The news is full of bankruptcies at shoot-and-ship plastics processors, particularly those who serve the price-focused automotive industry. But if you have a specialty, business is great. Take for example, Micromold Products of Yonkers, NY, which specializes in production of PTFE and PVDF parts for handling of corrosive liquids. There’s technology in the design as well as in the handling of the materials. Two patents for fluid handling show the trend. PTFE, either compression molded or formed from shapes, replace glass, which is extremely brittle, inflexible, and subject to manufacturing imperfections. Other proprietary technology is used in the fusion process. PTFE has a high coefficient of expansion and the lowest coefficient of friction of any known solid material. Micromold was started in 1950 by a former scientist at DuPont, where PTFE was commercialized as Teflon. One thing interesting about Micromold: Despite its name, it does no injection molding. Why the name? “That’s lost in the mists of time,” laughs Claude Berman, engineering manager. Micromold’s sales are up about 30 per cent in the past three years.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
A theme that was reflected in several ways at NPE 2015 was the use of 3D printing to assist in, or improve on, injection molding, as well as improvements in 3D printing materials and processes that are making better functional prototypes and end-use parts.
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