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The week that was: Highlights and the Top 10 articles for PlasticsToday 4/1-4/5

Some times the journey from world's first to industry standard is a short one. It appears that could be the case for the replacement of aluminum in engine mounts and supports.

Some times the journey from world's first to industry standard is a short one. It appears that could be the case for the replacement of aluminum in engine mounts and supports. On March 7, Automotive Channel Editor Stephen Moore reported on how Germany automotive supplier Joma-Polytec sourced Ultramid A3WG10 CR, a highly reinforced specialty polyamide (PA), from BASF (Ludwigshafen, Germany) for use in Mercedes Benz engine supports; an application described as a "world's first".

Not quite one month later, on April 4, Stephen reported on the news from ZF Friedrichshafen AG, which said it has received "a major order for lightweight plastic passenger car engine mounts made from a combination of plastic and rubber." Fully 25% lighter, the new mount will be used in six small and compact car models of Renault-Nissan. Made from a fiberglass reinforced polyamide, the mount is modular, allowing its design to be altered for use with a variety of engines.

In so many other products, green is associated with lighter weight—less material used in manufacture and less energy to transport—so it is a paradox of sorts that green all-electric and hybrid vehicles are practically obese compared to their gas guzzling counterparts. Nissan, for one, is addressing this issue, shedding 80 kg (176 lb) in its all-electric leaf. Nissan applied Sabic's Noryl resin, an unfilled, polyphenylene ether (PPE) and polystyrene (PS),  for the terminal cover and spacer of the battery system to shed the unwanted pounds.

Baseball's opening day came and went this week, and PlasticsToday served up a PS foam technology to keep your brews colder and coverage of the Seattle Mariners zero-waste ball park. Packaging Channel Editor Heather Caliendo covered both stories for us, speaking with Gary Duncan a consultant for Commodore Plastics about its Labec foam label. It didn't take Mr. Duncan long to lay out the key benefit of the new technology: cold beer:

[The Labec label] is especially effective in the summertime dealing with fairly warm conditions. This will help keep the beer cold. No one wants to sit on a golf cart with a beer that gets warm on them.

Amen.

At Safeco Field, home of the Mariners, the club might be in for a long year—some project them finishing fourth in the five-team American League West—but at home, sustainability will always win. Like any good baseball story, statistics play a key role:

There are more than 400 recycling and composting receptacles throughout Safeco Field, but only 16 true garbage cans. "Because most items sold in the ballpark are recyclable or compostable, there's less need to collect items for the landfill," Rebecca Hale, director of public information for the Seattle Mariners, told PlasticsToday.

Could a new ASTM standard "advance the use of metal injection molding (MIM) as a manufacturing method for medical implants"? The new standard, which addresses the material properties of metal injection molded unalloyed titanium components, could be a big deal; why? Medical Channel Editor Doug Smock did some digging:

[The new standard] is important, says Scharvogel, because MIM could reduce costs compared to titanium alloy implants produced via competing methods.

Doug noted that the advance could mean competition for high-end engineering materials like polyetheretherketone (PEEK), from which implants can be machined from stock shapes. No secondary processes with MIM, and among injection molding's many benefits: net-shape parts.

Advantages of titanium for medical applications include its high strength, low density and corrosion resistance. Scharvogel says that the proprietary molded titanium parts have mechanical properties comparable to wrought titanium.

Before you write off plastics, however, consider another story reported on by Doug. Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) has received FDA 510(k) clearance for its OsteoFab Patient Specific Cranial Device (OPSCD), which is 3D printed from polyetherketoneketone (PEKK). Scott DeFelice has high hopes for the advance:

It is our firm belief that the combination of PEKK and additive manufacturing is a highly transformative and disruptive technology platform that will substantially impact all sectors of the orthopedic industry.

Engineering materials and biobased don't typically occur in the same sentence, but they did this week when Green Matter Editor Karen Laird reported on the first successful extrusion of DSM's EcoPaXX polyamide film by German cast film house, MF Folien GmbH. Films from 30 to 50 µm thick have been produced, and DSM believes the castor-oil based plastic film could deliver results in applications ranging from flexible food packaging, building & construction, medical, aviation and shipping. If it's biobased, you have to forgo mechanical properties, right? Wrong, per Rainer Leising, general sales manager at MF Folien:

[The EcoPaXX film] has a better functionality: a better elongation at break, a higher melting point and is suitable for use at higher temperatures. Also, the barrier properties are nearly the same.

John Linder, who turns 59 years old this week, has spent decades in the injection molding and moldmaking industry, with his longevity attributable to the acceptance of a fundamental truth, according to Mold Technology Editor Clare Goldsberry:

Molds need to be built from the molder's perspective and [Linder] has made this the guiding business philosophy of Inject Engineering.

Guided by this maxim, Inject has established a unique business process:

Once the mold has been engineered for optimum molding processing, Linder sends all the computer simulation information along with the narrative, the Bill of Materials, mold component specifications and a 3D model of the part from which the mold will be built, in a power point presentation to a large mold-design firm in Shenzhen, China, with which he has worked in the past.

Once a final design is created, the steel is cut stateside, according to Linder. "We're designing tools to have them built here in the United States by U.S. mold companies."

Top 10 most-clicked PlasticsToday articles 4/1-4/5

  1. New PS foam label technology designed to keep beverages colder
  2. Nypro expands; Jabil deal pushed back
  3. Inject Engineering bringing work to U.S. moldmakers
  4. Nypro owners approve Jabil acquisition
  5. British molder & Countess calls development of 100% post-consumer plastics a "game changer"
  6. Seattle Mariners' innovative packaging hitting home runs
  7. Ocean plastic waste: a hot commodity for packaging?
  8. Where is the market for engineering plastics headed?
  9. Green Matter: First biobased polyamide film offers equal or stronger properties than standard PA
  10. SolidWorks and IQMS undertake joint venture
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