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First Business Accelerator For Solutions To Plastic Pollution

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 12. July 2014

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the third annual Plasticity Forum at NYC’s Tribeca Rooftop which aims to share the wealth of knowledge from the leading edge of those who are facilitating a world where plastic is used, but without the footprint.

 

According to Douglas Woodring, founder of Plasticity Forum, Ocean Recovery Alliance, this means all of the benefits of lightweighting, durability, flexibility, and color, without the “hangover”, referring to plastics pollution.  As in the first two forums held in Rio and Hong Kong, Plasticity brings together the leaders in innovation, design, packaging, materials, recycling, and solutions—all needed in a resource-constrained world, says Woodring. 

 

One of several interesting presentations was made by Destin Layne, a founding partner and COO of Think Beyond Plastic Accelerator, Inc., reportedly the world’s first business accelerator for solutions to plastic pollution through innovation and entrepreneurship. It was first launched at U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s Conference on the Oceans and at Plasticity 2014. 

 

Described as a public benefit corporation, it was created to inspire and incubate entrepreneurship; to accelerate early- and mid-stage businesses with a proven business model, a solid management team and an innovative solution to plastic pollution, and to provide pre-qualified opportunities for investors and brands—all with a focus on sustainable, non-toxic and healthy alternatives to the current disposable plastic products. Think Beyond Plastic’s executive team has a blended experience in innovation, entrepreneurship, science, sustainability, major brand management and repositioning, and early stage business finance. The initial group of businesses in the Accelerator portfolio—each with “groundbreaking technologies” reducing plastic pollution-- include Plastipure, PulpWorks, Aspenware, and NewGen Surgical.

 

I had the pleasure of talking with Rob Chase, president of California-based NewGen Surgical on their newly launched NGS35W Skin Stapler, which appears to be the most environmentally sustainable option in the current market of single-use skin staplers.

 

Other skin staplers on the market are typically made with, for example, Cycoloy PC/ABS from Sabic Innovative plastics. Using its Smart Sustainable Design, NewGen Surgical developed the new device with 69% plant-based material. More specifically, the body of the device (handle/lever) is made of bagasse, the fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane or sorghum stalks are crushed to extract their juice. Chase notes, “By resourcing bagasse, we have achieved a 67% reduction in energy used for production of the skin stapler’s material compared to the same product made of 100% plastic.”

 

Chase shares that the product is made using a wet thermoforming process. The material, which comes in a slurry form, is placed into the mold where the water is pressed out, then air dried into its rigid shape. “We use the medical grade PC/ABS in the part of the skin stapler that delivers the surgical stainless-steel staples. Physicians can expect the same clinical performance as the all-plastic  skin staplers, as well as ergonomic design, tactile feedback when the firing cycle is complete, an alignment indicator for accurate staple placements, and an easy-to-see staple remaining indicator.

 

NewGen Surgical’s sustainability efforts also extended to the use of single-plastic packaging for the device—HDPE makes up both the tray and lid of the package. The company is now focusing on similar sustainable solutions for other medical single-use devices that are not reprocessed, but end up in landfills or incineration.

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastic Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.

 

Want To Know More About The Broad Options For Plastics Decoration and Surface Treatment?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 10. July 2014

Whether you are making plastic parts or products for automotive, consumer electronics or packaging, you are quite aware of how molded thermoplastics are increasingly achieving new heights in decorative appearance and quality.

 

Many striking aesthetic effects are now possible by employing new polymer blends coupled with a diverse range of decoration and surface treatment technologies. They can product 3D and tactile finishes, high-definition images, flawless high gloss and metallic surfaces, as well as effects ranging from imitation materials, interferential colors, color gradients, color change and travel, gloss and matte combinations, and even acoustic or olfactory effects.

 

Manufacturing processes to achieve these effects include several types of in-mold film, coating or decorating technique, relatively recent technologies to improve surface quality, as well as traditional separate decorating or coating processes such as dry offset, flexographic; inkjet; pad and screen printing; foil transfer; labelling; laser marking; plating; spray coating; and vacuum deposition. The new publication, “Innovation Trends in Plastics Decoration and Surface Treatment”, from UK’s Smithers Rapra analyzes and compares recent trends in each of over 20 types of mainstream manufacturing processes and 10 classes of sensory effects they can produce.

 

According to author and consultant Ed Crutchley the book covers well over 1000 different innovations. Raw materials covered include: color or reflectivity change materials and additives; effect and other special color materials; films, foils and labels; inks, paints, coatings; and substrate polymer resins, blends and additives. In-mold processes addressed include: coloration, co-injection, multilayer molding, multiple material molding; in-mold coating, on-mold painting; in-mold film techniques; in-mold printing, marking, or use of engraved cavities; and, in-mold surface improvement.

The sixteen stand-alone or in-line processes discussed range from atmospheric plasma deposition or thermal spray and foil transfer processes to laser and irradiative marking and liquid coating techniques and pigment orientation techniques to sublimation printing and vacuum deposition. The $140 book can be ordered at www.polymer-books.com

 

 

Custom Molders: How Do Your Hourly Press Rates Compare?

By: Matthew H. Naitove 9. July 2014

 

The only place you can find an answer is right here—at ptonline.com—and in Plastics Technology magazine. If you’re one of our injection molding readers, you’re probably familiar with our twice-yearly Custom Injection Molding Hourly Rates Survey. It’s the only source I know of data on average machine-hour rates for different press sizes—with and without operator, with and without profit included—in five regions of the country. I’ve talked to a number of molders who use it to benchmark their own rates versus the competition.

 

Where do you come in? Right now we’re gathering data for our midyear survey of hourly rates. We need your data to make this survey accurately representative of molders throughout the country. Your answers are submitted anonymously, so they’re 100% confidential. Please go to this address and take 5 minutes to fill out a brief online questionnaire. (Some of you may already have received an email asking you to do so.) So please contribute! Your responses to my blog requesting your help a few months ago were essential to making our 2013 end-of-year survey possible. We need enough of you to respond now so we can get the midyear data in print and online without delay. Thanks!

Can Additive Manufacturing Supply Keep Up With Demand?

By: Tony Deligio 8. July 2014

Calling the announcement “one of the most significant milestones in the history of the additive manufacturing industry” in a July 3 post, Tim Caffrey, senior consultant at Wohlers Associates sees GE Aviation’s decision to utilize additive manufacturing (AM) for all the fuel nozzles on its LEAP engines as game-changing vote of confidence in the process, noting:

 

A major corporation publically declared its confidence in AM for a demanding production application in a hostile and critical operating environment.

 

Should GE’s move convince other OEMs that AM is ready for production prime time in critical components, Caffrey believes the end result could tip AM’s supply and demand dynamic out of balance.

 

Let’s assume the GE fuel nozzle is only the first of many metal production parts launched in the near term, and more parts from the aerospace, medical, dental, jewelry, and (eventually) automotive sectors will follow. Can the AM industry meet this significant demand? 

 

Noting that EOS has received an order for 100 of its laser sintering systems just as a result of GE’s nozzle project, Wohlers takes the position that the budding industry will not be able to keep pace.

 

We believe that the metal AM supply chain—consisting of system manufacturers, material suppliers, and certified service providers—will not be able to keep pace with demand.

 

Global plastics processing machinery demand is expected to expand 7.0 percent annually through 2017 to $37.6 billion, according to a new RNR Market Research report, with 3D printing to lead the way. Noting that the technology would grow the fastest of any plastics processing equipment, albeit from a relatively small market base, the report saw several reasons be bullish about AM in plastics.

 

3D printers offer more flexibility in product design than traditional machines and will provide functional competition to injection molding equipment for custom-made parts, as well as in other low output and prototyping applications…advances in 3D printer technology and falling product prices will broaden the market for plastics processing machinery to include utilization by individual consumers.

Show Us Your Worst Hot-Runner Leaks!

By: Matthew H. Naitove 8. July 2014

They can be even worse than the one pictured here. Detecting and stopping a leak when it is at this early stage is one of the points in an upcoming Troubleshooting article, authored by Gammaflux, on how to cure common hot-runner headaches, including how to prevent small leaks from becoming an expensive mess.

 

To dramatize the importance of early leak detection and intervention, we invite injection molding readers to submit photos of nasty hot-runner leaks to accompany this article. We know you have the leaks and are betting some of you couldn’t resist documenting them. Send your photos to me, Executive Editor Matt Naitove at mnaitove@ptonline.com by Aug. 15. Thanks!




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