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The week that was: Highlights and the top 10 articles for Sept. 24-28

In the injection molding world, few names carry as much weight as Nypro. So when the company that many consider to be the largest injection molding operation on the planet invests in a new technology it's an imprimatur that carries significant weight.

Doug Smock caught up with Nypro and their newest technological venture, a humanoid Robot dubbed Rethink. Covered in The New York Times by columnist Thomas Friedman and others, Rethink is generating quite a bit of buzz as a potentially paradigm-shifting automation model.

Where robots today work behind cages and with light curtains, Rethink is meant to work along side workers taking on, what Nypro's Al Cotton told Doug, would be:

"...unsafe jobs or repeatable tasks. The beauty of them is that they are so safe they can be placed right next to a worker."

Nypro also thinks the Rethink could lead to reshoring. Read more.

In his Medical Musings blog, Doug also looked at plastics strong, and growing stronger, position within the medical market. How does a compound annual growth rates of 5.2% sound for a segment that already tops $1 billion annually in North America.

10% lighter, with the ability to be processed 20-40% faster: those are the claims made by forest products behemoth, Weyerhauser, regarding its new cellulose fiber reinforcement composite. They got the attention of folks in Dearborn, with Ford announcing plans to make "extensive use" of the technology.

The various garbage patches in our oceans have caused alarm due to the jarring image of manmade items juxtaposed against otherwise pristine, natural waters.

But what if the bigger story is all the waste we can't see?

Karen Laird tackled the latter in her Green Matter series, describing a very unpalatable "plastic soup" with bits of plastics so small they can't be seen. The scale:

These are particles measuring around thirty millionths of a millimeter, invisible to the naked eye.

One potential outcome:

It's sobering to think of the harm we are doing to the marine environment. Worse, it's really, really stupid: by poisoning the marine food web, it's more than likely that we'll end up poisoning ourselves in the process.

Not sure about you all, but none of the various endeavors I was pursuing as a 21-yr-old would have warranted an article, at least not one I'd be interested in sharing with anyone. That's not the case for 21-yr-old Arianna Russell, who joined the ranks of her entrepreneurial family with a protective case concept for iPhones. Utilizing PC and a TPE band, the Bodacious Cases are available now and injection molded in U.S.

Think there's no correlation between the price of crude oil and the price of plastics? Think again. Our Profitable Plastics author, Tom Langan, looked at historical prices for crude and resin and discovered:

Over nearly four years, price correlations are 80-85% between daily resins prices and front-month crude oil futures.  They're even higher (85-90%) in 2012.

As an effective hedge against resin prices, you could do worse then crude oil.

Top 10 most-clicked articles for Sept. 24-28

  1. Nypro hopes humanoid robots kickstart reshoring
  2. UPDATED: Onex acquires KraussMaffei
  3. Medical Musings: Replace plastics with what?
  4. Ford is putting the wood back in "Woodie"
  5. Green Matter: Plastic soup, anybody?
  6. Protecting expensive iPhones, iPads is good business
  7. Profitable Plastics: Hedging resin costs the smart way
  8. Milacron names new CEO
  9. Indiana device maker adds equipment to make PEEK implants
  10. Sumitomo Demag advances medical molding concepts
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