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.
Dow Chemical and several other companies have launched a program in Omaha, Neb. to divert about 36 tons of plastics from landfills in its first phase, and convert it into energy used for cement production.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
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