SPE Industry Update
May. 15, 2013

Batteries get flexible: Polymers could power bendable displays
Chemical & Engineering News
Imagine how versatile a rechargeable battery would be if it were lightweight and thin and could be flexed, stretched and rolled up. Or if it were long-lasting, powerful and free from the safety concerns that have plagued segments of the battery industry lately. Organic polymers endowed with unusual combinations of properties may hold the key to these kinds of advanced batteries.More

Multifunctional nanocomposites for environmental remediation
SPE Plastics Research Online
Toxic hexavalent chromium — Cr(VI) — is generated from a wide range of anthropogenic sources including chrome plating, stainless steel, textile dying, pigment, wood preservation and anti-corrosion coatings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends a maximum limit of 0.1mg/L for total chromium in drinking water to reduce human exposure. To meet that level, Cr(VI) must be removed from polluted water.More

Getting green and energy independent: Nice try?
By Stefanie Heerwig
Never have official estimates of fossil fuel subsidies in the United States been so high and never have efforts to cut them so serious. In his proposal for the fiscal year budget 2014, President Barack Obama aims at U.S. energy independence and a radical cut of fossil fuel subsidies. How does this work together or, more importantly, will that work at all?More

Survey: Suppliers' disappointment with automakers rises
Detroit Free Press via USA Today
The rebounding auto industry is dependent on a strong supplier base to thrive, but a sweeping survey suggests a disturbing complacency among major automakers in strengthening this key relationship.More

Has co-injection molding come of age?
Plastics Today
Co-injection can improve environmental sustainability and reduce costs by making it possible to include recycled or reground resin; technical grades of resin with material properties to improve part characteristics such as sound deadening or cold weather impact strength; or more economical material in the core with another material molded over the core material for aesthetics.More

Test-firing the world's 1st fully 3-D printed gun
A tall, sandy blond engineer named John just pulled a twenty-foot length of yellow string tied to a trigger, which has successfully fired the world's first entirely 3-D printed gun for the very first time, rocketing a .380 caliber bullet into a berm of dirt and prairie brush.More

Obama administration launches competition for 3 new manufacturing innovation institutes
The White House
The Obama administration announced that it is launching competitions to create three new manufacturing innovation institutes with a federal commitment of $200 million across five federal agencies. To build off the initial success of a pilot institute headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, the president announced his administration would move forward and launch three new manufacturing innovation institutes this year.More

Your future will be manufactured on a 3-D printer
Fears of teenagers now printing a plastic arsenal of 3-D printed weapons are overblown, but the episode is emblematic. Three-dimensional printing, also called additive manufacturing, can be a powerful force for economic and social progress. But it also holds potential for abuse: Weapons, counterfeits and designer drugs are just a few of the products an unscrupulous user might someday produce. The questions are not just how this technology may disrupt our lives, for better and worse, but how to prepare for this manufacturing revolution in the making.More

The effort is there on bag recycling, but is it enough to stop the bans?
Plastics News
For a long time, when people in the plastics industry talked about plastic grocery bags being recyclable, it was a mostly theoretical exercise. But the reality was that most bags were not recycled. Some, unfortunately, ended up as litter. And that was a big problem. So bans and taxes started to appear. And they've continued to pop up — like dandelions in a spring Ohio lawn. Now some plastics processors are pulling out all the stops to recycle plastic bags.More

Closing the manufacturing skills gap
At Air Products & Chemicals Inc., about 150 skilled-labor jobs are open and unfilled at any given time in the United States. The positions run the gamut from welders and instrument electrical technicians who work with sophisticated controls to diesel mechanics, pipe fitters and mechanical engineering technicians. Those unfilled positions represent 38 percent of the roughly 400 skilled-worker positions Air Products attempts to hire each year for its U.S. workforce.More

Cap and valve system gives the perfect dose
European Plastics News
A number of bottle and container producers and their customers have started to incorporate a dosing system developed by Bark Innovations of the Netherlands. The patented valve and cap system is integrated with a dosing chamber in the bottle to allow precise dosing by the consumer who doesn't have to squeeze or use a measuring cup.More

Bayer's plastics chief sees room to raise prices
Reuters via Fox Business
Bayer suggested there was room to lift prices at its high-tech plastics and chemicals business this year to counter soaring raw material costs that squeezed first quarter margins. The diversified healthcare group's MaterialScience division lowered its outlook last month as a result of the soaring costs of petrochemicals such as benzene. But the unit's top executive, Patrick Thomas, told Reuters it had leeway to combat the problem by raising prices.More

3-D printed robot assembles itself
Discovery News
VideoBriefResearchers from Harvard and MIT recently teamed up to create a 3-D printed inchworm robot that can assemble itself. Shape memory polymers — materials that automatically fold into designated shapes — were used so that the robot can transform itself from a flat, two-dimensional object into an inch-worm-like robot, which folds along two hinges. The only human intervention needed was to attach a motor and battery.More

High-powered laser tech progress enables advanced plastics welding
Science World Report
Scientists are developing high-brilliance laser beam sources, which enable the laser welding of plastics for improved and rapid production of complexly-shaped parts, and could therefore lead to important advances in the manufacturing of polymeric products.More

Gold solder used to laser-weld ruptured intestines
Stitches and staples may be on their way to becoming a thing of the past, thanks to a developing technology known as laser tissue welding. Now, a new gold-based solder has been created that could make tissue welds in regions such as the intestines much stronger and more reliable.More

Are modern football helmets any safer than old-school leather ones?
Smithsonian Magazine
In the past century or so, football helmets have come a long way, evolving from crude "leatherheads" crafted by shoemakers to plastic-and-rubber hybrids that can be customized to fit a player's head and have radios built in. Nevertheless, the sport currently faces a serious and growing problem: brain injuries. A 2011 study found that with many types of impacts, modern helmets were no better than vintage leather ones at protecting players' heads.More

Dassault Systèmes buys firm specializing in plastic injection molding simulation
The Boston Globe
Dassault Systèmes, a French company with roughly 1,000 employees at a campus in Massachusetts, said it has acquired Simpoe, a French firm focused on plastic injection molding simulation. In a statement, Bernard Charlès, president and chief executive of Dassault Systèmes, said "simplifying the design and manufacturing of plastics is a critical part of many industries' product creation."More

Amid Navy Yard's ruins, space for a comeback in manufacturing
The New York Times
Across the partition from the roboticist who was making coffee tables with magnetized cubes, an artist was boxing up woodcuts that, when held to the ear, sounded like a forest. Beyond him, a muscular man in a T-shirt tinkered with his design for a motorcycle. This eclectic mix of entrepreneurs did not in any way resemble workers in a traditional factory, but their landlords and city officials hope they represent the seedlings of a rebirth of manufacturing in New York City.More