Japanese producers continue to develop meteoric improvements in bioplastics for engineering applications. The newest is a stunner: NEC has developed a bioplastic that has better heat conductivity than stainless steel. The new material is aimed at new mobile phones and personal computers that are too small for fans and other devices used to remove heat. “In electronic product housings, the use of heat-conductive metals is considered to be one alternative to plastic for improving heat release,” NEC said in a statement. “However, heat conductivities in the thick direction of metal boards are too high and can cause partial or rapid increase in the temperature of housings near electronic parts that have high temperatures.”Previous attempts to use heat-conducting plastics for housings have been slowed by their high costs (due to 50 percent-plus content of fiber or stainless steel), poor moldability and high densities.
NEC has been researching alternatives using bioplastic, which has the same low heat conductivity as oil-based plastics. A new cross-linked structure between the resin matrix (polylactic acid) and carbon fiber is achieved through use of a new biomass binder. “This enables good heat conductivity in the plane direction of the PLA resin board, which is a characteristic conventionally difficult to attain in metal boards,” NEC said. A filling of 30% carbon fiber provides double the heat diffusion ability of stainless steel. NEC says it plans to begin mass production of the new composite in March, 2009, when it will seek new applications beyond housings of electronic products.
As reported by Design News, NEC has already developed bioplastics with kenaf reinforcement for mobile phone housings, a wall as shape memory bioplastics.
1.The biomass content of the new composite exceeds 90 percent, excluding the carbon fibers.
2.NEC says the new composite molds satisfactorily and has adequate strength for electronic products.
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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