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 Applying electron beams to 3-D objects
23.09.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP

nachricht New process for cell transfection in high-throughput screening
21.03.2016 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Process Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

Im Focus: Launch of New Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing

At AKL’16, the International Laser Technology Congress held in May this year, interest in the topic of process control was greater than expected. Appropriately, the event was also used to launch the Industry Working Group for Process Control in Laser Material Processing. The group provides a forum for representatives from industry and research to initiate pre-competitive projects and discuss issues such as standards, potential cost savings and feasibility.

In the age of industry 4.0, laser technology is firmly established within manufacturing. A wide variety of laser techniques – from USP ablation and additive...

Im Focus: New laser joining technologies at ‘K 2016’ trade fair

Every three years, the plastics industry gathers at K, the international trade fair for plastics and rubber in Düsseldorf. The Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will also be attending again and presenting many innovative technologies, such as for joining plastics and metals using ultrashort pulse lasers. From October 19 to 26, you can find the Fraunhofer ILT at the joint Fraunhofer booth SC01 in Hall 7.

K is the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry. As in previous years, the organizers are expecting 3,000 exhibitors and more than...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Experts from industry and academia discuss the future mobile telecommunications standard 5G

23.09.2016 | Event News

ICPE in Graz for the seventh time

20.09.2016 | Event News

Using mathematical models to understand our brain

16.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Chains of nanogold – forged with atomic precision

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

New leukemia treatment offers hope

23.09.2016 | Health and Medicine

Self-assembled nanostructures hit their target

23.09.2016 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>