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The week that was: Highlights and the top 10 articles for PlasticsToday 3/18-3/22

Korea and food waste: what do these seemingly disparate topics have in common; some outstanding coverage on their relation to plastics that appeared on the site last week. Before I get into what folks were clicking on this week, I'd like to steer our readers to these articles by Heather Caliendo and Stephen Moore, our respective packaging and automotive channel editors.

Servopumps, automotive interest, injection molding explosives, Korea's machine standards, Engel's work in Korea, and more were covered in depth by Stephen Moore, who attended the Koplas event in Seoul. Well-placed sources at the show also tipped Stephen off on the fact that global electronics giant Samsung's largest manufacturing plants are no longer in China, driven to cheaper labor locales in Southeast Asia.

Could plastics packaging, the bane of many an environmentalist and a product that actually prompts the more extreme adherents of environmental justice to "quit" the material the way others quit drugs or alcohol, be our last best hope in the battle against food waste? Heather tackled this topic in a two-part series interviewing stakeholders from the Natural Resource Defense Council, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Linpac Packaging, Eindhoven University, the American Chemistry Council, the British Plastics Federation, the Industry Council for Packaging and the Environment, and more.

People who've spent any time with life-cycle analyses of the food supply chain know that the vast majority of the carbon footprint occupied by foodstuffs is staked out in said foodstuff's production, while its packaging typically takes up 10% or less. Nevertheless, packaging, as opposed to, say, inefficient transportation infrastructure, is targeted by many environmentalists. For a fuller picture on the topic, read the series (parts one and two) and don't miss Heather's blog on the role frozen food packaging could play.

Tunable bioabsorbables, wearable lungs, and genetically engineered silk were among the highlights on the Medical Channel this week from Doug Smock. Doug's story about Biosteel, a spider-silk-derived material with six times the strength of carbon fiber yet an elasticity comparable to rubber, could have been ripped from the pages of a Spiderman comic. The wearable lung, aimed at helping patients awaiting transplants, utilizes polycarbonate, high molecular-weight polyethylene (HMWPE), polypropylene, and nylon, as well as siloxanes, which form the backbone of silicone.

Clare Goldsberry took a glimpse at a plant setup called the "future of the American injection molding industry" by the company's president:

Since [Plastic Components Inc.'s] opening on September 11, 2011, it has been running around the clock, fully automated 23 hours and 30 minutes each day with no one in the building. People come in for about a half-hour each day to load the full boxes onto the conveyors and put the empty boxes back on the conveyors, or do a mold changeover.

A fascinating glimpse at the future, which could be now. As Clare writes:

A brave, new manufacturing world requires making some uncomfortable moves, but it's critical if the goal is to build a successful company.

Karen Laird reported from the Black Forest and Arburg's headquarters on that company's annual Technology Days event, which was a smash again despite some nasty weather. The word(s) from Lossburg: packaging and Asia.

Top 10 most-clicked articles for March 18-22

  1. Blog: China falls out of favor with Samsung Electronics; high labor costs cited
  2. Dow Chemical to build plastics facilities on U.S. Gulf Coast
  3. On Management: Man or machine? It's a shift in mindset
  4. Production efficiency, packaging prominent at Arburg's Technology Days
  5. Medtech supports NY effort to repeal device tax
  6. ExxonMobil Chemical President talks U.S. shale gas advantage
  7. Names in the news: Macro, Husky, Conair, Plastics Pioneers, Teknor Apex, and ACS Group
  8. The coming mega boom in plastic stents: Who will be the winners and losers?
  9. Recycling access for HDPE, PET containers crosses key threshold
  10. Koplas: Insert molding of explosives initiated by Japanese companies
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