PT Blog

At this year’s MD&M West, Eastman Chemical highlighted both industry collaborations and new developments in materials for both medical devices and their packaging, including work with Clemson University’s Capstone Project and medical technology OEM Mindray.

● Clemson University: As part of its ongoing collaboration with the Packaging Science degree program, Eastman works with co-sponsors Remington Medical, a leading producer of disposable medical devices, and TekPak, an innovative medical thermoformer, to help students develop prototypes of rigid medical packaging for hip implants and to learn critical elements of the validation protocol.

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Just last month, I reported on Finland’s VTT joining Think Beyond Plastics as an R&D partner. In that role, VTT will support the New Plastic Economy Innovation Center’s innovators and entrepreneurs by offering R&D services to accelerate the development of innovations in the area of circular plastics.

In keeping with that theme, VTT researchers just announced a prototype of a newly developed cylindrical extruder that they say promises to revolutionize the processing of recyclable materials and thereby promote circular economy business. The extruder can be used to turn problematic textiles and plastics, as well as food waste, into pellets. The first prototype has already exceeded the industrial steering group’s expectations during initial testing, and VTT is now looking for a partner to commercialize the technology.

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It seems like the problems with vacuum conveying have been around forever. Because resin pellets are pulled through tubing at such high speeds, it damages the material in the process. The friction of rubbing against tubing walls can soften some materials causing angel hair, snake skins and streamers. More brittle materials can shatter, creating dust and fines. Abrasive materials can wear away the insides of the lines, eventually causing leaks.

The good news is that new conveying technology can gently move your materials at comparable output rates without the material damage that causes these common problems.

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A combination of higher global crude oil prices, a firming up of prices of key feedstocks, higher export volumes in some cases, and a rebound in demand in some other cases, are key drivers in projections for flat to at least slightly higher prices ahead for PE, PP, PS, PVC, and PET.

Here is a look at how things were being viewed as we approach mid-February by 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.

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Polyether furanoate (PEF) is viewed as a strong candidate among biopolyesters for packaging, by some bioplastics researchers. PEF contains the hydrocarbon, furan, which can be extracted from maize, wood and certain types of grain. Experiments have shown that PEF is superior to standard PET in protecting against oxygen, carbon dioxide and water, resulting in greater product shelf life.

The success of PEF findings by some researchers prompted researchers at Sweden’s Lund University to find other renewable materials that could potentially be used for plastic production. Chemical engineering doctoral student Ping Wang has produced a plastic based on indole, a heavier hydrocarbon molecule than furan, that is present in human feces and smells accordingly. The compound is also found in lower concentrations in certain flowering plants and has a more agreeable aroma. According to the researchers, this effect is due to our sense of smell decoding the aroma differently depending on the amount and combination.

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