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Industry News: Business / Markets

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Grand Opening of Atotech's North American TechCenter expansion in Rock Hill, SC

On April 5, 2011, Atotech officially inaugurated an important expansion of its North American TechCenter located in Rock Hill, South Carolina (USA).  Atotech's President Mr. Reinhard Schneider, and Mr. Kuldip Johal, Managing Director of Atotech USA, personally welcomed nearly 100 customers and business partners to attend the opening ceremony, which was followed by a guided tour of the facilities.  A customer seminar for Decorative Coatings and Plating on Plastics concluded the event on April 6, 2011.

Equipped with Atotech's most innovative and environmentally responsible plating technologies, as well as with state-of-the-art analytical and material sciences laboratories, the TechCenter in Rock Hill is specifically dedicated to service the North American surface finishing industry.  With its expansion, Atotech intends to provide additional and targeted support to the well-established decorative plating business in this region.  A new fully automatic production scale plating line for pretreatment, decorative coatings and plating on plastics will allow local customers from major industries such as automotive, appliance and sanitary to conduct sampling and qualification runs under production scale conditions and in accordance with OEM specifications.  Moreover, cutting-edge analytical equipment will provide customers with routine analyses and sophisticated or even customized investigations. The TechCenter will also work as a training ground for both Atotech employees and customer's personnel.
With the TechCenter in Rock Hill, Atotech currently operates a network of fifteen TechCenters spread around the globe.  Through this network, Atotech's R&D and customer support are always near at hand, offering teams of experts to rely on for help and consulting services in every business case and for every single technical need.
Business Conditions Report: April 2011
According to the April 2011 Precision Metalforming Association (PMA) (Cleveland, OH) Business Conditions Report, metalforming companies anticipate a softening in business conditions during the next three months. Conducted monthly, the report is an economic indicator for manufacturing, sampling 131 metalforming companies in the United States and Canada.
The April report shows that 40% of participants forecast an improvement in economic activity during the next three months (down from 49% in March), 45% predict that activity will remain unchanged (compared to 46% last month) and 15% report that activity will decline (up from only 5% in March).
Metalforming companies also expect a drop in incoming orders over the next three months, with 20% predicting a decrease in orders (up from 10% in March), 38% anticipate no change (the same percentage reported last month) and 42% predict an increase in orders (down from 52% in March).
However, the current pace of growth in shipments continues to rise, as average daily shipping levels improved in April for the third consecutive month. Sixty-three percent of participants report that shipping levels are above levels of three months ago (up from 50% in March), 25% report that shipping levels are the same as three months ago (down from 39% last month), and 12% report a decrease in shipping levels (compared to 11% in March).
The percentage of metalforming companies with a portion of their workforce on short time or layoff decreased to 11% in April from 12% in March. The number is at its lowest level since October 2007, when only 8% of companies had workers on short time or layoff, and it is significantly lower than one year ago (42%).
“Business for most of the metalforming industry is quite robust with average orders and shipments for the first two months of 2011 outpacing the same period in 2010 by 16% in orders and 17% in shipments,” said William E. Gaskin, PMA president. “The April business conditions report may reflect concern that there will be a modest softening in the pace of growth as we go deeper into the second quarter. This likely is a result of supply chain uncertainties in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake, higher fuel prices and higher prices for flat-rolled metals. Business conditions remain very strong for most markets; however, the pace of growth appears to be leveling off as we look toward the summer months.”
The monthly Business Conditions Report has been conducted by PMA since 1979. Full report results are available at
Columbia Chemical awarded 1st Place in Wellness@Work recognition program
Columbia Chemical (Brunswick, OH) has been recognized as one of the top companies in Northern Ohio working to improve employee health, work/personal life balance, education, quality of life and sustainability in the workplace. The company was awarded 1st place in the COSE small business category by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, which sponsored the program.
Columbia’s Health & Wellness Committee spearheaded the company’s participation in the application process. “It’s a great honor for our committee and also the company,” comments Adam Anderson, Health & Wellness Chairperson. Columbia Chemical’s health programs include walking and weight-loss challenges, discounted gym memberships, frequent health speakers and in-house flu shots. 
Anderson added, “This award was not only a testament to the Health and Wellness Committee but also the Charitable, Environmental and ESOP Committees which were all significant considerations in the application process. This recognition demonstrates how successful Columbia Chemical has been this past year working to make our company the best it can become.”
Columbia Chemical featured as KORUS success story
Columbia Chemical’s (Brunswick, OH) success story as a manufacturer and exporter of zinc and zinc alloy plating additives to Korea has been featured in the recent article published by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS): Opportunities for the U.S. Chemical Sector, as proposed by the International Trade Administration.  KORUS seeks to eliminate tariffs on companies’ exports to Korea, stimulating economic growth and job creation within the industry by providing an advantage in the highly price-sensitive and competitive foreign market. Columbia Chemical, along with their Korean representative Daekweon Jung of IDEA Corp., will directly benefit from KORUS by having the opportunity to offer more affordable solutions to the Korean market.
Manufacturing technology consumption up 138.1% year-over-year
February U.S. manufacturing technology consumption totaled $329.43 million, according to AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology and AMTDA, the American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association. This total, as reported by companies participating in the USMTC program, was down 10.9% from January, but up 99.3% when compared with the total of $165.31 million reported for February 2010. With a year-to-date total of $699.16 million, 2011 is up 138.1% compared with 2010.
These numbers and all data in this report are based on the totals of actual data reported by companies participating in the USMTC program.  “The dramatic year-over-year growth further underscores the manufacturing renaissance that is taking place,” said Douglas K. Woods, President of AMT.  “As February is a short month, the slight decline from January is to be expected, but the overall gains compared with February 2010 point to our belief that 2011 will be a strong year for the industry.”
The United States Manufacturing Technology Consumption (USMTC) report, jointly compiled by the two trade associations representing the production and distribution of manufacturing technology, provides regional and national U.S. consumption data of domestic and imported machine tools and related equipment.  Analysis of manufacturing technology consumption provides a reliable leading economic indicator as manufacturing industries invest in capital metalworking equipment to increase capacity and improve productivity.
Hexavalent chromium in the news…again
News organization Bloomberg, recently published a story detailing an environmental lawsuit taking place between the the residents of Jersey City, NJ versus Honeywell and PPG. The lawsuit details the current environmental and health impact that hexavalent chromium is causing to the Jersey City residents as a result of the companies neglect in dumping the hazardous chemical over 100 years ago (in the claim against Honeywell) and over 60 years ago (in the claim against PPG). It is also noted that the companies involved in the dumping at that time were Honeywell and PPG predecessor companies. Jersey City residents are seeking reimbursement for medical tests (cancer screening) as well as reimbursement for property devaluation and water table screening. To read the story in its entirety, please visit the website.  (Item Courtesy of Metalast, Inc.)
AkzoNobel opens new laboratory in Felling, UK
AkzoNobel opened a new, dedicated polymer research laboratory facility in Felling, UK, yesterday, continuing to build on its growth ambitions in research, development and innovation. The new facility is located in Felling, Gateshead, in the northeast of England, a principal manufacturing and research and development site of AkzoNobel’s Powder Coatings business and Marine and Protective Coatings business. The newly-dedicated building houses a polymer laboratory devoted to the development of novel polymers and processing technologies for AkzoNobel Powder Coatings’ Interpon and Resicoat brands, as well as a powder application line and two of the company’s Expert Capability Groups (ECGs).
“Felling was the obvious choice for expanding our polymer capabilities,” commented Rob Molenaar, AkzoNobel’s Managing Director for Powder Coatings, at yesterday’s opening event. “The existing AkzoNobel laboratories have been instrumental in developing leading polymer breakthroughs such as our super-durable polyester, used in the landmark Interpon D2000 architectural powder coating, which is now gracing incredible buildings around the world. These labs are also leading our current efforts in the world of automotive body coatings.”
“Further advancement of our capabilities in polymer technology is high on our agenda and these new facilities will propel us to the forefront of our field,” said Molenaar.
AkzoNobel’s Expert Capability Groups are internal centers of excellence in the fields of science and technology that are of critical importance to the various businesses throughout the company. The ECGs work in close partnership with the business units on key programs, performing the research and development necessary for scientific breakthroughs that will drive significant product innovation. “RD&I underpins our strategy for delivering Tomorrow’s Answers Today,” said Molenaar. “This new lab will encourage growth while also supporting our commitment to sustainability.”
AkzoNobel employs nearly 4000 people in the UK across 14 operational facilities and over 200 retail outlets. In 2010, the UK businesses brought in €798 million in revenue. AkzoNobel spent €334 million (23% of sales) on RD&I last year. Of the 3600 global RD&I employees, 11% are UK-based.
Southwest Metal Finishing introduces online Request-a-Quote capability
Fully redesigned website allows customers to outline job parameters, attach drawings and technical documentation
Southwest Metal Finishing (New Berlin, WI), one of North America’s largest decorative chromium plating and metal finishing companies, has launched a new website,  The site includes a page that allows customers to request a project quote by uploading and sending their technical drawings, supporting documentation and other details directly to Southwest Metal Finishing.
“We’re very pleased that companies now can easily upload their specific project information right on our website,” said Philip Gould, Vice President of Sales and Engineering at Southwest Metal Finishing. “Whether the assignment calls for metal polishing, plating, painting, die casting and tooling, or a combination of these services, we can quickly respond to meet their needs with industry-leading quality, service and value.”
The website showcases the processes and products that have highlighted Southwest Metal Finishing’s 40-year record of serving some of the world’s most recognized and iconic original equipment manufacturers, including leaders in the motorcycle, automotive, marine, recreational vehicles, hardware, appliance, office furniture, gaming and medical equipment industries. Southwest Metal Finishing solves companies aesthetic needs from design to tooling to producing the final metal components. Visitors to the website also can download and print a copy of Southwest Metal Finishing’s new 12-page corporate brochure.
Enthone Automotive Science Corrosion Lab earns A2LA accreditation
The Enthone Automotive Science Corrosion Lab (ASCL) was recently approved for accreditation by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA) in the field of Mechanical testing. The ASCL, located at Enthone’s West Haven, CT global headquarters, is now accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005. The A2LA accreditation makes Enthone’s ASCL one of an elite group of laboratories in North America to have earned such a designation.
Specifically, the Enthone ASCL is accredited to perform the following tests on metals, plastics and other metalized substrates, including such applications as fasteners, bolts, chains, connectors and wheels:
•       Neutral salt spray
•       Copper accelerated salt spray
•       Corrodkote
•       Cyclic corrosion testing
•       Humidity testing
•       Thermal cycle
•       STEP & coating thickness
“Accreditation of these important testing procedures at Enthone’s Automotive Science Corrosion Lab validates the excellence the Lab exhibits on a daily basis,” said Terrence Copeland, Enthone Vice President, Americas. “With this accreditation, Enthone can provide our customers and their customers with even greater confidence in the performance of Enthone products and processes.” The accreditation reinforces Enthone’s analytical capabilities in support of the company’s customer-driven research and product development activities.
Columbia Chemical announces membership in industry organizations
Columbia Chemical (Brunswick, OH) is pleased to support the National Association of Surface Finishing (NASF) with their recently acquired corporate supplier membership. The NASF provides valuable networking events and opportunities, training programs along with representation and advocacy concerning government relations within the surface finishing industry. Brett Larick, Columbia Chemical President, will function as the primary company representative in regards to NASF involvement.
Columbia Chemical has also announced acceptance as a life member company to the Metal Finishers Association of India (MFAI), headquartered in Mumbai. The MFAI is the premier trade organization for the metal finishing industry in India, publishes a quarterly technical journal and hosts the prestigious ISF Conference and Exhibition. Bill Rosenberg, Columbia Chemical Chairman, recently presented a paper at ISF 2011 in February and serves as the first official company representative.

Editor Pick

Can Electroplated Fe-C be an Environmentally Friendly Alternative to Hard Chromium and DLC Coatings?

Electroplated FeC is an efficient surface treatment based on non-aggressive chemicals with a deposition rate of ~20 μm/h at a process temperature of 50°C.  The FeC coating is carbide-free and temperature stable up to ~250°C with a hardness of 750 HV, which is comparable to frequently applied hardened steels.  The FeC coating has reasonable friction properties and have high affinity towards lubricants because of incorporated amorphous carbon.  Hence, for certain applications, the FeC coating might be an interesting wear-protective alternative to hard chromium and to PVD-deposited low-friction diamond-like carbon coatings (DLC’s), which are rather difficult and costly to deposit on larger items.