SPE Industry Update
Jul. 1, 2015

Automotive Lightweighting Drives Plastics Applications
By Don Rosato
Every car model launching in the coming years is expected to include lightweighting measures. Mazda, for example, has set a goal to reduce the curb weight of all its new model cars by 15 percent, through material replacement and engineering, redesigning features and shrinking parts dimensions. The industry move toward alternative fuels such as diesels, hybrid vehicles, turbo systems and electric-only cars is similarly increasing plastics opportunities.More

Acid-Free Preparation of Natural Rubber/Clay Nanocomposites
SPE Plastics Research Online
Clay minerals are frequently used as nonreinforcing fillers to reduce the cost of rubber products. Since they were first used as nanofillers in nylon-6/clay nanocomposites in 1993, rubber/clay nanocomposites have attracted considerable attention for their improved properties compared to rubber vulcanizates.More

Plastics, a Sustainable Solution for the Future
Packaging Europe
In the aftermath of EU Sustainable Energy Week, leaders of the European plastics industry met in Brussels on June 24, for the conference EU investing in its future – Plastics Construction Solutions organized jointly by the European Plastics Converters and PlasticsEurope bringing together more than 100 participants. The event focused specifically on how the plastics industry, in particular the building and construction sector, contributes to the European Commission’s agenda of growth, jobs, investment and energy efficiency.More

The Limits of 3-D Printing
Harvard Business Review
Contrary to what some say, 3-D printing is not going to revolutionize the manufacturing sector, rendering traditional factories obsolete. The simple fact of the matter is the economics of 3-D printing now and for the foreseeable future make it an unfeasible way to produce the vast majority of parts manufactured today. So instead of looking at it as a substitute for existing manufacturing, we should look to new areas where it can exploit its unique capabilities to complement traditional manufacturing processes.More

Polypropylene's Global Demand Solid Amidst Shifting Industry Dynamics
Plastics Engineering
Polypropylene continues to exhibit strong global growth as the second-largest volume thermoplastic after polyethylene. IHS expects global polypropylene growth to continue to exceed GDP — driven by its enduring value in a wide range of durable and non-durable applications. More

Speaker: Plastics Market Positioned for Growth
Plastics News
The plastics market has bounced back from the recession and is well-positioned for future growth, according to banking veteran Lisa Johnson. “Capacity utilization for plastic products is up 21 percent since the 2009 trough,” Johnson said June 3 at the 2015 Plastics Financial Summit in Chicago. “The industry has become effective at managing working capital since the recession.”More

Plastic Bags and the Prosperity Index
Plastics Today
Plastic shopping bags are a symbol of prosperity. Well, at least in Ghana they are. According to an article in the June 22 issue of the Wall Street Journal ("Garbage Trashes Ghana's Economic Glory" by Drew Hinshaw), plastic shopping bags are "emblematic of [that] nation's prosperity." Ghana is home to 26 million citizens and, at one time, was among Africa's greatest success stories with the fastest growing economy in 2011 and "an abundance of plastic shopping bags serving as a tangible symbol of a rising consumer class."More

World's 1st 3-D Printed Supercar is Unveiled - 0-60 in 2.2 Seconds, 700 HP Motor - Built from Unique Node System
The automobile industry has been relatively stagnant for the past several decades. While new car designs are released annually, and computer technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, the manufacturing processes and the effects that these processes have on our environment have remain relatively unchanged. Over the past decade or so, 3-D printing has shown some promise in the manufacturing of automobiles, yet it has not quite lived up to its potential, at least according to Kevin Czinger, founder and CEO of a company called Divergent Microfactories (DM).More

Demand Surges for Conductive Compounds, and a Company Sees Growth
ElectriPlast Corp. spent a decade developing conductive polymer compounds. The work is paying off as demand grows and engineers consider the compounds’ benefits in design, performance, and weight reduction. “We are ahead of the curve” in product development, as a result, “and two to three years ahead of [competitors],” said Doug Bathauer, CEO of parent company Integral Technologies, of Bellingham, Washington. Two developments, in particular, are driving demand. One is the drop in the price for carbon fiber, a key component, in the past decade. Another is the ongoing effort by automakers to reduce vehicle weight for fuel efficiency standards.More

New Self-Healing Plastic Could Make Cracked Phones a Thing of the Past
Many of us know all too well the frustration that comes with buying a shiny new gadget, only to see it smashed into a thousand pieces soon after. But a new family of plastics offers insurance against these disasters, through unique properties that allow them to be reformed after being broken apart. Just add heat and a chemical catalyst, and watch the damage melt away.More

New York Formalizes Ban on Fracking, Ending 7 Year Review
New York has formalized its ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas after a seven-year environmental and health review. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced the decision, saying a ban was the "only reasonable alternative" after "years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts."More

Active Packaging Gets Smarter
Plastics Engineering
In this age of information, it's no wonder that even our packaging is telling us valuable things about what's inside. "Active" or "intelligent" packaging provides information on practically everything, from the state of its contents to when patients must take medication.More

US Sues Importer of Chinese Bags For $1.5 Million
Plastics News
The U.S. government has filed a $1.5 million lawsuit against a small importer of retail plastic bags from China, alleging that the company, Sigma Plastic Inc., of La Puente, California, falsely claimed the items were produce bags to avoid anti-dumping duties.More

Wonder-Ink Could Soon Let You 3-D Print Objects Out of Stretchy Graphene
A new 3-D-printing ink being developed at Northwestern University could soon make it possible to build objects which are made of graphene for 60 percent of their volume and 75 percent of their weight. This unprecedentedly high graphene composition means that the oft-praised electric and mechanical properties of graphene might soon find their way into all kinds of macroscopic 3-D-printed creations, with important consequences for the electronics and biomedical fields (among many others).More

Looking to Get Published This Year?
In an effort to enhance the overall content of SPE Industry Update, we'd like to include peer-written articles in future editions. As a member of SPE, your knowledge of the industry lends itself to unprecedented expertise. And we're hoping you'll share this experience with your peers through well-written commentary. Make 2015 the year you get published as an expert in your field! Our group of talented editors can help with final edits. If you're interested in participating, please contact Ronnie Richard to discuss logistics.More