Look for bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) to make a strong run at polystyrene foam packaging in the next three years. The major reason is significant technology development in screw design that brings productivity rates for PLA foaming more in line with polystyrene systems. David Fogarty, president, Plastic Engineering Associates (PEA) of Boca Raton, FL says he has developed new screw designs that have now been licensed to three companies.
Ability to maintain melt temperature is critical because of the low glass transition temperature of PLA. PEA supplies 4.50″ x 6.00″ (120mm x 150mm) and 6.00″ x 8.00″ (150mm x 200mm) sized Turbo-Screws specifically designed for the bioplastic, and has worked in tandem with PLA Supplier NatureWorks. Output rates are said to be in the 75 percent to 85 percent range of polystyrene output.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
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