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Tekni-Plex acquires Oracle Packaging businesses

M&ATekni-Plex Inc. (Wayne, PA) announced today that it has acquired the healthcare packaging, performance lid stock, induction seal and specialty lamination businesses of Oracle Packaging (Winston-Salem, NC), a portfolio company of private equity firm Centre Lane Partners LLC. 

Oracle specializes in manufacturing flexible packaging laminates for healthcare, food and beverage and specialty applications. The healthcare packaging portfolio includes pouch stock and sterilizable barrier laminates. Additionally, the company manufactures performance lid-stock products, induction heat seals and specialty lamination structures that target hard-to-hold products and those requiring puncture resistance.

These product lines will become part of Tri-Seal, a Tekni-Plex business known for its range of liners manufactured in a variety of materials ranging from a one-piece induction seal to nine-layer extrusions and laminations. The business unit operates manufacturing facilities in North America, Europe and Asia.

“The addition of the Oracle product lines to our Tri-Seal business unit will enable us to combine our existing liner expertise with complementary specialty packaging offerings. Growing our flexible packaging capability with new lidding and pouch stock products will enable us to provide additional value to our existing customers and penetrate new markets,” said Paul J. Young, President and CEO of Tekni-Plex.

Oracle’s 450,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Winston-Salem is included in the acquisition. The facility currently employs approximately 170 people.

The Oracle Packaging purchase is the ninth acquisition Tekni-Plex has made in the past four years.

New plasma treater cleans, etches and functionalizes surfaces

New plasma treater cleans, etches and functionalizes surfaces

Enercon plasma surface treaterNew plasma-based surface treatment technology from Enercon (Menomonee Falls, WI) features a Multiport design that cleans, etches and functionalizes surfaces to improve adhesion of adhesives, inks, paints and coatings. The system was featured at the Enercon booth at NPE2018 in Orlando, FL.

The equipment is part of Enercon’s family of Blown-ion Plasma surface treaters, which bombard a material’s surface with a high-speed discharge of ions. Positive ion bombardment facilitates a micro-etching or scrubbing (ablation) effect, which can remove organic and inorganic contaminants from the surface of an object. 

“This is a major step forward in bringing the benefits of blown-ion technology to applications that require wider treatment than [can be achieved with] traditional plasma systems,” said VP of Sales Ryan Schuelke. The technology is effective on all types of plastics and metals and is designed for high-speed applications where surface pretreatment is required to promote adhesion.

Enercon’s Blown-ion Plasma technology is often used to replace expensive and hazardous primers as well as inefficient mechanical and manual surface preparation techniques, said the company.

Medtronic's New Diabetes App Is Next-Level Personalized Care

Pixabay Medtronic's New Diabetes App Is Next-Level Personalized Care

Diabetes is among the most data-intensive chronic conditions that exist today, which is why so many digital health technology companies are clamoring to be part of the solution for the millions of people living with the condition. 

And as MD+DI explored earlier this year, one of the keys to succeeding in the diabetes device space is a readiness to innovate. Also, a keen eye for strategic partnerships is a big plus. Medtronic has proved time after time that it is capable of both, and its partnership with Tel Aviv, Israel-based Nutrino is the latest example of that.

Medtronic updated its iPro2 myLog app with FoodPrint report. The iPro2 myLog app is designed to give clinics a simple way to import patients' logged data during their professional iPro2 continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) evaluation. With the addition of Nutrino's FoodPrint report, patients' meals are graded based on their body's unique glucose reaction, making it easy for them to understand the link between meals and glucose variability, the company said.

The iPro2 myLog app, now powered by Nutrino, an artificial intelligence personalized nutrition analysis platform, is used during a professional iPro2 CGM evaluation for the patient to log their blood glucose, food, and activity. Patients are able to log what they eat simply by taking a photo of each meal and snack. After the six-day CGM evaluation, the information from the app is synchronized with sensor glucose data and creates two unique reports, the Pattern Snapshot report and, now, the FoodPrint report. 

The Pattern Snapshot report shows critical glucose information such as time in target glucose range, identified patterns of glucose variability, and a clear graph of the full glucose tracing. The FoodPrint report shows pictures of meals taken for breakfast, lunch and dinner and grades each meal (A, B, C, D, or F) based on the body's glucose reaction. Together these reports help the physician and the patient work together to develop a personalized therapy and treatment plan.

"By making it easier to communicate relevant, personal insights about food's impact on diabetes, Medtronic arms physicians and diabetes educators with a powerful coaching tool that will help drive positive behavior change," said Sheri Dodd, vice president and general manager for non-intensive diabetes therapies at Medtronic. "Our partnership with Nutrino to infuse more detail about diet's impact on glucose furthers our goal to make glucose a vital sign in the treatment of diabetes."

Recognizing the important and intertwined impact that food has on diabetes, Medtronic has expanded its partnership with Nutrino. After two years of successful partnering and results, this expanded relationship will embed food data and FoodPrint insights across all the company's diabetes group businesses.

"We are proud to partner with Medtronic to deliver insights through the FoodPrint report, which can help people across the diabetes spectrum to better understand their responses to particular foods," said Yael Glassman, CEO of Nutrino Health. "We're confident that the addition of FoodPrint into the iPro2 professional CGM evaluation will have a positive impact for individuals living with Type 2 diabetes."

MDEA Winner Shows the Value of Nonsurgical Robots in Healthcare

Courtesy of Equashield MDEA Winner Shows the Value of Nonsurgical Robots in Healthcare

Equashield is proving that robots aren’t limited to just helping with surgeries in the healthcare industry. The Port Washington, N.Y.-based company and Gold winner for MDEA under the Non-Surgical and Hospital Supplies category has developed the Equashield Pro technology. The device is designed to help transport and handle dangerous drugs.

The system enables compounding large varieties of patient-specific chemotherapy doses quickly, using optimized process flow by performing multiple tasks simultaneously. The Pro’s highly reliable dose verification software reduces the occurrences of medication dosage and identification errors when preparing hazardous drugs.

“We switched from manual to automation and it took us several years,” Marino Kriheli, co-founder of Equashield, told MD+DI. “We knew exactly what we needed. “Our engineers were able to go into detail into how the automation was going to look.”

Earlier this year, Equashield said it received its first purchase orders for its Equashield Pro closed system compounding robot.

“When we introduced the Equashield Pro at ASHP in 2016, we received extremely positive feedback from pharmacy professionals. Since that time, we have refined and improved the safety and efficiency of the Pro, making it ready to enter healthcare facilities worldwide,” Kriheli said in a release. “Automation is the natural direction for the hazardous drug compounding industry, and the Pro, which utilizes our Equashield CSTD, is ready to provide the safest method for efficiently compounding hazardous drugs.”

The first implementations, serving as beta sites for validation, began at the beginning of 2Q18, at the Rambam Medical Center as well as another major hospital facility. Equashield also has plans to have 10 additional robots at European hospitals in Austria, Italy, Greece, and Spain.

The firm said studies have shown Equashield's technology to be faster to deploy and easier to use than competing systems, and the system has passed the proposed 2015 alcohol vapor containment protocol from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, confirming that it can contain the harshest vapors and emissions.

3D Systems launches on-demand medical anatomical modeling service

3D Systems launches on-demand medical anatomical modeling service

3D Systems anatomical modeling servicesIn a recent survey of the top medical 3D-printing applications conducted by SME, a nonprofit organization promoting manufacturing technology based in Dearborn, MI, anatomical modeling ranked highest by a large margin. Seventy-one percent of medtech professionals cast their vote for 3D-printed surgical models. Prototyping and tooling, jigs and fixtures came in a distant second and third, respectively garnering 56% and 46% of votes. The technology enables surgeons to prepare for procedures on patient-specific models and work out any potential complications before they enter the operating room. 3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC) is tapping into this growing market, and improving efficiencies in the process, with the launch yesterday of its On Demand Anatomical Modeling Service.

The new service provides medical professionals with speedy access to anatomical models printed from 3D digital files, enabling enhanced visualization for  surgical planning as well as patient education, said 3D Systems.

The process for procuring a model is simple by design. Medical professionals upload an .stl, .obj or .ply file to 3D Systems’ On Demand Anatomical Models website. Customers can prepare model files using 3D Systems’ D2P (DICOM to Print) or another commercially available software. They can select from a variety of materials, depending on the use and desired areas to highlight in the model, and then request an instant quote. If the quote is accepted, the order can be placed with a single click, and the finished model will arrive in approximately five business days, said 3D Systems in a press release.

The company also has created a seamless connection between its D2P software and the On Demand Anatomical Models website, allowing medical professionals to quickly convert medical imaging data into accurate, digital 3D anatomical models. D2P now includes a Volume VR module, enabling the entire patient scan to be uploaded into a 3D Virtual Reality environment without any data pre-processing. The user can “walk through” the scans and see an enhanced view of the patient’s anatomy, control layer visualization and cut cross sections in any direction. Further enhancements announced by 3D Systems include improved mesh creation options, import and alignment of an external mesh file into a patient scan and PDF generation.

“For more than 25 years, 3D Systems has assisted medical professionals through the combination of our anatomical modeling experience and our 3D printing expertise,” said Katie Weimer, Vice President, Medical Devices. “The healthcare industry is seeing the benefits provided through 3D-printed anatomical models, and we are dedicated to continuing to expand our healthcare offerings to meet market needs. With the launch of our new On Demand Anatomical Modeling Service, we are making 3D printed models easier and more accessible to a broader range of the healthcare community.”

3D Systems also continues to offer a full-service virtual surgical planning and anatomical modeling service. Medical professionals can submit a computed tomography or magnetic resonance generated scan of a patient to the Healthcare Technology Center in Littleton, CO, where 3D Systems’ biomedical engineers will process the data, design the model and 3D print it at the facility. The finished model is then shipped to the customer for use in pre-surgical planning, pre-surgical rehearsal or for educational purposes. Certain materials can also be used in a sterile environment, such as an operating room, for consultation during a procedure.

NA Looks to Lead Robotics-Based Ultrasound Revolution

Courtesy of Neural Analytics NA Looks to Lead Robotics-Based Ultrasound Revolution

Neural Analytics is bringing robotics to the world of ultrasound through its NeuralBot system. The Los Angeles, CA-based company said it has both CE mark and FDA clearance for the technology, which is an ultrasound guidance device to observe blood flow to the brain.

The firm said NeuralBot will be launched in both Europe and the U.S. throughout the course of next year.

“We have identified a number of clinical partners and sites that are excited to be early adopters of the system,” Loe Petrossian, PhD and CEO of Neural Analytics, told MD+DI.

Petrossian helped found the Neural Analytics in 2013. The private company has raised about $42 million since inception. Petrossian noted that the NeuralBot is prevalent because it addresses limitations in ultrasound.

“For any ultrasound modality to be valuable it has to be available,” Petrossian said. “Availability today with ultrasound imaging is restricted to environment where you have both the technician that knows how to operate it, and a physician that knows how to interpret it onsite. What the NeuralBot system does is it reduces the skill level requirement of an operator from that of being a skilled ultrasonographer, to that of being a medical professional that can be trained. The problem the system solves is it takes the value proposition of ultrasound and it makes available 24/7 in any clinical environment.”

Neural Analytics said its technology automatically adjusts orientation and position of its ultrasound products under the guidance of a healthcare professional. The company said when the NeuralBot is used with the previously cleared Lucid M1 Transcranial Doppler Ultrasound System, the device can assist clinicians to non-invasively monitor a patient’s brain blood flow characteristics and can provide information to diagnose a variety of neurological disorders.

Robotic Revolution in Healthcare

Ten years ago, this technology probably wouldn’t have gone over well with clinicians, Petrossian said. He noted physician’s acceptance of robotics could help grow the robotic ultrasound market and lead to significant competition down the road.

He pointed to Intuitive Surgical’s presence in healthcare with the da Vinci surgical system, as having helped pave the way for robotics. For years Intuitive Surgical went unchallenged in the surgical robotics space.

However, TransEnterix received FDA clearance for its Senhance System – the first new market entrant in the field of abdominal surgeries since da Vinci received an FDA nod in 2000.

Google’s Verily and Johnson & Johnson’s Ethicon collaborated to form Verb Surgical. The joint venture is tasked with developing an AI-focused surgical robotics system. Dublin-based Medtronic recently announced a delay in its surgical system, which could be popping up in 2019 as opposed to this year.

“The best scenario that we could hope for is similar to that of Intuitive Surgical, whereby they operated in a standalone setting for a very long time – until they had developed and validated that model before others tried to enter,” he said.

Petrossian added, “Intuitive has really broken ground and gotten people to understand that robotics here in healthcare is here to stay.”

AI, Hey Why Not?

There is also an Artificial Intelligence application that is in development for the NeuralBot. The company is one of many firms diving headfirst into the AI market – a space that has experienced rapid growth recently.

“Outside the scope of what was FDA-cleared, or CE marked, within our research organization we demonstrated the ability for AI algorithms to automatically differentiate patients that have had a stroke from those who have not had a stroke…,” Petrossian said.

The company has also won government contracts to expand its technology to other disease states.

Weekly resin report: Polypropylene prices may have peaked

Weekly resin report: Polypropylene prices may have peaked

Activity in the spot resin markets pulled back a bit last week, as higher prices and recently receding monomer costs pushed resin buyers to the sidelines to observe, reports the PlasticsExchange (Chicago) in its Market Update.

Cool Design
Image courtesy Cool Design/

Railcar offers of both polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) began to flow stronger toward the end of the week, resulting in decent accumulation. Resellers, also viewing the end of the quarter, started to seek outlets for their aged inventory. While the PP market is still essentially oversold with limited excess capacity, imports have been heavy and have had an impact on supply. This week’s sharp decline in forward PGP levels will likely deflate importers’ enthusiasm for new purchases. PE buyers are looking for producers to ease high- and low-density contracts in June, matching the $0.03/lb decrease that many received for linear low-density contracts in May. 

Spot PE trading started the week slowly, but turned up the heat as the week wore on; all in all, the PlasticsExchange describes transacted volumes as only average. Deal making became more difficult as asking prices for some PE grades inched higher. Buyers that needed material paid up, while others who did not feel pressure to procure were happy to sit on the sidelines, not sensing any real threat of a long-term bullish price trend. The PlasticsExchange reports that its PE prices were generally flat, with a slight uptick in high density for injection and a downtick in blowmolding. Low-density PE for film remains snugly supplied. Producers have continued to absorb the vast majority of new PE production and add it to inventory for future (export) sale, rather than bleed it into the domestic market, which would negatively impact prices. 

Collective upstream PE inventories have mushroomed to a record 4.8 billion lb, a full 50% more than the 3.2 billion lb at the end of October, which was the aftermath of the hurricane. PE exports have been growing and actually surpassed 1 billion lb in May, but export growth needs to accelerate quicker in order to move all the added production. In the meantime, PE reactors were throttled back to the low 90% range in May, but still generated another (small) build. North American PE processors have yet to truly reap the rewards in the form of lower prices. After several failed attempts, some question the validity of the $0.03/lb contract increase that is still floating out there and are calling for an official rescind of the nomination. 

After a very strong start to the month, which saw soaring monomer prices fuel short-term resin demand, PP trading slowed substantially this past week. PP prices had been climbing along with monomer and began to crimp demand among those who could afford to wait out the increases. There was the potential for another sharp PP contract increase for June, some of which has been relieved from the recently deflating PGP levels. Prices along the PP supply chain have been very volatile, notes the PlasticsExchange, and this rally feels a lot like it did in the beginning of 2018, when runaway PGP prices created cost-push PP price increases, which soon busted. 

This past week, resellers continued to offer material at elevated prices, looking to get extra value from their inventories, but many processors took a moment to let the new higher price level sink in. By the end of the week, importers with uncommitted resin on the water became nervous and eased asking prices; the top could be in. PP prices never quite realized their potential during this current rally, so while monomer costs are subsiding, resin levels only eased a cent this past week. It will be very interesting to see how the markets play out in the last two weeks of June, writes the PlasticsExchange.

Read the full Market Update on the PlasticsExchange website.

Jabil’s Dash to smarter packaging for Amazon and brands

Jabil’s Dash to smarter packaging for Amazon and brands

Picture a world of connected baby wipes. Jabil Packaging Services (St. Petersburg, FL) isn’t just imagining this, it’s working on this and numerous smart packaging solutions that can blow wide the enabling options to bring connected packaging to the masses for the ultra-convenience in automatic ecommerce reorders.Jabil plus Amazon logos

Things were set in motion with Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service (DSR) program three years ago. When it was introduced in April 2015, the DSR was met with skepticism. Over time, the simple one-button solution won over consumers with simplicity and convenience and by early 2017, Dash-initiated transactions jumped to four orders per minute—quadruple the previous year’s rate.

It’s confirmed that the Dash Button’s re-order convenience has a measurable impact on product sales as well. Brands like Peet’s Coffee and Ziploc see more than 50% of their Amazon sales via the Dash Button, and Cottonelle’s share in the bath tissue category doubled from 43% to 86% among Dash users in 2016 alone.

Now DRS is moving to the next level through smart packaging and devices with embedded technology that sense when new supplies are needed, helping consumers automatically reorder product before it runs out.

As one of the first certified members of Amazon’s Solution Providers program, Jabil Packaging Solutions is “combining proven electronics, wireless communications, sensors and supply chain management capabilities with massive manufacturing scale to transform the packaging landscape” for ecommerce, says Jabil’s public relations representative Peter Meade.

PLASTEC Minneapolis 2018 held June 12-14 October 31-November 1 is part of the Midwest’s largest advanced design and manufacturing event that also includes MinnPack brings you the latest in materials and additives, injection molding, rapid prototyping, coatings, automation, packaging and more. For details, visit PLASTEC Minneapolis.

PlasticsToday connected with Amanda Williams, senior business unit manager, Jabil Packaging Solutions, who answers questions about this leading-edge, smart-packaging push in convenience that's beneficial for consumers and brands.

What kind of packaging and containers can Jabil’s DRS be used with?

Amanda Williams of Jabil Pkg ServicesWilliams: The short answer is just about any kind of container. Jabil routinely develops and manufactures bespoke devices that are unique to each customer. The longer answer: We have already put work into reference designs for commonly occurring product form factors, such as liquid level sensing (e.g. for water, liquid cleaners, laundry detergent, shampoo), bulk solid level sensing (e.g. for pet food, candy), NFC-based smart racks (e.g. for spices, bottles of soap and shampoo in the bathroom), and sheet-based extraction sensing (e.g., for resealable plastic bags, baby wipes, aluminum foil). We can develop solutions outside of these, but because we've already put in some work here, customers can expect to see some speed-to-market advantages in developing those types of solutions.

What can you say about the device and form factor, is it wireless or WiFi/internet enabled?

Williams: We currently have a Bluetooth-enabled proof-of-concept, and are in the process of rolling out a WiFi-enabled one this summer. Device size is custom designed, but for the reference designs we've developed so far the electronics can be quite compact.Jabil Dash illustration

How and at what step is the smart device added to the packaging?

Williams: We are currently focusing on device-plus-consumable systems, which means the smart device would be something that the consumable is probably inserted into. This could take a number of forms, such as a connected baby wipe warmer, shampoo dispenser, ergonomic handle, smart spice rack, etc. Electronics in the durable device are produced conventionally. However, some of our solutions make use of a printed electronic label for the consumable; for example, to detect liquid level perfectly in consumable bottles that might come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We can currently do this with pressure-sensitive labels and can also leverage Jabil's experience with in-mold electronics.

What special features or aspects of the electronics device made it possible to integrate it with the packaging?

Williams: A "semi-smart" label, such as what I described above, connects physically with the device electronics in a way that makes the combination smart—neither element is a full sensing solution on its own. This means that a particular brand's autoreplenishment solution can be designed to work only with that brand's consumables; if the product lacks the right label, it simJabil PQ replenishmentply won't be sensed. By utilizing labels printed with conductive ink, Jabil enables some electronic functionality at a cheaper price point than, say, flexible circuit boards; it's not free, but the difference in price on the consumable is on the order of choosing between a low-end label vs. a high-end label.

How much development and technology were needed?

Williams: Jabil had to develop a substantial amount of software to support this system, from device firmware, to a cloud solution, to a data analytics dashboard, to a consumer-facing app. In order to properly enable automatic product reorders from a package, we have to handle user management, device management, security, data storage and potentially rapidly changing levels of user activity on the system.

Think of it this way, if you were using Facebook in 2009, your page probably loaded very slowly for a while, because they were adding users so fast the computers running their website couldn't keep up. The same thing can happen if you're supporting a bunch of devices connecting to your software... unless you deliberately architect it to be able to scale up fast. Don't get me wrong, developing the device is a lot of work, but it's just the tip of the iceberg.

What applications beyond the Amazon DRS button would be possible with the tech?

Williams: The purpose of Dash Replenishment Service is to allow solution providers to broaden the hardware options beyond just the button. You could simply embed a "reorder" button into, say, a smart bathroom shelf. Or you could embed QR codes or NFC tags into each bottle so the shelf can read what's on it; you could tap the bottle to your shelf or smartphone to reorder. Or each bottle could sense the level of liquid inside and reorder at 20% full.

We have a few reference designs that are pretty cool, but not exhaustive, and I expect we'll see a broader variety of solutions than I can even anticipate right now.

Jabil Dash product exampleWhat plastics packaging or plastic-molded products/packaging would or could this be appropriate for? And would the device be added to the container?

Williams: This platform is meant to be pretty agnostic with regard to hardware, so as a manufacturer we are "only" limited by our manufacturing capabilities. Some good examples might be:

  • A coffee machine that recognizes when a coffee pod is placed inside it, and is linked to your account such that it can count uses and knows when you only have a few left.
  • A soap dispenser that can measure level of liquid in the consumable.
  • A baby wipes warmer, where you'd place the disposable package of wipes inside, and it can count the number of wipes you've pulled out.

In most cases, as illustrated above, the consumable is inserted into the device, but that's not necessarily a requirement.

At Jabil, we think that, with the increasing importance of e-commerce, we are likely to see more combo solutions… so, for example, a rigid dispenser, frame or handle that would be reusable, with a refill that might be flexible or rigid-flex in order to better withstand shock and reduce weight for shipping.

How can or may this technology change or transform the plastics packaging landscape?Jabil PQ transformative

Williams: We think auto-replenishment will be transformative in a couple of ways.

One is that dispensers and durable packaging will routinely include electronics to connect and enable re-orders. This adds some extra cost up front, but leads to considerably better sales of the consumable product. Looking out a couple of years, we may even start seeing connected consumables, enabled by new fabrication techniques such as roll-to-roll printing of functional electronics.

We also expect that this will only accelerate the rise of e-commerce, which means that it's going to be even more critical to design packaging well for that last-mile delivery. This means withstanding shocks and general banging about, packing well into tertiary packaging with other products, opening for the consumer without a lot of frustration, reducing the need for wasteful secondary packaging, and maybe even smaller unit sizes or concentrates to reduce weight for shipping.

What's important for plastic molders and plastic container manufacturers to know about this?

Williams: Now more than ever, the big brands need to get creative to adapt to the changing retail landscape and expectations of millennial and younger consumers for the type of relationship they're going to have with brands. This is going to impact packaging manufacturers and suggests that we all also need to get creative and be true innovation partners for our customers.


Roche Is Willing to Pay a Pretty Penny for the Rest of Foundation Medicine

Pixabay Roche Is Willing to Pay a Pretty Penny for the Rest of Foundation Medicine

Roche already owns a majority stake in Foundation Medicine, but now the Swiss company wants to buy the rest of the genomic diagnostics company, and it is willing to pay a pretty penny to do so.

Roche agreed to pay $137 a share to buy the rest of Cambridge, MA-based Foundation Medicine, a $2.4 billion transaction that values the company at $5.3 billion. The offer price represents a 29% premium over Foundation Medicine's closing stock price Monday. The deal is expected to close during the second half of the year.

The deal marks a turning point in Roche's relationship with Foundation Medicine, which dates back to January 2015 when Roche invested roughly $1.03 billion to acquire a majority interest in Foundation Medicine. The partnership included a broad R&D collaboration to accelerate Foundation Medicine's new product development initiatives, optimize treatments for cancer patients, and better design and understand the results of clinical trials based on molecular information, as well as a commercial collaboration aimed at expanding the global sales efforts for the company's products.

Foundation Medicine develops genomic profiling assays designed to identify the molecular alterations in a patient's cancer and match them with relevant targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and clinical trials. Roche said Foundation Medicine will continue to operate as a separate and autonomous legal entity.

In December 2017, Foundation Medicine scored FDA approval for a first-of-its-kind companion diagnostics test. The FoundationOneCDx is designed to identify patients who may benefit from treatment with specific targeted therapies, help inform the use of other targeted cancer therapies, provide a tool for doctors to identify opportunities for patients to participate in clinical trials, and help biopharma companies develop new precision drugs. For more on that test, see the story "How a New Genomic Test Could Change Cancer Care."

"This is important to our personalized healthcare strategy as we believe molecular insights and the broad availability of high quality comprehensive genomic profiling are key enablers for the development of, and access to, new cancer treatments," said Daniel O’Day, CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals.

This represents the second largest medtech deal reported so far in 2018. Check out our list of biggest medtech M&As this year

Could the petrochemicals boom lead to a shortage in plastics additives?

Could the petrochemicals boom lead to a shortage in plastics additives?

Total global manufacturing capacity for polyolefins is expected to increase by 45 million tons by 2022, according to the 2018 World Petrochemical Conference, and much of that growth will be driven by the United States. For Baerlocher USA (Cincinnati, OH), a supplier of plastics additives, that translates into an estimated 20% higher demand for its products. Combine that with restrictions placed on some traditional additive chemistries in Europe, and you have the outlines of a great business opportunity, one that Baerlocher USA saw coming early on.

Baeropol DRS 6812 RST
Baeropol DRS 6812 SP is a drop-in replacement for phosphite stabilizers used with polyolefins and other thermoplastics.

“In 2015, we identified areas where we thought North American supply might not be able to keep up with demand, so we started investing,” Ed Hall, President and CEO of Baerlocher North America, told PlasticsToday. “Last year, for example, we invested in a reactor to increase capacity for metal soaps at our Cincinnati facility.” Calcium, zinc, sodium and other metal soaps are used as acid scavengers, stabilizers, internal and external lubricants, water repellants and mold release agents.

When I spoke with Hall at NPE2018 in Orlando, FL, he also mentioned that he was waiting on approval for another “large investment” to keep up with projected growth in polyolefins. As of this writing, however, I have not seen anything pop up in my newsfeed.

At NPE2018, Baerlocher introduced Baeropol DRS 6812 SP, a drop-in replacement for phosphite stabilizers used with polyolefins and other thermoplastics. The additive, which is part of the Baeropol resin stabilization technology platform, features improved hydrolytic stability and polymer solubility compared with traditional phosphates.

Luxury vinyl tile market steps up

Opportunity also came knocking for Baerlocher in the form of luxury vinyl tile (LVT), a market that is poised for significant growth, according to Hall. “[LVT manufacturers] Tarkett is investing $60 million in its factories in Alabama, and Shaw has spent something like $300 million to convert a carpeting plant to an LVT facility,” said Hall. 

Baerlocher recently developed a stabilization chemistry for the wear layer of rigid LVT designed to address the flooring industry’s safety and sustainability goals. The new Baeropol technology uses calcium- and zinc-based stabilizers that are individually formulated for each layer of LVT. They deliver thermal stability, reduced yellowing and increased clarity compared with conventional technologies.

The company’s formulation experts also work closely with LVT manufacturers to develop custom solutions. Baerlocher helped the first U.S. manufacturer of rigid LVT by creating a stabilization technology for the new rigid core product. It met the customer’s requirements for sustainability (no barium) and odor elimination (no tin). The startup successfully entered the U.S. LVT market with a first-of-its-kind product manufactured in North America, said Baerlocher.

Also on the PVC front, the “United States is one of the few places globally that substantially uses tin stabilizers for rigid profiles like windows,” said Hall. “Europe has gotten out of tin to comply with REACH regulations, and, while that does not apply to North America, customers are starting to say that they want to get out of tin, too. It’s becoming a bit of a dirty word. We don’t necessarily agree that it should be a dirty word, but we sell calcium and zinc stabilizers, so that’s a good trend for us,” said Hall.