After first paralyzing China, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is now testing the very fabric of societies worldwide. It is challenging governments, companies and individuals alike, while reinforcing the key role played by plastics and polymers in keeping people safe and healthy.
The irony is that, until recently, plastics in some quarters was being considered the scourge of the earth, from a sustainability perspective. But the need to find ways to contain the spread of the virus and to both serve patients and protect healthcare workers and others has served to underscore the very properties that help to make plastics so vital to society – including its ability to promote hygiene while being highly disposable.
Single-use plastics play key role
Some government bodies, including in the U.S. states of New York and Maine, have stopped eco-driven plans to implement bans on single-used plastics such as retail shopping bags, as they are less likely to spread germs than frequently reused fabric carriers. Others have un-banned expanded polystyrene food containers, as they are unquestionably effective as packages for take-out and home-delivery food from restaurants.
Meantime, the demand for certain types of plastic-intensive products is soaring. This includes housings and parts for medical gear such as respirators and ventilators, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers such as masks, gowns, and goggles. And as hospitals and clinics in some areas struggle to keep up with the patient influx, other standard medical products continue to help the cause – from polycarbonate syringes and IV components, to PVC medical tubing and blood bags.
3D printing to the rescue
Additive manufacturing has a vital role to play, as well. Recently, an Italian 3D printing start-up called Issinova jumped into action, reverse-engineered a valve for a ventilator machine, and within hours was able to produce replacements for out-of-stock valves that helped to save the lives of several people in a hospital in Brescia. Local news reports said the company used a filament extrusion process and several Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) machines to 3D print a plastic valve at a cost of about $1 per part. The original part costs about $11,000, according to the report. Others see additional opportunities to use 3D printing to produce critical, in-demand medical components in the face of ongoing parts shortages.
In Wisconsin, meanwhile, a U.S. plastics publication recently reported, PET sheet manufacturers, 3D printers and packaging companies are joining forces to turn out clear plastic face shields that are badly needed in the University of Wisconsin health system.
Ineos Styrolution donates masks
Styrenic resin supplier Ineos Styrolution, meanwhile, in early March sent 20,000 single-use face masks to be distributed to communities across local districts of Foshan and Ningbo, in support of China’s response to coronavirus. Ineos says it sourced these supplies through its networks within the Asia Pacific region. The firm sent 10,000 single-use face masks to Sanshui Center of Disease Control in Foshan, as well as to the Ningbo Petrochemical Economic and Technological Development Zone in Ningbo.
Copper-infused compounds kill bacteria
Carefully formulated plastic compounds also are helping the cause. Tennessee-based Techmer PM LLC has been working for years with supplier Cupron, which uses a patented process to produce oxidized copper that, when compounded with different types of resins, yields a material that can kill bacteria.
Techmer blends the copper with polymers such as polypropylene, polyester and nylon and supplies it in pellet or flake form to firms such as Virginia-based EOS Surfaces, which press-molds it to make solid surface countertops and tables that have been proven to dramatically reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), such as staph infections. Cupron is now testing the additive, which also can be impregnated in fabrics (such as bed linens, hospital gowns or face masks) to confirm its effectiveness against the Covid-19 virus.
Others have long been incorporating antimicrobial additives into plastic compounds to reduce the transmission of various diseases.
Plastic packaging protects food
Plastic packaging is vital for protecting our food and keeping it fresh, which reduces contamination and waste. And, of course, blister packs, pouches, bottles and other types of plastic-based packages enable the efficient distribution and dosing of vital pharmaceutical products.
It surely is true that sustainability-related challenges remain as regards plastics waste, and the resultant issue of ocean plastics, but there can be no denying the good that plastics plays every day, but particularly now during the current pandemic crisis.
See more solutions at CHINAPLAS 2020
You can learn more about these important applications, and many fast-advancing materials and equipment technologies that are enabling these life-saving applications, at CHINAPLAS 2020. This 34th edition of the show will take place August 3-6, 2020, at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, after having been postponed from its original dates of April 21-24 because of the coronavirus.
We hope to see you there. Register or learn more at www.chinaplasonline.com.
SPE Thermoforming division announces new category in its biennial parts competition call of entries
The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Thermoforming Division has announced a call for entries in its biennial Parts Competition, including a new category that will feature innovations in production parts from 3D-printed tooling.
Competition entries will be displayed on the exhibit hall floor during the 28th SPE Thermoforming Conference®, which will be held September 20-22 at DeVos Place and the JW Marriott Grand Rapids Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Awards for winning parts will be presented during the SPE Thermoforming Awards Dinner on Tuesday, September 21, at the Hotel.
Competition entrants may submit parts in five categories:
Roll-fed categories are Industrial, Medical, or Food.
Heavy-gauge categories are Vacuum Form, Pressure Form, Twin Sheet and TPO.
Parts Produced with Recycled/Sustainable Materials.
Parts Produced Using Automation and New Technology.
New this year: Production Parts from 3D-Printed Tooling.
“While 3D printing was initially considered a competitor to thermoforming by some, the advantages of this technology offer new applications in our field,” said Travis Kieffer, 2021 SPE Thermoforming Conference Parts Competition Chair. “We are seeking part entries that decrease lead times for prototypes and low run production of parts, and streamline the end product’s development time.”
CHINAPLAS 2020 has been postponed
Due to Corona virus epidemic in China, show organisation committee has made an announcement to postpone the event.
The announcement by the organisation:
“In order to control the novel coronavirus epidemic in China and in accordance with the instructions issued by the Shanghai city government to stop all large-scale activities, please be informed that CHINAPLAS 2020, the 34th International Exhibition on Plastics and Rubber Industries, scheduled to be held on 21-24 April 2020 at National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai will be postponed. New dates for the show will be announced at a later time.
As the show organizer, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused due to the show postponement. Health and safety of all show participants are at our top priority therefore we have to make this decision. Please be assured that we will continue to closely monitor the epidemic situation and keep you well-informed of any further news about CHINAPLAS 2020. The Adsale team and our official service providers will always be at your service and we will give you our best support in preparing for the rescheduled show.
Thank you very much for your kind understanding and continual support. Should there be anything we could be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.”
Torque limiter type ECA for belt drives
Applications of torque limiters can be found in all sectors of technique, in each and every machine or facility where torques have to be limited to protect machines or products from overload.
The torque limiter type ECA, which is especially engineered for belt drives prevents such overload damages or at least reduces them to a minimum.
Particular worth was put on compulsion-cutting and fast switching function. Simple, light elements avoid adverse dullness of mass or switching. They were chosen because to heavy switching elements could considerable increase the (static adjusted) disengagement torque in case of a dynamic collision and therefore also the destructive collision forces.
In contrary to conventional friction clutches the ECA has a very high repeatability of the adjusted disengagement torque. It’s free of clearance and self-reliantly re-engages after 1 turn.
The movement of switching can be sampled by a proximity switch. 17 design sizes make a total torque range of 0.5 Nm up to 470 Nm overall.
The ECA forms a very compact unit together with a crown gear, which hardly uses some additional place, and its deliverable in diverse versions (with keyway or conical bush).
Especially to be highlighted is the type ECA 1, because it’s one of the smallest torque limiters available on market, see therefore picture.
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