SPE Industry Update
May. 22, 2013

Processing and modeling techniques moving wind energy forward
By Don Rosato
Wind intercepted by the turbine is proportional to the square of its blade length. However, the maximum blade length of a turbine is limited by both the strength and stiffness of its material. The industry is looking to material advances in resin and fiber as well as processing technologies to enable development of longer, lighter turbine blades. Turbine blade manufacturing automation is a key wind-energy processing trend.More

Improving the wear resistance of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene
SPE Plastics Research Online
Extensive exploration of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene as an engineering thermoplastic has led to its use in a wide range of applications today: among them, in medicine, is a total bone joint replacement. For this application in particular, there remains a need to improve the polymer's mechanical properties, primarily its wear resistance. More

Plastic fantastic: The green side of plastic
When the term "sustainability" was introduced to interior design, it posed an ethical challenge to the industry as a climate conscious market emphasized natural materials, recycling was vital and plastic became the sworn enemy. Today, a material that was recently seen as a symbol of waste is being repurposed as designers revive plastic for its incredible flexibility, durability and appealing price point. Plastic was linked to pollution in part due to the highly toxic substances it releases. Today, however, new plastic polymers have been created that are breathable and easier to recycle, such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polycarbonate.More

Which companies moved up in our 2013 recyclers' ranking?
Plastics News
Plastics News has published its annual ranking of North American recyclers, so let's take the opportunity to look at the number behind the ranking. In print, we rank the top 25 companies, but online we've got data for 226 companies. Three companies moved into the top 25 this year.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

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. Organic polymers endowed with unusual combinations of properties may hold the key to these kinds of advanced batteries.More

Why 3-D printing is overhyped — I should know, I do it for a living
Everyone's now aware of 3-D printing — they've read about it in the papers, on blogs or seen it on TV. The mentality now seems to be that, in the future, we'll be able to download our products or make them ourselves with CAD programs, apps and 3-D scanners, then just print them out, either at home, or in localized print shops. Which, in turn, will supposedly decentralize manufacturing and bring it back to the West. But 3-D printing is severely overhyped — and Nick Allen, the founder of 3-D printing company 3-D Print UK, should know because it's what he does for a living.More

Bench-top hand-operated molding machine wants to go bigger
Plastics Today
VideoBriefThe company behind the bench-top hand-operated injection molding machine that launched in November 2011 and has seen 60 units sold is now trying to find funding for a larger, upgraded model. LNS Technologies, the company that introduced the PIM-Shooter Model 20A is now hoping to launch the PIM-Shooter Model 150A, seeking investors on Kickstarter, the popular crowd-funding site.More

Packaging award winners highlight collaboration and security
Plastics News
So ColaLife, an independent, nonprofit organization collaborated with several plastics industry players to use Coke's omnipresence to create the AidPod. The AidPod is a wedge-shaped, structural, self-contained package for an anti-diarrheal kit, designed to nestle into unused space between bottle necks in a crate of Coke. The AidPod won top honors, the Diamond Award, at DuPont's annual Awards for Packaging Innovation in Wilmington, Del.More

15 sectors, comprising nearly 80 percent of US manufacturing output, produced less in 2009 than in 2000
The Huffington Post
Talk of a manufacturing revival is in the air. America has, in fact, gained a quarter-million industrial jobs since the start of 2010. Unfortunately, this is less than 15 percent of the number lost during the recession. Furthermore, after this teasing uptick, U.S. manufacturing output seems to be stalling again. To get past the slew of analysis out there claiming everything is fine, it is crucial to understand why the usually quoted statistics that seem to show that American manufacturing is healthy are wrong.More

Moth's eye inspires anti-reflective plastic
European Plastics News
A plastic with a texture inspired by the structure of a moth's eye has been developed by researchers at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, a research institute of Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research, working with commercial partners.More

Manufacturing interest at an early age
Crain's Cleveland Business
High schools and manufacturing are starting to mix again. Exposing high school students to manufacturing — and welding in particular — is critical, said Christopher L. Mapes, president and CEO of Lincoln Electric. Mapes said there is a shortage of welders, and that training alone won't solve the problem. It's important to get people interested in welding.More

BASF project in China aims to show viability of bioplastics in composting food waste
Plastics News
German plastics maker BASF SE hopes to seed the market for biodegradable plastics in China with a trial program composting household food waste in 100,000 homes in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The company said it hopes to give momentum to a trend in a few Chinese cities to compost food and organic waste, and that it sees opportunities for its various grades of biodegradable and compostable plastics.More

Use of plastics implants is soaring
Plastics Today
Evidence continues to mount showing soaring use of plastics in medical implants, led by polyetheretherketone. As of February, the number of implantable medical devices manufactured from PEEK-OPTIMA and cleared for market in the US reached 500, with more than 80 approved for market in China.More

Exeter researchers work with Coca-Cola to transform home recycling
University of Exeter
Researchers from the University of Exeter are working with Coca-Cola Enterprises on a groundbreaking study with 20 households in Great Britain and France to observe at-home recycling behaviors. The study will seek to understand why recycling rates are so low, despite people expressing strong beliefs towards environmental behaviors.More

The next frontier for 3-D printing: Helping the disabled
Fast Co.Design
People with disabilities are too often stuck buying expensive gadgets to improve their daily lives. Worse, those gadgets may be poorly designed and fabricated. For Enabled By Design, a nonprofit specializing in "good design [that] can support people to live as independently as possible," 3-D printing is a game-changer. Instead of buying mass-produced products, people with disabilities can manufacture exactly what they need to suit their individual needs.More

Hong Kong launches plan to tackle waste crisis
Hong Kong launched a ten-year plan to reduce waste by 40 percent per person as part of efforts to catch up with other leading Asian cities and avert a looming environmental crisis. The government's "blueprint" document proposed reaching its reduction target by expanding recycling, levying duties on household rubbish and improving waste-related infrastructure. It also mooted the possibility of building incinerators and extending existing landfill sites.More

Study: Biodegradation of polyester polyurethane by endophytic fungi
Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Bioremediation is an important approach to waste reduction that relies on biological processes to break down a variety of pollutants. This is made possible by the vast metabolic diversity of the microbial world. To explore this diversity for the breakdown of plastic, we screened several dozen endophytic fungi for their ability to degrade the synthetic polymer polyester polyurethane.More

Florida governor signs manufacturing tax break bill
Jacksonville Business Journal
Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill that eliminates state sales tax on the purchase of new manufacturing equipment. The measure, which gives manufacturers a three-year break on paying the 6 percent tax, had been one of Scott's top legislative priorities and he circled the state to promote it.More

Disney turns you into a 3-D printed Stormtrooper
Created by Disney Research, the scanning process only requires about 10 minutes of exposure to a high-resolution single-shot 3-D face scanner. From there, the image of your visage goes off to a 3-D printer and the finished figurine arrives on your doorstep some seven to eight weeks later. There's also a carbon-freeze option for those who want to see themselves in a block of Bespin's finest without dealing with that crummy hibernation sickness.More