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.
Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types.
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