SPE Industry Update
Aug. 19, 2015

Polycarbonate Markets in a Time of Lower Energy Costs
Plastics Engineering
The fall in energy values during the first quarter of 2015 led to steep declines in petrochemical costs. With declining feedstock costs, polymer prices came under pressure. Polycarbonate, however, has maintained its price levels despite a significant drop in the polymer’s production cost. How is this possible?More

Dispersion of Graphite Nanoplates During Melt Mixing
SPE Plastics Research Online
Graphite nanoplates (GnPs) are exfoliated graphite particles in the form of thin flakes — with large surface areas and nanosized thicknesses — that tend to agglomerate because of van der Waals interactions. GnPs are commonly used to reinforce composite materials. It is expected that maximum composite performance levels should occur when GnP agglomerates are dispersed within the polymer matrix as primary 2-D particles and they have good interfacial adhesion.More

What Will You Find in a Mixed Rigid Plastic Bale?
Packaging World
A recently released study designed to determine the type of plastic material contained in mixed rigid bales will serve as the basis for the continued expansion of plastics recycling beyond traditional containers and packaging. Commissioned by The Association of Postconsumer Plastics Recyclers and conducted by Moore Recycling, the study follows up on an initial survey conducted in 2011, which was the first such effort to determine the composition of various types of mixed rigid plastic bales in North America.More

High Country Steps into New Products, Injection Molding
Plastics News
Caldwell, Idaho-based High Country is buying an injection molder in Oregon, and also is starting production of plastic shoes for a customer that wants to emphasize that its products are made in the U.S. High Country has been rotomolding for 28 years, making feeders, water tanks, water caddies, mounting steps, kennels, coops, and other barn accessories and organizers. The company has a 30,000-square-foot plant in Caldwell.More

Riken Center Scientists Create New Hydrogel Polymer
A team from the Riken Center for Emergent Matter Science has developed a new hydrogel, which is claimed to have applications as an artificial muscle. The polymer is designed to stretch and contract in response to changing temperature, the team said. Researchers created an L-shaped object using the polymer, and identified alterations in its volume under varying temperatures.More

New Fluorescent Polymer Makes Deformation Visible
Nanowerk News
A new type of polymer can show that it has changed shape. After exposure to UV light, the chain-like molecules emit a different color of light. This opens a new pathway for research into how viruses function in a cell and how minor damage in rubbers and plastics can accumulate and lead to rupture. The new polymers were developed by researchers at Wageningen University, who published an article on their findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.More

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing Shares 3-D Printing Impact Survey Results
Stratasys and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing have conducted a survey of 700 executives, engineers, designers and managers about the impact of additive processes on manufacturing. The result of the report, one of the only 3-D printing studies focused on input from professional users, was revealed at a media summit at the Stratasys Direct Manufacturing headquarters in Austin, TX. The professional 3-D printing users weighed in on where 3-D printing for product development stands today and examines questions about in-house investment plans, whether or not they work with a service provider and what they’d like to see happen regarding 3-D printing of end-use production parts.More

Heat-Resistant, Flexible Dielectric Polymer Could Find Application in Aerospace Power Electronics
A team of engineers from Penn State has created a cross-linked polymer nanocomposite comprising of boron nitride nanosheets that is capable of high-voltage capacity for energy storage at high temperatures. This material is flexible and can also be photo patterned. According to the Penn State engineers, these lightweight, economical, easily manufactured, flexible dielectric polymers can withstand high temperatures and could be a viable option to storing energy and power conversion in electric vehicles and several other high temperature applications.More

Scientists Design Technology to Make PLA Production Process Simpler
Food Production Daily
Polylactic acid is already a part of our everyday lives in biodegradable drinking cups and vegetable wrapping foil but it is not yet considered a full alternative to traditional petroleum-based plastics, because it costs so much to produce.More

Digging for Details to Spur Future Recycling Growth
Plastics News
Some hands got messy on this one. But researchers behind a new study believe their sometimes dirty work can help spur on additional plastic recycling. Called the 2015 National Mixed Rigid Bale Composition Study, the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers commissioned Moore Recycling Associates, a consulting firm, to literally dig through and separate nearly two dozen bales of recycled plastics to find out just what was inside.More

Co-Founder of Houston-Based Plastics Company Dies at 89
Houston Business Journal
L.D. Blackwell, owner of Houston-based Blackwell Plastics, died on Aug. 9 at the age of 89, according to COO Ronald Skinner. According to Blackwell Plastics’ website, Blackwell was chairman of the company, which he co-founded with his father in 1939. He returned to help lead the family business after advancing to First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force during World War II.More