SPE Industry Update
Jul. 3, 2013

New barrier plastic packaging materials advancing rapidly
By Don Rosato
It is important for food packaging to provide good protection against factors crucial to product quality to ensure product shelf life. Depending on product sensitivity, it is vital to provide food packaging protection with proper barrier components. Barrier films often consist of multilayers or coated films designed to be impervious to gas and moisture migration, as single-layer films are in general quite permeable to most gases. Various approaches can be taken to improve barrier properties in the plastics packaging sector.More

Microprobe investigation of molecularly imprinted polymers
SPE Plastics Research Online
What do a front door, the human immune system, a dog's nose and molecularly imprinted polymers have in common? They all use a lock-and-key system to identify and select specific agents from numerous possibilities. Much like an antibody that binds only to a complementary antigen, MIPs act as artificial locks for specific molecules.More

US demand for high temperature plastics forecast to reach $3.1 billion in 2017
The A to Z of Materials
U.S. demand for high temperature plastics is forecast to expand 5.8 percent annually to $3.1 billion in 2017 with volume exceeding 300 million pounds. Advances will be propelled by the ongoing adoption of high temperature plastics in place of more conventional materials — such as metal, glass and other polymers — due to their exceptional performance properties. Gains will be further supported by an improving economic outlook and rising consumer confidence, which will boost durable goods output.More

Manufacturing expanded in June after shrinking in May
Los Angeles Times
Growth returned to U.S. manufacturing sector in June after a one-month contraction, the Institute for Supply Management said. The group's manufacturing index rose to 50.9 from 49 in May, which was a four-year low.More

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.More

Oxo-biodegradable plastic debate back on the agenda
Food Production Daily
Plastics companies have been warned that they must adopt oxo-biodegradable technology quickly if they want to retain their export markets.More

This bendable printing filament lets you make clear, flexible straps and bands
VideoBriefKai Parthy is a German engineer who creates odd printing filaments for 3-D printers. His previous projects, LayWoo-d3 and Laybrick, are two non-warping plastics that offer wood and brick-like consistencies when extruded. Oddly, LayWoo-d3 actually smells like wood when printed. Now he's created a bendable printing filament called BENDLAY that is 91 percent transparent and remains "bendable" after printing.More

Underwater propulsion supplied with the help of a 3-D printer
Fraunhofer Institute via R&D Magazine
Octopods, which are also known as octopuses or squid, are considered to be the most intelligent invertebrates. In fact, they have been referred to as the "sages of the sea." For researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA, this intelligent propulsion principle served as a role model for the development of an underwater propulsion system.More

The economic impact of 'Made in the USA'
Industry Edge
Whether out of a sense of patriotism, a desire to help the American economy or the belief that U.S.-made products are of higher quality, consumers of everything from clothes to computers increasingly want to see a "Made in the USA" sticker on the items they buy. Last year, General Electric began making some of its water heaters and refrigerators at U.S. factories. Wal-Mart announced plans in April to buy an additional $50 billion of American-made products over the next decade, and Apple said it would begin building some of its computers in the United States this year. This trend presents both an opportunity and a challenge for the hardware industry.More

North Carolina takes on degradable plastic
Waste & Recycling News
Attempting to keep the plastic recycling stream clean, lawmakers in North Carolina have passed a measure to force manufacturers of degradable plastics to have the items clearly marked as such. The measure aims to prevent contamination of recyclable feedstock. The law applies for any plastic container sold in the state after July 1, 2014. The law says containers that are degradable must carry a label that says, "Not Recyclable. Do Not Recycle."More

Teen from Turkey turns bananas into plastic
AFP via Phys.org
There's nothing slippery about Elif Bilgin's idea of using banana peels as a substitute for old-school petroleum-based plastics. The 16-year-old student from Istanbul spent two years perfecting a way to make a bioplastic out of discarded banana peels that could, in turn, be used for the electrical insulation of cables.More

With Mexican auto manufacturing boom, new worries
The Washington Post
In the division of labor that has long governed North American auto manufacturing, the Big Three and other companies typically built their top moneymakers in the United States, using their Mexican plants to produce smaller, cheaper cars with lower profit margins. But that division is breaking down. As Mexico cranks out record numbers of vehicles and attracts billions in new investment, Mexican auto workers are increasingly able to match the skill and productivity of their U.S. counterparts — and at a fraction of the wages.More

US Ineos to raise July polypropylene prices by an additional 2 cents
Ineos Olefins and Polymers seeks to increase its polypropylene prices in the U.S. by 2 cents/pound — $44/metric tons — for July, joining other producers seeking to expand margins for the second time this year, market sources said. The proposed increase would be in addition to any change in the contract price for polymer-grade propylene from June to July, Ineos told customers in a letter that Platts obtained.More

Continuous-fiber laminate/overmolding compound combination to further plastic penetration in auto
Plastics Today
The trend towards weight saving in the automotive sector is relentless and is becoming increasingly important as the year 2020 approaches — this is when the fleet CO2 emissions of European automobile manufacturers must comply with significantly more stringent requirements. For this reason, BASF is now expanding its activities in the field of engineering plastics to include a completely new approach called Ultracom. This is essentially a package of three components: continuous-fiber reinforced semifinished products, adapted overmolding compounds and complementary engineering support.More

Polymers: Why some recyclable items just don't mix
The New York Times
Not all plastics are equal. For 25 years, that's been evident to New York City residents, as many puzzled over which of their plastic containers — soda bottles? yogurt tubs? — would be accepted for recycling, perhaps without completely understanding why they had to choose. The answer is polymers. Polymers, or molecular structures, determine a plastic's properties.More

An online summer camp for maker kids
Maker Camp, which kicks off its second year July 8, is different kind of summer camp for kids and teens. Instead of canoes and kickball, it has microcontrollers and robots. There are no bus rides or cabins; camp can take place anywhere there's a computer and an Internet connection. This year, the camp will kick off with a live broadcast from the new Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco, where kids will learn how to build a motorboat made from a soda bottle. All the most popular projects from last year will be back, including robotic birds, intro to computer science and mold making.More

Western Washington University to become largest public college in US to ban bottled water
VideoBrief Western Washington University is poised to become the largest public university in the country to ban sales of bottled water. The school joins Evergreen State College and Seattle University in making the move. Yet it wasn't an easy win. As a public school, Western is facing massive budget tightening. More

Can manufacturing push past uncertainty?
The path to prosperity has been littered with economic obstacles in 2013, but economists expect growth to pick up soon and U.S. manufacturers to benefit from a changing energy picture. The slow return of jobs has generated considerable debate about what constitutes a U.S. manufacturing "renaissance." Chris Kuehl, managing director of Armada Corporate Intelligence, says industry will never again provide jobs for "the high school graduate who doesn't want to go on to college."More

Wohlers report says 3-D printing exploding
Plastics News
Interest in the long-established, yet seemingly brand-new technology known as additive manufacturing — or is it 3-D printing? — of plastics and metals is booming. Plain and simple. Additive manufacturing grew 28.6 percent last year, when counting all types of revenues including equipment sales and service-bureau fees, keynote speaker Terry Wohlers, the additive manufacturing sector's recognized guru, said.More