SPE Industry Update
Jan. 21, 2015

Medical Plastic Material and Process Innovations to Watch
By Don Rosato
Plastic products designed for applications in medical technology have to meet a number of special criteria. Typically, excellent mechanical properties are required, even in components with small dimensions and wall thicknesses. In many instances, the medical devices must be germ-free and the materials they are made of must correspondingly be capable of being sterilized. Depending upon the sterilization procedures employed, the plastics used must be able to withstand hot steam or hot air, disinfectants, gamma radiation or ethylene oxide exposure.More

Biodegradable Porous Structures Derived from Multiphase Polymer Blends
SPE Plastics Research Online
In view of their use as scaffolds in tissue engineering applications, biodegradable polymers have attracted a great deal of attention in recent years. In addition to being biodegradable, these polymers are biocompatible and have good processability. Most of them, however, do not have sufficient mechanical strength for applications where the scaffold also plays the role of a load-bearing element. A wide range of nano- and microscaled particulates have been implemented to enhance the mechanical and other properties (e.g., thermal, fire, and barrier) of the scaffold.More

Plastics an Essential Part of the Auto Diet
Plastics News
The automotive industry is on a crash diet, with designers looking for every opportunity to trim an ounce here and there from the overall weight of each vehicle. Why the urgency in lightweighting and interest in different materials? The drive is sparked by the Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets set by the U.S. government, which call for the standard fuel consumption to climb to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.More

Engineers Develop Plasma-Based Coating that Makes Plastics Less Permeable
Food Processing & Packaging
A team of engineers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, has developed a plasma-based coating for packaging. The researchers found in some instances, PET bottles have replaced glass and manufacturers are opting for plastic containers instead of jars because they are lighter and less likely to break.More

Hong Kong Researcher Speeds Up 'Cracking' of Waste Plastics
Plastics News
Can a professor working out of a modest laboratory in a teachers’ college crack one of the biggest technical challenges facing plastics recyclers? Hong Kong Institute of Education chemistry professor Stephen Chow hopes so. Chow's research was spurred by a growing problem — what to do with the 6 million metric tons of solid waste Hong Kong's 7 million people generate each year, according to city statistics.More

Recyclers Robust Over the Falling Price of Oil
Plastics & Rubber Weekly
Plastics recycling firms are confident that the fall in oil and virgin polymer prices will not affect the need for businesses to use their environmentally-conscious products. PRW spoke with a number of key figures in the industry to gauge how the plastics market is dealing with the sharp drop in oil prices. Keith Freegard, marketing director at Axion Recycling, believes that cheaper prices of virgin polymer in relation to recycled materials will confirm how environmentally-friendly some businesses really are.More

Hierarchically Porous Polymers with Fast Absorption
Nanowerk News
Professor Myungeun Seo's research team from the Graduate School of Nanoscience and Technology at KAIST developed a method to form micropores of less than 2 nanometers within porous polymers where 10 nanometers long mesopores are connected like a net. The best feature of the porous polymers is the fast absorption of molecules. Mesopores. Porous polymers that have micropores of less than 2 nanometers like a zeolite have a large surface area. They are used as a means to store molecules like hydrogen or as catalytic support that can be used as a surface to convert a material into a desired form.More

Turns Out, Even BPA-Free Products Could Be Harmful
Yahoo Health
In the backlash against bisphenol A — an endocrine-disrupting chemical in plastics and other products linked to hyperactivity, obesity, and other health problems in animal and human studies — manufacturers have developed a host of “BPA-free” alternatives. But these choices, which often use chemicals similar to BPA, may be just as harmful, new research shows.More

Plastics to Continue its Growth Curve in Auto Industry
Plastics News
Increased use of plastics in automotive applications has been on a decades-long and incremental journey of greater acceptance. With new applications that continually challenge the use of metals in vehicles, plastics now consist of about 50 percent of the volume of a typical vehicle, said Frank Macher, chairman and CEO of Continental Structural Plastics Inc., of Auburn Hills, Michigan.More

Brazilian Lab Turns Fruits, Veggies into Edible Plastic
Environment News Service
Imagine putting a pizza in the oven without having to remove the plastic casing that protects the pizza from contamination. The plastic film consists of tomatoes and when heated it will become part of the pizza. This edible plastic has been developed by researchers at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, Embrapa Instrumentation, a state-owned company affiliated with the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture.More

New Plastic Garbage Sacks Combine Anti-Bacterial and Biodegradable Properties
New, advanced plastic garbage sacks have been developed by the Middle East firm Silex Trading which combine Symphony Environmental’s d2w (oxo-biodegradable) and d2p (anti-bacterial) technologies, becoming a world first. The combination of oxo-biodegradable and anti-bacterial technologies in the same product helps the garbage sacks to combat bacteria which cause unpleasant odors and attract flies.More

UK's Shale Gas Estimates Questioned
Plastics & Rubber Weekly
U.K. government claims that shale gas could provide the country with gas for three decades have been described as "very speculative and optimistic" by an leading energy expert. With only a handful of drilling sites for shale gas exploration due to commence this year, Professor Jim Watson, research director at the U.K. Energy Research Centre, said politicians had been too positive on shale gas' potential. "Given the low number of wells that have been drilled in the U.K., and the very low level of experience of shale gas production here, it is far too early to say how much shale gas could be produced," Watson said.More

Metal-Free Atom Transfer Radical Polymerization Process Uses Organic-Based Photocatalyst
Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara and The Dow Chemical Company have collaborated to develop an innovative atom transfer radical polymerization process that may help overcome the hurdles that have so far prevented common use of controlled radical polymerization.More

Clariant Gets Hip with New Color Themes
Plastics & Rubber Weekly
Clariant, the Switzerland-based speciality chemicals group, has issued its latest "ColorForward" color forecasting guide. The annual forecast – which Clariant said was celebrating its 10th anniversary – "aims to help plastic product designers and marketing professionals make more informed color choices." The group said each edition presented four global societal trends that can be expected to influence consumers' behavior. Clariant spelled out the trend themes it expected to see in its 2016 edition, including "new thinking"; "experiencing luxury"; how technology continues to transform lives, and a new breed of feminist.More

Absorbent Polymer Inflates Tissue to Give Microscope a Better View
Chemical & Engineering News
When imaging a biological specimen, scientists typically use microscope optics to magnify features they're studying. A new method called expansion microscopy improves resolution by physically magnifying the specimen itself, neuroscientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology report. The method might one day enable researchers to use standard microscopes to image three-dimensional biological networks all the way down to nanoscale resolution.More

Multiplication of Electrical Charges in Single Molecules Could Lead to More Efficient Solar Cells
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Columbia University have collaborated to develop solar cell polymers that have multiplied electrical output. When solar cells absorb light energy they lose some of it as heat. This is a challenge in attempts to improve the efficiency of solar cells.More

China's New Plastics Ban in Jilin Province Boosts Bioplastics Sector
European Plastics News
A new ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags and food service items is creating an unprecedented surge for bioplastics manufacturing in China. Unlike China's nationwide plastic bag ban, which has been widely recognized as ineffectively enforced since its launch in June 2008, Jilin province's new ban so far seems to be in full force and making real impact in the region. The ban just took effect Jan. 1, but the government had announced the law as early as February 2014 and has made solid progress in leveraging the ban to foster bioplastics manufacturing in that region.More

ORNL Researchers Unveil 3-D-Printed Shelby Car at 2015 Detroit Auto Show
Researchers from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new 3-D-printed vehicle as a tribute to the classic Shelby Cobra during its 50th anniversary celebration at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The 3-D printed Shelby will be available on display in the show's Technology Showcase, between Jan. 12 and 15.More

Fed: Industrial Production Showed Strong Growth in 2014
Factory production increased at the fastest rate in four years in 2014, according to the latest monthly numbers from the Federal Reserve. But the manufacturing sector faces challenges from both a turbulent global economy and capacity limitations at home. December estimates from the Fed show factory production increased 0.3 percent in December, capping a healthy 2014 performance — and a particularly strong fourth quarter of the year.More

New Emerging Trends in Car Interiors
European Plastics News
The Automotive Surfaces conference, held in Stuttgart, Germany, opened with a report from Christian Hainz, senior automotive analyst, Ernst & Young, about the trend for greater connectivity, asking whether the car was becoming an extension of our digital lives. He outlined two trends: The increasing importance of the "internet of things" with in-car technology becoming increasingly sophisticated in western markets, whilst growth from emerging markets is coming from cheaper cars with less sophisticated infotainment systems. More