SPE Industry Update
Apr. 24, 2013

Economic and social forces drive wind energy trends
By Don Rosato
Oil and natural gas prices are key wind energy drivers. Among the various sources of alternative energy, wind has a higher rate of return and is attracting new "players" into the energy sector. Wind energy designs increasingly depend on plastic materials. Plastic parts and components are extensively used in all major sectors of wind energy generation. The wind turbine industry has become one of the world's largest markets for plastic composites.More

Susceptibility of plastified starch to biodegradation
SPE Plastics Research Online
The production of thermoplastic starches has expanded considerably in recent years because these materials can be used as biodegradable substitutes for disposable plastics. Such bioplastics are compostable and can, therefore, considerably reduce the landfill burden of the plastics industry. In their manufacture, starch is extruded with highly viscous plasticizers — such as glycerol — to produce amorphous, transparent and remeltable plastic masses. More

Infographic: Why manufacturing will be hot again
3-D printing and low-cost computer-aided design will spark a revolution in manufacturing as entrepreneurs become able not just to manufacture products in the U.S. but in their homes and workshops.More

India prepares to introduce plastic banknotes
Deutsche Welle
India has decided to trial the use of plastic notes across five of the country's cities. It is part of a move, experts say, aimed at reducing costs, increasing the life of notes and combating counterfeit currency.More

How 'Made in the USA' is making a comeback
The U.S. economy continues to struggle, and the weak March jobs report — just 88,000 positions were added — briefly spooked the market. But step back and you'll see a bright spot, perhaps the best economic news the U.S. has witnessed since the rise of Silicon Valley: Made in the USA is making a comeback. More

High-tech medical plastics will help Boston Marathon victims
Plastics Today
As swarms of police staged a door-to-door manhunt in Watertown, Mass., doctors at nearby hospitals in Boston continued working on at least 40 victims of the Patriots Day Boston Marathon bombing still in serious or critical condition. Surgeons say they are using plastics technology developed to save and improve lives of soldiers wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan in the past 10 years.More

Can manufacturing be reborn in the USA?
In These Times
In the short period since American multinationals departed en masse for China, the headwinds facing global manufacturers have changed significantly. China's once-rock-bottom labor costs have risen as factory wages in coastal areas climb and the national currency slowly appreciates in value. Conversely, the U.S. offers several overlooked advantages. One is an edge in automation, robotics and other productivity tools that reduce direct labor expenses, undercutting the overseas advantage of cheap labor.More

Report: Biodegradable plastics demand growing 15 percent annually
Plastics News
Consumer pressure and legislation such as plastic bag bans and global warming initiatives will increase demand for biodegradable plastics, according to a new report. Food packaging and food-service products will drive demand for biodegradable polymers, with demand rising to double-digit levels in North America and Europe, according to Houston-based HIS Chemical. Foam packaging and compostable bags will be the top products, in terms of volume. More

PE film grades prices rise in North America
Plastics News
VideoBrief A price increase on film grades of North American polyethylene resin is featured in this "Material Insights" video. Prices on those grades rose an average of 4 cents in March, after prices on non-film grades had seen a similar increase in February. Prices now are up an average of 9 cents per pound in 2013. Regional PE makers are pushing an additional 4-cent hike for April.More

Is Samsung using a flexible plastic screen on the Galaxy Note 3?
Android Authority
Samsung is getting closer to commercializing the first devices featuring a plastic-based flexible display. According to a report from the OLED Association, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will be on show at the IFA 2013 Berlin show in September, and its plastic screen could be one of the phone's most talked features.More

Study: China manufacturing costs rising to US level
VideoBriefWalk onto the shop floor at Prince Industries in Shanghai, China and it looks like most other manufacturing plants in this country. It's busy running two shifts, cranking out components that will be shipped to major manufacturers like Caterpillar, Siemens and Honeywell. But change is in the air. The cost of manufacturing in China is going up and rising quickly.More

Judge removes BPA from California's harmful chemicals list
Plastics News
The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment had quietly announced its decision to include the controversial polycarbonate component on the so-called Proposition 65 list on April 11. But ACC asked the courts to freeze the listing until after a decision in its pending lawsuit, filed against OEHHA in Sacramento County Superior Court on March 15.More

These composites are reinforced with chicken feathers
Eastern BioPlastics manufactures and distributes composites reinforced with fibers extracted from the feathers of chickens and other poultry. In an effort to create an affordable, functional and sustainable bioplastic alternative, Eastern BioPlastics has engineered a custom, patented process to utilize feathers as a plastic additive. More

What's the right path for manufacturing? Technology and talent
Any effective manufacturing strategy has to include a robust "tech and talent" initiative, which would include a fully funded NNMI, a new system of "manufacturing universities" that promote training and applied research, stronger tax incentives for companies to invest in R&D, workforce training and new machinery and equipment.More

An advance in the viability of bioplastics?
Packaging Europe
The U.K.'s Technology Strategy Board recently awarded a grant to a consortium led by Biome Technologies to investigate a bio-based alternative for the oil-derived organic chemicals used in the manufacturer of bio-based plastics. Tim Sykes interviews Biome's CEO Paul Mines to get the inside story.More

Manufacturing companies still suffering from Europe's business slowdown
The never-ending debt crisis in Europe continues to be a drag on earnings for manufacturing companies, from General Electric to Honeywell. Some of them have divisions that helped offset the European slowdown, and sales in emerging markets also helped. But the poor revenue in the industrial sector is not good news for them, or for Europe.More

A Connecticut company is providing plastics for the Modern world
Shelton Herald
A Shelton, Conn., company supplies plastic products for everything from Disney World displays to human medical implants, and oil rigs to aircraft parts. Bing Carbone, Modern Plastics president and a Huntington resident, said the company sells engineering-grade plastic in sheet, rod, tube and film form and also produces many custom-made plastic items. The medical-grade plastics division was started a decade ago and sells materials for medical devices, instrumentation and human implants.More

Now SkyMall is selling a 3-D printer
Everyone's favorite way to pass the 15 minutes between when you're told to turn off your electronic devices and when you're allowed to turn them back on, the venerable seat-back catalog is now selling the $1,300 Cube 3-D Printer, which is capable of printing out plastic objects up to 5.5 inches in size. According to SkyMall, you can choose from 16 different plastic colors and "an average smartphone case takes about two hours to print."More