SPE Industry Update
May. 13, 2015

Biopolymers: The Key to the 21st-Century Medical Revolution
By Adolfo Benedito
We have so much hope for medical innovation in the near future. Words such as nanotechnology, immune therapy, stem cells and tissue creation are becoming more and more common in the medical world, generating a current of optimism that we may soon find cures and treatments for many complex diseases and conditions. Throughout history, technological revolutions are typically paralleled by material revolutions. The 21st century will inevitably be known for great medical advances, and biopolymers will be the driving force behind the scenes.More

A Versatile, Flexible Plastics Process That You may Never Have Heard of
Today's Medical Developments
Dip molding and coating is a plastics process that while used commonly on many types of products that include everything from medical devices to hand tools to gasoline pump handles, remains largely unknown to plastics engineers and product designers. Yet, dip molding and coating using a variety of liquid polymers, offers many advantages and in certain applications can even be an excellent alternative to the injection molding and extrusion processes.More

Emerging Trends in Thermoforming
Plastics News
Evolving trends in the thermoformed packaging industry include robotics integration, inventory control optimization, extrusion, thermoforming and assembly equipment upgrades, improved tools in packaging design and graphics, lightweight packaging and sustainability issues. Jeff Mengel is Plante & Moran's national practice leader for plastics and the food processing/packaging industries. When it comes to current trends facing processors serving the thermoformed packaging market, he points to automation. "I know it sounds like a broken record, but advances in automation remains a primary trend," he said.More

Impact of Lower Crude Prices on the Polyethylene Industry
Plastics Engineering
Crude oil prices collapsed from over $100/barrel to the mid-$40s, before stabilizing to about $60/barrel toward the end of February 2015. Further downward corrections are not excluded, with continued pressure from rising inventories — a key factor as of press time. The overall decline in worldwide oil prices in the last nine months has caused petrochemical supply-chain destocking, but it’s also sowing the seeds for better economic prices and improved demand for petrochemicals and plastics — trends that should ultimately tighten market conditions.More

Polymers Curl Up and Take Control
Royal Society of Chemistry
Scientists in Germany have successfully collapsed single polymer chains into dense nanoparticles, to make single-chain nanoparticles, by adding palladium. The nanoparticles mimic enzymatic pockets with defined environments around their metal centers and can catalyze a carbon-carbon coupling reaction. Enzymes use their carefully shaped reaction cavities to selectively catalyze organic reactions. Industrial processes crave selectivity, but also demand straightforward procedures.More

Recyclable PET Beer Keg Locks in Quality
Packaging World
Heineken USA launched a one-way recyclable PET beer keg for on-premise sales that offers consistent carbonation, 100 percent evacuation, a smaller footprint, and less expense. The BrewLock is not the first plastic keg, but Heineken felt each competitive system had elements that could be improved upon in its own design. The result is a multi-component system that comprises two 20-L PET bottles; a valve made from polybutylene terephthalate (PBT)/nylon/nitrile rubber (NBR)/steel; a PET collar; and a polypropylene protective cap.More

Reinforced Plastics Move into Non-Traditional Markets
Plastics Engineering
Composites have a long history of use in industries such as automotive, aviation/aerospace, and sporting goods, but their use is now expanding into less-traditional markets like medical, infrastructure, power transmission, and building and construction, where they are displacing metals, wood and wood products, and even concrete. Composites are moving into non-traditional segments for a variety of reasons.More

Report: 'Reshoring' Leads to Net Gain of 10 Thousands Manufacturing Jobs
The U.S. saw a net migration of at least 10,000 manufacturing jobs back to the country this past year, according to the Reshoring Initiative. The group's annual data report for 2014 said more than 60,000 manufacturing positions either returned to the U.S. from overseas or stemmed from foreign direct investment. Estimates showed between 30,000 and 50,000 American jobs were transferred overseas last year. In addition, the analysis showed a 400 percent increase in reshored jobs last year compared to 2003, when the country lost a net 140,000 positions to offshoring. More

How to Make Nanofibers Using a Fridge Magnet
Nanowerk News
Nanofibers are finding a wide variety of applications for composite materials, catalysis, filtration and as a multifunctional support in biomedicine. The most common method for making nanofibers employs electrospinning that uses an electrical charge to draw nanofibers from a polymeric solution. This technique utilizes large voltages and is strongly influenced by the dielectric properties of the material. More

Resin Markets: PE Price Edges Higher While PP Drops
Plastics Today
The spot resin markets were busy throughout April writes the Plastics Exchange in a market update. There was also a sharp divergence noted between the polyethylene and polypropylene markets, continuing the reversal from the trends of the past several months. There was a flurry of polyethylene buying as processors sought to procure material ahead of the May price increase; spot prices again edged higher while supplies dwindled.More

Do Forecasts Really Matter in the Manufacturing Sector?
By Alan Kelsky
With so many factors in play, forecasting for a wide-ranging field like manufacturing is never easy. Yet many organizations from the government to the private sector make predictions almost every day. What we see in the results are a variety of expectations — and revisions — for how manufacturing will grow in the coming months and years.More

China Builds 1st National 3-D Printing Lab
Plastics News
Hunan Farsoon Hi-tech Co. Ltd. is leading the formation of China's first national engineering lab for additive manufacturing. The Changsha-based company held a ceremony April 25 to launch the construction of the facility. The lab reports directly to China's National Development and Reform Commission in Beijing, represents the most state-of-art technology in China's additive manufacturing industry, and is an integral part of China’s technology innovation system, Farsoon said in a statement.More

California May Require Warnings on Products Containing Chemical BPA
Plastic drinking bottles, canned goods and other items containing the chemical bisphenol-A distributed in California might soon be required to carry a label disclosing that the compound can cause reproductive harm to women. The recent decision by a board of scientific experts to include BPA on a list of chemicals known to cause harm is the latest in a years-long dispute between state experts and the chemical industry, which says the substance is safe.More

Soft-Touch Packaging: A Value for Consumers
By Sharon Derbyshire
Packaging is viewed as an extension of the product, and the consumer's first perception of value is based on look and feel of the package. Research shows that consumers spend on average three seconds eyeing a product on store shelves before deciding whether to purchase — sometimes referred to as the first moment of truth. Soft-touch thermoplastic elastomers are a package differentiator, often visually alerting the consumer that there is something unique about this package and product.More

Survey Reveals Concerns About Biodegradable Plastics
Plastics News
High prices, product availability and basic ignorance are hampering sales of biodegradable and bio-based plastics in the agricultural, forestry and landscaping sectors, according to a new survey. A poll conducted by Brilliant Little Planet, a Fakenham, England-based supplier of bio-based and biodegradable lawn and garden products, and Adapt Low Carbon Group, a management consulting group, found that while eight out of 10 respondents said they used biodegradable products, more than half felt the cost was too high.More