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Safety, convenience and quality drive barrier packaging trends
By Don Rosato
With an increasingly global food retailing customer base, food packaging must meet longer shelf-life requirements and adherence to international food safety/quality standards. Growing demand for convenience foods and "ready meals" created by busier lifestyles and increased disposable income are reflected in high growth in food packaging. Food-purchasing decisions are based on taste and appearance as well as convenience, making excellent barrier quality to maintain product freshness vital in food packaging — not only to extend shelf life, but also to protect brand image.
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Electrospinning of highly porous biopolymer membranes
Society of Plastics Engineers
Electrospinning is a technique that makes it possible to fabricate nonwoven membranes made up of very thin polymer fibers, including nanofibers, with diameters less than 100 nanometers. Benefits include its cost-effectiveness, adjustable membrane pore sizes, the simplicity of the process, the controllability of fiber diameters and versatility. The process works by electrically charging a polymer solution or melt as it flows through a "spinneret" such as a syringe needle.
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    Plastics more effective for shielding against cosmic radiation than aluminum
    University of New Hampshire via The A to Z of Materials
    Space scientists from the University of New Hampshire and the Southwest Research Institute report that data gathered by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show lighter materials like plastics provide effective shielding against the radiation hazards faced by astronauts during extended space travel. The finding could help reduce health risks to humans on future missions into deep space.
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    10 ways 3-D printing will blow your mind
    3-D printing is hot. No longer an industry secret, the technology is transforming everything from medicine to home goods. With desktop models priced at about $2,000, more people are tinkering with consumer 3-D printing. Click through this slideshow to see how some of the ways 3-D printing is transforming industries was on display at this year's RAPID conference in Pittsburgh.

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    Shapeways introduces new experimental, bendy, stretchy and sometimes squishy 3-D printing material
    3D Printing Industry
    Following the announcement of Materialise's rubber-like 3-D printing material, word has reached us that Shapeways, too, is pushing the bendy and stretchy with the introduction of the new, experimental Elasto Plastic material.

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    Can engineers develop a more flexible, eco-friendly plastic for packaging?
    Ohio University via
    The idea of "going green" for one person can mean anything from driving a hybrid car to simply recycling glass bottles. But Barbi Wheelden, a doctoral student in chemical engineering, is thinking more globally. She's seeking a way for manufacturers to use a more eco-friendly and biodegradable plastic in their packaging.

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    Could the automotive supply chain snap?
    Detroit Free Press via USA Today
    A combination of rebounding sales and an unprecedented number of new models in the works has stretched the auto parts supply chain so taut that the entire industry is holding its collective breath that it does not snap and jeopardize the recovery. During the downturn, suppliers consolidated operations — closing plants, laying off workers and reducing capacity by as much as 30 percent, said Kim Korth, president of IRN, a consulting firm that works with suppliers. Now a smaller number of suppliers with fewer facilities and bodies is struggling to handle a 22 percent rebound in the auto industry.
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    US Senate approved a $955 billion farm bill; Here's what's in it.
    The Washington Post
    The Senate voted 66 to 27 to approve a massive farm bill that will set the course of U.S. food policy for the next half-decade. The old farm bill expired last year, and its replacement is 1,150 pages long, costing some $955 billion over 10 years. So what's actually in it? It includes money for biofuels as well as for energy-efficiency programs in rural areas.
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    Greener plastics: Plastics may soon be made sustainable
    MIT Technology Review
    The most well-documented concerns about traditional plastics relate to their persistence in the environment. Avoiding these problems doesn't mean we must do without plastics. It is possible to create plastics that end their lives without polluting or poisoning. Plastics created using the principles of "green chemistry" are designed to reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances throughout their life cycle.
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    Using nature's blueprints to make better material
    Nature provides a rich diversity of biological materials such as bone, diatom algae and spider silk. These materials have fascinating mechanical and biological functions achieved at very low energy cost. What has been hindering us in applying those concepts broadly in engineering is that the underlying mechanisms remain largely obscure. Recent advances in nanotechnology and computational tools, combined with new ways of synthesizing materials and structures, could find applications in industries ranging from construction to health care.
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    Rise in plastics bans forcing firms to consider sustainable alternatives
    Environmental Data Interactive Exchange
    A growing number of countries are banning unsustainable plastics, meaning U.K. plastics firms will need to adopt oxo-biodegradable technology quickly if they want to retain their export markets. The warning came from a leading plastics technology specialist Michael Stephen, deputy chairman of Symphony Environmental Technologies, at an international conference in Zagreb, Croatia.
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    High demand for skilled plastics welders in South Africa
    Engineering News Online
    Strict environmental management regulations and the increased use of plastics welding have resulted in increased demand for the training of more plastics welders. This is according to industry association Plastics South Africa training executive Kirtida Bhana, who says industrial companies and mines' environmental management policies require the employment of qualified welders to improve safety during operations.

    Looking for similar articles? Search here, keyword PLASTICS WELDING.

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    Rupee's slide squeezes plastics makers' margins
    Business Standard
    The depreciation of the rupee has pushed up raw material costs for plastics product makers and processors, thereby squeezing their margins. Industry players termed the current situation worrisome, as the cost of polymer — both imported and domestically sourced — has gone up by 15 to 20 percent in the past month and a half.
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    Missed last week's issue? See which articles your colleagues read most.

        The 'miracle' tongue patch: Venezuela's new extreme diet (TIME)
    Efficient self-healing resins (SPE Plastics Research Online)
    Can we summit the growing plastics mountain? (PC Magazine)
    Developing bipolar plates for fuel cells (SPE Plastics Research Online)
    Italy passes plastic bag ban despite UK opposition (European Plastics News)

    Don't be left behind. Click here to see what else you missed.

    Sorting plastic waste: A magnetic game via
    Up to now, sorting plastic waste into different types has been a complicated and expensive process, requiring several steps. Now, researchers of a European project, W2Plastics, including project partner Peter Rem and his colleagues, have developed a method to separate, in one step, the different types of plastic by their specific weight or density. The technique, called magnetic density sorting, consists of passing the plastic waste through a tank with a suspension of 5-nanometer iron oxide nanoparticles placed on top of a magnet.
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    Zeus Inc. provides Double Containment tubing in long continuous lengths, a wide array of standard and custom sizes, and options for material combination. Our Double Containment tubing exceeds the stringent requirements of the SEMI F57 specification and is a material of choice in semiconductor, critical fluid, and other industries.

    An explosion at Louisiana olefins plant leaves 2 dead, 76 injured
    Plastics News
    VideoBriefNews of a tragic explosion at an olefins plant in Louisiana is featured in this week's video. Also featured is news of a polypropylene outage at a plant operated by Formosa Plastics Corp., as well as news of Eastman Chemical Co. launching a $1.6 billion expansion.
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    Plastics industry faces 'roadblocks' in Australia
    Plastics News
    Australia's "inconsistent, complex and costly" regulations, unattractive capital investment location and rising gas costs are stunting the plastics and chemical industries' growth, a trade group says. The Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association in Melbourne, Australia, the industries' peak representative body, released a strategic industry roadmap at its national conference in June.
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    Ocean plastics host surprising microbial array
    Chemical & Engineering News
    A surprising suite of microbial species colonizes plastic waste floating in the ocean, according to a new study. Plastic waste from consumer products often finds its way into the oceans in a range of sizes, from microscopic particles to large chunks. Much still remains unknown about the ecological impacts of these materials. So a group of Massachusetts researchers decided to study the microbial communities found on plastics to explore how the organisms affect marine environments.
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    Plastic pallets seeing growth
    Plastics Today
    Sales of new and refurbished pallets will expand 3.5 percent per year through 2017 to 1.3 billion units, valued at $16.9 billion, according to a new study from The Freedonia Group, a Cleveland-based industry market research firm. Block pallets are expected to make up a larger share of the market total, and growing numbers of manufacturers will replace their existing stringer pallets with new block units.
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    Pak-Sher unveils sustainable interfolded sheets for food packaging
    Food Business Review
    U.S.-based carryout and kitchen prep packaging manufacturer Pak-Sher has unveiled new bakery/deli interfolded sheet, Envirosheets, made from eight to 19 recycled milk jugs. According to the company, Envirosheets are produced using 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and meet FDA guidelines for direct food contact. The product has the ability to create a 100 percent PCR product. It is manufactured and packaged at the company's plant in Texas.
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    Disclaimer: The SPE Industry Update is a digest of the most important news selected for the Society of Plastics Engineers from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs. Neither MultiBriefs nor the Society of Plastics Engineers is responsible for opinions or statements of facts expressed in the articles referenced in SPE Industry Update. Advertising appearing in SPE Industry Update is not to be taken as an endorsement, expressed or implied, of the respective company's processes, products or services represented in the ad.

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