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The week that was: Highlights and the top 10 articles for August 6-10

Many of the best commentaries intertwine individual experience with a broader trend, creating a poignant personal illustration of an issue at hand. Clare Goldsberry skillfully weaved such a commentary this week, relaying her father's path through the tool and die industry and how it stands at odds with how youth are steered well clear of manufacturing in today's society. The so-called "skills gap" draws a lot of attention these days, but its potential root cause isn't always addressed.

So what is behind this skills gap that has manufacturers gnawing their fingers even as some industry segments are picking up steam? College. Yes, you heard it-college.

Make sure you read the whole article and take a little time to weigh the import of Clare's conclusion and what it means for the plastics industry and others here in the U.S. and abroad.

Could algae become a viable feedstock for bioplastics production? Before that question can be answered, the technology would have to be proven commercially, and to that end, thermoforming company Dordan will introduce a thermoformed sample of Algix's algae plastic at Pack Expo. Dordan's Chandler Slavin told PlasticsToday Packaging Channel editor, Heather Caliendo, the algae-based product will be an "awesome addition" to its Pack Expo plans. I'd agree, especially since this technology would utilize industrial waste. Heather also looked at how plastic waste, principally PET bottles, are increasingly being up-cycled into high fashion goods, in everything from sports jerseys to headphones by everyone from Lauren Conrad, Nike, and will.i.am. There was no second chance, however, for plastic bags at Sea World and its associated parks, which banned plastics bags. A spokesperson told Heather the initial response has been "extremely positive."

Extending the influence of plastics at the London 2012 games to underfoot, we give you Smurf Turf, the electric blue artificial grass surface for the field hockey competition which utilizes linear low density DOWLEX Polyethylene Resin from Dow Chemical. For players, the surface has played just as well as traditional pitches, while for spectators, the blue background makes it easier to see the ball and follow game action. Read Karen Laird's reporting for the complete Smurf Turf scoop.

Beyond the demagoguery of pundits on either side and the pro and con distortions of the law by its supporters and opponents, at the end of the day, how will the Affordable Care Act affect the small- to medium-sized enterprises that comprise the heart of the U.S. plastics industry. John Clark posed that question to our readership with this blog, and we're already getting some feedback. Please join the conversation and let us know about the real world affect of the law on your company.

What do Australia, the new Mars rover Curiosity, and translucence have in common?  Composites technology and Stephen Moore, our PlasticsToday Automotive/Mobility Channel editor, who covered advances in all three this week; namely a new Australian carbon fiber research center, complete with fiber production; use of polyimide composite tape on the new Mars rover; and work by Plasticomp to create a translucent long-fiber composite. So much research and energy is currently being focused onto composites that I'd suspect many more advances are imminent.

Top 10 most-clicked articles for August 6-10

  1. The REAL cause of the 'Skills Gap'
  2. Dordan successfully thermoforms algae-plastic, will display sample at Pack Expo
  3. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Parks eliminate plastic bags
  4. Plastics unplugged: India's plastics industry copes with outages
  5. Robust, repeatable recommendations: Fill Time
  6. Plastics win, metals and glass lose in medical device material battle
  7. MuCell Extrusion creates strategic alliances with Dow, Styron
  8. Polyflow forms new company to scale up its waste-to-energy business
  9. Names in the news: Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, Teknor Apex, MMI, AMTDA, and Primex Plastics
  10. London 2012: PVC hits the mark for shooting venue, more
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