PT Blog

Well, there’s been a series of news items discussing how 3D printing is helping to launch various space programs. The most recent one comes from Solvay as the company is providing additive manufacturing lightweighting products to Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), which allow the development and manufacture of components for its low-Earth orbit aerospace project at Boeing.

In January, Oxford Performance Materials announced it has been selected by The Boeing Co. to manufacture 3D-printed structures for the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, and OPM has begun shipping OXFAB production parts for installation (pictured below). The Starliner is designed to transport up to seven passengers, or a mix of crew and cargo, to low-Earth orbit destinations such as the International Space Station. It is under development in collaboration with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Oxford will manufacture more than 600 3D-printed parts for the Boeing CST-100 Starliner space taxis.

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Those were just some of the attractions at the annual Technology Days exhibition hosted by Arburg at its headquarters in Lossburg, Germany.

Arburg (U.S. office in Rocky Hill, Conn.) has hosted these events each year since 1999. What Arburg called “the biggest in-house event in the industry” attracted more than 6700 guests from 53 countries, including around 170 from North America and 125 from China.

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The bottling segment of the plastics industry is projected to grow by more than 6% over the next three years, according to Mark Garrison, senior v.p. of membership and business development at the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS). This data point can be found in the recently released PLASTICS Market Watch report: Plastic Bottles Today: Innovating to Reach Today’s Consumer.

According to PLASTICS, plastic bottles and jars represent approximately 75% of all plastic containers, by weight. Moreover, the organization projects continued growth across products and sectors, including beverage, food and water, household, pharmaceutical and automotive chemicals and fluids.

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The coating of interior automotive plastic components to improve appearance, physical properties and to impart the unique soft feel also referred to as haptic feel, has been taking place for some time. However, a key challenge in developing haptic coatings has been the subjective nature of judging the feel of haptic ranges referred to as rubbery, velvety and silky. Coating formulators have been seeking a balance between the desired softness and the resin properties needed to protect the plastic substrate and also meet interior designers’ requirements.

Scientists at Covestro LLC have aimed to remedy the challenge of being able to effectively balance the haptic properties polyurethane (PUR) coatings with their other performance properties—most notably, chemical resistance. This, through the development of objective test methodology, HapticMapping which rates the coated substrates by feel and numerical quantification.

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That final skill can be the most difficult to master, owing to time constraints of tracking sectors outside your own and the challenge of perceiving how the advances, even in a lab setting, of other industries might come home to roost in your market.   

At Plastics Technology—with our magazine, website, newsletters, webinars and conferences—we aim to be your eyes and ears on that final horizon, sharing voices from places that might reside outside the normal areas you track for business answers.

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