PT Blog

16. November 2018

A Gel By Any Other Name...

In one of my previous lives at The Dow Chemical Company, I ran an optical microscopy lab in the Dow Pack Studios facility in Freeport, Texas. One of our tasks was to analyze different inclusions to determine the type and source. This analysis would include making a slide and placing the sample on a hot stage where it would be heated under a controlled manner to melt the polymer away from the inclusion and see how the inclusion responds to heat. The hot stage would be placed under an optical microscope usually at 50× magnification.

I use the term inclusion rather than gel because there seems to be some debate as to what the definition of a gel is. Some say, “It’s not a gel, it’s an un-melt”, or “It’s not a gel, it’s a contaminant”. A quick Google search for the definition of a polymer gel will get you the definitions: gelatin, jelly, bath gels, and others.

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By: Heather Caliendo 15. November 2018

'Single-Use' Named 2018 Word of the Year

Single-use plastics continue to find themselves in the spotlight—in both positive and negative ways. As a result, Collins Dictionary selected ‘single-use’ as its Word of the Year. The group says that its records show a four-fold increase in usage of this word since 2013, with news stories and the likes of the BBC’s Blue Planet II raising public awareness of this environmental issue.

For word nerds (like me), Collins describes the history:

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The Technology House (TTH) is a company that knows 3D printing. The Streetsboro, Ohio, business has been 3D printing with stereolithography since its launch more than 20 years ago as a product development firm. Over the years founder Chip Gear and his team have leveraged SLA to quickly and flexibly produce prototypes, master molds for urethane casting, tooling and more.

But until recently, TTH never saw 3D printing as a viable option for manufacturing end-use production parts. Its SLA printers produced parts with fine detail and good surface finish, but brittle material properties. The slow speed and limited materials available for SLA kept 3D printing firmly in the early stages of the product lifecycle at TTH, even as it added machining and injection molding capability to pursue production work. But with the addition of Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) printers and auxiliary equipment from Carbon, 3D printing of parts at production scales has become a full reality for the Ohio business.

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Eastman Chemical’s proprietary amorphous copolyester Tritan and new Treva engineering bioplastic, which falls into the family of cellulosics knows as cellulose acetate propionate (CAP), both scored highly in an audio application dominated by PC.

Working with recognized acoustics product development firm DW Designs, Port Hueneme, California, Eastman Chemical molded and tested beryllium models in-ear monitor housings using a variety of materials. The findings were presented at the annual Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest (CanJam), held in Denver Oct. 5-7, by DW Designs’ principal Dan Wiggins and Eastman senior application development engineer John Quigley.

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A downward trajectory as we approach the end of the year appeared to characterize the pricing trend for at least four of the five large-volume commodity resins. Going into the second week of November, key drivers were lower cost feedstocks, slowed demand, year-end destocking, and in some cases competition from lower-cost imports. Prices of PE, though also impacted by some of these factors along with slower exports activity, were expected to remain flat despite two looming price hikes.

Overall projections for the remainder of the year are for continued soft pricing, according to purchasing consultants from Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), Fort Worth, Texas; senior editors from Houston-based PetroChemWire (PCW); and CEO Michael Greenberg of the Plastics Exchange in Chicago. Here’s a look at how things were shaping up:

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