SPE Industry Update
Dec. 26, 2014

Will 3-D printing cause traditional manufacturing to collapse?
Harvard Business Review
From Jan. 15: How accurately can we anticipate the future given today's emerging technologies? Take 3-D printing. Our current model of producing goods is built around large-scale, globally linked manufacturing facilities with massive, complex lines of supply and delivery. What happens when 3-D printers overtake current models in terms of speed and cost effectiveness, allowing goods to be custom made for little cost by localized manufacturing hubs? Will we still need today's manufacturing model?More

Bikinis and other clothing from your 3-D printer
Polymer Solutions
From Feb. 19: "Running out of ink" may one day soon leave you a bit more exposed. 3-D printing has been in the news a lot lately. It all started in 1984 with the invention of stereo lithography, when the inkjet printer was adapted to print with polymer materials in three dimensions. Several materials have been used in 3D printing since, including liquid metal, biomolecules, hydrogels, living human cells, and even chocolate. However, plastics remain the most popular material for 3-D printing due to their versatility.More

Urban bees using plastic to build hives
Science Blog
From Feb. 12: Once the snow melts, Canada's bee population will be back in business — pollinating, making honey and keeping busy doing bee things. For at least two urban bee species, that means making nests out of plastic waste. A new study by a University of Guelph graduate and a U of G scientist reveals that some bees use bits of plastic bags and plastic building materials to construct their nests. The research was published recently in the journal Ecosphere.More

Scientists create polymer that cools hot electric devices at 200 degrees Celsius
Counsel & Heal
From April 2: Scientists, through an aligned array of polymer nano-fibers, have developed a thermal interface material that is able to conduct heat 20 times better than the original polymer. The newly discovered material can easily operate at temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius. The new thermal interface material is expected to find its use in a number of applications, including drawing heat away from electronic devices in servers, automobiles, high-brightness LEDs and mobile devices.More

Cheap polymers twist into superhuman muscles
Chemistry World
From March 5: An international team has unmasked the hidden superpowers of humble sewing thread and fishing line. Twisting nylon and polyethylene into coils, they made artificial muscles that can lift loads over 100 times heavier than human muscle of the same length and weight. They could replace motors in many uses, particularly robotics, and enable new technologies, such as smart clothing, says Ray Baughman from the University of Texas, Dallas. He's also excited that the threads used cost just $5/kg. "They could be easily deployed in the developing world, children could make and use them," he tells Chemistry World.More

Recycling peroxide-crosslinked polyethylene
SPE Plastics Research Online
From March 26: Among the many environmental problems humankind faces in the 21st century is how to improve environmental sustainability and manage a tremendous amount of polymer waste. Uncrosslinked thermoplastics can be easily reprocessed and reused. However, a 3-D internal network prevents flow and shaping of crosslinked plastics upon heating and shearing, and until now there has been no simple way to recycle them.More

Plastic made from pollution hits US market
USA Today
From Jan. 8: A decade ago in his Princeton dorm room, Mark Herrema had an aha moment. He read a newspaper story about the rise in heat-trapping methane emissions from dairy farms and decided to do something about it. He thought — why not pull the carbon from the air and use it to make stuff?More

Influence of rare-earth thermal stabilizers on polyvinyl chloride
SPE Plastics Research Online
From Jan. 1: PVC is one of the five most-commonly used thermoplastics. It has superior mechanical and physical properties, high chemical and abrasion resistance, and is widely used in durable applications. However, low thermal stability is its main limitation. Consequently, suitable amounts of stabilizers must be added to restrict the degradation of PVC during thermal processing.More

Reshoring gives a boost to US manufacturers
Plastics News
From Feb. 26: Reshoring has added more than 100,000 jobs in the U.S. in the last three years — and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. That's the word from Harry Moser, founder of the Kildeer, Ill.-based Reshoring Initiative. Moser spoke recently at the Plastics News Executive Forum in Wesley Chapel. Since 2000, unit labor costs in the U.S. have roughly been flat, while those costs have increased rapidly in China. China's costs have increased at a compounded annual rate of 18 percent vs. an increase of 2 percent in the U.S. The U.S. increase also was matched by a similar increase in productivity.More

Strengthening wood-polymer composites cheaply
SPE Plastics Research
From April 2: Over the last two decades, wood-polymer composites (WPCs) have attracted interest as replacements for natural wood in architectural, furniture manufacturing, and automotive industry applications. These materials offer a wide spectrum of advantages, such as recyclability, resistance to fungi, reduced equipment wear, and good processability.More