SPE Industry Update
Sep. 26, 2012

Think plastic bag bans are only about bags? Think again
Plastics Today
More cities around the world are starting to put into practice some sort of plastic bag ban or tax. On the other side, manufacturers of banned plastic bags fight back and talk about how bans will jeopardize manufacturing jobs, eliminate consumer choice and more. Throughout all this talk about plastic bags, the focus has been on that one segment of the plastics industry. Save the Plastic Bag Coalition attorney Stephen Joseph warned it would be a mistake for the plastics industry to think this is only about bags.More

The effectiveness of carbon nanofiber-based nanocomposites
SPE Plastics Research Online
Electronic devices need be protected from electromagnetic interference because of their high operating frequencies. Conductive carbon-based polymer composites may be used to shield electronics from electromagnetic waves. Specifically, carbon nanofibers may offer an advantage because of their small diameter relative to the thickness of polymeric films.More

Predicting orientation of long-fiber suspensions
SPE Plastics Research Online
Long, flexible fibers are increasingly used in composites due to their ability to enhance mechanical strength. The physical properties of fiber-reinforced parts are highly dependent on the fiber orientation generated during processing. Thus, predicting and controlling this is highly desirable for optimizing final material properties. Until recently, however, conventional fiber theory only addressed the orientation dynamics of rigid, short fiber suspensions, leaving a limited theoretical understanding of long fiber orientation.More

Plastic solar cells pave way for clean energy industry
Flinders University via PhysOrg
A Flinders University researcher has been developing a cheaper and faster way of making large-scale plastic solar cells using a lamination technique, paving the way for a lucrative new clean energy industry. The novel method is a promising alternative to the expensive fabrication techniques currently used in the renewable energy sector and would make the commercialization of plastic solar cell technology more viable.More

Lift off for nanoscale printing
Chemistry World
A new printing technique developed by U.S. scientists allows them to transfer a pattern with nanoscale features from a stamp onto a surface, achieving surprisingly sharp results. The technique could help bring down the cost of high-resolution lithography. Paul Weiss, at the University of California, Los Angeles, and colleagues created rubbery stamps from polydimethylsiloxane, with patterns made from hydrophilic siloxyl groups exposed on the top of the rubber.More

New chemistry technique reproduces nature's elusive complexity
The Scripps Research Institute via PhysOrg
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have shown how to synthesize in the laboratory an important set of natural compounds known as terpenes. The largest class of chemicals made by living organisms, terpenes are made within cells by some of the most complex chemical reactions found in biology.More

Self-assembling, squeezy nanotubes made
Chemistry World
Researchers have developed dynamic nanotubes that open and shut depending on temperature. Until now, synthetic nanotubes were highly rigid and would not reversibly respond to changes in their environment. This has limited their use in molecular machines, but this new ability could change that.More

Labor Department awards $175 million in workforce training grants
Plastics News
Community colleges will get $175 million in federal funds in the second phase of a Department of Labor program designed to pump $2 billion into workforce training programs across the country. "With the skills gap in manufacturing at an all-time high, and 600,000 jobs going unfilled, these grants will enable students to earn the skills they need to access and advance in manufacturing jobs," said Jennifer McNelly, president of the Manufacturing Institute.More

Nypro hopes humanoid robots kickstart reshoring
Plastics Today
One of America's largest injection molders thinks a humanoid robot may be one of the keys to advancing a reshoring of manufacturing jobs to the United States. Nypro recently tested a newly developed Rethink robot and is taking delivery in October of one the first $22,000 units to roll off the assembly line in New Hampshire. "Many more may be on the way," Al Cotton, a spokesman for Nypro, said.More

How high oil prices will permanently cap economic growth
Bloomberg
For most of the last century, cheap oil powered global economic growth. But in the last decade, the price of oil has quadrupled, and that shift will permanently shackle the growth potential of the world's economies. The countries guzzling the most oil — from the U.S. to Europe to Japan — are taking the biggest hits to potential economic growth.More

Oil falls 1 percent on economic worries, stronger dollar
Reuters
Oil prices fell more than 1 percent Sept. 24 after disappointing German economic data heightened concern about the global economy and boosted the dollar against the euro. German business sentiment dropped in September for the fifth straight month, raising fears of recession as companies struggled with what an economist for the IFO institute called the worst economic outlook since mid-2009.More

Researcher develops new coating to help bone implants last
Colorado State University via Medical Xpress
VideoBrief Two Colorado State University professors have developed a nanostructured surface coating for bone that is expected to help improve the lifetime of bone implants. The research, if proven, could someday help someone replace injured or diseased bone segments without losing a limb.More

Pactiv expanding Texas plant to make EPS cups
Plastics News
Packaging company Pactiv plans to expand its Corsicana, Texas, plant to meet rising demand for expanded polystyrene cups. The expansion will create about 200 jobs in Corsicana. Pactiv will invest about $60 million in the expansion, including the construction of a 150,000-square-foot addition to its existing plant. More

Bayer plastics unit sees clients keeping stocks low
Reuters
Bayer's plastics division does not expect its industrial customers to start piling up stock from low levels after the downturn, as they used to following previous slumps in the business cycle. Bayer's MaterialScience unit, which is the world's largest maker of chemicals for insulation foam and of plastics in DVDs and car lights, is bracing for its industrial customers to permanently keep stock levels low, the unit's head said.More