Carbodeon to Expand Nanodiamonds Business

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 24. August 2016

Nanodiamonds have commercially joined the arsenal of thermally-conductive fillers, with applications underway.


Recent industry studies indicate that the thermally conductive plastics market is growing at annual rates of nearly 15%, driven by industries such as electrical/electronics, automotive, industrial, healthcare, and aerospace.


It was no surprise then to see that Finland’s Carbodeon, represented in the U.S. by SiliconSense, Nashua, N.H., has announced that it will accelerate its nanodiamond business and expand manufacturing capacity (read more here). This, enabled by $1.7 million funding it has received from Straightforward Capital, a Finnish venture capital firm. This funding follows major financing already received from biotech and advanced materials sector investor Enso Ventures.


As we reported in late 2015, the company was granted a U.S. patent for its technology which enables detonation-synthesized diamond particles –nanodiamonds (ND)—to be combined with polymers for use in fields such as consumer electronics, LED lighting, automotive and machine tools.


The earth’s hardest natural mineral is also one of the most thermally conductive materials known, so when NDs are mixed in with thermoplastics in controlled amounts, they can enable plastics to conduct heat at pre-determined rates, and/or to be highly wear-resistant.


Sources at Carbodeon confirm that its ultra-dispersed” Diamond ND fillers are already in commercial thermal management applications which involve electronic devices, but confidentiality agreement prevent the disclosure of further information.


Carbodeon’s patented technologies reportedly offer superior performance when used as additives in applications including thermal management materials, metal plating and selected polymer coating applications. There are now different easy-to-use and cost-effective grades in Carbodeon’s portfolio of NDs which are said to enable improved lifetime and conductive performance for electronic appliances and devices, automotive parts, and industrial manufacturing line components.


Available in powder or liquid dispersions, the ND is reportedly fully dispersed into its primary particles without agglomeration. As such, the compounder and end-user can benefit from the entire available ND surface area, resulting in better performance with less material and cost.  ND-impregnated polymers can deliver heat-conducting benefits for products such as LED lighting and mobile devices. The hard wearing properties also make them ideally suited for use in the automotive and aerospace sectors.


The new funding will be used to expand nanodiamond manufacturing capacity, recruit new talent and enhance customer support. Further investments in R&D will allow Carbodeon to continue to innovate and develop new products and applications. Says Carbodeon CEO Vesa Myllymaki, “This funding, combined with our innovative partnerships with customers and partners, will enable us to grow significantly within our key application areas.”


Rapid Manufacturing Brings Innovative Irrigation System to Market

24. August 2016

An innovative irrigation system went from art-to-part in two weeks thanks to rapid manufacturing from Proto Labs.


Mist Labs’ AgPulse, which the company describes as an internet-of-things-enabled, micro-irrigation control platform, used a Cool Idea! Award from Proto Labs to secure the grant funding it needed for an initial production run of end-use parts. Matt Kresse, Mist Labs CEO said the electronics enclosure for its irrigation control’s wireless hub utilized an injection molded polycarbonate.


By winning the Cool Idea! Award, Kresse and his team were able to apply the grant funding to an initial production run of end-use parts. According to Kresse, the company only needed a partner to produce the final, end-use parts. The parts had to be custom-designed and injection-molded, using a high-strength polycarbonate.


Enter Proto Labs, which says its Cool Idea! Award helps companies move through the design-to-development process quickly, whether they need functional prototypes, testing or low-volume production quantities.


AgPulse, which is already being delivered to farms, employs wireless soil sensors and data analytics to monitor ground moisture and to water the ideal amount when the soil indicates it is necessary. 


What’s Brewing in Technology to Make Coffee Pods

By: Matthew H. Naitove 23. August 2016

With more than 9 billion of them sold last year alone, the prospect of selling high-output production systems to make single-serve coffee pods must be enough to make a machine builder’s mouth water.


Two different flavors of manufacturing technology (if you’ll permit me to pound the metaphor even harder) have been the subject of recent commercial announcements.


Milacron Holdings Corp., Cincinnati, says its coinjection systems using Kortec embedded technology are now being used to mold 100% recyclable coffee pods (read more about Keurig’s efforts in this regard here, here and here). The PP-based cups are replacing non-recyclable, thermoformed PS pods. One benefit of injection molding is the ability to mold in features that replace separately molded components such as filters. Milacron coinjection technology will be demonstrated in molding Klear Cans at the K 2016 show. Read more here.)


Meanwhile, Sacmi Imola S.C. of Italy (U.S. office in Des Moines, Iowa) has sold two of its 32-cavity CCM (continuous compression molding) systems to Mitaca of Milan, Italy, to produce PP coffee pods for Illycaffé. Cycle time of 3.2 sec is said to be half that for injection molding, allowing output of around 600 pods/min. CCM reportedly also makes lighter pods weighing just 2.15 g with improved thickness control of the pod bottom. Sacmi will demonstrate CCM processing of bottle caps at 1000/min with just 24 cavities at K 2016. (Read more here.)


Getting the Plastics Message Out to the Masses

By: Heather Caliendo 22. August 2016


As I watched the Olympics coverage the other night, a commercial came on that flashed the word, “plastics.”


While the industry is no stranger to using TV ads in the past—think “Plastics Make It Possible” campaign and TV ads discouraging plastic bag bans—it still caught my attention.


Check it out:



The ad is clearly targeted to the average consumer as the voiceover says its offerings help car owners “save money and reduce emissions.” As I’m sure advertising during the Olympics isn’t cheap so it’s interesting that ExxonMobil chose this particular ad with this specific messaging to convey to the average American consumer what type of work they do.


I found an interview on BrandChannel with ExxonMobil Media Relations Manager Alan Jeffers explaining the strategy behind the campaign. He said that the ad is a continuation of the company’s “Energy Lives Here” campaign that is trying to showcase that it’s not just about selling gasoline for the company but that it’s a “complex, high-tech industry that requires a lot of discipline, a lot of professionals, a lot of very smart, intelligent, engaging people.”


“We are going to continue with the campaign and we think now, more than ever, this kind of communication effort is important. It’s a matter of serious consequence and people want to understand it, they want to talk about it and want to learn more. They’re thirsty for information, so we just see that as a great opportunity to provide a framework into that and that appetite for information,” Jeffers said.


So the overall goal is to spread its message to consumers, not to potential customers necessarily. It shows that B2B advertising is an interesting and complex subject, especially for an industry that doesn’t always have the greatest reputation in the eyes of consumers (thanks to bag bans, trash on the street, you know that story).


Attracting the Next Generation
Another company that threw its hat in the TV advertising arena is GE and in fact, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times, Olympics viewers watched 98% of the GE ad on average, more than any other spot besides one from Folgers among 200 brands that spent at least $500,000 to air an ad during the Games, according to data from, a company that tracks TV ad impressions.


Here’s one of the ads:




It appears GE is trying to attract younger workers with these TV ads. The company released an ad in September 2015 where a son tried to explain to his parents that his GE job is about “writing code” and not manual labor. 


The LA Times quoted Andy Goldberg, the chief creative officer, as saying that the ad successfully attracted the attention of young engineers. Job applications to GE increased eightfold in the months after it was released, the company said.


Olympics As a Trade Show
And while ExxonMobil and GE focused on TV advertising during the Olympics, Dow Chemical, a sponsor of the Olympics took a different approach. Instead of spending tons of money on various advertising strategies, Dow instead took hundreds of its clients to the Olympic Games in Rio so they can see the company’s technologies up close, according to an article in Bloomberg.


The company has more than 20 projects at the game, such as the artificial turf for the hockey field (PT reported about the hockey turf during NPE2015). The Bloomberg article states that Dow is “taking as many as 450 customers on tours of facilities during the course of the games, including the field hockey stadium.”


The publication reported that Dow is on “track to meet or even beat its target of $1 billion in Olympic-related sales for the 10 years through 2020.”


“You’ve been experiencing us and you don’t even know it,’’ Louis Vega, Dow’s vice president of Olympic and sport solutions told Bloomberg. “Dow looks at the Olympics as a large trade show, so customers can see our technology on display.’’


So while ExxonMobil and GE are focusing on education for the general public, Dow went the face-to-face route with its own customers. And even though they might be different strategies, the overall message is clear whether it’s speaking to customers or clients: education about what the industry actually does. 

Novel Catalyst For Cheaper Biodegradable Plastics

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 19. August 2016

IBM Research and Stanford chemists come up with new chemical approaches to generate biodegradable plastics.


The search for new ways to more efficiently and inexpensively create biodegradable plastics continues on many fronts as we have been reporting within the last couple of years as seen here, here and here.


Now, a long-standing collaboration between IBM Research—Almaden, San Jose, Calif. and Stanford University’s Chemistry Department has culminated in the development of a new chemical catalyst that the researchers claim can be used to produce cheaper biodegradable plastics from plants such as palm trees and beets.


The research group headed by Robert Waymouth of Stanford and James Hedrick of IBM looked for an alternative to the standard, metal-based catalysts used to make biodegradable plastics. These catalysts are difficult or expensive to remove from the final material, and do not degrade in the environment. Their new catalyst is an organic substance that reportedly lowers the energy required for the conversion from plant to plastic to take place.


The researchers crafted it by reacting common chemical ingredients—thiourea and metal alcoxide. “While many catalysts are either fast or selective, these catalysts are both. They are simple to prepare, easy to use, and can be readily adopted by anyone with a basic knowledge of chemistry,” said Professor Waymouth. When a catalyst is both fast and selective, it means that it excels at accelerating and facilitating reactions and that it doesn’t alter the resulting polymer’s shape or properties once it is formed.


Not only does the new catalyst design lower the cost and environmental impact, but it is highly tunable. Weymouth noted that it can be used to generate several varieties of plastic suitable for different functions. For example, the catalyst can produce PLA for use in disposable plastic items such as tableware, cups, plates and forks; medical products such as resorbable sutures, implants and stents, as well as biomedical implants and drug-delivery systems; food packaging; and, non-woven fabrics.


Moreover, because this technique is relatively simple and the catalysts are readily modified, the researchers see further advances that can lead to a new and broadly useful class of catalysts—and likewise, new and useful biodegradable plastics, beyond what was identified in their study, “Fast and Selective Ring-Opening Polymerizations by Alkoxides and Thioureas,” which was published in the July issue of Nature Chemistry, and which was partly funded by the National Science Foundation.


IBM Research—Almaden is also the “birthplace” of several recent plastics and recycling achievements including the discoveries of: a new process to recycle plastics into nonfibers designed to specifically target and attack fungal infections; an entirely new class of plastics; a new plastic macromolecule that could help prevent deadly virus infections; and a new method for recycling CDs into non-toxic plastics for water purification and medicine. 


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