Published on November 1st, 2013 | Edited by: Jim Destefani0
Ceramics and glass business news of the weekPublished on November 1st, 2013 | Edited by: Jim Destefani
The University of Cincinnati Research Institute and GE Aviation will collaborate to create the GE Aviation Research Center—a move that will enable GE engineers and UC faculty working through UCRI to pursue innovations with direct application on future aviation products being developed at the company. GE Aviation will invest nearly $100 million in capital improvements at its Evendale, Ohio campus to facilitate the joint research efforts, plus $6 million over the next three years to fund the six UCRI researchers and 19 UC undergraduate and postgraduate students who will work at Evendale. UCRI has also committed $1 million in funding over the next three years to purchase equipment to support the technology projects.
In a testament to the importance of ceramics in biomedical applications, two new market reports assess applications, primary materials used, market growth, and other aspects of bioceramics over the coming years. The first report, from Research and Markets, forecasts a compounds annual growth rate for the medical ceramics market through 2016. According to the report, factors contributing to this market growth are the growing demand for cosmetic dentistry and application of bioceramics in hip replacement implants. The publication also looks at key market trends and drivers, challenges to market growth, key technology suppliers and market opportunities and threats they face, and strengths and weaknesses of these key vendors. A second report from NanoMarkets, forecasts that the worldwide medical ceramics market will grow from $1.1 billion in 2013 to $2.3 billion in 2018 and notes that ceramics are ideal materials for medical and dental applications including hip and knee implants; crowns, bridges, and other dental implants; surgical and diagnostic tools; implantable electronic implants; and regenerative medicine.
Glass manufacturer and distributor Vitro SAB de CV recently announced its unaudited results for the third quarter (pdf) of 2013. The company says consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, de[precaution, and amortization increased 0.6 percent from the third quarter of 2012 to $106 million. Vitro says the increase in EBITDA reflects the good performance of its container division, which offset lower results in its flat glass business. Earnings increased despite a decrease in consolidated net sales of 6.1%, to $427 million, compared with Q3 2012. Vitro says the decrease is primarily due to the impact of two hurricanes in Mexico in September and lower sales in the automotive and beer segments. The company also was able to pay down $83 million in debt thanks to $100 million in cash flow from operations.
Earnings season clearly is in full swing as graphite materials supplier GrafTech International Ltd. recently announced net sales of $303 million (versus $321 million in the third quarter of 2012) and a net loss of $8 million (versus net income of $30 million last year). Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization totaled $35 million, compared to $65 million in the year-ago quarter. The company says the decline was largely driven by lower realized pricing in its Industrial Materials business. Graftech also announced global initiatives to significantly reduce costs, including closing graphite electrode plants in Brazil and South Africa and a machine shop in Russia. Combined with reductions in corporate overhead, the company expects to save approximately $75 million annually. The proposed cutbacks are expected to be substantially complete by mid-2014, and would reduce Graftech’s global workforce by about 20%. Other cost-cutting efforts would reduce inventory levels across production facilities and initiate Lean/Six Sigma efforts to streamline production at remaining graphite electrode plants.
The US Department of Energy says a new concentrating solar power project led by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District will integrate utility-scale CSP technology with SMUD’s 500-MW natural gas-fired Cosumnes Power Plant. Supported by a $10 million DOE investment, the project aims to help design, build, and test cost-competitive CSP-fossil fuel power generating systems in the United States. Concentrating solar power technology uses sunlight to produce steam, which is then used to generate electricity. Hybrid systems couple traditional fossil fuel-powered plants with CSP technology to improve the efficiency and performance of both systems. The SMUD project will feed solar-produced steam directly into the plant’s turbines to produce at least 10 MW of new electric generation capacity, according to DOE.
The Peachy Printer, a $100 photolithography system for 3D printing and scanning, recently surpassed its funding goal and is now being sold online. The device attracted 4,420 investors, who pledged a total of more than $651,000 (Canadian) to get the project off the ground. A $100 3D printer/scanner is obviously going to have limited capabilities, but the device’s developers say they have already achieved their goals: 1) Reduce the cost and difficulty of 3D printing to a point where it’s accessible to everyone; and 2) Operate their business on their own set of moral and ethical principles, including using open-source software; acting as a clearinghouse for information on the political and ethical ramifications of 3D printing technology; and informing customers on safe practices and use of safety equipment when using the device.
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