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The week that was: Highlights and the top 10 articles for July 30-August 3

What do the Toyota iQ and Aston Martin Cygnet have in common? Certainly not the price tag, but the two vehicles, as many do these days, actually have a common platform undergirding very different exteriors. Automotive/mobility Editor Stephen Moore examined the trend, noting that Volkswagen actually has common platforms across four makes in some cases, including Audi, Volkswagen, SEAT and Skoda using them in models as cost diverse as the A3, Golf, Toledo, and Octavia.

What do the Toyota iQ and Aston Martin Cygnet have in common? Certainly not the price tag, but the two vehicles, as many do these days, actually have a common platform undergirding very different exteriors. Automotive/mobility Editor Stephen Moore examined the trend, noting that Volkswagen actually has common platforms across four makes in some cases, including Audi, Volkswagen, SEAT and Skoda using them in models as cost diverse as the A3, Golf, Toledo, and Octavia. Even Ferrari and Maserati share platforms in some cases. Take a test drive with Stephen.

Despite dreary headlines and dire forecasts of impending doom from fiscal cliffs and job-killing device taxes, Medical Channel Editor Doug Smock sees a silver lining for the medical plastics industry. Wishful thinking? Nope. Doug says he's simply following the money.

"Wall Street financial analysts have generally reduced their 2013 earnings forecasts for the energy, financial, industrial, technology and utility sectors since July 1-- but they have raised  them for the healthcare, basic materials and telecommunication sectors, according to a report from Reuters."

But what about the new Affordable Care Act, and its aforementioned device tax. Here's the optimist take of one executive, Dena Bravata, chief medical officer of Castlight Health, relayed by Doug: "The mandate itself I think is really important in so far as now we will have this enormous influx of patients who have not previously had health care."

Maybe there's a reason for a brighter outlook. In our decidedly unscientific poll earlier this month, we asked readers how their businesses fared in the first half of 2012. Fully 85% said business was flat to up (53% up and 32% flat) while only 15% said business had contracted through June 2012.

Boxed wine, or more accurately, bag-in-a-box wine, has always been derided by wine purists as something between embarrassingly uncouth to downright criminal, but beyond purely emotional reactions, is there a scientific reason to boot the bags? Packaging Channel Editor Heather Caliendo looked at a study that showed chemical interactions between wine and its plastic package, but was flavor impacted? An exhaustive taste testing might be in order.

The Olympic Games went on this week in London and so did our ongoing look at the role plastics are playing. Those of us in the industry are well aware of the pervasiveness of plastics in everyday life, but I have personally been struck by just how ubiquitous they are in sports.

For an inkling of the omnipresence of plastics at the game, don't miss John Clark's review of polymers' role in everything from turf, to shoes, to uniforms, all the way through to boats, bicycles and even RapidBloc's, plastic blocks used to create a temporary kayaking course.

Bag bans have been a recurring headline in recent years, so perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that a high-profile event like the Olympics would draw both sides of the ongoing battle. Heather Caliendo pulled together the various factions in a fight that looks to extend beyond the games. Karen Laird looked at how from the moment London won the games, the city has strived to make the games of the 30th Olympiad a "cutting edge example of sustainability." She also reported on collaboration between material supplier DSM and the Dutch rowing team to build a better hull. How'd they do? Team Netherlands men's lightweight four made it to the finals but ultimately finished sixth. The women's eight, however, used composites to come home with bronze.

Bill Tobin tackled training this week. Most shops accept the need to invest in their workers' skills but offer up myriad reasons they won't/haven't. There is a better way, according to Bill. Robert Gattshall's Robust Repeatable Molding column examined fill times this week. Scientific molding requires a viscosity curve study, do you know how to properly complete one?

Finally, about six weeks after Heather Caliendo broke the news of Eastman Chemical's lawsuit to defend its Tritan copolyester material against claims of it inducing estrogenic activity, National Public Radio picked up the story. I'd suspect other outlets will follow suit in coming weeks and months.

Top 10 most-clicked articles July 30-August 3

  1. Sour grapes: Does boxed wine leave a plastic taste behind?
  2. Tech Mold adds equipment, expands capabilities
  3. The problem with training
  4. London 2012: Going green is the new gold
  5. UK groups urged plastic-bag-free Olympics, call for single-use bags levy in England
  6. Green Matter London 2012: Olympic effort to 'paint the town green'
  7. Fencing rebound led by plastics, composites
  8. Don't judge a car by its body
  9. Nanocomposite hull boosts speed, range of anti-piracy vessel
  10. Silk emerges as important medical engineering polymer
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