A firm inner core that would hold the shape of the cork and a spongy exterior that would fit better. The new corks had the feel of natural cork and were easier to remove with a cork screw, which addressed a key consumer objection. Not only that, but they could be printed to look like cork or made in fanciful colors. Nomacorc holds 30 patents on its products and the techniques to make them.Interesting that these companies are all featured on the online.wsj.com site today. Beyond the obvious plastics connection, perhaps these stories, and these companies, do share something else in common -- the business truism that it takes time and money for new companies to get established, even when they have an innovation that seems like an obvious winner.
Plastic start-ups featured
The Wall Street Journal featured three start-up companies with plastics connections over the weekend: e-book company Plastic Logic, recycler TerraCycle Inc., and plastic wine closure maker Nomacorc LLC. The trifecta features the companies in different sections -- there's no connection between the stories, just a coincidence that all three have significant plastics connections. The Plastics Logic story is in the Journal's Technology section. The story, "First Plastic E-reader Was Fruit of Cambridge Spinoff's Labors," highlights how it took five years for the company to commercialize its plastic-circuit technology, which makes possible the company's Que Pro Reader -- the first e-reader made of plastic electronics. TerraCycle is featured in a story in the Small Business section, headlined "Start-Up Seeks Profits in Mounds of Garbage." The story notes that TerraCycle is in a critical stage right now. "The company's warehouses are jammed with about one billion wrappers and other garbage for which it had no big customers," the story notes, so the company "desperately needs more orders." The company is trying to ink some deals right now with big retailers like Wal-Mart. Finally, the paper's Food & Drink section has a nice feature on Nomacorc, the Zebulon, N.C., company that's carved out a niche making plastic stoppers that compete with cork. According to the story, the company produced 1.4 billion plastic "corks" last year, and plastic stoppers now account for about 20 percent of the market. (Natural cork accounts for 69 percent, and screw caps account for 11 percent.) The company has succeeded by applying plastics technology to the stopper market. Early plastic corks were made of solid plastic that were "difficult to insert and extract and can leave gaps around the edges that are prone to leaks." But Nomacorc succeed by making corks using two types of extruded plastics:
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