My career in plastics
I have been retired from active business in the Plastics Industry for 5 years and now feel that this is a good time to look back and assess my career, to see if my course of action can be of any help to anyone else in the Industry
I have been very fortunate, but credit this fortune to many people who were my mentors through life, to being prepared to take risks and to being in the right place at the right time.
I was born and educated in England, before I immigrated to Canada where I have spent my whole working life. The Plastics Industry and Societies in Canada and in the United States provided opportunities that exposed me to great challenges and opportunity. The early 1960s was a great time to start working in plastics, since this was near the birth of the industry; new materials were being discovered every day and new applications for these were constantly being developed. Everywhere people were discovering exciting properties of plastic raw materials and realizing their potential in industries such as packaging, toys, automotive, building and sports. It is hard now to think of any of the industries using anything else but plastics in many applications. Soft drinks came in glass bottles, bread in wax coated paper and automobiles weighed considerably more than they do today and barely achieved 7 miles per gallon. Clay pipe was used for irrigation and ductile iron to carry water. The conversion to plastic materials made great changes to people's lives. Formulators and compounders met fascinating challenges as they worked furiously to come up with stronger, more suitable, less expensive alternatives to conventional materials.
Expanding the Impact of Polymeric-based 3D Printing Technologies
Over the past two decades, additive manufacturing (AM) technology has become fully ingrained into pop culture, with Do it Yourself (DIY) applications for the home, schools and other locations in addition to industrial applications for the aerospace, automotive, and biomedical industries. While AM can be used to fabricate objects from metals, polymers, and ceramics, polymeric materials are currently the most common. ASTM Standard F2792-12a1 describes techniques that can convert polymeric materials into useful products: 1) sheet lamination; 2) material extrusion; 3) vat photopolymerization; 4) powder bed fusion (with polymers); 5) binder jetting; and 6) material jetting. The automotive industry was an early adopter of 3D printing of polymeric materials, for example in the early 1990s a Japanese manufacturers2,3 used a commercialized vat photopolymerization process (widely known as stereolithography (SL)) to manufacture prototype door panels. More recently, an extrusion-based AM system was used on the International Space Station (ISS)4.
21st Century Advanced Plastic Additive Solutions to Watch [Part II]
A lot has changed in the plastics additive segments in the last few years. The need for product differentiation is the primary driving force behind the wealth of new additives those are being incorporated in the plastics products. These additives are tailor-made systems to meet ever changing applications of plastics. The plastics additives global market of $46.3 B by year end 2014 has been growing at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 4.5% over the last five years. Property modifiers have the largest share of the market, worth an estimated $22.8B by year end 2014. New market development is growing rapidly in Asia and likely to do so in coming years.
In his final part of the article, Dr. Rosato reviews some of the latest developments in additives and describes how these additives nanotubes to glass fiber could change future of plastic products.
21st Century Advanced Plastic Additive Solutions to Watch [Part 1]
Additives are crucial to plastics formulations. Specialty additives are one of the most dynamic segments of the plastics industry. A specialty additive insight that occurs suddenly and unexpectedly is a flash of inspiration. Knowledge or insight gained by looking into the future of polymer formulation is helpful. A sudden burst of insight about the future will produce a new and radically different way of using advanced plastic additive solutions that will open up hidden product development opportunities. Let’s tour eight key polymer additive segments and explore sixteen trends of the future!
A Perspective on Current Trends in 3D Printing Technology
The present pace of technological advancement is fast and furious. It is becoming harder than ever to predict what will come next. When Stratasys announced1 that it had produced world’s first color multi-material 3D printer, the race for faster new product design began. It has the ability to produce anything regardless of the complexity of the shape and color. Call it hype or not, the 3D printing technology is already in the spotlight and is undoubtedly an important fabrication technology (Figure: Gear wheel; Courtsey of Anubis3D). The incredible range of potential consumer applications that this game changing technology is starting to provide has caught the eye of the general press, for example Stuart Dredge2 wrote an article for the Guardian newspaper that starts “from jet parts to unborn babies, icebergs to crime scenes, dolls to houses: how new technology is shaking up making things.”
This review article provides answers to the general questions that might occur to users of 3D printing technology, it points the reader to some of the excellent articles about various aspects of the topic, provides a glimpse of the current trends and discusses the limitations of the technology and their impact on its future prospects.
Inside the Box Creativity: A systematic method for yielding extraordinary innovation
It’s easy to get comfortable using the same innovation methods over and over again. We convince ourselves the lackluster methods we’ve been using all along will continue to produce inventive products and services to fill the organizational pipeline. But what if there was a method of innovation that could systematically yield extraordinary innovation?
Current Trends in Flame Retardants for Thermoplastics - Part III
In this third article about thermoplastics Flame Retardant (FR) trends, we will discuss unmet flame retardant needs. Like any other needs, opportunities for new flame retardants should be validated against commercial interests and regulatory requirements before resources are spent on meeting them. With that caveat in mind, the discussion below reflects what this author believes to be some of the key problems to be resolved in the near future. The article describes thermoplastic uses that require either unusual processing conditions or applications that result in the need for significant changes in the performance of flame retardant materials. The resulting changes in design may greatly shake up the thermoplastic flame retardant material market.
Current Trends in Flame Retardants for Thermoplastics – Part II
In the previous article, we discussed flame retardant (FR) regulations and how they might be expected to change. Nevertheless, the market is still strong for non-halogenated flame retardants. Therefore, the objective of this second part article is to summarize notable experimental results obtained with commercial Flame Retardants, and approaches that are likely to be important over the coming decade. New Flame Retardants chemistries and approaches will also be discussed.
Current Trends in Flame Retardants for Thermoplastics – Part I
Fire safety is crucial to our modern society. Flame retardants play an important role in the fire protection strategy. In recent years, regulatory demands have put enormous pressure on developing environments friendly flame retardants for thermoplastics. The aim of this series of articles is to review new flame retardant technology and trends in their use with thermoplastics. It describes advances in non-halogenated flame retardant technologies, new polymeric flame retardant additives, and advances in testing and fire risk evaluation.
Graphene-based Polymer Nanocomposites: The new Frontier
Here we go again. After intercalated compounds of graphite (1974), fullerenes (1985), and carbon nanotubes (1991), it is time for another allotrope of elemental carbon to be at the forefront of scientific curiosity (Boehm 2010). The allotrope is: “graphene”. By graphene, we mean the basal plane of graphite, a one atom thick two dimensional honeycomb layer of sp2 bonded carbon. Conversely, when many graphene layers are stacked regularly in three dimensions, graphite is created.
In the introductory chapter of the book, Graphite, Graphene, and Their Polymer Nanocomposites; editors have laid out their vision for this nascent and exciting area of research. They have also briefly described the contents of the each of the chapters and explained the logic that binds them into a compelling book. This allows the readers to derive the maximum benefit from the developing story of the most sought after carbonaceous nanomaterial, graphene. Clearly, there are a very large number of both challenges and opportunities in the area of graphene research. Plasticstrends is pleased to provide to its readers a revealing look at the contents of this book.
The Evolution of Screw Design Technology for the Injection Molding Process – Part 2
Part 1 of this paper discussed the origins of the injection molding process and the development and use of the helical screw for conveying and melting polymers.
The plasticating unit used for melting and mixing on an injection moulding machine performs the same basic functions as the plasticating unit of an extruder. The difference lies in the fact that the screw moves backwards in injection moulding and thus the plasticating unit in an injection moulding machine can be considered to be a reciprocating extruder.
While screw design was considered to be important in extrusion, it was often considered to be less import in injection moulding. The major difference is that in a reciprocating system, the process is cyclic instead of continuous and the screw design plays a key role in maintaining cycle to cycle consistency for the resulting, molded plastic parts.
This second part of this paper discusses the use of barrier / mixing screw technology for the plasticating of polymers in the injection molding process from the early 1960’s to today’s sophisticated injection molding equipment.
The Evolution of screw design technology for the Injection Molding Process - Part 1
The screw is the heart of an injection molding process. Over the past several decades, screw design for the injection molding process has played a vital role in delivering high quality and value added plastics parts. That’s where the story begins.
The origins of Injection Moulding
In 1868, John Wesley Hyatt invented a way to make billiard balls by injecting celluloid into a mold, perhaps in response to a request by billiard ball maker Phelan and Collander. By 1872, John and his brother Isaiah Hyatt patented the injection molding machine. This paper will discuss the evolution of the use of barrier / mixing screw technology in the injection molding process for the plasticating (melting and mixing) of polymers from early plunger machines to today’s sophisticated injection molding equipment. Although John and his brother Isaiah Hyatt patented the injection molding machine that was primitive yet it was quite suitable for their purposes. It contained a plunger to inject the plastic into a mold through a heated cylinder.
‘Plug-and-Play’ Weight Reduction Solution by Hollow Glass Microspheres
Fillers have been in use since the early days of plastics. Today’s enormous growth of the polymer industry is due to the unique properties of fillers they impart to polymers. Glass bubbles (low density hollow glass microspheres) as fillers have been incorporated into thermoset polymers for decades. They are tiny hollow spheres and are virtually inert. These glass bubbles are are compatible with most polymers. Until recently, their use with thermoplastic polymers has been limited because of high rates of bubble breakage from the high shear forces to which they are exposed during such thermoplastic processing operations as extrusion compounding and injection molding. At issue has been the strength of the glass microspheres.
3M have recently developed innovative glass bubbles which offer resistance to extremely high compressive and shear forces. This allows compounders, thermoformers and injection molders to use them to achieve significant weight reductions without restoring to costly equipment modifications. This article will showcase how plastics processors could exploit the advantages of these novel glass bubbles while improving the end-product properties.
Trends in Bio-renewable Thermoplastics Elastomers
Thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs) have been traditionally compounded and manufactured from raw materials based on fossil fuels. Current trends in marketplace abounds sustainability programs. TPEs are no exception to this trend. In a recent editorial, the authors stated “Through research and application, sustainability can evolve from a catchphrase to a societal one”1. More than two decades ago the Brundtland Commission (formerly the World Commission on Environment and Development, WCED), deliberated sustainable development issue and gave a definition of sustainability:
“Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.1a
GRAPHENE is the thinnest known material and has the highest intrinsic strength of any material ever measured. We are posting an article to describe some of the interesting research on graphene and graphene-based polymer nanocomposites (GPNC) that is occuring. This article reviews how graphene is made, explain how single sheets can be dispersed in a polymer matrix to give plastics with interesting properties and where these works are being carried out.
May 05, 2009
Expressing the rationale for pursuing a green environment along with the movement toward pursuing the same has brought about terms such as peak oil, greenhouse gases, and sustainability. Are these terms indicative of an upsurge in green-chemistry research? Indeed they are: the plastics research community is up and running in developing “green” polymers. Manufacturing plastics from carbon dioxide, sugarcane, corn, and switch grass are in high gear. Traditional petrochemical-resin companies such as Braskem and Dow are getting ready to produce bio-polyethylene while Solvay is focusing on “green” polyvinylchloride (PVC). In fact, Braskem made bio-ethylene consisting of 100% renewable carbon and then polymerized into “green” polyethylene*. And we can say the same about the list of growing bio-polymer related industry standards (including EN 13432, ASTM D6866, D6868, D7075, D7081, D5511, D5271). We see fibres and packaging products made from corn on the grocers' shelves. Of course, there is science behind transforming a kernel of corn into lactic acid and into poly-lactide molecules (PLA). Technically, however, to make PLA plastics as a viable and a cost-effective alternative to conventional plastics is another story. This is our rationale for publishing Dr. Zuzanna Cygan’s work on PLA, a work that shows how scientists are tackling challenging processing issues to improve PLA properties.
* More on innovation and industrial trends of bio-plastics are available in the issue of Journal of Macromolecular Science, Part C: Polymer Reviews, volume 49, 2009.
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