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Week of 11/11-11/15: New editor joins PlasticsToday and Top 10 articles

November 15 is an especially great day for PlasticsToday. Why? Well, it's the first official day for our new Senior Editor, Norbert Sparrow.

Norbert worked previously as Editor in Chief of UBM Canon's medical media publications European Medical Device Technology (EMDT), medtechinsider and IVD Technology. Born in Germany and raised in Toronto and Los Angeles, Norbert earned his master's degree in journalism in Strasbourg, France. He wrote for a variety of newspapers and magazines during the 12 years that he lived in Paris and Strasbourg. Norbert returned to Los Angeles in 1986, and joined Canon Communications (now UBM Canon) in 1995 as editor of European Medical Device Manufacturer.

We're delighted that Norbert is bringing his experience and skill sets to the PlasticsToday team.

Here are some of the other highlights from this week.

Rubber is here to stay. At least according to rubber and thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) machine builder Maplan. Automotive Editor Stephen Moore talked with Maplan at K 2013 and said that it was evident from the company's presentations that the company sees a "bright future for rubber processing and does not view TPEs as a serious threat to its future."

"We feel TPEs and rubbers complement each other," says Rudolf Eisenhuber, head of the engineering department of Maplan. "TPEs are better when you want a grippy feel but if you want a high class surface finish like in automobile weather strips, then you can't beat EPDM rubber."

According to Eisenhuber, one might get the impression that TPE will act as a "replacement" for classical elastomers but he says the industry should take a closer look, Stephen wrote.

Biotechnology developer Avantium has created quite a stir with its PEF (polyethylene furanoate) bottles for the packaging industry. After all, beverage giant Coca-Cola is on board. And now those PEF bottles might become the next hot fashion item, according to an article from European Editor Karen Laird.

"According to the company, it has demonstrated that PEF, like PET, can also be used to make fibers, and that, moreover, PEF bottles can be recycled into PEF fibers and subsequently processed into 100% biobased T-shirts," Karen wrote. "So, why exactly would that be exciting news? Well, consider the following ... "

Be sure to read her article to find out more.

Last week, Senior Editor Clare Goldsberry asked whether 3D printed core and cavity inserts are ready for prime time. Well, it seems they are - at least according to Diversified Plastics Inc., an employee-owned custom injection molding company that provides a range of services including moldmaking, just purchased its first 3D printer, a Stratasys Objet260 Connex 3D printer.

"Annette Lund, VP of Diversified, told PlasticsToday that the company purchased the Objet260 primarily for creating cores and cavities for prototype molds. However, the company will also use the new printer to produce prototype parts that simulate diverse mechanical and physical properties," Clare wrote.

"We're taking rapid prototyping to the next level with the addition of the Objet260," Lund said. "This machine offers us a lot of versatility with respect to materials. So far, in the month we've had the machine, we've done parts in a TPE (Santoprene), ABS, 30% GF Nylon, and polycarbonate in four trials, and all the materials worked really well."

Medical Channel Editor Doug Smock looked at eight hot device technologies that will shape medical plastics.

"What will be the fastest growing medical device technologies in the next five or so years?" Doug asked. "The growth in U.S. gross domestic product is hovering between 2-3%, while the general consensus is that demand for medical plastics will grow at double or more that rate. Meanwhile, some medical device technologies--which use plastics in one way or another could grow 10% or more a year."

Also, don't miss Doug's five medical takeaways from K 2013.

On the packaging front, Wegmans Food Markets became the first retailer to join the Flexible Film Recycling Group (FFRG), a self-funded group in ACC's plastics division dedicated to growing polyethylene film recovery.

"From plastics recycling to greener store designs, Wegmans' commitment to sustainability is widely recognized," said Shari Jackson, director of FFRG. "As the first retail grocer member of the Flexible Film Recycling Group, the company will have valuable insights into programs to increase the recycling of plastic bags and wraps."

"Recycling of plastic bags and film is one effective way to address environmental concerns," said Jason Wadsworth, sustainability coordinator for Wegmans. "Because of our closed-loop system, bags and film that customers return for recycling at our stores are made into new Wegmans bags, not litter."

The FFRG has a goal of doubling flexible film recycling by 2017. 

Top 10 most-clicked PlasticsToday articles 11/11-11/15

1.     Are 3D printed molds ready for prime time?

2.     Global Plastics Summit: Positive economic news propels plastics

3.     Global Plastics Summit: U.S. demand for PVC will grow with construction

4.     If you're involved in plastics, you should care about recycling

5.     K 2013: Rubber is here to stay says Maplan

6.     Global Plastics Summit: Soft markets will continue for PET

7.     Transition to non-phthalate plasticizers speeds up in Europe

8.     Raven Industries integrates new blown film line

9.     Husky rings in 2014 with new HyPET HPP5 injection molding system

10. First retailer joins ACC's flexible film recycling group

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