SPE Industry Update
Feb. 27, 2013

Automotive lightweighting trend here to stay
By Don Rosato
According to the authoritative BCC report "Lightweight Materials in Transportation," the global market value for lightweight materials used in the transportation industry will reach nearly $153 billion in 2017, up from an estimated $106 billion in 2011, for a five-year compound annual growth rate of 7.5 percent. Transportation manufacturers and suppliers want to achieve vehicle lightweighting goals without loss of performance or aesthetics. The drive for lightweighting results in materials technology increasingly being considered as part of the initial design. This is the first of a four-part series to include automotive lightweighting material advances, process technologies and applications.More

High-shear-rate capillary rheology of polystyrene melt
SPE Plastics Research Online
Capillary rheometers have been widely used to characterize the shear viscosity of polymers as a function of shear rate. However, under high shear rates, the increasing influences of the end pressure loss, pressure dependence of the melt viscosity, dissipative heating and melt compressibility on the capillary flow may affect the reliability of the rheological measurements.More

Polypyrrole-platinum composite, a potential gas electrode material
SPE Plastics Research Online
Platinum is used as the inert electrode in electrochemical systems, especially in gas electrodes. Hydrogen electrodes require platinum as the solid support for the electrical contacts, and platinum is essential in electrochemical systems such as fuel cells, which involve the oxidation of hydrogen and reduction/reaction of hydrogen ions. The high cost and the large effective areas of platinum needed for efficient reactions have inspired the use of dispersed nanosized platinum particles on an inert support.More

Is China the next rust belt?
According to a growing number of media and analyst reports, China's days as the world's largest manufacturing nation are already numbered — only two years after ending the United States' 110-year reign. Labor costs are on the rise, the demographic dividend is dissipating, and rising oil prices are making long-distance transportation costs to China's major export markets in the U.S. and Europe unsustainable. At the same time, U.S. firms are developing a new respect for the art of manufacturing.More

Plastic bulb development promises better quality light
BBC News
US researchers say they have developed a new type of lighting that could replace fluorescent bulbs. The new source is made from layers of plastic and is said to be more efficient while producing a better quality of flicker-free light. The new light source is called field-induced polymer electroluminescent technology. It is made from three layers of light-emitting polymers, each containing a small volume of nanomaterials that glow when electric current is passed through them.More

Why Pakistan's plastics ban may not benefit the environment
The Ecologist
Manufacturers of oxo-biodegradable plastics — the kind that Pakistan is now introducing for all disposable plastic products — claim the material initially breaks down into small pieces which eventually disappear when exposed to sunlight and oxygen over several months. But, when we look closer into how oxo-biodegradable plastics break down, it seems another story emerges.More

Want to share your expertise?
In an effort to enhance the overall content of the SPE Industry Update, we'd like to include peer-written articles in future editions. As a member of SPE, your knowledge of the industry lends itself to unprecedented expertise. And we're hoping you'll share this expertise with your peers through well-written commentary. Because of the digital format, there's no word or graphical limit and our group of talented editors can help with final edits. If you're interested in participating, please contact Ronnie Richard to discuss logistics and payment.More

Plastic bag restrictions proposed in Ukraine
Kyiv Post
A member of a Ukrainian Parliament faction has proposed that the Ukrainian parliament restrict the use of plastic bags and packages that have a long period of decay, beginning July 1. According to the proposal, the production, import, use and distribution of plastic bags at least 35 liters in volume and 0.025 millimeters thick would be banned.More

TV series to focus on sustainable packaging. Is there a catch?
Plastics Today
While some of Hollywood's best and brightest were out hobnobbing with other industry folks at the 2013 Academy Awards, it appears that actor Martin Sheen was focused on packaging. Sheen will feature sustainable packaging in an upcoming series to air on PBS that will look at various ways that companies save money and help the environment by reducing the amount of packaging on the goods and items they produce and sell.More

Study: Manufacturing jobs growing faster in Chicago than US
Crain's Chicago Business
The number of manufacturing jobs in the Chicago area grew faster during the past three years than in the nation overall, according to a new study by the University of Illinois at Chicago's Center for Urban Economic Development. From 2010 through the third quarter of 2012, manufacturing employment grew 5 percent in the metropolitan area compared with 4 percent nationally. During the previous decade, the country had lost manufacturing jobs.More

Novomer develops PPC material from CO2
The Energy Collective
Novomer has developed polypropylene carbonate material made from carbon dioxide and propylene oxide, as well as polyethylene carbonate made from CO2 and ethylene oxide. The PPC polyol was produced at Albemarle's manufacturing facility in Orangeburg, S.C., using existing equipment that was modified for PPC polyol production. Novomer did not disclose the exact annual capacity of the manufacturing facility but according to the company, production from the Albemarle facility is already considered commercial scale for smaller volume polyol applications.More

Potential sequester will have big effect on manufacturing, private sector
Carroll County Times
An October study estimates manufacturing will be hit the hardest in the private sector if Congress does not pass a sequester deal. The study found manufacturing will experience the largest job losses, due to the large number of manufacturing companies that supply goods such as defense equipment and aerospace vehicles to the Department of Defense. For contractors, it will lead to more diversified portfolios and less dependence on the federal government.More

Graphene is highly efficient in converting light to electricity
The Institute of Photonic Sciences via PhysOrg
A new discovery demonstrates that graphene is able to convert a single photon that it absorbs into multiple electrons that could drive electric current — excited electrons — a very promising discovery that makes graphene an important alternative material for light detection and harvesting technologies, now based on conventional semiconductors like silicon.More

Nampak creates world's lightest 4-pint plastic milk bottle
Packaging Europe
Weighing in at just 32 grams, the bottle — which is currently undergoing trials with a number of Nampak's customers — represents a 20 percent material saving on the standard 4-pint version found in most supermarkets today. The breakthrough is the latest incarnation of Nampak's multi-award-winning Infini bottle, which claimed a coveted World Star prize earlier this year and the Best Dairy Packaging Innovation at the Global Dairy Congress in 2012.More

Indorama, Alphapet plan to raise PET resin price 2 cents per pound
Indorama Ventures USA and Alphapet intend to raise polyethylene terephthalate resin prices for March by 2 cents per pound, according to a pair of letters. Higher raw materials costs were cited as the reason for the increases. DAK Americas and Nan Ya Plastics also said higher feedstock prices were behind the March increases.More

Goal is to boost manufacturing in Appalachian region of Ohio
The Times-Reporter
Manufacturing and assembly companies of all sizes in the Appalachian region are eligible for help in handling problems preventing them from reaching the next level of achievement. The Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth is partnering with Ohio Development Services Agency to provide Manufacturing Extension Partnership services in an effort to spark economic growth in the nearly 30 counties in the Appalachian region of Ohio.More

Arburg develops injection molding machines tailored for packaging
Plastics Today
German injection molding machine manufacturer Arburg is targeting the packaging industry with new electric and hybrid Allrounder, Alldrive and Hidrive machines. Arburg says the two high-performance machine series offer high-productivity optimization for increased performance and reduced energy consumption. A spokesperson said its main focus within packaging is thin-wall containers, lids and closures.More

Hemp legalization bills introduced to California legislature
Raw Story
Two California lawmakers introduced two bills, S.B. 566 and A.B. 1137, that would allow non-psychoactive variants of the marijuana plant to be cultivated for industrial purposes in state. The legislation notes that California already imports "tens of thousands of acres' worth of hemp seed, oil and fiber products that could be produced by California farmers at a more competitive price." The plant can be used to make a number of products, including foods, fabrics, textiles, papers, bioplastics and biofuels.More

Crystalline polymer-based material play key role in engineering applications
Chemistry World
Chemists in Japan and Italy have created a polymer-based material that has a crystalline structure. The material, which achieves its crystallinity with crosslinks between its polymer chains, is expected to have a high mechanical strength that will lend itself well to engineering applications.More

Nordson executives say Xaloy, EDI hit soft patch
Plastics News
A slower global economy has impacted the Xaloy and EDI screw and barrel and flat die businesses, according to Nordson executives, but they expect sales to improve. Gregory Thaxton, chief financial officer, reported softness in plastics processing and consumer durable goods endmarkets. Citing a seasonal impact, he said the first quarter tends to be the weakest at Xaloy and EDI, as well as Nordson's existing, legacy businesses.More

3-D printing for the masses with 3Doodler pen
With a 3mm nozzle, the 3Doodler can use off-the-shelf filament; and variable temperature settings will allow you to use both PLA and ABS plastic. It's not a child's toy, since the nozzle can reach temperatures of 270 degrees Celsius. But because it requires only a power outlet and has no need for a computer, or even an SD card with design files on it, the 3Doodler should introduce a new level of accessibility and ease of use for those interested in experimenting with 3-D printing.More