HOME  |  NEWS  |  BLOGS  |  MESSAGES  |  FEATURES  |  VIDEOS  |  WEBINARS  |  INDUSTRIES  |  FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
  |  REGISTER  |  LOGIN  |  HELP
Douglas Smock
User Rank
Platinum
Re: How have plastics changed?
Douglas Smock   7/11/2011 1:26:22 PM
NO RATINGS
Good points Beth and Lauren. The solar cell applications would be  long-term, 20 or so years. These types of parts are typically not recycled after their use. There are bigger fish to fry from a green perspective-- although the recycling of all plastics for every application is a good goal. The most recyclable plastics are those with basic chemistries and little complexity in the compound formualtion. That way they can be mixed, melted and have fairly predictable property profiles. The igus compounds are complex and proprietary. So I would doubt there is much realistic expectation that this component would be recycled. I love, however, when I am proven wrong. Note: virtually all plastics (even filled thermosets) are technically recyclable. But the key issue is: Are the commercially recyclable?

The plasticsmaster blew my away with his detailed answer to Rob's question, and I think he hit the nail on the head. There haven't been any recent major breakthroughs in polymer chemistry, but the sophisticated refinements (along the lines of igus) have been amazing. Other big, enabling developments have come in processing technology.

plasticmaster
User Rank
Silver
Re: How have plastics changed?
plasticmaster   7/5/2011 12:33:25 AM
NO RATINGS

A few recycling facts: http://earth911.com/recycling/plastic/plastic-bottle-recycling-facts/

Have plastics changed that much over the past 10 years? Absolutely, since I started keeping track of thermplastic materials in the early 1990's, the number of commercially available materials has grown from 50k to over 80k. Many of these are unique, formulated for a specific application then made commercially available.

how has plastic changed? Higher continuous use temperatures, stronger, longer life cycles, conductive, more efficient weatherability, and nanotechnology advances, just to name a few.

sustainability factor of the plastic part? Well, I'm a strong advocate of good plastic part design. There are so many plastic materials out there that I'd lean toward the optimistic possibility that there is a material that could withstand the required constraints surounding solar panel design (and being outside). Many times when a part fails, its more often due to poor design rather than poor material selection. Remember, I said "more often". There is, of course, always the exceptions where poor material selection WAS the culprit in the failure of the part.

is the plastic recycled? PA (Nylon) & PEEK are considered High Temp Materials. Also known as Engineering materials. I've seen recycled Nylon for sale, but not PEEK. There's a reason these materials are called Engineering materials. They have very unique characteristics that qualify them for high tech applications [in their virgin states]. When a material is reground for re-use, it loses some of its physical properties (it's been heated and sliced and diced once already). After a single regrind, some materials will lose up to only 2% of thier original qualities. Any more than that and most materials will go down hill quickly. So the liklihood of the solar bracket in this article being made from recycled materials is slim.

does it do anything to improve the carbon footprint? Sure, a little bit. 

In the end, they DO represent a reduction in carbon footprinting over metal.


Jason
User Rank
Gold
Re: How have plastics changed?
Jason   6/28/2011 12:20:06 PM
NO RATINGS
Being cheaper is a good thing, but are they really better?

Doing a bit of research on http://www.igus.com brought me to their brochure for the bearings that appear to be the product line that the bearings in the article were chosen from.

http://www.igus.com/_Product_Files/Download/pdf/solarbrochure_english.pdf

It appears as though extensive testing for these bearings have been performed, and for me the highest selling point is the predictable lifetime that the products state.  This will allow engineers and maintenance to plan their downtime of systems relatively accurately, and since these are plastic components get the repairs done quickly as well.

Lauren Muskett
User Rank
Platinum
Re: How have plastics changed?
Lauren Muskett   6/28/2011 11:37:07 AM
NO RATINGS
That's an interesting point, Beth. Since the solar panel is eco-friendly I would hope that all components are improving the carbon footprint.

Beth Stackpole
User Rank
Blogger
Re: How have plastics changed?
Beth Stackpole   6/28/2011 10:01:10 AM
NO RATINGS
I wonder about the sustainability factor of the plastic part being used to replace the metal. Solar panels are a green initative ... is the plastic recycled and does it do anything to improve the carbon footprint of this offering?

Jennifer Campbell
User Rank
Gold
Re: How have plastics changed?
Jennifer Campbell   6/28/2011 9:54:49 AM
NO RATINGS
"The plastic part is 70 percent cheaper to produce than the previously used metal bearings. The part eliminates the need for lubrication. Lubricated metal bearings had attracted dust that required maintenance in remote locations. Also, the light weight of the plastic part simplifies installation." .... Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
How have plastics changed?
Rob Spiegel   6/28/2011 9:42:13 AM
NO RATINGS
Have plastics changed that much over the past 10 years? If so, how has plastic changed? Apparently it has changed enough to replace steel in this application.



Partner Zone
Latest Analysis
Get a load of these strange product designs. What's in the water these design engineers are drinking?
The Dutch are known for their love of bicycling, and they’ve also long been early adopters of green-energy and smart-city technologies. So it seems fitting that a town in which painter Vincent van Gogh once lived has given him a very Dutch-like tribute -- a bike path lit by a special smart paint in the style of the artist's “Starry Night” painting.
Cal Poly students use 3D printing to take flight -- and pass their class.
Celebrity engineer Grant Imahara will host a series of “webisodes” that will examine new technology and innovation from an engineer’s point of view.
The UX Italia video contest recognizes Italian machinery, technology, and other experience solutions that have contributed meaningful improvements to people’s lives and production processes. If you submit a three-minute video showcasing how the quality of Italian machinery's User eXperience is essential to your company's success, you just may win a trip to Italy.
More:Blogs|News
Design News Webinar Series
11/19/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
11/6/2014 11:00 a.m. California / 2:00 p.m. New York
10/7/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
12/11/2014 8:00 a.m. California / 11:00 a.m. New York
Quick Poll
The Continuing Education Center offers engineers an entirely new way to get the education they need to formulate next-generation solutions.
Dec 1 - 5, An Introduction to Embedded Software Architecture and Design
SEMESTERS: 1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6


Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.
Last Archived Class
Sponsored by Littelfuse
Learn More   |   Login   |   Archived Classes
Twitter Feed
Design News Twitter Feed
Like Us on Facebook

Sponsored Content

Technology Marketplace

Copyright © 2014 UBM Canon, A UBM company, All rights reserved. Privacy Policy | Terms of Service