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The week that was: Highlights and the top 10 articles for August 20-24

Probably once a week, I come across a story about a person who's decided to go cold turkey when it comes to plastics, undertaking a kind of living protest against what they perceive as an environmental scourge, swapping out for metal, glass or cloth when they can, and otherwise forgoing many everyday items. Typically these stories include an epiphany by the plastics protester, when he or she realizes just how prevalent the materials are.

Probably once a week, I come across a story about a person who's decided to go cold turkey when it comes to plastics, undertaking a kind of living protest against what they perceive as an environmental scourge, swapping out for metal, glass or cloth when they can, and otherwise forgoing many everyday items. Typically these stories include an epiphany by the plastics protester, when he or she realizes just how prevalent the materials are. I thought of those stories when I read Packaging Channel Editor Heather Caliendo's blog post/book review on a new work of fiction that imagines a rapid removal of plastics from the modern world by way of a resin-eating bacteria. Here's what the author told Heather as he imagined a post-plastics planet:

I don't think our future would look good. Plastic, in many ways, allows us to sustain our population of 7 billion. It is necessary for world-wide transportation of food and materials; for medical equipment; for computers. It is the last item that would ruin us. Everything we do now is dependent on computers, from the work we do writing for magazines and blogs, to nuclear-generating stations, to driving our cars.

Yikes. Litter is a problem; plastics, like many materials, are ill suited for some functions and ultimately wasted on them. But a life without plastic? No thanks.

Clare Goldsberry highlighted a true rapid manufacturing story this week, looking at how the long-accepted lead times for production parts and tools are dramatically changing thanks to advances in additive manufacturing. A glimpse into the future that still includes injection molding and some very precision tools. Clare also looked at how manufacturer liability led a fuel-tank blowmolder to run out of gas. At the crux of the issue, how badly do Americans want a manufacturing industry:

If we really want good manufacturing jobs in this country, we have to really want manufacturing! That means creating a manufacturing-friendly business climate which uses common sense when it comes to things like product safety and lawsuits.

Doug Smock, Medical channel editor, tackled a technology its creator calls the "next major advance in coronary stent technology." Reva Medical must be confident about its bioresorbable scaffolds, announcing plans to ramp up production. This week also marked the first, and likely, only time that pop star Adele and film and stage legend Julie Andrews appear in a PlasticsToday article. Doug reported on the groundbreaking research work of Robert Langer, Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who recently discussed an injectable polymer gel that mimics key traits of human vocal cords. A development that could give voice to ailing singers. The Cleveland Clinic, an icon in U.S. medical arena, was also in the news, with Doug writing about a five-year-old sustainability study the venerable hospital and research institution has undertaken on its usage and disposing of plastics.

What once sliced through the air now cuts through water: Automotive & Mobility Editor Stephen Moore wrote about the reapplication of post-industrial aircraft scrap into all new carbon-fiber reinforced paddles. The carbon fibers in question were left on the Dreamliner production floor by Boeing by find new life thanks to specialty compounder RTP.

Top 10 most-clicked articles, August 20-24

  1. Four long-term issues that could sink U.S. manufacturing
  2. China's first decade in WTO exacts heavy toll on U.S. manufacturing
  3. Polystyrene bans continue to grow in California
  4. Do we need a 'Stupid User Law' to save manufacturing?
  5. A. Schulman to buy ECM Plastics, will sell its vinyl chloride compounding facility in Ohio
  6. Author imagines a world without plastic
  7. More government money for additive manufacturing
  8. Mexico an important player in near-shoring movement
  9. Medical Musings: A White House discussion on PVC in hospitals
  10. Avoiding a plastic surprise: Preventing food product contamination
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