Panel discusses the future of plastics

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 28, 2013 3:20 pm ET
Updated: October 28, 2013 3:25 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Materials Suppliers, K 2013, Business News & Features

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY — A panel assembled by styrenics maker Styrolution explored the future of plastics at K 2013.

The panel met Oct. 17 at a press event moderated by award-winning science journalist Robert Matthews.

Emerging technologies will allow Styrolution and other resin makers to control resin performance in ways previously not possible, including self-assembly of nanostructures, said Hans-Werner Schmidt, macromolecular chemistry department head at the University of Bayreuth in Bayreuth, Germany.

Resin makers "have the opportunity to affect materials in a unique way — to control to the nanometer scale," he added. "They can improve their plastic materials to find specialized applications."

Styrenics can be especially helpful in this regard because of their ability to provide a variety of performances — ranging from flexible to hard — and because of their "benign processing behavior," said Norbert Niessner, global research and development head for Frankfurt-based Styrolution.

Eckart Herrmann, interior material technology head for automaker Volkswagen AG, declared that "the plastics revolution already has overtaken cars."

"Compare the '69 Beetle to the current Golf," he said. "In the Beetle, you were looking at sheet metal when you were inside. Now when you're inside the Golf, you see only plastics."

Future application trends could lead to cars with fewer buttons and knobs and more touch interfaces, Herrmann added. Niessner described "cool-touch" technology that Styrolution is working on. The heat-transfer technology could give plastic parts the feel of metal.

Niessner listed improved weather-resistant plastics for fencing and decking and an increased role for design as "more of a selling point" as other future directions for the market. Three-dimentional printing also could play a role in advancing technology for plastics, according to Schmidt.

Patricia Vangheluwe, consumer and environment affairs director for the Brussels, Belgium-based PlasticsEurope trade group, cited the value of advanced plastics in supplying fresh water and improving transportation as areas where plastics can have a future impact.

"We in the industry should talk about the benefit of plastics to life and not so much about plastic imitating other materials," she said.


Comments

Panel discusses the future of plastics

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 28, 2013 3:20 pm ET
Updated: October 28, 2013 3:25 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Chinese coal mining company Jinhui launches bioplastic factory

April 21, 2014 10:18 am ET

Chinese coal mining company Shanxi Jinhui Energy Group Co. Ltd. is diversifying into bioplastics, launching production this month on a $35 million,...    More

Taiwan's TSRC expands in Nantong

April 21, 2014 10:08 am ET

Taiwan's TSRC Corp. said April 21 it has opened a 25,000-metric-ton capacity styrene-isoprene-styrene block copolymer manufacturing facility in...    More

Image

'Thermoforming has nearly limitless possibilities'

April 18, 2014 12:54 pm ET

Julie McAlindon of PolyOne Corp. speaks about the future of thermoforming and the integration of Spartech Corp.    More

Image

Ascend targets nylon for auto applications, opening propylene monomer unit in Texas

April 18, 2014 10:57 am ET

Materials firm Ascend Performance Materials Inc. is in full operation at its new nylon 6/6 compounding line in Florida and will break ground by the...    More

Dutch company launching $100 million PP, PE recycling plant

April 18, 2014 10:42 am ET

Quality Circular Polymers is building a new plastics recycling operation in Geleen, the Netherlands' Chemelot industrial chemical site, with a capacit...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events