Investors are putting a lot of money into bioplastic ventures. But the jury is still out on their environmental benefit They were panned in a recent study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Now comes an announcement from Unilever that bioplastics won’t be part of an aggressive sustainability program in packagingUnilever makes this comment:
“Bioplastics are derived from renewable resources. But this does not mean that they are sustainable when all the environmental impacts and issues around their growth, production and subsequent disposal are taken into consideration.”
That’s a pretty broad-brush statement considering all of the technologies being investigated for renewably sourced packaging materials Unilever’s overall dismissal of this technology may be unwarranted But who really knows for sure? The companies with a stake in the plants-to-plastics projects need to make more convincing cases of their environmental benefits
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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