I’ve heard of several new plastics that make excellent metal replacements. But concrete? That’s a first for me. A hydrogen-rich polymer loaded with boron actually can replace concrete as neutron-shielding material in nuclear power plants or nuclear submarines. The new Quadrant EPP material is currently available in machinable 1-inch x 48-inch x 96-inch plates. Borotron HD050 is a high-density polyethylene (HDPE) enhanced with 5 percent elemental boron to provide extra shielding against neutron radiation. The combination of boron within a matrix of HDPE, a naturally hydrogen-rich material, targets nuclear shielding applications. Hydrogen-rich materials attenuate neutrons extremely well and boron has an affinity for absorbing thermalized neutrons. Potential uses include shielding for radiation therapy rooms, where the product in plate form is integrated into the wall structure. Other application areas include nuclear research centers, nuclear power plants, power generation areas in nuclear submarines, production areas for nuclear detection devices and the equipment itself, and spacecraft exposed to radiation. Borotron HD050 plate is lighter than some other neutron shielding materials such as concrete, and easier to work with in construction than other options including water. The formulation was engineered by Quadrant Engineering Plastic Products (Quadrant EPP).
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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