SPE Industry Update
Dec. 12, 2012

How hospital sustainability drives will affect plastics' demand
Plastics Today
Kaiser Permanente, a California-based healthcare group, saved $8.2 million in purchasing and waste disposal costs last year through use of reprocessed medical devices. Reuse of medical devices is one part of an effort by Kaiser Permanente to improve sustainability and reduce costs. The growing national drive spearheaded by KP has important implications for the plastics industry beyond the already widely publicized efforts to curtail use of PVC in intravenous applications. More

A laminating-multiplying extrusion system for tailored dispersion of polymer blends
SPE Plastics Research Online
Over the past few decades, polymer blending has proven to be one of the most practical ways of producing materials with special properties. Applying one or more forces or vibrations in certain directions during processing makes it possible to align and deform the dispersed components as desired. Although conventional processing methods are useful in preparing polymer-based composites with certain properties, they are not without restrictions.More

Toward electroactive self-cleaning fabrics and films
SPE Plastics Research Online
Synthetic superhydrophobic materials are useful for a variety of different applications including protective industrial coatings, textile materials, microfluidics, biofouling, electronics and anti-icing. Introducing additional properties, such as magnetic and antimicrobial activity, liquid repellency with electrical conductivity and robustness and mechanical durability against continuous contact/use, would tremendously increase their usefulness in the marine, telecommunications, military and high-energy fields.More

Keeping molds running
MoldMaking Technology
Technology advancements encourage moldmakers to think about surface treatment, mold maintenance and repair issues earlier in the mold build process to obtain better mold performance and life. A variety of manufacturers and suppliers weigh in on the questions they are most commonly asked, as well as advancements and trends in both the surface treatment, mold maintenance and repair segments.More

US demand for PCR plastic to reach 3.5 billion pounds in 2016
Packaging World
U.S. demand for post-consumer recycled plastic is forecast to rise 6.5 percent per year to 3.5 billion pounds in 2016, according to a new study. The study adds that gains will be driven by a number of factors, including a growing emphasis on sustainability among packaging and consumer product manufacturers, advancements in processing and sorting technologies that allow a wider variety of plastic to be recycled into high-quality resins, and an improved collection infrastructure that raises the plastic recycling rate. More

Self-folding plastics target microfluidic devices
Plastics Today
Plastic films that mimic the self-folding movements of plants may hold the key to developing a new generation of microfluidic devices. The new films fold when they respond to stimuli and they can also organize into complex three-dimensional structures. "The self-folding films can be used to encapsulate cells because cells remain encapsulated in the self-folded capsule but the chemicals can freely diffuse to the cells since the wall are not tightly closed," Dr. Leonid Ionov, a German researcher, said. "Or they can be used to build channels for microfluidic devices."More

Large-scale fabrication of protein and DNA nanoarrays
NanoInk via AZoNano
Recent advances in nanofabrication technology have contributed to the investigation into the advantages and behavior, at nanoscale, of biomolecules and living cells. Traditional nanofabrication platforms and techniques have been used to fabricate nanoscale biomolecular arrays. However, most of these lithographic processes were originally developed for electrical engineering and material science applications — so they were not biocompatible. More

Flexible silicon solar-cell fabrics may soon become possible
For the first time, a silicon-based optical fiber with solar-cell capabilities has been developed that has been shown to be scalable to many meters in length. The research opens the door to the possibility of weaving together solar-cell silicon wires to create flexible, curved or twisted solar fabrics. More

A 15-year-old polymer may challenge indium tin oxide in OLED displays
IEEE Spectrum
OLED TVs, hitting store shelves in giant screen sizes, are likely to draw more consumer eyes than wallets in 2013, due to their cost of about $10,000 for a 55-inch diagonal unit. That's a consumer problem. Manufacturers have another concern: potential shortages. Like LCD TVs, they rely on indium, a material in high demand for solar panels as well as displays. More

Striped nanoparticle controversy blows up
Chemistry World
A prickly controversy has erupted in the rarefied world of nanoscience revolving around the strength of the evidence that molecules can assemble themselves into discrete stripes around gold nanoparticles. The issue highlights the difficulty of interpreting images of nanoscale objects.More

The insourcing boom in manufacturing
The Atlantic
After years of offshore production, General Electric is moving much of its far-flung appliance-manufacturing operations back home. It is not alone. An exploration of the startling, sustainable, just-getting-started return of industry to the United States.More

Manufacturing shrinks to lowest level in 3 years
Manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in November to its lowest level in more than three years, as companies worried about whether lawmakers in Washington could reach a budget deal in time avert a crisis that many fear could lead to a recession. The Institute for Supply Management said that its index of national factory activity fell to 49.5 in November from 51.7 the month before.More