Plastics Are The Future
- A revolution in materials technology is propelling an explosion in intelligent plastics innovations – in electronics, transportation, packaging, aerospace, medicine, defense, building and construction, and alternative energy sectors.
- By synthesizing the molecular attributes and benefits of different natural materials, new generation organic plastics are being engineered. Carbon composites, biomaterials, epoxy resins, nanocomposites and their intelligent application are transforming our world.
- There are plastics that can heal themselves; plastics that can detect toxins and eat “destructive” gases; plastics that can be magnetized, miniaturized, and conduct electricity; and plastics that resist heat and can even stop speeding bullets.
- What was considered magic a decade ago is now reality. Be prepared to be amazed.
Like the auto sector, air transportation is undergoing a materials transformation with new plastic polymer composites replacing heavier metals. New polymer composite airplanes cut fuel consumption significantly, resulting in cheaper fares and less pollution. One half, by weight, of a 787 is a plastic polymer composite that offers 30 percent in fuel savings.
The i-LIMB Hand is a first-to-market prosthetic device with five individually powered digits. This replacement hand, manufactured using high-strength plastics, looks and acts like a real human hand. It utilizes the electrical signals generated by the muscles in the remaining portion of the patient’s limb to open and close the fingers.
Laminar electronics are the new wave of the future. We already have touch technology, television and computer monitors made with liquid crystalline plastics which save energy. LCD monitors use 65 percent less power than ordinary screens and cathode rays. Coming soon: rolls of plastic (power) film that can convert light to electricity.
Ablative plastics are used in the U.S. space shuttle heat shield to protect the shuttle from incineration as it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere. The plastics absorb the heat and burn off. The Canadarm2 is built from a lightweight carbon fibre thermoplastic composite, selected for its strength, stiffness, and ability to withstand large doses of radiation.
A new class of stealth naval defence vessels, or ‘ghost ships’ constructed with a carbon fibre reinforced plastic helps them elude detection – visual, radar, sonar, or infrared. Examples include the Swedish Visby class corvette, and the U.S. Zumwalt-class destroyer. Relying less on traditional materials, these ships are built using a carbon composite sandwich construction of plastic materials (Kevlar, glass, PVC) reducing the hull weight by as much as 30 percent.
Intelligent food packaging helps protect our health and extends the food supply. Technology advances have led to diagnostic plastics that can detect the presence of bacteria. And plastics can extend the life of food by absorbing ethylene gas, a plant hormone that triggers the process of ripening and decay.