PT Blog

High Growth Forecast for High Performance Plastics

While not entirely unanticipated, high performance plastics are expected to grow at a pretty hefty annual rate.  Dublin-based Markets & Research (U.S. office in N.Y.) has just released High Performance Plastics Market – Global Forecast to 2026, which projects this market will reach $35.27 billion, with a CAGR of 9.3% from 2016 to 2026.

Also not surprising: the prime factor driving such growth is the increased demand for manufacturing interior and exterior components in the automotive and aerospace industries due to superior mechanical properties, chemical resistance, and high-heat stability of high-performance plastics. Still, the study cites the high manufacturing cost of high-end plastics as one restraining factor for this market.

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Trend to Watch: Making Robots Safer Around People—Without Sacrificing Performance

So-called “collaborative” robots, or “cobots,” have captured the imagination of a number of plastics processors who are looking for automation that can operate safely in close proximity to human workers and doesn’t have to be locked away behind “hard” guarding. However, these cobots are often compared unfavorably with standard robots in terms of significantly lower speed and payload capacity.

From what I’ve seen at recent trade shows, a potentially significant trend to keep an eye on is suppliers of conventional robots making their units “collaborative”—i.e., safe—without sacrificing high speed and load-carrying capacity (see previous reports here, here, and here). One supplier that recently showed off this capability at April’s Automate show in Chicago is Staubli North America, Duncan. S.C. At the show, Staubli showed off its new TX2 six-axis articulated robots (which also were featured at K 2016 in Dusseldorf). In an interview, Sebastien Schmitt, Robotics Div. Manager, explained to me the significance of this new robot series in terms of five levels of Man-Robot Collaboration (MRC):

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Scientists at Houston-based Rice University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) have discovered that laser-induced graphene (LIG) is a highly effective antifouling material, and when electrified, a bacteria zapper.

Rice University’s Jamed Tour developed LIG—a spongy version of graphene (the single-atom layer of carbon atoms)—three years ago by partially burning through an inexpensive polyimide sheet with a laser, which turned the surface into a lattice of interconnected graphene sheets.

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What’s in the Pipeline of New Compounding Machinery Developments at Farrel Pomini

I reported recently on my visit to the brand-new headquarters of Farrel Pomini in Ansonia, Conn., for the grand opening of the facility in April. The grand opening event included presentations summarizing the latest technical developments in Continuous Mixers and Compact Processors:

• As reported previously, the company is actively investigating new opportunities in compounding biopolymers such as PLA. Farrel Pomini equipment is seen as appropriate because of its “gentle” treatment such sensitive polymers, with low shear and short residence times.

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Teknor Apex Reveals More on Novel Nylon Family

Earlier this month, Teknor Apex announced the recasting of its former Nylon Div. as the new Engineering Thermoplastics (ETP) Div. The move is linked to the company’s March 2016, acquisition of German custom compounder Plastic-Technologie-Service (PTS). I had the opportunity to speak with Mike Roberts, v.p. in charge of the new ETP who clarified some details on the initial product launch in North America.

The ETP unit will globalize a wide range of engineering thermoplastics technologies developed in Europe, which were previously not widely available in the Americas or Asia. Founded in 1986, PTS has a portfolio of more than 700 commercial ETP products based on nine major technological platforms and resins. Included are a variety of nylons, PBT, PC, PC/ABS, other blends, TPEs, and TPVs.

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