What's the benefit of using this material ove Plexiglas--that it's more enviornmentally friendly? So if I understanding correctly, this gives a design engineer who might traditionally consider plexiglas or a like material for a particular application, a more eco-friendly alternative, all while keeping the properties that make plexiglas appealing in the first place?
Beth, the benefits are both sustainability gains and, of course, better customer relations if customers have been asking for more sustainable materials. Customers are, in fact, doing so, and not just end-consumers, but industrial customers, since many of them now have sustainability programs and goals to be met. This was a big theme at NPE2012, and something new in the industry. The industrial demand for bioplastics, and for recycled plastics, especially more durable ones, will make a big difference. So will the fact that many bioplastics--such as this one--have even better performance than the petro-based versions they replace.
Ann: I'm currently reporting a feature for the June issue of Design News (stay tuned) on the challenges engineers face when designing for sustainability and one of the main drivers people are talking about is increasing customer demand. Whether it's lip service or not, customers are definitely jumping on the go-green bandwagon. Besides having the right information at their fingertips to make the right alternative materials choices, having a wide range of alternative materials to choose from that have the same or better properties and characteristics as compared with traditional options definitely makes the whole transition much easier.
This looks like a wonderful advance. I share Chuck's question about the cost implications. If this is more expensive than conventional materials, are consumers willing to pay a green premium? A portion of that car-buying population were willing to pay extra for a cleaner hybrid vehicle. Yet a good portion of that population didn't continue with a second hybrid, according to an article by Chuck.
Corporate competition being what it is, the non-green alternative often has a built-in cost advantage. It's always a struggle to get a large swath of the buying public to agree to pay a premium for being green, especially in a weak economy.
I would ask the same question: what about pricing? When several options are close to equal, price will get the nod most of the time. Some of the description was about how the new material was good, but none was about how it was GREAT! So there is then the question about price.
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