Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Grassroots Sustainability

The following article is excerpted from BDO Solutions, a publication of BDO USA , LLC; an accounting, tax, audit and consulting services company (formerly SS&G).


When Americhem’s manufacturing facility in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, earned the prestigious ISO 14001 certification for environmental management, it was a huge victory for a company that is already committed to conducting business with respect for the environment. But some of the company’s employees wanted to take sustainability efforts even further.

“They were very enthusiastic, and they brought up even more ideas to our quality manager at the plant,” says Scott Blanchard, corporate marketing and communications manager at the global leader in color concentrates, additive concentrates and specialty dispersions.

The ideas that came rolling in included cardboard and universal waste recycling, practices that have now been incorporated into Americhem’s daily operations.

The ISO certification is only the latest example of innovative sustainability thinking at Americhem, where a company principle is to “be a proactive steward of the environment.” While it’s not always easy, Americhem is constantly looking for ways to sustain the environment.

Finding recycling solutions
When the company tried to recycle its plastic scrap at the Cuyahoga Falls plant, just like at its other facilities, it faced a big hurdle. While the company’s other facilities used single streams of plastic, the Ohio plant had a diverse mix of polymers, making the process a bit more challenging.

“The recycling facilities want a dedicated stream of plastic because it’s an easier process, but we found one that would take our mix,” says Blanchard. It was just one more obstacle to being environmentally responsible that the company successfully overcame.

Saving water with efficient processes
Recent gains at Americhem have made as much sense economically as environmentally. For instance, one of the company’s boldest processing initiatives in sustainability involves the introduction of solution dyeing of synthetic fibers.

The traditional method is to apply liquid dyes to white yarn after the fibers are made. However, this process uses a huge amount of water that is now polluted. It’s estimated that the industry uses as much as 99 million gallons of water globally every year just to dye yarn.

In contrast, solution dyeing is a process by which colorant is added to the fiber as it’s being spun. No water is used at this stage, and very little is used in the overall process. In fact, estimates are that solution dyeing uses about 1 percent of the water used in the old process. There’s also significant energy conservation with solution dyeing, lowering production costs while saving natural resources.

Reducing electricity
Lighting improvements at several Americhem facilities were another smart business move. By replacing the metal halide lighting fixtures with high-efficiency fluorescents, the immediate result was a 56 percent reduction in electricity usage and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. As a bonus, the new fixtures increased lighting levels by 40 percent for a safer workplace.

Practicing smart business
Far from being a cost burden, sustainable practices are actually turning a profit in unforeseen ways. For example, the company’s cardboard and polymer waste, which once posed a high landfill cost, has been diverted for sale to recyclers.

“We believe progressive environmental practices are good for the environment, as well as good for business,” said Americhem CEO Rick Juve in a recent company newsletter. “Ultimately, it reduces cost, increases profit through the supply chain and protects the environment for the future.”

Smart business practices are leading to smart individual practices, as well. “Our people told us that our environmental management certification made them think of all the things they could do to increase sustainability around their own homes,” says Blanchard.

Sustainability is just good business sense — and a value for generations to come.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Monthly Color Inspirations - White

The color white represents purity, innocence, wholeness and completion. In color psychology, white is the color of new beginnings, a blank canvas waiting to be written upon. White promotes a feeling of fresh beginnings, renewal, and clearing obstacles.

There are very few negative meanings of white, but too much white can be cold, isolating and empty. As opposed to black in the US, other cultures use white to signify death and mourning. In these cultures, death usually means the end of one life and the beginning of another, moving forward to a new life.

We can help you convey cleanliness and simplicity with the perfect shade of white. Contact us today.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Color Tolerancing: When the Human Eye Isn’t Enough

As sensitive to color as the human eye can be, it simply cannot define color differences quantitatively for precise and repeatable analysis. In some cases, visual perception of color variance could mean shipping a batch of product that does not meet specification, and in other cases, it could mean discarding a batch of good materials. These costly mistakes can be avoided when tolerances are established and differences are quantified.

How can you tell if the color is right?

There are a number of ways to determine whether a batch falls within an acceptable tolerance; however, not all methods will provide precise results. At Americhem, we suggest that the best and most accurate way to test acceptable color tolerance is to use an elliptical pass/fail system, which is based upon an equation developed by the Colour Measurement Committee. This system places a customizable emphasis on hue and chromaticity value, allowing you to determine how much weight is placed on the hue and chromaticity differences of the two colors.

Having good tolerances in place for each product allows you to make quick and easy pass/fail or ship/don’t ship decisions that can directly impact the profitability of your business. At Americhem, we understand how challenging it can be to accurately define color tolerances. You can read an article in Plastics Engineering about Measuring Color from Americhem Color Expert, Ron Beck.

For more information on color tolerancing or to learn about Americhem’s services, visit americhem.com or contact Scott Blanchard at sblanchard@americhem.com.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Americhem’s Environmental Efforts

Since 2008, Americhem has had an active approach to become an environmentally friendly company. We set and accomplish our goals by changes in how our business operates, the products we provide and the technologies we develop. Environmental responsibility is a key element in our company principles, and we are always trying to better ourselves to follow through with our commitment to our people, the public and the environment.

Office Improvements

  • We have made big changes at our plants and in our offices where there are many opportunities to continue to improve.
  • Implemented recycling programs at all of our locations for polymer waste, cans, bottles, paper and items such as ink cartridges.
  • Installed light switch sensors and high efficiency lighting across our US plant network.
  • Departments such as accounting and purchasing made an effort to go paperless by using systems such as the automated clearing house (ACH).
  • Americhem corporate offices have solar tubes in the ceilings, increasing the use of natural light and reducing electrical consumption.

ISO 14001 Certification

The ISO 14001 standard certifies that companies follow a specific framework to help reduce negative impact on the environment. Our plant located in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio has been ISO 14001 certified for a year and we have a goal to certify all of our plants in the future, starting with our plant in Suzhou, China in 2016.

In Our Plants

We identified a list of potential changes when we evaluated our plants. All of our plants are working towards zero landfill input, which is a work in progress but a goal that we see as possible. At our plants, we use recirculating cooling systems (chillers) to cool many different pieces of equipment. The heat absorbed from the process must be dissipated to allow reuse of the water so cooling towers/chillers are used for this purpose. They save us from using a lot of city water that normally would be wasted once used in processing.

Eco-Friendly Products

Another way that we reduce environmental impact is through products such as nBalance™ sustainable solutions and solution dyeing technology.
  • 31 of our American PET colorants received Oeko Tex certification for synthetic fibers in Europe.
  • nBalance - a mix of color and additive masterbatches that are designed to reduce consumption of natural resources and use minimal energy in manufacturing and distribution.
  • Solution Dye Process - enhances your fiber production by coloring and spinning fiber in just one step. It also requires less water and eliminates the need for downstream equipment.
We also make hundreds of unique masterbatches for building products that do not require on-site applied materials, such as paint and stain. We help create products that contain recycled materials, giving you consistent results with more environmentally-friendly materials. We also help reduce the yellowness characteristics of recycled polymer streams.

Go Green with Americhem

With Americhem, you have a partner that not only provides you with state-of-the-art color and additive masterbatches, but also one that can help you limit your impact on the environment. Call us today at 1-800-228-3476 or contact us online to see the Americhem difference for yourself.


Aubrey Barto

Marketing Assistant, Americhem


Thursday, November 19, 2015

ITMA 2015 Proves (Yet Again) that it’s the King of Global Textile Shows

The International Textile Machinery Association (ITMA) held its 2015 exhibition in Milan, Italy from November 12-19. This show, founded in 1951, has been held ever
From left to right: Robert Laurent, Larry Campbell
and Pierre Vandekerckhove man Americhem's booth
at ITMA 2015 in Milan, Italy.
y four years, and as such, it makes it unique, at least amongst the other tradeshows that our company participates in. There are several shows that are held only once every 2 years and others (some of our industry’s largest) that are held every three, but ITMA stands alone at the four-year interval.

For each show, a European venue is selected, and this year’s choice of Milan was well-conceived, near the heart of the Italian textile machinery industry. Even before the show began, there was news as the record was broken for amount of exhibit space sold. 1,691 exhibitors from 46 countries lined the many exhibit halls. This broke the previous record set in 2007 when the ITMA exhibition in Munich, Germany saw 1,451 exhibitors from 38 countries. Americhem was proud to display at both gatherings.

The trade fair features more than just textile machinery, however, and ITMA 2015 had grown to draw materials suppliers, logistics providers, lab testing and measuring equipment, software and recyclers. Indeed, the theme of this show was “Master the Art of Sustainable Innovation” and sustainability was a hot topic on the show floor.

Americhem's ITMA booth featured a synthetic turf floorcovering, graphics
and videos describing our new products and samples of Americhem
color and additive products in textile applications.
Hundreds of visitors stopped by Americhem’s stand, located in the colorants and chemical axillaries hall. The mood of our visitors was upbeat and bullish on the industry. The previous ITMA, held in Barcelona in 2011, was picking up momentum from the global financial recovery, but folks who stopped by our booth were in a very optimistic mood and that bodes well for the industry.

ITMA will return to Barcelona in 2019, and the location is apt, considering that Spain had one of the top four positions in this year’s participation by country. The top 4 from first through third included Italy (not surprisingly), Germany and Switzerland. The show’s Asian counterpart, ITMA Asia + CITME, will take place in Shanghai, China in October 2016, and Americhem will exhibit there, as well.

From the 2007 Munich show until now, we have observed more and more companies exhibiting in our category. From just a few masterbatch providers in 2007, we saw many in 2015, including new players from Asia, Europe, and North America. Our staff is confident that, to be a player in the field exhibiting at ITMA is a must and, despite the fact that it’s four years away, we’ll be anxious to gauge the industry at ITMA 2019 in Barcelona.

Did you attend ITMA 2015? We’d love to hear your observations and commentary, so leave us a comment about the show.

Scott Blanchard
Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager

Monday, November 9, 2015

Monthly Color Inspirations - Brown

The color brown is serious and down to earth with properties like stability, structure and support. The warmth of the color relates to the protection and support of the family unit with a sense of duty and responsibility.

The color brown symbolizes quality in everything - a comfortable home, the best food and drink. The warmth of woodgrain home accents relaxes you with and creates a sense of security. Brown provides a feeling of good health, brings you down to earth and adds order to your life.

Global Meaning of Brown*
  • With its connection to the outdoors and down-to-earth activities, brown is suitable for businesses promoting outdoor products and services.
Unique Meaning of Brown in Different Cultures*
  • In Chinese horoscopes, brown is the color for earth.
We can help you convey endurance, duty and stability to your customers with the perfect shade of brown. Contact us today.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Sold Out Fakuma Trade Fair Attracts the Global Plastics Industry

Our commercial team took a trip to Friedrichshafen, Germany for the Fakuma Trade Fair, held Oct. 13-17 at the Friedrichshafen Exhibition Centre. Show officials announced before Fakuma’s start that all available exhibition space had been sold out starting in February of this year. The show is held twice every three years and takes a break in years that the K show is held. Perhaps the heavy visitor traffic could be attributed in part to the fact that K show will be held in October of 2016, meaning Fakuma will take a year off.

The exhibitors were of every shape and size as it relates to the plastics industry. We visited with resin producers, equipment companies, 3D printer firms and even some color suppliers. The halls were humming with plastics production equipment and the aisles stayed busy throughout our 2 day stay. It depended who you talked to as to the stream of visitors to their booths, but the majority of exhibitors were well pleased with the attendance.

As you might expect, there was quite a bit of buzz about the K show happening next year although it contrasts with Fakuma in several respects. Friedrichshafen is far from any urban area while K is held in the much more metropolitan Dusseldorf with its population of 11 million people. Though most will attend K, many said that, despite its size, Fakuma feels more like a family production, which makes sense as the Schall family has produced Fakuma for many years.

Many of the new products we saw were for the automotive industry, where lightweighting and emission reduction is of the utmost importance. Some lightweighting is achieved through specialty plastics compounds. Since plastic is lighter than metal, the focus is around trying to get plastic as close as you can in physical properties to metals. This will continue to benefit the companies that can produce products that work in this industry. Regarding emissions, manufacturers are even concerned with the interior atmosphere of the car in addition to external emissions.

We had many good meetings with our customers and, as we discovered last year, there are many industries present that could benefit from Americhem products and technologies. We’ll look forward to 2017 with the optimism shared by most in this important industry event.

Andreas Weller
Key Account Manager, Americhem Inc.

Thomas Weigl

VP and Managing Director EMEA, Americhem Inc.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

How You Can Create Synthetic Fibers that Stand Out

The increasingly competitive landscape in the synthetic fibers market has made it essential for companies to seek opportunities to add value and create points of differentiation. This blog post is to review how color and additive solutions impact the functionality and stabilization of synthetic fibers during production and when going to market.

Define Your Goals

Differentiating your fiber products from the competition can be accomplished in a number of ways, it boils down to determining what you are trying to accomplish, and then working with suppliers to find the right solutions. For example, outdoor fabrics for awnings would require different attributes than the lining of a fleece jacket.

Color-Enhancing Solutions

Finding the right mix of polymer color and additives can be the key to unlocking new business opportunities, helping synthetic fiber producers enhance material properties and create improved efficiencies in the spinning process, which adds greater value to end customers when compared to lower-cost alternatives. To further achieve the look you are after, the following color and additives might also be considered.

Enhancing appearance
Custom colors, blacks and whites, delusterants, and optical brighteners
Extending useful life
Inhibiting the spread of germs
Improving processability during spinning
Lubricants, antioxidants and heat stabilizers
Preventing ignition or spread of flame
Flame retardants
Removing static charge from fabrics
Enhancing performance
Moisture managers, odor absorbers, fillers, reinforcement, tracers and biodegradation

In the highly competitive synthetic fibers market, differentiation can be achieved by fine-tuning your processes and finding the right mix of color and additive solutions. By working with a trusted partner, you can effectively balance form and function that will add value to your operation—and your customers.

Americhem’s Product Development Services

Americhem is more than a supplier to the synthetic fiber industry—we’re a partner that can help enhance your existing products and bring new products to market faster. We become fully integrated in your processes to help improve efficiency and overall product quality by employing our unique value-engineering approach. For more information on best practices in the manufacture of synthetic fibers, or to learn more about Americhem’s products and services, visit Americhem.com.

Larry Campbell
Technical Development Director- Fibers
Americhem, Inc.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Industry Flocks to 17th Annual SPE Automotive TPO Conference

Americhem enjoyed a key role in this year’s SPE TPO Automotive Conference, held annually in Detroit. Our speaker, color expert Rick Mathew, helped kick off the conference on Sunday, Oct. 4, with an opening address/workshop on colors for TPO. Rick touched on numerical versus visual color tolerancing and creating color harmony between automotive TPO materials and other polymers, including polypropylene. This session was very well attended, with an estimated 50 conference participants in attendance. This is particularly noteworthy since the address occurred on Sunday evening, the evening before most of the conference activities were to commence. 

We got a lot of good feedback on the presentation, and a number of people stopped to tell me how entertaining and engaging Rick was. They also mentioned how his address made them think differently about color representation. The SPE board also appreciated our contributions and would like us to contribute similar content to next year’s conference.

As far as the conference itself, the attendance was the best I’ve seen in my years of participation. In particular, Monday’s programming was attended by a large throng, the best one day attendance I’ve seen at the conference. The receptions and other networking opportunities were outstanding and extremely well attended.

There was good representation from OEMs and others within the automotive supply chain, such as resin and additive companies. The exhibition portion of the programming seems to add more exhibitors each year. Our technical team was extremely pleased with the subject matter and the papers that were delivered. Each year, we see a lot of familiar faces, and the conference really has become the automotive plastics industry event where everybody is together in one place at one time. 

Industry personnel were optimistic about the growth of TPO materials in automotive applications and they were enthusiastic about the industry in general. The global diversity of the conference attendees continues to grow and evolve each year. Next year, the conference will potentially go overseas for the first time with the 2016 Shanghai TPO Conference, to be held March 22-24 in Shanghai, China. Look for Americhem to participate.

We continue to find that this growing event is an excellent platform for innovations and insight from Americhem. If you were at the conference, we’d love to hear your feedback, so leave us a comment to continue the conversation.

Brett Conway
Group Director – Plastics, Americhem Inc.

Monday, October 12, 2015

STC Member Meeting Tackles Tough Challenges

This year’s Synthetic Turf Council (STC) Fall Member’s Meeting was held Oct. 5-7 in Atlanta, Georgia. The mood was upbeat and the outlook positive, as most producers and suppliers are bullish on the future for synthetic turf.

This was the first STC meeting for incoming president Al Garver. He is just the third president in the STC’s 12-year history. He has served a 32-year military career in the Air Force and National Guard and Reserve, combined with civilian work in high-level strategic planning and communications. He also has championed member-focused advocacy, public policy objectives, and membership programs.

This year’s programming had a heavy focus on environmental and health & safety news. The health & safety message is that the industry is being proactive in providing accurate information on the safety of crumb rubber infill, even with some of the supply now coming from Chinese tires, which are made in a different way.

The meeting’s keynote address was delivered by Dick Vermeil, a Super Bowl championship NFL coach who won the league’s coach of the year award four times. His speech was on common sense principles of leadership. The audience was genuinely engaged with Vermeil and everyone we talked to found him very entertaining. Some of the themes in his speech included perseverance, vision, overcoming adversity and the importance of mentors.

A large number of Americhem customers were in attendance, so we really got to do a lot of networking during the meeting. There was a trade show display area which was well attended. Some of the optimism can be attributed to the fact that municipalities are starting to have some capital free up for sports field and landscape projects. Landscape as a category is growing, especially in Canada, where prevention of natural pests makes turf a winning alternative. One interesting Canadian application is the installation of turf between the lanes of divided highways, an extremely low maintenance alternative. Drought issues in California and the American West present opportunities for turf, particularly in residential and commercial landscaping.

Aside from the health and environmental themes, there were several talks on construction. Many turf fields have failed due to poor installations, so this was an important theme.

Our commercial team found that this STC meeting was a great place to network. It was a great opportunity to meet a lot of different people in a unique setting. There were a large number of senior leadership personnel from member companies and it was great to be able to meet with them, including those we met for the first time. We look forward to the next semi-annual meeting this spring in New Orleans.

Matt Johnson
Segment Director – Carpet & Turf
Americhem, Inc.
Bryan Walker
National Account Manager
Americhem, Inc.

Marty Staten
Account Manager
Americhem, Inc.



Thursday, October 8, 2015

Color Trends 2016- 2017

Color is our business. We work every day to ensure that our customers get the color they need for their products. But we don’t just match your color, we design your color to look great with the utmost in product performance.

To help our customers keep up with the latest product design trends, we just introduced the 2016-2017 Americhem Color Trends forecast in Dalton, Georgia. I presented our color trends to a record number of attendees in hopes of providing them with aesthetic inspiration. It was great to have so many creative minds in one room. As lead color trends specialist, I get the privilege to live and breathe colors all year round. The team and I conduct a lot of research and collaborate to bring the color trends to life. We are confident that these colors will guide consumer preference in the years to come. Our program can be valuable in keeping industry professionals ahead of the curve when it comes to color choices.

I took the audience through colors and palette themes by exploring images representing real life architecture, fashion, high tech gadgets, interior design and more. We find that these images are essential in demonstrating our trends in everyday settings.

This year, the trends are comprised of six color palettes including:

  • Rush Hour- The beginning and ending of every work day and work week.
  • Office Diligence- Hues from this palette are observed in everyday work. 
  • Casual Friday- TGIF everyone! A day to wind down and relax at the end of the week, but also to provide inspiration for a Friday night out or a weekend getaway.
  • Night Life- Night Life is glamorous and sophisticated, with contrasting colors that are used to accentuate luminous effects. Sparkles, glitter, shiny fabrics, and textures abound.
  • Welcome Distraction- This palette is a mix and match of bright and medium shades, perhaps eccentric, but also playful and energetic.
  • Sunday Brunch- The pastel hues of this palette remind us of traditional brunch foods and beverages, and impart a feeling of calm.

Our audience was so receptive to the presentation and I was pleased to see the feedback they provided.

Mary K. said, “Great inclusion of various cultural influences - fashion, pop culture, technology.” We were also told by Cherise P., “I enjoyed the way the presentation was given as a story that we could relate to. The visual presentation was well put together.” I enjoyed talking to all of the designers about the colors and it was a great experience for me as a presenter to see people get inspired.

Color trends apply to all industries interested in accenting their products with innovative, modern colors. Our forecasts reach across any and all product categories. From carpet to automotive and apparel to packaged goods, consumers are looking for the latest colors to make them stand out from the crowd. Please reference our color trends inspiration sheets to see how you can introduce our colors in any setting. 

And now, for the first time, you can experience our color trends in an upcoming webinar November 5. Register Today. If you are interested in learning more you can contact me at abarto@americhem.com.

Aubrey Barto
Color Trends Specialist, Americhem

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wrap-Up from the Remodeling Show/Deck Expo

Our commercial team attended the Remodeling Show/DeckExpo exhibition last week in Chicago. The event was held at Navy Pier on October 1-2. Educational sessions began on September 30 and ran through the end of the show.  This exhibition is held annually and the pattern lately has been to alternate shows between Baltimore and Chicago. For whatever reason, the Baltimore show tends to be the bigger of the two, but there was decent traffic throughout the opening day of the show, which was when we visited.

The show was characterized by a lack of new products. There were several items that had been introduced last year, but truly new offerings were hard to come by. For us, visiting the show was very worthwhile because we were able to talk to many of our customers in one place at one time, and our meetings with them were productive.

One item of note was the change of venue from the McCormick Place site to Navy Pier. The Pier has a small exposition center in a building farthest from the shore and it was busy throughout our visit. There were several nice restaurants right on Navy Pier, which made it an ideal locale for business lunches and dinners. Because McCormick Place is so big, it is isolated from the walkable part of Chicago, so it’s opportunities for on-site dining and other attractions is not nearly as great as what the Navy Pier had to offer.

All of the major players in the decking industry exhibited along with some of the producers of fencing, windows, roofing and cladding. The overall outlook on the industry seemed to be optimistic but guarded. It’s as if those in the building industry aren’t quite sure what to expect of the economy or the sector as a whole. Some of this is understandable, since the building industry was the one hardest hit over the last decade, so even when it’s easy for other industries to feel bullish, producers of building products are approaching the future with caution.

We’ll be anxious to see what the industry as a whole sees as their future when we visit the International Builder’s Show in January. In the meantime, if you’d like to give your opinion on the Remodeler’s Show/Deck Expo or comment on the state of the industry as a whole, please feel free to leave us a comment so we can continue the conversation.

Herman Volkening
Account Manager, Americhem, Inc.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Color of the Month - Orange

The color orange evokes thoughts of fall. Of changing leaves, sunsets and desert sandscapes. It’s active. It’s wholesome. 

Orange is vibrant. It symbolizes energy, vitality, adventure, warmth, and good health. Darker oranges offer a sense of comfort while lighter oranges are soothing.

But orange has a bit less intensity than red, calmed by the cheerfulness of yellow. "Orange is red brought nearer to humanity by yellow." Wassily Kandinsky, Russian painter and art theorist.

Global Meanings of Orange*
  • Orange is associated with vitamin C and good health.
  • Orange is symbolic of autumn.
  • Orange is the color of life rafts, hazard cones, and universally associated with safety.

That’s why the orange family of colors from Americhem offer so many opportunities to differentiate your products. Let us know how we can help you design your next orange today.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

3D Printing: The Disruptive Technology

Are you interested in the world of 3D printing? As a rapidly growing sector of the manufacturing industry, the sales of products and services in 3D printing have grown at a 35.2% compounded annual growth rate and these products and services now comprise an industry worth over $4 billion.

Americhem scientist and R&D manager Ron Beck has been involved in developing colorants for 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, since 2012. He will be delivering a keynote address, “3D Printing: The Disruptive Technology” at the Society of Plastics Engineers CAD RETEC Conference on Tuesday, October 5 at 8:30 a.m. Ron will share his insights into the industry and the opportunities it offers for manufacturers to be on the cutting edge of modern technology.

Did you know that there are seven different types of 3D printing methods as defined by ASTM? Ron
will delve into each technology, describing each process’s methodology and their common uses. He’ll also describe how these 3D manufacturing methods are overcoming and augmenting some of the limitations of traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding, blow molding, extrusion and vacuum forming.

So just what is a disruptive technology anyway? It’s a technology that creates a new market and then disrupts an existing technology and eventually takes over the parts of the industry that are unable to adapt to the competition. 3D printing certainly qualifies. The material extrusion method of 3D printing uses 1.75 to 3.0 mm filament as its raw material. Ron will explain how Americhem is adapting its vDesign software to optimize and accelerate the filament buying process.

Ron’s paper will also examine industries where 3D printing is revolutionizing the way people do things, such as the medical, dental and aerospace industries. He’ll also take a look at the limitations of the technology as it currently stands.

We encourage you to attend the keynote address if you’ll be at CAD RETEC. We also plan to develop white papers and other content based on Ron’s research. If you have a question that he can help answer, please feel free to leave a comment so we can continue the conversation.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Colors That Rock: The Top 10 Rock Bands with Color in Their Name - Part II

Welcome back as we continue our countdown of the top 10 rock bands with color in their name. Last time, we looked at number 10 through number 6, and in this edition, we now count down the top 5.
A punk rock group formed in 1986, these rockers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015 in their first year of eligibility. They’ve sold more than 75 million albums around the world. The California band’s two founders, Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt, played in a band called Sweet Children from the time they were 14-year-olds and by 1986 they recorded their first EP. To avoid confusion with another similarly named group, they changed their name to Green Day, allegedly because of their partiality to marijuana. They’ve released 11 albums over the years, 7 of which are certified platinum.

The only ensemble in our list to use an umlaut in their name was formed in 1967 in New York under the name Soft White Underbelly. After some other temporary names, they settled on BÖC in 1971. It was derived from a poem by their manager, Sandy Pearlman, who referred to the Blue Oyster Cult as a group of aliens who had assembled to secretly guide Earth's history. The origin of the umlaut is debated, but it set a precedent that was followed by Motörhead, Mötley Crüe and Queensrÿche among others. The heavy metal act has produced 13 studio albums and is known for their hits “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” “Godzilla” and “Burning for You.” And, you guessed it, they remain a touring act to this day.

The English hard rock group has twice been nominated for the Rock Hall, but has not achieved the distinction to date. As a predecessor of modern heavy metal music, they formed in 1968 and were at the height of their powers during the 1970s. Hailed for their concert volume, they made the Guiness Book of World Records as “the globe’s loudest band.” Fueled by hits like “Smoke on the Water,” “Hush,” Highway Star,” and “Woman from Tokyo,” Deep Purple took a hiatus from 1976-1984 but endure, touring in 2015 and, presumably, beyond.

As another heavy metal pioneer, Black Sabbath has enjoyed an immensely successful career, culminating in their 2006 induction into the Rock Hall. Along with Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, they are credited as being one of the “unholy” trinity of heavy metal music in the 1970s. They’ve toured widely with a variety of different lineups, triggered at least in part by lead singer Ozzie Osbourne’s battles with drugs and alcohol. The band’s name, so often associated with the occult, came about as a result of the band playing a show across the street from a movie theater that was showing the horror film Black Sabbath starring Boris Karloff. The band is ranked number 85 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

1.       Pink Floyd
This seminal group of architecture students in London began their career under names such as Sigma 6 and The Tea Set. They played at universities and clubs and attracted a strong underground following. The group’s initial lead singer and frontman, Syd Barrett, came up with their eventual name and it has less to do with color than you might think.  The name was a hybrid of two American bluesmen, Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The history of the band can be broken into three eras: one with the enigmatic Barrett as the lead, one with composer and bassist Roger Waters in command, and at the end of the band’s career when they were led by sublime guitarist David Gilmour. Inducted into the Rock Hall in 1996, this band’s gargantuan, laser-tinged, psychedelic stadium shows became the standard by which all other concerts will be judged. Last playing together for three songs at the Live 8 concert in 2005, a true reunion is not possible with the deaths of Barrett (2006) and Richard Wright (2008). Nonetheless, they released an album,The Endless River, consisting of mostly instrumental songs in 2014, culled from recordings made during the band’s last album, The Division Bell, in 1994.

So there you have it, for better or for worse. Do you have other color-named bands you think deserve recognition? Do you disagree with the order in which we’ve ranked them? Leave us a comment to continue the conversation.

Scott Blanchard
Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Four Elements of Color

Color is everywhere. Life is full of an endless amount of reds, yellows, blues, and more, but it takes a couple of factors for you to perceive everything.

Color is the physical modification of light by an object. When we observe an item, our brain interprets how light interacts with it, resulting in the various colors we see. When it comes to exactly why we see what we see, there are four elements that impact how we interpret color:
    There’s more than color than what meets the eye, which is why Americhem thoroughly tests every custom color masterbatch.
  • Light
  • Object
  • Human eye (observer)
  • Human brain

Why You See Color

Each one of the four elements plays a part in what you see. Essentially, light will hit an object, which in turn interacts with the light. The way a material reflects, diffuses, absorbs, and transmits light is what gives it its appearance. Even if an object uses the same pigment, the way it reflects light can lead to two completely different colors.

When we look at the interaction of light and an object, our eyes have to perceive the color. The light-sensitive cells in our eyes – rods and cones – respond to wavelengths to start perceiving what we see. After all of that, our brain begins to process all of this information.

Controlling Color Through Americhem

Developing a custom color masterbatch takes more than just a formula; it requires that we understand all of the elements that can impact the colors you see. For more than 70 years, we’ve been developing innovative color solutions and additives, producing consistent results that are catered to our client’s needs.

We thoroughly test our custom masterbatches to ensure that each of the four elements that impact color are addressed, providing you with a product that looks great and meets any additional specifications. Give us a call at 1-800-228-3476 or contact us online today to see the benefits of working with a company that truly understands how color works for yourself.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Colors That Rock: The Top 10 Rock Bands with Color in Their Name - Part I

As a manufacturer of color used in plastics and synthetic fibers, Americhem helps add brand and identity to a variety of products across many industries. So often, color is the item that consumers most identify with a product, service, logo or brand identity.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.
In a similar way, some of the greatest bands in rock ‘n’ roll history have chosen names that prominently feature color. In all of these cases, it doesn’t matter if the color is featured in their instruments, their album covers, their outfits or the videos showing on their gigantic screens. Color is forever a part of their identity.

It is with this in mind that we rank the top 10 rock bands with color in their name. You may notice a bias towards classic rockers, due mainly to your blogger’s advanced age. Several of these bands have brought their colorful identity all the way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We’ll count them down from number 10 to number 6 in this post, followed by number 5 through number 1 in a post later this week. So let’s take a look.

This country/rock outfit emerged from the psychedelic era of 1969 San Francisco and performed with many like-minded bands in that scene. In fact, several members of the Grateful Dead performed with the band during their infancy, including Jerry Garcia, who contributed the distinctive pedal steel guitar sound so closely associated with folk and country rock. The band tours to this day despite the deaths of NRPS stalwarts John “Marmaduke” Dawson, Spencer Dryden and Allen Kemp.

As the only female act on our list, the Indigo Girls rose to fame in the late ‘80s. Amy Ray and Emily Sailers, having met each other in elementary school in Georgia, first started performing together in high school. After the pair returned to Georgia homesick from their experiences at two different out of state colleges, they were looking through a dictionary trying to find a cool name and “indigo” was a word that struck them. They toured extensively and released 14 studio albums, including 2015’s “One Lost Day.” Known as much for their activism as their music, the Indigo Girls have toured with several versions of their own backing band as well as their familiar work as a duo.

A local entry (we’re headquartered near Akron, Ohio), this garage rock band led by Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney was formed in 2001, when they self-produced their records by recording in basements and garages, hence their classifaction as a “garage band.” Heavily influenced by the blues, they began having their albums professionally produced in 2008. Touring widely to support their act, they have relied on touring musicians to back their blues-rock sound. The group’s biggest success was its 2010 album Brothers from which they won three Grammys.

These Dutch rockers still perform today, having been founded in 1961. Lead vocalist and guitar
player George Kooymens and keyboardist/bassist Rinus Gerritsen remain with the band since the beginning, while Barry Hay and Cesar Zuiderwijk joined in 1967 and 1970 respectively. Most known for their monster 1973 hit “Radar Love,” Golden Earring also charted in 1982 with “Twilight Zone.” By far one of the most popular Dutch acts ever, they’ve notched 30 top 10 singles on the Dutch charts during their 54 years in the business.

The first appearance on our list of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, the Chili Peppers were
inducted in 2012. Originally formed in 1983 in Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, their funk rock stylings were also influenced by punk and alternative rock. Funk icon George Clinton even produced their second album. The band faced a serious crisis in 1988 when founding member Hillel Slovak died from a drug addiction, causing bandmate Jack Irons to quit the band. The group forged on with a new lineup, which evolved through the years and they continue performing (do you notice a theme here) as an active band today, even appearing during the Super Bowl XLVIII (2014) halftime performance. They’ve won 6 Grammy Awards and have received countless nominations for various music industry awards.

Be sure to log back onto our blog soon when we’ll count down from number 5 all the way to number 1.

Scott Blanchard
Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager

Friday, September 18, 2015

Exceed Your Scratch Resistance Specifications

Nobody wants to walk up to their car and discover a new scratch. Your car’s aesthetic appeal is important, and having to sit down in the driver seat just to see various nicks and marks in the dashboard each morning is a surefire way to kick start a bad day.
Americhem’s scratch and mar prevention additives can benefit the automotive and other industires.
Occasional scratches don’t have to always be a reality, however. Americhem provides custom color masterbatches with scratch and mar prevention additives in order to keep you products safe from harm.

The Masterbatch Scratch Solution

At Americhem, we have more than 70 years of experience creating innovative masterbatch solutions, and that includes developing scratch-resistant additives for your plastic products. We work with original equipment manufacturers to provide a custom solution to suit their needs. Even if a customer uses a resin that contains some scratch and mar protection, we can engineer a solution that will work seamlessly with it, providing the best protection available.

Americhem can put your products through rigorous testing in order to ensure excellence,
which includes a: 
  • Five-finger scratch test
  • Variable-force, variable-speed Erichsen scratch test

Scratch Prevention Additives Outside of the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry isn’t the only market that can take advantage of scratch and mar additives. Ultimately, you want your products to look good, and preventing scratches can keep the aesthetic appeal. We are also exploring other industries for scratch resistance, including composite decking so that your faux wood always looks good.

Preventing Scratches with Americhem.

When it comes to scratches, it’s all about prevention. Our masterbatch and additive solutions can help your products stay safe and looking good for a long time. 

Give us a call at 1-800-228-3476 or contact us online today to learn more about how Americhem’s custom color masterbatch technologies can keep your products safe.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Color of the Month: Yellow

Being the lightest hue of the spectrum, yellow is uplifting and illuminating. A simple color that offers hope, cheerfulness and fun.

Yellow is the best color to create enthusiasm for life and can awaken greater confidence with optimism. It’s the color of happiness, enlightenment and creativity. The sentiment behind yellow is based on where it is found in nature, in the natural world yellow is the color of sunflowers and daffodils.
Global Meanings of Yellow*
  • In almost every culture yellow represents sunshine, happiness, and warmth.
  • The human eye processes yellow first. This explains why it is used for cautionary signs and emergency rescue vehicles. 

Unique Meanings of Yellow in Different Cultures*
  • In Japan, yellow often represents courage.**
  • The ancient Mayans associated the color yellow with the direction South.

Brighten the lives of your customers, let Americhem create your yellow today. 


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

What’s the Difference Between Pigment and Masterbatch?

As a maker of color concentrates for a variety of polymeric products, exact color matches, lot-to-lot consistency, and color stability are extremely important to our customers. By having Americhem manufacture color concentrates (also known as masterbatches) for use in their manufacturing process, they are counting on us to handle critical aspects of coloring and maintaining color for their products.

We often hear people that misunderstand our part in the value chain and think that we make pigment. Dictionary.com defines a pigment as: 1. a dry insoluble substance, usually pulverized, which when suspended in a liquid vehicle becomes a paint, ink, etc. or 2. A coloring matter or substance.

Although Americhem uses pigments in our products, our masterbatch products can best be defined as a high concentration of pigments and additives encapsulated by a polymer. Instead of powdered pigments that are messy and must be cleaned from every surface that they touch, our masterbatches are most often made in pelleted form, like the picture you see here, and can be made as pellets and beads of differing sizes depending on what’s best for our customer’s manufacturing process.

You might ask if pigments alone can be added during the plastics producing process and the answer is yes. But it certainly isn’t what most plastic and synthetic fibers producers really do. Adding pigment by itself to these products does not disperse well in their equipment. Masterbatch is designed and engineered for optimal dispersion in a polymer matrix. Therefore, products made with masterbatch are consistent with one another and consistent from lot to lot, and even within lots. Masterbatches will give your products the ultimate opacity or transparency, depending on the desired effect. You realize full color value in your products because of the optimal dispersion of the pigment particles. You will also use less pigment when it’s delivered in masterbatch form because of masterbatch’s optimal, pure dispersion.
There are other advantages to color concentrates. Raw pigment can become airborne in manufacturing plants, contaminating other products being made on other manufacturing lines. Color concentrates are much easier to feed and handle during the manufacturing process. You can also match up the polymer you are coloring with the same polymer binder in the masterbatch for better melt processing. And because we make additive concentrates as well as color, we can create an all-in-one, multi-attribute masterbatches containing color and your choice of functional additives such as UV stabilizers, antioxidants, flame retardants and optical brighteners. So instead of having to feed many ingredients into your plastic processing equipment, you could use just one concentrate with predetermined ratios of ingredients to make your life a whole lot easier.
It has been said that masterbatch can be compared with Kool-Aid. A packet of Kool-Aid contains concentrated color and ingredients that give the drink flavor and aroma. When mixed with sugar and water (which are comparable to the polymer in plastics) these ingredients disperse evenly throughout the pitcher, making a drink that looks, smells and tastes great.
Consider Americhem your color and additives expert. If you’d like to explore other aspects of color, join the conversation and let us know by leaving a comment.

Scott Blanchard
Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Safety Doesn’t Happen by Accident

Throughout our company, safety is taken very seriously. In our company principles written by our founders and kept current through the years, our employee-related principles “require working safely at all times.” How do we live out this principle? By focusing on safety every day, and through continuous improvement to make sure that safety is top of mind at all times.

We’re proud of our safety accomplishments. Two of our plants currently have running safety records that have gone on for years. There have been no lost time incidents for 1,035 days at our Dalton,
Georgia facility and none at our Liberty, North Carolina facility for 1,556 days and counting. Each of our plants has its own culture of celebrating safety records and milestones which include luncheons and awards to groups and individuals.

We’re introducing new and enhanced safety audits at each of our plants this year, not only to maintain the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards, but to exceed them. Americhem’s safety guidelines and best practices will be identified including any areas for improvement. Follow-up of corrective actions will be critical in these audits, making this a true continuous improvement process. We’re also working this year to improve our internal communications on the handling of raw materials. This work includes input from members of our executive committee and will be implemented with anyone who works with raw materials throughout our global organization.  

We’ve also implemented online training through Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) PureSafety® curriculum. This consistently keeps our safety message in the forefront of our employee’s mind. PureSafety is an interactive web-based training site with safety training based on OHSA regulations, Americhem guidelines and overall best practices in the manufacturing industry. The site is currently used for individual training, but our Texas facility is experimenting with team-based assignment viewing.

This is just a sampling of the current safety efforts at Americhem. We take a holistic approach to safety, mandating that everybody in every role within the company is trained to work safely and implements this into their daily work. Our overall goal is to create a fresh work environment where working safely is expected and encouraged, with success being recognized, shared and rewarded.

Mike Sibon
Corporate Safety Coordinator