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Week of 01/06-01/10: Polymer is money in England and Top 10 articles

Whew. How did everyone's first full week back at work go? It's always hard to get back in a routine after such a long break, but at the same time, it feels great to be back in the saddle, don't you agree?

Heather Caliendo

January 10, 2014

5 Min Read
Week of 01/06-01/10: Polymer is money in England and Top 10 articles

Anyway, apparently plastic, or should I say polymer, is money - literally - in England. European Editor Karen Laird wrote about the Bank of England's choice to print its next £5 and £10 banknotes on polymer. However, as Karen pointed out, there is a strategic focus to refer to the new banknotes as 'polymer' instead of 'plastic.'

Chris Salmon, executive director for banking services and chief cashier said: "When the public had a chance to see the notes and feel them, they understood what they'd be like - and when they'd heard a description beforehand of plastic notes, they weren't quite sure what to expect. When you think plastic, you think of credit card, and actually, a polymer is very different to a credit card.So in terms of the public knowing what to expect, it helps."

These 3D printing stories keep on coming. Automotive Editor Stephen Moore wrote about how the market is penetrating outside traditional industrial design and additive manufacturing and into the consumer and "prosumer" field. Low-cost 3D printing options will allow consumers to materialize their own designs such as toys and key chains, and even sell them online.

In 2013, the 3D printing market experienced consolidation and acquisition by the major players, he wrote.

"This past year also saw unique business models and competitors like Puget Technologies (Fort Lauderdale, FL) emerge. Coupled with the fact that a number of patents controlling the process of laser sintering are set to expire in 2014, fresh opportunities for the new home 3D printer are on the horizon for this year."

Medical Editor Doug Smock also covered 3D printing. This one regarding the production of synthetic human organs. Organovo (San Diego, CA) is telling investors it will launch a 3D printed liver made from human tissue this December, Doug wrote. Structures made from Organovo's technology are said to function like native human tissues, and offer opportunities in medical research, drug discovery and development, and in the future, surgical therapies and transplantation.

Bioprinting is like industrial 3D printing in that it is a layer-by-layer additive process. Instead of medical plastics or metals, the material used is described as a "bio ink" composed of cells, Doug wrote. The printer is a proprietary machine called NovoGen developed by Organovo. One company working with Organovo to commercialize the technology is Autodesk.

"Bioprinting has the potential to change the world," said Jeff Kowalski, SVP and chief technology officer at Autodesk. "It's a blend of engineering, biology and 3D printing, which makes it a natural for Autodesk. I think working with Organovo to explore and evolve this emerging field will yield some fascinating and radical advances in medical research."

Senior Editor Norbert Sparrow took a closer look at a thin-film heating technology developed for injection molding processes by Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM (Freiburg), which reportedly can reduce energy consumption by as much as 90% compared with conventional molding practices. This is achieved by heating only the part of the tooling that comes into contact with the plastic melt.

Norbert also wrote a very clever blog article that took another look at the plastic bag ban debate. While discussing the L.A. bag ban at the UBM Santa Monica office, Norbert wrote, "The conversation brought to mind a bit that comedian George Carlin used to do about environmentalism in general and plastic in particular. The gist of the rant, in case you have not heard it, is that maybe the planet wanted plastic."

"The earth doesn't share our prejudice toward plastic," posits Carlin. "Plastic came out of the earth. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place: it wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. It needed us."

Don't miss out on Senior Editor Clare Goldsberry article discussing how today's injection mold manufacturers are much more than 'just moldmakers.'

"While mold manufacturers have been able to reduce the mold design and build time thanks to cutting edge software and advanced, high-speed machine tool technology, mold manufacturers are now receiving requests for services from customers that go far beyond just building the mold," she wrote. "In fact, several mold manufacturers say that in many cases, depending on the requirements of the customer, it takes longer to qualify a mold and validate the process than it does to design and build the mold - sometimes stretching the lead time for a program out as long as six months."

And finally, I came across an interesting release from UK-based Hahn Plastics - the company created a speciality house for victims of natural disasters. "A colleague who has been working with recycled plastic for years has always felt there must be something that can be done to help those affected by such disasters in areas where their infrastructure is unable to cope," Katie Fairhurst, spokesperson for Hahn Plastics, told PlasticsToday. "Upon hearing about Typhoon Haiyan, he decided to finally put all his thoughts into reality and within a matter of hours we had the Hahn Eco House constructed in the warehouse."

Top 10 most-clicked PlasticsToday articles 01/06-01/10

1.     3D printing market to expand 10-fold by 2017; consumer/prosumer market to drive growth

2.     Happy New Year! The party's over

3.     As "Made in USA" gains in popularity, companies reshore manufacturing

4.     IBM creates MRSA-killing super plastic from PET bottles

5.     Thin-film technology for injection molds slashes energy consumption

6.     Moldmaking on the brink of technological shift

7.     Organovo prepares launch of 3D-printed liver

8.     Britain to switch to paying in plastic - literally - with polymer banknotes

9.     A familiar face and my first interaction with a bag ban

10.   Bioresorbable plastic stents will be a big story in 2014

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