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SABIC Innovative Plastics: Accelerating Growth through Customer-Focused Innovation


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A whitepaper developed for SABIC Innovative Plastics.

A whitepaper developed for SABIC Innovative Plastics.

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  • 1. SABIC Innovative Plastics:Accelerating Growth through Customer-Focused Innovation Michael Valenti Avinash Bhaskar
  • 2. SABIC Innovative PlasticsTABLE OF CONTENTSSABIC Innovative Plastics (SABIC IP) – A Global Leader in Specialty Chemicals .................... 3Customizing Compounds Enable Substitution...................................................................... 6Meeting LED Safety Standards ............................................................................................. 7Enabling Technology Innovation .......................................................................................... 8SABIC IP’s Initiative in Saving Aircraft Fuel Costs ............................................................... 10Streamlining Composite Aerospace Board Fabrication ...................................................... 11More Stylish Cabin Interiors .............................................................................................. 12ABOUT FROST & SULLIVAN ................................................................................................ 15 2
  • 3. SABIC Innovative Plastics (SABIC IP) – A Global Leader in Specialty Chemicals Continued technological SABIC’s acquisition of GE Plastics in 2007 gave it access to groundbreaking innovation, emphasis on thermoplastic technologies developed and cultivated over 75 years. This culture of customer needs, and the continuous technological innovation combined with SABIC’s dynamic chemicalsprovision of a wide range expertise produced a formidable competitive advantage in the marketplace. It spawned of products and services are embedded in the a broad portfolio of plastics solutions that give SABIC IP’s customers a vast array of company’s strategies… choices within multiple industries, markets, and applications. Combine this broad portfolio effect with continued technological innovation and a relentless focus on customer needs, and it becomes clear why SABIC is such a dominant force in the world of plastics. These business characteristics underpin SABIC’s success in the major segments that it serves, including market applications within healthcare and aerospace and defense, as well as the multiple applications that use light emitting diodes (LEDs). Customer-Focused Culture In the healthcare industry, for example, SABIC is a clear leader in the development of new solutions for medical device fabrication. Continued technological innovation, emphasis on customer needs, and the provision of a wide range of products and services are embedded in the company’s strategies for this sector. SABIC’s commitment to the healthcare industry is reflected in the strong technical expertise of its field team, close collaboration with customer engineers, and a keen focus on processing as well as material innovation. In the company’s Centers of Excellence, for example, materials innovation comes to the fore as engineers address such challenges as developing plastics to replace glass which also resist repeated sterilization. 3
  • 4. SABIC Innovative PlasticsSABIC’s broad plastics portfolio, through which it touches a majority of segmentswithin the multi-faceted healthcare industry, ranges from the inclusion of widely usedmaterials, such as Cycolac* resin, to high performance compounds, such as Ultem*resin.Reflecting its customer focus, SABIC’s customizing capabilities for healthcare devicefabrication enables its engineers to inquire about specific application needs and thentailor a solution that may even exceed the client’s specifications.Just as important to SABIC’s customers is the Healthcare Policy it instituted abouteight years ago that specified a nomenclature of its healthcare resins to give thecompany greater control over them. Previously, SABIC relied on industrial grades forits medical plastics. Under its Healthcare Policy, the company created a portfolio ofmore than 50 grades of healthcare plastics that are each rated in terms ofbiocompatibility, food contact compliance in many cases, and other specificationsderived from ISO10993.A key service SABIC delivers to its healthcare customers is to lock in a formula andstrictly manage the change process. That is, the company will not make a change to ahealthcare plastic’s formulation without the customer’s knowledge. This ensuring thesecurity of supply is virtually unknown among healthcare plastic suppliers and haspaid dividends to medical devices manufacturers that use SABIC’s products.The impact of providing a broad portfolio is evident in customer implementation, as isthe significance of being able to offer multiple functionalities. For example, PWBHealth Ltd in the U.K. chose SABIC’s Lexan* HP polycarbonate resin for the lens of itsBreastlight home-use device for self-examinations. PWB chose this compound for itsoptical clarity, impact strength, ability to be ultrasonically welded to the housing, andbiocompatibility in accordance with the ISO 10993 standard.Miami, Florida-based Biorep® Technologies used SABIC’s Ultem HU resin for theRicordi® Chamber that isolates and purifies islets for transplantation in patientsafflicted with Type 1 diabetes, which cannot be controlled by conventional insulininjections.Renal Solutions Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fresenius Medical Careheadquartered in Warrendale, Penn., incorporated SABIC’s Lexan HPM resins into itshemodialysis blood pump because of those resins’ advanced hem compatibility. Thischaracteristic of Lexan HPM resin prevents the buildup of thrombus on the walls ofthe pump that could impede patient treatment. 4
  • 5. The light weight capabilities of Lexan resins and Lexan resin blends provide for…the material is used to technologically innovative solutions in market applications. For example, the materialreplace opaque plastics in is used to replace opaque plastics in monitoring and imaging housings to meet themonitoring and imaging demand for smaller and lighter devices that physicians, technicians, and nurses canhousings to meet the move to the patient, rather than the converse that was done in previous years ofdemand for smaller and heavy, all metal and glass equipment. An important benefit of Lexan resin is that it canlighter devices that provide the impact resistance of metals in these applications and can be made morephysicians, technicians, aesthetically pleasing, a key consideration in home-care medical devices. Indeed,and nurses can move to the consumer product designers are moving into the medical device space, and usingpatient… plastics to make sleeker, more attractive equipment for home bedsides. The Lexan resins are also being used to replace glass in applications such as blood containers, where the resins reduce weight, the risk of shattering, and the cost of production and shipping. SABIC’s Lexan* resin suits virtually every healthcare application including external orthopedic devices, such as this Wrist Fixation Device made by Rigid fx Orthopedics Corp. Lexan resins are the flagship products in SABIC’s portfolio of resins that serve the healthcare market. Indeed, these are the company’s most popular products outside of its olefin offerings. Lexan resin offers the clarity needed for visual inspection of medical devices, as well as toughness, dimensional stability, and resistance to gamma rays and other disinfectants. Its lipid and hemo resistance are particularly valuable in disposable devices. Picture Credit: SABIC 5
  • 6. SABIC Innovative PlasticsSABIC materials are molded into the many different types of capital equipmentmanufactured by GE Healthcare in Waukesha, Wisc.. These include anesthesiamachines, x-ray machines, MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging systems) and CTs(computed tomography scanners). For example, GE Healthcare uses the SABICthermoformed Cycoloy* sheet for the thin-wall exterior panels in the GE BrightSpeedand BrightSpeed Select series of smaller computed tomography (CT) scanners. In thisapplication, Cycoloy sheet reduced the weight and mass in these devices’ covers,enabling GE Healthcare to shrink the size of the BrightSpeed and BrightSpeed Select,which was desirable to hospitals, field service technicians and patients.James Kandler, Sourcing Program Manager, Environmental Stewardship at GEHealthcare, works to ensure that GE Healthcare’s medical devices are in compliancewith changing and typically tightening environmental regulations, and he laudedSABIC’s proactive approach to this area. “They have been ahead of our needs, changingthe composition of their products to stay ahead of what we need [in environmentalcompliance],” said the GE Healthcare executive.CUSTOMIZING COMPOUNDS ENABLE SUBSTITUTIONJust as being ahead of the curve regarding environmental compliance is a key trendand driver of success in modern healthcare markets, substituting competing materialsis also an ongoing trend and objective for plastics manufacturers. The plastics-basedsolutions can be easier to manufacture, lighter, and less expensive, providing awinning solution. SABIC purchased LNP Engineering Plastics in 2001 in a move thatcontributed further to its broadening portfolio of solutions and its ability to useinnovation as a driver of solutions. The purchase of LNP gave SABIC the ability tocreate custom compounds, based on materials both within and without its voluminousportfolio of healthcare plastics, and to tailor solutions to specific customer demands,such as improving the flexible modulus or tensile strength. A key advantage of LNP*Thermocomp* compound is the replacement of lead in shielding applications withinjected molded plastic with a specific gravity as high as 11, similar to that used inpoker chips or the back of putters used in golf. This solution is timely, as lead is beingbanned as a hazardous material.Just as innovative are internally lubricated plastics used to manage friction inapplications where external lubricants are not desirable, such as mating twoconnectors. For this application, SABIC provides LNP* Lubricomp* compound, whichreplaces Acetal in order to impart greater impact resistance. LNP Lubricompcompound is moving into EMI/MRI shielding as remote diagnostics are beingdeployed. 6
  • 7. SABIC can also customize its LNP plastics to serve in static resistance or conductive applications. Static resistance is valuable, for example, in pill counters, where pills tend to adhere to the walls of the counter because of static cling. In asthma inh inhalers, a static charge can also cause the medication to cling to the walls of the dispenser and provide an inaccurate dosage. Therefore, the ability to provide static resistance is extremely important. The heat resistance of Ultem* resin that enables the SABIC material to be autoclaved at 134° C for up to 2,500 cycles, compared to the 121° C, 10 cycle limit of polycarbonates, 10- allows the material to be used in long service life applications such as this Merilux Examination Lamp made by Merivaara. Picture Credit SABIC Credit: MEETING LED SAFETY S STANDARDS A key contributor to the ability to offer a comprehensive portfolio is that many of SABIC’s materials have such broad functionalities that they can span applications in multiple industries. As noted, Lexan polycarbonate resin is popular for the lens of the polycarbonate Breastlight home use device. This material is also seeing use in light emitting diode home-use (LED) lighting. Indeed, as a polycarbonate, Lexan provides the heat resistance, transparency, impact resistance, flame retarding, and energy efficiency capabilities retarding, that are ideal for LED lighting.7
  • 8. SABIC Innovative PlasticsThe strongest near term application for SABIC’s LED plastics is in retrofittingapplications for incandescent lights that are being banned in the United States andEurope. SABIC expects spotlight retrofits to follow suit.The market for LED plastics will also be impacted by technological advances made tothe materials themselves. To that end, SABIC is developing plastics that provide higherlight outputs and with longer performance life that will find them used in street,highway, and other outdoor lighting applications.For the LED segment, SABIC develops materials with superior transparency, diffusion,and other characteristics. A good example are the Lexan grades that meet the UL8750safety standard developed by Underwriters Laboratories, to address potential safetyconcerns with respect to flame retardancy, impact, and electrical requirements. Inaddition, the thinner walled LEDs made of SABIC’s plastics reduce the light that is lostin thicker walled LEDs, enabling more light with the same amount of energy.Global lighting manufacturer OSRAM uses SABIC’s Lexan* FXD polycarbonate resin tomold its retrofit compact fluorescent lights named Duluxstar Mini Candles. The Lexanmaterial extends Duluxstar’s performance life to 10 years with a three year guaranteeand reduces energy consumption to 20 percent of that required by conventionalincandescent bulbs. OSRAM has designed the Duluxstar to serve the phasing out ofincandescent bulbs during the next two years in Europe, Canada, the United Kingdom,and the United States as a way to reduce energy usage, because a 20-watt CFL canprovide the same light output as a 100-watt incandescent and lasts 10 times as long onaverage.The chemical resistance of SABIC’s Lexan* DMX polycarbonate attracted Germanspecialty lighting manufacturer Norka, which uses the material in LEDs itmanufactures for animal enclosures including stables and zoos where ammonia-ladenatmosphere can embrittle standard LED materials.ENABLING TECHNOLOGY INNOVATIONWith lightweight materials that exhibit a wide variety of properties comes the abilityto implement elegant design solutions. A major technology benefit specific to LEDlighting is that these devices provide light in one direction and heat in the oppositedirection. The solution for many developers is to use die cast aluminum to take heataway from the LED light. SABIC took a different path with its aptly-named LNP*Konduit* compound that carries heat away from the light, by reducing weight morethan 50% as aluminum. An additional benefit of LNP Konduit compound is that it iselectrically isolative, rather than conductive, as aluminum is. SABIC makes thismaterial available in white – popular in Europe and Japan – and black and gray. LNPKonduit compound can also be painted red, blue, or green, extending its aestheticappeal. 8
  • 9. Leedarson Lighting, headquartered in Xiamen, China, is replacing the aluminum in the heat sinks it manufactures for two of its LED retrofit bulbs with LNP Konduit compound. The SABIC compound enables Leedarson to provide an aesthetically pleasing white color that is heat stable and does not require secondary painting; increase its productivity by injection molding parts; and comply with industrial specifications for electrical is isolation. Outdoor Light by Industria Technische Verlichting BV Osiris Picture Credit: SABIC IP SABIC plastics used in lighting applications, such as an outdoor light made by Industria Technische Verlichting BV Osiris, provide many characteristics desired by LED manufacturers, such as superior transparency, impact resistance, and flame retardancy. SABIC also continues to develop more transparent plastics for LED custo customers who demand the 100 percent transparency of glass. Lexan resin is capable of achieving 90 achievin percent transparency and developers are looking to increase that by a percentage point or more, as well as increasing the thermal conductivity of their LNP Konduit compound to narrow the gap between it and aluminum.9
  • 10. SABIC Innovative PlasticsThe fortunes of SABIC’s LED plastics will also rise with the popularity of LED basedlighting itself. LED lighting systems provide greater design freedom for architects, andtheir ability to use only 10 percent of the electricity of incandescent lights will changethe landscape of outdoor lighting in residential applications. Finally, the ability ofdesigners to precisely control the behavior of light from LEDs will make the future ofSABIC’s Lexan resin bright in this application.SABIC IP’S INITIATIVE IN SAVING AIRCRAFT FUEL COSTSSABIC’s innovative materials and solutions have also found their way into theaerospace industry. With jet fuel costs ever on the increase, the performancecharacteristics of materials, such as weight, become even more important. SABIC’sflagship Ultem* resin has inherent flame, smoke, and toxicity characteristicsdemanded in aerospace applications. Unlike competing materials such as polyvinylchloride acrylics, Ultem resin does not require additives and fillers that would addweight; thus, the SABIC high performance plastic is lighter in aircraft. Additionalbenefits of the Ultem material are its ease of processing, high temperature resistance,better flow characteristics for filling, and colorability to suit aesthetic applications.Another key differentiator of the Ultem material in aerospace is its availability in ahost of forms to suit distinct parts. For example, Ultem foam boards are used in foampanels, fibers to make upholstery and nonwovens products such as overblankets,wicking felts and seat blockers, film used as lamination in sidewalls or floors or ceilingcovers, powdered form in adhesives in aerospace, and sheets used in seat backs inaircraft. Aircraft manufacturers that incorporate parts made with Ultem materialsinclude Boeing, Airbus and Regional Jet manufacturers.Similarly, Ultem resin plays a major role in controlling corrosion in defenseapplications such as electrical boxes. The defense industry spends $10 billion annuallyfighting corrosion. Flame resistance is also important to the military where SABIC’sLNP structural products, such as LNP Lubricomp and Thermocomp compounds,provide needed improved mechanical performance. The Lexan Margard sheet thatArmor Holdings, Inc. uses to glaze its HUMVEE helps to fight corrosion, giving thevehicle a longer useful life. SABIC developed its Lexan FST material as pellets, film and sheets for aerospaceapplications that call for superior impact resistance, transparency, andflame/smoke/toxicity requirements. The Lexan FST material also facilitates color withan inherent chrome finish that eliminates painting. 10
  • 11. An emerging material is carbon fiber filled Ultem resin that SABIC has developed for weight reduction in replacing aluminum in seating, particularly armrests, tray table arms and galley components. This composite halves weight while providing the same level of tensile strength airlines require. SABIC is aiming this material towards next generation aircraft like the Dreamliner. STREAMLINING COMPOSITE AEROSPACE BOARD FABRICATION SABIC partnered with Crane & Co., Inc. to develop a composite aerospace board or CAB using Ultem fiber to reduce the manufacturing time of large parts from several hours to minutes as part of its overall strategy to provide an economical total system cost by eliminating a second material operation or by shortening cycle times. CAB using Ultem fiber is manufactured as “paper,” consolidated into sheets, then thermo-vacuumed into the shape of a part. These Ultem-based parts would compete with thermoset aramid fiber-reinforced honeycomb composites. A case in point involves Tubus Bauer GmbH, a manufacturer of thermoplastic honeycomb core panels based in Bad Säckingen, Germany, and TenCate Advanced Composites B.V., a developer of advanced composites for space and aerospace and industrial applications headquartered in Nijverdal, The Netherlands. A drawback of the aramid fiber honeycomb-core materials used to make aircraft panels is that they are hard pressed to meeting increasingly more stringent flame, smoke, and toxicity standards. In response, the German and Dutch companies determined that they needed a thermoplastic to replace the aluminum and thermoset resins previously used. They turned to SABIC, which provided Ultem resins that met the FAR25.853 and OSU standard, for low fire/smoke/toxicity and heat release required in aerospace applications. In this application, Tubus Bauer extrudes the amorphous, thermoplastic polyetherimide Ultem resins into hollow tubes that they cut to the desired length and join by thermal means. Ten Cate laminates a low viscosity version of Ultem into a glass fiber or carbon fiber composite. This sandwich structure is assembled, thermoformed into shapes, and then painted. Using a thermoplastic resin instead of a thermoset enabled the European manufacturers to reduce processing time from up to an hour to a few minutes. They also eliminated the need of the refrigeration units to prevent stored thermosets from prematurely curing, as well as the need for pre-painting surface preparation, as Ultem resin can be painted directly.11
  • 12. SABIC Innovative PlasticsSABIC is now focusing on ways to scale up these innovative plastics to fabricateextremely large parts with highly exacting performance characteristics. Thecompany’s designers achieve this by working closely with their customers tounderstand their needs and forming strategic relationships with them. SABIC conductsrelentless risk analysis to determine what new technologies will enable them tomaintain their leadership in aerospace and defense plastic development and supply.MORE STYLISH CABIN INTERIORSFor example, some of the strongest applications within aerospace for SABIC’sproducts are in-flight entertainment video screens, each seat’s personal service unitthat controls air and lighting, food trays, window frames, and sidewall as airlines seekto provide passengers with an enjoyable flight. In response, SABIC chemists andchemical engineers work to create materials with appealing colors that can befashioned into stylish designs.These designers are tasked with the paradox of providing products that meet the nextwave of performance characteristics from the FAA and aircraft manufacturers, whileat the same time meeting the pricing requirements of part integrators.Future trends observed by SABIC in aerospace plastic include a movement of partmakers to set up satellite locations in the Far East. This is driven in part by Chinadeveloping its COMAC C919 airliner by 2014 and asking the Western supplier base tolocate manufacturing facilities in China. It is estimated that by 2020, Asia will accountfor the largest share of new airplane orders, moving up from their current numberthree slot after North America and Europe as both China and India increase theirfleets. Certainly, SABIC will be a leading supplier of the plastics they use.SABIC’s customer-focused culture is evident in conversations with its clients.“We use Ultem resin to fashion the cargo stanchions and deck systems used on the U.S.Navy’s T-AKE cargo ships,” said Jerry Fanucci, Chief Executive, KaZaK Composites inWoburn, Mass. The T-AKEs deliver cargo, including ammunition, food, limitedquantities of fuel, repair parts, ship store items, and expendable supplies and materialto American and allied Navy ships at sea. Fanucci said that his company uses Ultemresin in this application because of its fire retardance and good mechanical properties.“I think they [SABIC] have been a very good company to work with. They help uschoose the best materials, answer our questions, and even offer advice on how tobetter manufacture their materials,” commented the chief executive. The KaZaK CEOnoted, “When we looked for competing materials that claimed to be nearly as good asSABIC, there were none.” 12
  • 13. C&D Zodiac was founded in 1972 as a supplier of interior aviation components to a supplier of integrated interior systems, including interior doors and galleys. It employs 5,000 persons in its 15 facilities based in six countries. “We use polycarbonate Lexan resin for dust covers and window materials, and Ultem products in the interior systems such as window reveals or frames in the cockpit and side windows,” reported Jim Delpinto, Director of Materials & Process Engineering. Delpinto praised the customer support that SABIC and its subsidiaries provide, as well as the reliability and repeatability of its products. “The Federal Aviation Administration is all about traceability so that in the event, there is an incident, they can trace back the materials,” said the C&D Zodiac executive. “With a source like SABIC, they are so good at maintaining records, we do not have to worry, the FAA can look up the source and ensure that all materials have been vetted. We do not have the concern, for example, of using polycarbonate from a second tier vendor that uses two out of four required alloys.” The C&D Zodiac spokesperson cited the business practices of SABIC as being beneficial to his company. “Over periods of recession, every company has consolidation that occurs which can affect relationships between companies, yet SABIC tries to maintain stability,” explained Delpinto. “For example, they will bring an outgoing sales manager or materials engineer together with their successor to make the transition with the customer. By contrast, some suppliers we may work with for five years will have someone call us and say, `I’m Joe New Guy from Company X, what have we been doing for you?’ and we need to start all over, contacting the old source and digging for information. All these things do not happen with SABIC, and we can hit the ground running.” SABIC’s Innovative Plastics business employs more than 9,500 persons in more than 25 countries. The company manufactures thermoplastic resins, coatings, specialty compounds, film, and sheet around the world, with its six primary sites located in Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands; Cartegena, Spain; and Burkville, Mt. Vernon, Ottawa, and Selkirk in the USA. *Trademark of SABIC IP BV13
  • 14. SABIC Innovative Plastics 14
  • 15. ABOUT FROST & SULLIVAN Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, partners with clients to accelerate their growth. The companys TEAM Research, Growth Consulting, and Growth Team Membership™ empower clients to create a growth-focused culture that generates, evaluates, and implements effective growth strategies. Frost & Sullivan employs over 45 years of experience in partnering with Global 1000 companies, emerging businesses, and the investment community from more than 30 offices on six continents. For more information about Frost & Sullivan’s Growth Partnership Services, visit The information presented in this document is based on research and interviews conducted solely by Frost & Sullivan and, therefore, are subject to fluctuation. Frost & Sullivan takes no responsibility for any incorrect information supplied to us by manufacturers or end users. All copyright and other proprietary notices must be retained. No license to publish, communicate, modify, commercialize or alter this document is granted. For information regarding permission, write: Frost & Sullivan 331 E. Evelyn Ave. Suite 100 Mountain View, CA 9404115