Plastic bottles upcycled through chemical recycling have become Valox iQ PBT used to make the brackets of the side air deflection system in all seven models of Volvo's VN family of 2012 heavy trucks. (Source: SABIC Innovative Plastics)
They tried to tell me my bottled water habit was destroying the environment. But, thank goodness, I have helped Volvo solve a problem that couldn't have happened without my help. They used my bottles to make their trucks safer. I accept your thanks!
There must be a fortune in the garbage dumps around the world if we engineers could just find a market and a way to use this vast "natural" resource. Maybe we are going about this all wrong? It took hydrocarbon-based plastics to create much of the landfill, and maybe we can find a way to reverse some of the processes and solve some fuel issues. There must be 100 years of petrofuels just waiting to be reconstituted...
Ann, that's a good and innovative idea. As of now plastic is an un-decomposed material and it's not an ecco friendly material. I think the new move from Volvo can cause a drastic change in automobile world, where other companies may follow the similar procedures. This in turn can help to reduce the plastic content from earth surface. But, am not sure about the future of replacement plastic parts from automobiles.
Warren, you're not the only one to conclude that there's a lot of valuable material in the world's landfills (let alone all the BTUs). That's part of the move to divert, convert and reuse recycled plastics. Thermoplastics can either be recycled mechanically by grinding them up and reusing them, which usually results in downcycled plastics, i.e., of a lower grade, or by completely melting them and turning them back into their original constituents, either for use as fuel or as virgin polymers. What's unusual here is that the mechanical process has resulted in upcycled plastics, not downcycled ones.
Mydesign, thanks for the feedback. I'm curious to know what exactly you mean by your statement that you're "not sure about the future of replacement plastic parts from automobiles." What are you not sure about? Their value as materials for those applications, or something else?
Ann, I mean it in a different way. Plastics are recycled to form truck parts and any recycling method for reusing the damaged spare parts made out of plastic. I mean reusing the damaged plastic spare parts. What about the durability of recycled plastic spare parts when compare with the metallic components.
Chuck, good question. I don't see why not, assuming the spec requirements were the same. The material, and a couple of others they showed, definitely have other automotive apps: there was a large array of prototype parts made of several of these materials, including this one.
Mydesign, thanks for the clarification. As I mentioned in my reply to Warren, below, it all depends on the process you use. Whether parts made of plastic are damaged or not at their EOL, they are not reused--they are recycled. Thermoplastics can either be recycled mechanically by grinding them up and reusing them, which usually results in downcycled plastics, i.e., of a lower grade, or by completely melting them and turning them back into their original constituents, either for use as fuel or as virgin polymers. Those virgin polymers are just as strong--hence the term "virgin"--as the original polymers. What's unusual here, and the innovation SABIC rightly claims, is that a mechanical process has resulted in upcycled plastics, not downcycled ones. Of course, they are not telling us how they did this.
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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