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The week that was: Highlights and the top 10 articles for June 4-8

Remember the Hypospray? Star Trek aficionados will recall that medications in the sci fi classic were administered via a vaguely syringe-shaped device, which treated Captain Kirk and crew through clothes and sans needles. Well, that "technology" was what first popped into my mind when I read Doug Smock's story on an MIT research effort to create a needless injection device.

. Andrew Taberner, a researcher involved in the project, told Doug that plastics will play a role.

"Fluoropolymers? Yeah, we can mold those." That, in so many words, is Performance Plastics' very successful medical niche: injection molding a material that most assume can only be machined. Doug spoke with Performance's general manager, Ken Kelly, about the company's unique direct-gating technology, which has propelled it to growth rates of 15-20%.

Harvested some time ago, the low-hanging lightweighting fruit available for auto OEMs to pick is long gone, forcing designers, materials suppliers, and Tier suppliers to become ever more innovative. That creative push is on full display in this story from Stephen Moore, showing how Ticona and Röchling married a high-tech resin with a high-tech process: Forton polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) with 3D blowmolding, where robots manipulate parisons into complex one-piece shapes.  Stephen also highlighted "electroactive elastomers", materials that actively mitigate vibrations instead of passively absorbing them. One potential application: a much smoother ride.

In a week that saw Toronto become the latest metropolis to ban plastic bags, Heather Caliendo reported on how some of nation's biggest retailers, including Walmart, Target, and Kroger, are handling bags, as well as broader sustainability issues. As Ron Sasine, Walmart's senior director of packaging told Heather, "We understand what our role is and we also understand where our role is limited." That "limited" role had Walmart reducing plastic bag waste across global operations by about 3.5 billion bags.

In second part of her series, Heather looked at how retailers like Walmart shifted from looking at their internal operations to "scoring" their supply chain, including the now famous "packaging scorecard". Per Sasine: "I don't believe Walmart at the time foresaw the size of the impact," Sasine said of its scorecard. "We knew we were providing tools others might use and said, at the time, we were developing something that we want the industry to feel free to benefit from. But the scale and size of impact has been larger than we anticipated."

Heavy metal: Clare Goldsberry covered the development by Franchino of 726,500 lb of aluminum tooling. Shot size on the biggest tool (300,000 lb worth of mold)...? 176 lb. Clare also asked if you know what your customers are up to in a cautionary tale on the potential price of blissful ignorance.

Finally, we welcomed a new columnist this week, Robert Gattshall, who brings wit, scientific molding acumen, and 17 years of experience in automotive and medical injection molding to PlasticsToday. His first article asks injection molders if in a bid to "just make it run" have your created process limits "big enough to drive a truck through"?

Top 10 Articles for 6/4-6/8

  1. Huge aluminum molds completed by Franchino
  2. The next big thing: additive manufacturing
  3. Five major U.S. brands collaborating on plant-based PET
  4. Toronto is latest city to ban plastic bags
  5. The limits to process limits
  6. New Vortex pins for venting
  7. Unique fluoropolymer capabilities fuel Performance Plastics' growth
  8. Drugs jet into the human body with new device
  9. ExxonMobil plans to build new ethane cracker and two PE units in Texas
  10. Nordson Corp. to acquire Xaloy Superior Holdings
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