SPE Industry Update
Apr. 8, 2015

SPE ANTEC 2015 Highlights Plastics Innovation On the Move
By Aldo Crugnola, Nick Schott and Don Rosato
ANTEC, produced by the Society of Plastics Engineers, is the largest, most respected and most well-known technical conference in the plastics industry. This year's meeting included the largest presentation of peer-reviewed technical papers about plastics in the world. More than 500 submissions were featured in sessions that ran all day from March 23-25 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, set against the impressive backdrop of the triennial National Plastics Exposition trade show. More

Deformation-Induced Change to the Mechanical Properties of Polyethylene
SPE Plastics Research Online
Polyethylene has recently been widely implemented as pipe material for fluid transportation, replacing more traditionally employed materials such as steel, concrete, and clay. Currently, more than 90 percent of newly installed gas pipe systems are made of PE. As the expected service lifetime of pipe is at least 50 years, information is required regarding the long-term mechanical properties of PE pipe.More

Evolving Recycling Stream is Subject of New Report
Packaging World
A new report, "Making Sense of the Mix: Analysis and Implications for the Changing Curbside Recycling Stream," provides insights into recent and anticipated changes in municipal solid waste streams and what those changes could mean for the recycling industry. The report focuses mainly on plastics, to promote greater understanding among government, materials recovery facilities, and waste management firms that are working to generate value from post-use materials.More

Thermoforming Industry Seeing Big Demand as it Captures Larger Share of Plastics Applications
Plastics Today
Thermoforming has moved rapidly from the more primitive methods of 30 years ago to a high-technology form of processing that is giving injection molding a run for its money. The makers of thermoforming equipment all concurred in comments to Plastics Today that thermoforming processors want reduced cycle times, which translate into high productivity and better quality parts.More

Bioplastics Made of Garbage
Design World
Old bread into new plastics: The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research and the Leibnitz Institute for Agricultural Research are together pursuing how to create plastic bags from bread. Of course, it involves more than just slicing up the bread and mixing it into the plastic. First the bread has to be chopped to its molecules - and that's not possible just with a knife.More

Evonik Develops Hybrid Polymer Composites
European Plastics News
Evonik Industries, the German chemicals and materials group, foresees strong growth in its composites business based on existing products and a hybrid polymer system that it is developing after a breakthrough in R&D. The group said it is "aiming for sales in the lower triple-digit million euros range in the composites market in the medium term." In one example of market growth, it said the market for carbon fiber reinforced plastics is expected to have average annual growth of 9 percent by 2020 in a forecast by CCeV, a network of companies and research institutes in the fiber composites field.More

UK Plastics Recycling 'Critical Situation' Could Affect France, Germany and Italy
Waste Management
A decline in the U.K. recycling plastics market resulting from the record-low oil prices could have implications overseas, including Europe. The drop in oil price has driven down the cost of virgin materials – making them equally competitive with recycled alternatives. Chris Dow, CEO of the U.K.’s largest milk bottle recycling company Closed Loop Recycling, recently told the Guardian newspaper that “without the support of the industry or the government it is inevitable we will go into administration.”More

Most Plastic Trash Comes From Farms
There was once a great future in plastics, but their waste is weighing that future down. Scraps and bit cumulatively reaching more than 250,000 tons end up in the ocean, and even the smallest particles cause trouble as they clog corals. Eventually some of the six billion tons of plastic manufactured since the mid-20th century becomes a sort of stone, an aggregate of bound plastic and rocks.More

Bio-Based Polymers Have Potential in Biomedicine, Agricultural Markets
Environmental Leader
Bio-based polymers can displace incumbent petroleum-based polymers in a market exceeding $100 billion, says Lux Research. They face challenges, like inferior mechanical properties and processability, that limit their potential in some high-volume markets like automotive, but their biodegradability can make them a valuable choice in markets such as biomedical and agriculture, according to Comparing the Performance and Addressable Markets for Bio-based Polymers.More

US to Look into Imports of Plastic Packaging Materials
U.S. trade officials will look into whether imports of clear plastic resin, used in bottles and packaging, from China and other countries are being sold too cheaply in the United States, a move that could lead to import duties. The U.S. Department of Commerce said it would investigate a complaint about dumping of polyethylene terephthalate resin, used to make soft drink bottles and other packaging, from China, India, Oman and Canada.More

PVC and PET up, but PP Prices Fall
Plastics News
North American resin prices danced to their own tune in March, with prices for PVC and PET bottle resin both up as polypropylene prices trended down. Regional prices for PVC are up an average of 3 cents per pound since March 1, as improving demand was amplified by tightness in supply. The increase marks a change in direction for PVC pricing, which had been flat in February after falling for three straight months from November-January.More

Plastic Parts for Internal Combustion Engines
Efforts to produce lighter vehicles necessarily include engine parts, such as the cylinder casing, which could shed up to 20 percent of its weight if it were made of fiber-reinforced plastic rather than aluminum – without added costs. Such injection-molded parts are even suitable for mass production. It's self-evident that cars must become lighter in order to reduce fuel consumption. For most car designers this principally means body parts, but the powertrain system, which includes the engine, also accounts for a large proportion of the vehicle's weight.More

Detectable Plastics for Food Production
Powder & Solids
Ensinger Inc., has developed a family of engineering plastics to overcome the innate invisibility of plastic to screening devices such as x-ray machines and metal detectors. These devices, along with visual inspection, are commonly used in food production to make sure unwanted particulates do not end up in the food product.More

Building for the Future with Self-Repairing Concrete
Euro News
Bridges, tunnels and other civil engineering structures could become safer thanks to self-repairing being developed as part of a European research project. Engineers at Ghent University in Belgium have taken a lead role in the pioneering work. One of the team, Elke Gruyaert, explained the process: "The concrete is filled with super-absorbent polymers. So when a crack appears, water comes in, and the super-absorbent polymers swell and they block the crack from further intake of water. The polymers are added to the concrete mix. Once it is dry, the researchers crack it to see how it reacts. Then they quantify its mechanical behavior, impermeability and durability."More

Oil Up More Than $1 After Saudi's Asia Price Hike
Oil futures climbed more than $1 a barrel on April 6, after Saudi Arabia raised its prices for crude sales to Asia for the second month running, signaling improved demand in the region. International benchmark Brent regained ground after tumbling as much as 5 percent on Thursday, April 2, when Iran reached a preliminary deal on its nuclear program with six world powers. More Iranian oil could enter global markets if that is followed by a comprehensive deal by June.More

3-D Print Technology Provides 'Robohand' to 7-Year-Old Girl
Associated Press
Seven-year-old Faith Lennox never thought much about putting a prosthetic limb where her missing left hand had once been. Not until the little girl learned she could design her own, strap it on easily and then jump on her bike and pedal away at speeds previously only imagined. With family members occasionally shouting "Be careful" and "Watch out for that car," Faith firmly placed her new hand's bright blue and pink fingers on her bike's left handlebar and took off for a seemingly endless sojourn around the Build It Workspace.More

US Manufacturing Growth Slows to 22-Month Low
Reuters via CNBC
The pace of U.S. manufacturing growth fell in March to its slowest in almost two years, pressured by slowing gains in new orders and stagnant employment, according to an industry report released on April 1. The Institute for Supply Management said its index of national factory activity fell to 51.5 from 52.9 the month before. The reading was shy of expectations of 52.5, according to a Reuters poll of economists, and was the lowest reading since May 2013.More

Fiber Reinforced Plastic That is 20 Percent Lighter Than Aluminum
Next Big Future
Efforts to produce lighter vehicles necessarily include engine parts, such as the cylinder casing, which could shed up to 20 percent of its weight if it were made of fiber-reinforced plastic rather than aluminum – without added costs. Such injection-molded parts are even suitable for mass production. Until now, carmakers have relied on aluminum to reduce the weight of engine components such as the cylinder block. In the future, car manufacturers will be able to achieve further weight savings by designing cylinder blocks in which certain parts are made of fiber-reinforced plastics.More

Bread Bag is 36 Percent Bio-Based
Packaging World
Eureka! Organic Bread switches to bread bags made of 36 percent sugarcane-based PE when introducing its products to the East Coast market for marketing and sustainability benefits. Beyond the marketing advantages of the bio-based bread bag, Eureka!’s new packaging provides significant greenhouse gas reduction benefits: According to a lifecycle analysis conducted by Braskem, for each ton of Green PE produced, approximately 2.15 tons of CO2 equivalent are captured from the atmosphere.More

Avoiding Trial and Error with Thermoplastics
Eco Composites
Researchers at the ThermoPlastic Composite Research Center in Enschede, Netherlands, believe they are on the verge of a breakthrough that will allow for the wide-scale use of thermoplastic composites in the automotive industry. They report success in overcoming a major hurdle – designing practically faultless components and making the process for doing so predictable.More

Nanoparticles Let Plaque-Fighter Stick to Teeth
Saliva and swallowing often remove therapeutic agents intended to reduce dental plaque and prevent tooth decay. A new method, however, could keep the drugs from being washed away. Dental plaque is made up of bacteria enmeshed in a sticky matrix of polymers that’s firmly attached to teeth.More

Repairing Orbital Eye Socket Fractures with 3-D Printed Molds
An orbital fracture is a traumatic injury to the bone of the eye socket, usually occurring as a result of blunt force trauma to the area surrounding the eye. 3-D-printed-eye-surgery-prototypeOrbital rim fractures refer to injury to the bony outer edges of the eye socket and it takes a great deal of force to make them occur, such as in car accidents. Blowout fractures happen when the rim stays intact, but a crack forms in the very thin bone that makes up the floor of the eye socket. More