationary period has not started yet, it appears that prices will hold steady.
More importantly, prices on key petrochemicals such as Benzene, Toluene, Propylene, Ethylene, Butadiene, have been weak across the board because of high gasoline stocks and exports from Asia into our markets. The weaker Benzene market has had an effect on Styrene prices now at the lowest level in many months. All of this translates into stable to lower prices in the low to mid price sheet products we all by and sell.
Speaking of Butadiene the U.S. demand for ABS is 4% of the total market of 2.2 million M.T. (source CMAI Houston). Hard to imagine that 60 years ago, German production of synthetic resins reached 45,000 M.T.!
Speaking of 60 years ago, the awards for best designs in plastics went to Bellanca Aircraft Corp., Western Union Telegraph, Studebaker Motor Co., Sears Roebuck and Cadillac Motor Car Co. Only the last two remain today, a sign of evolution and consolidation in our U.S. industry generally and our U.S. plastics industry specifically.
Now for our Millennium Monomers feature:
n The first plastic TV screen has been developed by Seiko Epson Corp. of Japan. It will be 2mm thick and 50mm square. More details as they become available.
n Monsanto expects biodegradable plastic, called Biopol, demand to double next year. First applications, also in Japan are for use in credit cards and packaging of fish.
n A composite material (Polylactic Acid Copolymer) is being used for bone regeneration in animals.
n Lego announces ABS blocks that think. The blocks are equipped with a micro computer that will enable children to design, build and program their own robots.
n NEC Corp. is using all recycled plastics in their newest personal computer.
All told some exciting applications are now being hurled at us from the test tube and the lab. Truly an exciting era is dawning for our industry as
we rush to the next millennium. At least when you get mad enough to destroy that proliferation of credit cards, your banker may not be happy, but the environmentalist will be -- biodegradable credit cards -- now if only they would develop the same system for all our mistakes and scrap sheet, rod and tube!
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