SPE Industry Update
Aug. 13, 2014

Emerging food-packaging barrier applications to watch
By Don Rosato
Barrier developments in food packaging are expected to greatly help reduce food waste to better feed a growing world population. Approximately 1.3 billion tons — or one-third of the food produced around the world each year — is lost or wasted on its way from the farm to the fork. With limited natural resources, it is more effective to reduce food losses than to increase global food production. Let's take a look at some examples of emerging plastic barrier-packaging applications.More

Carbon dioxide 'sponge' could ease transition to cleaner energy
A sponge-like plastic that sops up the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide might ease our transition away from polluting fossil fuels and toward new energy sources, such as hydrogen. The material — a relative of the plastics used in food containers — could play a role in President Obama's plan to cut CO2 emissions 30 percent by 2030, and could also be integrated into power plant smokestacks in the future.More

New biomaterial coats tricky burn wounds by acting like cling wrap
R&D Magazine
Scientists are reporting the development of novel, ultra-thin coatings called nanosheets that can cling to the body's most difficult-to-protect contours and keep bacteria at bay. Dr. Yosuke Okamura's team at Tokai University makes the nanosheets out of a biodegradable polyester called poly(L-lactic acid), or PLLA. They put the material into a test tube with water and spin it, which breaks up the sheets into even smaller pieces. When they pour the liquid onto a flat surface, the tiny fragments overlap in a patchwork and dry as a single nanosheet.More

Polyethylene makers are trying for September price hikes
Plastics News
Is the polyethylene dragon rising from its slumber? After months of inactivity, North American PE makers have announced attempts to raise prices by 3 cents per pound effective Sept. 1. Their actions are being spurred by tightness in supplies of ethylene feedstock caused by unplanned outages at several plants, including those operated by Dow Chemical Co., LyondellBasell Industries and Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.More

Emerging food-packaging barrier applications to watch
By Don Rosato
Barrier developments in food packaging are expected to greatly help reduce food waste to better feed a growing world population. Approximately 1.3 billion tons — or one-third of the food produced around the world each year — is lost or wasted on its way from the farm to the fork. With limited natural resources, it is more effective to reduce food losses than to increase global food production.More

Green plastic barrier packaging material and process advances
By Don Rosato
Modern innovations have made it possible to keep food fresh for a much longer time without changing the taste or aroma. While proven barrier materials extend product shelf life by impeding oxygen ingress into a package, oxygen scavengers "capture" oxygen within a sealed package to ensure that oxygen does not react with the food product.More

Company unlocks secret to making plastic out of air
CBS News
The plastics industry creates 1.8 trillion pounds of carbon emissions every year, but now one company has figured out a way to take the pollution and turn it into plastic you can hold in your hand. Located in Costa Mesa, California, Newlight Technologies is forming plastic out of thin air. Carbon emissions are captured from farms, landfills, and energy facilities and are fed into a 50-foot-tall reactor at Newlight's plant.More

German plastic packaging market on track for additional growth
Plastics Today
The German market for plastic packaging and films achieved encouraging results in 2013, according to the IK, the Germany industry association. While production output rose by around 2.4 percent to 4.3 million tons, turnover worth $18.25 billion U.S. dollars (a surplus of 3.5 percent) reached a new record level.More

NASA is building the world's first 3-D-printed space cameras
Fox News
NASA is already using 3-D printing to make rocket engine parts, a space pizza maker and even physical photos from the Hubble Space Telescope. But by the end of September, one NASA engineer expects to complete the first space cameras made almost entirely out of 3-D-printed stuff. "As far as I know, we are the first to attempt to build an entire instrument with 3-D printing," Jason Budinoff, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said in a statement.More

Is 100 percent recyclable flexible packaging possible?
Packaging Digest
As the second largest packaging segment in the United States, flexible packaging solutions account for 18 percent of the $145 billion American packaging market, according to the Flexible Packaging Association. Lighter weight flexible packaging includes films and laminates, which allow for the transport of higher volumes of product and less materials needed for production. This has been a revolutionary movement for brands to adopt to save on energy costs and reduce capital spent on materials.More

Smart sensors to sniff cancer causing substances in the air
There have been many innovations and inventions in the field of cancer research in an attempt to curb and control the condition effectively. But this new innovation seems to be above all the others. Now there are new age sensors or "smart polymers" that can sniff out cancer-causing substances in extremely minute traces and also help in removing them from the air or water sources.More

Professor explains creation of self-assembling robot, looks to future
A team of engineers and computer scientists have unveiled the latest robotic and materials marvel: A flat sheet that folds itself into a robot that then walks away. It's printed on a composite material that's made of multiple layers — polymers, paper, flexible circuit layers — that are stacked into a quasi-2-D composite that folds itself. The folding is induced by the materials in the composite, and the sequence in which you activate the materials is controlled by an on-board microcontroller.More

Super-fast pixels could make smartphones brighter and longer-lasting
MIT Technology Review
A new kind of liquid crystal display with pixels that switch much more quickly could give smartphones brighter screens or make them last longer on a charge. The design uses new materials from Light Polymers, a startup based in South San Francisco. In a conventional LCD, pixels switch much too slowly — in the range of a couple of milliseconds — for the technique to work. Technology presented by Light Polymers could allow switching in less than 60 microseconds.More

UK university research turning waste paper into bioplastics
Waste Management World
In the East of England the University of East Anglia's Adapt Low Carbon Group is conducting research into a process which could lead to waste from paper milling, known as paper crumb, being turned into bioplastic. The research is being conducted in partnership with Kings Lynn, Norfolk based waste services brokerage firm, Network Waste, which has a client that produces up to 7000 tonnes of damp paper crumb waste per year at its mill that is currently spread to land. More

Nylon changed the look, feel of guns
Plastics News
It's been 75 years since nylon was introduced to the world by chemical giant DuPont Co. and 55 years since the Remington Arms Co. took that polymer to a new level with the world's first mass-produced rifle made from a stock material other than wood — the Remington Nylon 66. It's fondly remembered by shooting sport enthusiasts and some even say it may be time for the groundbreaking gun to make a comeback.More

U.S. Army developing 3-D printed clothing for soldiers
Researchers at the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts are exploring ways to 3-D print items of clothing. Why the switch to 3-D printing? Annette LaFleur, design, pattern and prototype team leader explains, "It could improve flexibility. You could incorporate hard and soft materials together into one design. So, maybe you have some sort of clothing or protective item that has rigid areas that move into soft areas, where your body needs to flex. That could be really exciting because that is hard to accomplish with a regular textile."More

Disney conquers physics, uses 3-D printing to create impossible spinning tops
Have you ever been sitting around bored and found yourself trying to get some random household object — a battery, a pen, whatever — to spin around like a top? Disney has taken that idea to a pretty grand extreme. Combining the power of 3-D printing and some clever physics work, they've worked out a way to make just about any shape spin for ages.More

iglide on tour now in North America
To celebrate 30 years of their line of self-lubricating plastic bearings, called "iglide," tied into the company's 50 anniversary, igus has been traveling around the world with its orange iglide car, retrofit with 56 of igus' plastic bearings in applications including the throttle valve, windshield wipers, alternator, and more. Now, starting in Alaska, the iglide car, staffed with a team of igus representatives, is setting off across the United States and Canada, visiting customers across a massive range of industries, from automotive and motorcycle manufacturers, to aerospace, to manufacturing equipment and more.More