Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Smart blending technique could change way plastics made

23.09.2003


A new "smart blending" process developed by Clemson University researchers could change the way plastics are made and improve their performance. Early results published in August’s Polymer Engineering and Science have already drawn interest from European and United States plastics manufacturers.



Dave Zumbrunnen, who heads the Clemson research team, said smart blending could bring plastics production into the 21st century. "Most people would be surprised to learn that many plastics are not optimized for their intended use due to limitations of existing manufacturing equipment," he said. With a smart-blending machine, however, engineers can optimize the material for maximum effectiveness with only a few strokes on a computer keyboard.

Many plastics are mixtures of two or more plastics and additives. Smart blending arranges these plastics into functional internal shapes as small as 1/10,0000th the diameter of a hair.


That’s important because it’s those small-scale structures that determine the attributes, or properties, of the plastic or composite. The end result? Plastics that are tougher, electrically conductive, porous – whatever is needed for the particular end-product, but without expensive trial and error.

"Smart blending technology offers unprecedented control of internal structure development, said Zumbrunnen. He developed the process along with faculty and student researchers from Clemson’s Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films.

Immediate applications could include improved food packaging films, personal hygiene products, light-interactive plastics and toughened plastics for automotive uses.

Smart blending could also be used to produce patterns for countertops and even better tasting breakfast cereals.

The Dow Chemical Co. is funding a smart blending study through the fibers and films center. "We are looking forward to the results and the further development of this technology," said Craig Dryzga, senior R&D leader in Dow’s Fabricated Products Department. Dow is headquartered in Midland, Mich.

Zumbrunnen’s research sponsors include industry representatives such as Dow, as well as the National Science Foundation, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Textile Center.

Equipment manufacturers are interested in commercializing the technology. Zumbrunnen predicted that the first wave of smart-blended plastics could be on the market within a few years.

Zumbrunnen’s research is based on the work of Hassan Aref, who developed what’s known as the theory of chaotic advection. In a seminal 1980s paper, Aref showed that particles in a fluid can move chaotically in response to simple agitations. The chaotic motions cause fluidic regions to become stretched and folded, forming the layers on which Zumbrunnen has based his work.

Aref, now dean of Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering, has called Zumbrunnen’s work "attractive and ingenious."

Zumbrunnen’s work is a pivotal research initiative in Clemson’s fibers and films center. The National Science Foundation established the center as one of the nation’s elite Engineering Research Centers in 1998. It’s the only national Engineering Research Center to target fiber and film research.

"This technique could change the way we produce all polymer products – fibers, films and even injection-molded products," said the center’s director Dan Edie.

Zumbrunnen, a recipient of the Presidential Faculty Fellow Award from The White House and a recent participant in the National Academy of Engineering’s prestigious Frontiers of Engineering symposium, is Clemson’s Warren H. Owen-Duke Energy Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

Sandy Dees | Sandy Dees
Further information:
http://www.clemson.edu/

More articles from Process Engineering:

nachricht Intelligent wheelchairs, predictive prostheses
20.12.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

nachricht Jelly with memory – predicting the leveling of com-mercial paints
15.12.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>