SPE Industry Update
Feb. 4, 2015

Innovative Medical Plastics Applications Breaking Into New Areas
By Don Rosato
The U.S. market for the medical sector is the largest and most sophisticated in the world. As a rule of thumb, the U.S. medical device market and most of its segments represent about half of the world market. This market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 8 percent over the next three years. The medical fields having the greatest impact on durable medical devices across these five areas are cardiovascular, orthopedics, minimally-invasive surgery and diagnostics.More

Fatigue Loading Enhances the Strength of Nylon Nanofiber Yarns
SPE Plastics Research Online
In the field of nanofibrous materials, nanofiber yarns have high potential for use in applications such as tissue engineering and artificial blood vessels, due to their high aspect ratio and high porosity. The tensile mechanical properties of this new generation of yarns has therefore received considerable attention in recent years. However, little is known regarding fatigue behavior and the effect of fatigue loading on the tensile properties of these yarns.More

MES Helps Manufacturers Get Great Quality Every Time
By Alan Kelsky
Wouldn't it be nice if the project manager of a newly redesigned product that is a best seller of the company could push a few buttons and find out a wealth of information about the product? Unfortunately, the system in many plants today for getting this information has the project manager walk all over the factory to find out the answers to these questions. What happens when some people with key information are in meetings, on vacation or out sick?More

3 Amazing Bio Materials That are Growing a More Sustainable World
Fast Company
For the last decade, as brands have worked to reduce their environmental footprint, bio-based alternatives to a number of synthetic materials and processes have become more common (take the flimsy compostable utensils you see everywhere, or even Coca-Cola’s Plant Bottles). Today, however, entrepreneurs and scientists are getting more creative in their exploration of the new design possibilities in alternatives to traditional materials, from bricks to plastics to foam insulation.More

Plastics Enter 2015 on a High Note
Plastics News
According to data recently released by the Federal Reserve Board, the total U.S. output of plastics products expanded by a vigorous 6.8 percent in 2014 when compared with the previous year. This followed the strong rise of 6.1 percent in 2013. These gains of the past two years marked the first time since 1993-94 that the plastics industry has registered annual growth in excess of 6 percent in back-to-back years.More

1st US patient Receives Plastic Meniscus Implant
Plastics Today
Surgeons at Ohio State University (OSU) Medical Center performed the first plastic meniscus implantation in the United States earlier this week as part of an FDA-approved clinical trial. The device has the potential to offer patients with a torn meniscus a minimally invasive remedy that overcomes many of the limitations of current treatments.More

Eye Glasses That Can be Manually Switched to 'Sunglass Mode' May be on Their Way
Glasses with transitional lenses are a neat idea in theory, but they have some shortcomings in practice. That's why researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology are developing an alternative – clear eyeglasses that can be manually tinted into sunglasses, by the user. The lenses contain electrochromic polymers, which respond to electrical current instead of ultraviolet light. In the prototype glasses, a mix of cyan, yellow, orange and blue polymers was used to create a brown tint, that blocks up to 70 percent of incoming light within a few seconds. By changing the ratios of the polymer colors, however, other colors of tints could also be achieved.More

Auto Industry on the Hunt for New Lightweight Materials
Plastics News
The auto industry is focusing on lightweighting, and this is igniting a race to find new materials that can meet ever-changing performance needs of the OEMs. A materials innovation panel discussed the topic during Plastics News’ 2015 Plastics in Automotive Conference, held Jan. 14 at the Westin Book Cadillac in Detroit. Brian Baleno, global automotive business manager, Solvay Specialty Polymers led off the discussion, focusing on high performance polymers and reducing CO2 emissions by improving powertrain efficiency. He noted that there are two key areas where new materials can help plastics make inroads in vehicles — in air management systems and turbo exhaust hoses. More

Multimodal Polymer Fibers Implanted in the Brain Stimulate and Record Neural Behavior
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have created complex multimodal polymer fibers that have the ability to deliver drugs and optical signals into the brain, directly. These fibers also enable continuous monitoring of the effect of numerous inputs thorough simultaneous electrical readouts. Further, these fibers can be produced with thickness less than that of a hair's width.More

New Friction Test Data Eliminate Guesswork in Sourcing Polymers for Medical Devices
Plastics Today
New data based on an innovative friction test designed to accurately predict friction behavior in single-use medical devices will be unveiled first at MD&M West in Anaheim, California. Using the new friction test method, RTP engineers were able to evaluate base resins in a variety of combinations with friction-reducing additives. The data collected from these tests can eliminate trial-and-error testing when sourcing polymers for single-use medical devices. Furthermore, with proper material selection, single-use devices will perform more consistently without the need for external lubrication and the associated extra processing steps, thereby decreasing manufacturing costs and time to market, says the company.More

2014 Ended on a Positive Note for Manufacturers, but Skills Shortage Still Big Concern
Plastics Today
2014 was a very good year, according to ThomasNet's annual Industry Market Barometer survey of North American Manufacturers, which marked an upward trajectory for manufacturing, year-over-year as the economy recovers. The responding companies are growing, hiring, adding new lines of products or services, and investing for more growth to come.More

Multiplication of Electrical Charges in Single Molecules Could Lead to More Efficient Solar Cells
Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Columbia University have collaborated to develop solar cell polymers that have multiplied electrical output. When solar cells absorb light energy they lose some of it as heat. This is a challenge in attempts to improve the efficiency of solar cells.More

New Processing Technique Transforms Biochar from Agricultural Residue into Graphene
Researchers from the South Dakota State University (SDSU) have used a pyrolysis process to transform plant materials such as corn stover, native grasses and dried distillers grain solids (DDGS) into bio-oil and biochar, which could then be converted into graphene.More

Plastic Products Win Best of IBS Awards
Plastics News
A year ago, inventor Jeremy Smith of Utah took his idea for an electrical outlet cover plate with LED lights on the bottom edge to the International Builders' Show to drum up support for a Kickstarter project he was about to launch. Recently, he returned with the product — the SnapRays Guidelight — and it was as a big a hit with the building community as it was with the online community that had surpassed his $12,000 crowd-funding goal with $480,411 of pledges to get him started back in April 2014.More

Plastics Help Volt Hit New Target
Plastics News
The Chevrolet Volt, General Motors Co.'s hybrid electric car, has gotten a makeover. The 2016 Volt, unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, features a sportier exterior design — GM calls it "muscular" — and an emphasis on aerodynamics. Notably, the new design also incorporates active grille shutters, which open and close automatically to manage airflow into the engine compartment. Active grille shutters are typically made with glass-reinforced nylon veins, and housings of glass-reinforced polypropylene. GM did not disclose the specific material it uses in the Volt's shutters.More

PP Contracts are Down about $.25/lb
Plastics Today
The spot resin markets slowed a bit while prices slid further during the week of Jan. 19-23, according to The Plastics Exchange. A heavy flow of polyethylene offers continued to pelt the secondary market, however, fresh polypropylene offers were still spotty. Processors that required material after the year-end lull seemed to have had their fill through mid-month. Purchasing then dropped off recently as buyers anticipated cheaper February contract prices, particularly PE, which could be coming around the bend. Houston prices are still eroding, as export offers drop to meet international levels and spur demand.More

Obama Administration Opens up Southern Atlantic Coast to Offshore Drilling – but Restricts it in Alaska
The Washington Post
The Obama administration recently outlined a politically fraught plan for allowing oil and gas drilling in U.S. coastal waters, announcing steps to open parts of the southeastern U.S. coastline for oil leasing while imposing new restrictions on environmentally fragile waters off Alaska's North Slope. The proposals, intended to set a course for coastal energy development into the next decade, sought to strike a balance between soaring demand for energy production and White House priorities to protect sensitive environments, particularly in the Arctic.More

Scientists 3-D Print Cartilage to Repair Damaged Windpipes
Believe it or not, scientists aren't yet finished discovering new ways to 3-D print body parts. A team at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research has developed a 3-D printing technique that lets them produce cartilage for repairing damaged tracheas, better known to you and I as windpipes. They use an off-the-shelf 3-D printer to create a scaffold for the cartilage out of the same PLA filament you'd use for everyday 3-D printing projects. After that, they cover the scaffold in a mix of chondrocytes (healthy cartilage cells) and collagen, "baking" it in a custom bioreactor to make sure the cells grow properly.More

Report: Brands are Falling Short on Packaging Sustainability
Plastics News
Packaging in general, and plastic packaging in particular, has a long way to go in terms of recycling, according to a pair of environmental groups. The Natural Resources Defense Council and As You Sow are out with a new report that they say shows there's plenty of room for improvement when it comes to packaging used by quick service restaurant, beverage, consumer goods and grocery companies.More

US Materials Market Sees More Deals in 2014
Plastics & Rubber Weekly
U.S. plastics materials deals showed modest growth in 2014, increasing 6 percent compared to its 2013 total. Financial firm P&M Corporate Finance tracked 72 deals in resin, color and compounding last year after recording 68 such deals in 2013. The 2014 total also is up 16 percent compared to the 2012 total of 62. The percentage of overall plastics deals occupied by materials transactions in 2014 held steady at 21 percent, the same share held in 2013.More

University of Sydney Researchers use 3-D Printing to Produce Bone Replacement Implants
A biomedical engineering team based at the University of Sydney has developed a new low cost method for producing bone replacement implants for severely damaged skulls. The group worked with a Sydney neurosurgeon to create the new 3-D printing technique that enables clinicians to produce a patient-matched implant in a matter of days rather than several weeks.More

As Global Plastic Production Rises, Recycling Efforts Fall Behind
On the whole, it’s been another good year for plastic manufacturing. In 2013, global plastic production was up to 299 million tons — a 4 percent increase from the previous year. The rise is part of a continuous growth trend that has lasted since 1950. In fact, according to a Vital Signs report from the Worldwatch Institute, plastics growth has averaged 8.7 percent every year for the last 50 years.More