Rubber and Plastics Features

Find in depth design and production features about plastics and rubber innovations. Our editors bring you a host of the latest thinking, innovation, materials views and opinions about rubber and plastic materials, how to design to get the most from them, their manufacture, and then what to do when it comes to disposal.

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Time to ban biodegradable plastic?

Colin Williamson explains his plea to stop using biodegradable plastic: ‘Please don’t use them, don’t recycle them and don’t tell me how wonderful they are.’  Read More


The membrane marvel

Smartphones are being used for evermore varied applications, so protecting the delicate components inside from the elements has become vital. Engineering Materials takes a look at how a membrane technology designed for clothing is now being used to ruggedise electronic devices.  Read More


Single part foam sealant helps produce a better gasket

It might not have the glamour of carbon fibre, but effective seals and gaskets play a vital role in product reliability and longevity. Yet, like mechanical fasteners, specifying them is often done with little thought. Gaskets and seals are not typically associated with innovation, with the default often being whatever was used last time.  Read More


Should engineers be nervous when specifying recycled materials?

As raw materials get more expensive and scarce, why not take materials in the existing supply chain, all be it at the end of their life, and use those instead? It's a nice idea as it cuts down on the amount of material that has to be sent to landfill and can make the lifecycle of materials much more sustainable and economical.  Read More


3D printed organs a step closer

An unfortunate dichotomy is emerging from breakthroughs in 21st Century medicine. With better medical treatment people are living longer, but with an aging population comes an increase in failing organs. Coupled with unprecedented population growth, the shortage of donor organs is in a critical state.  Read More


Polymers find use in engine transmissions

Boston and Toronto based BPG Werks has created an innovative mode of personal transport, dubbed the 'Shredder'. Resembling the love child of Robot Wars' Sir Killalot and a Segway PT. The all-terrain stand-on dual tracked vehicle (DTV) definitely has the cool factor. The DTV allows users to go from zero to a top speed of 25mph, even on steep uneven terrain or through water, in just a few seconds.   Read More


Polymers give longevity to components in the oil and gas industry

The word 'plastic' can sometimes be a vague term, with many perceiving it as an inferior, low grade material generally used for large volume production of simple everyday items from toys to carrier bags. However, when taking into consideration the extreme and arduous environment faced daily by the oil and gas industry, it is clear to see why engineering plastics are used across the industry on applications varying from the subsea sector through to LNG transportation and offshore.  Read More


What can be done with waste plastic at end of life?

Questions around what to do with waste plastic at end of its life should be given increasing emphasis at the design stage. Engineering Materials takes a closer look at the options available to engineers.   Read More


Are environmental concerns helping the plastics industry find new applications?

As the plastics industry sets its sights on increasingly replacing metal, could it be on the cusp of targeting its own applications, replacing plastic with bioplastic? Justin Cunningham investigates.  Read More


Can the bio-plastic known as polylactic acid (PLA) be used in engineering?

The corn derived bio-plastic polylactic acid (PLA) has largely stood in the shadows of oil derived plastics since its discovery some eighty years ago. However, with increasing talk of potential uses, what has changed?   Read More


Recycled materials find use in automotive interiors

The automotive industry is perhaps one of the most prominent when it comes to trying new materials in high volume production.  Read More


K Show to set plastics industry agenda

Dubbed the world's premier trade fair for plastics and rubber, K 2013 has just about every industry player present and promises to set out the future developments, trends and challenges facing both material manufacturers and users.  Read More


Engineering foams look set to make a comeback

Slightly odd looking and – well – quirky, you can see that a recent partnership between Toyota and French design house, Studio Massaud, was about challenging convention. The appearance ME.WE concept car certainly does that by using body panels made of expanded foam known as Arpro.  Read More


Why are so many engineers still reluctant to use engineering plastics?

There are three main drivers for changing materials in the current engineering and industrial climate. The first, and most obvious, is cost. The second is to lower weight. And the third is to increase performance.  Read More


Additives and fillers: Getting the balance right

One of the greatest things about plastic is the ability to manipulate its properties. This allows a great deal of tailoring to make the material fit for purpose.  Read More


Making plastic conduct

Electrically conductive plastic simplifies designs and reduces costs.  Read More


Graphene finds commercial applications

For something so tiny, there has been a lot of hype generated from Graphene.   Read More


Benefits and drawbacks of Pultrusion

Pultrusion is much less common as a plastic-processing method than its more familiar relative, extrusion.   Read More


Nature’s material engineering

The world's main source of rubber is under threat from a fungus, forcing scientists to search for new ways to make the material. Lou Reade reports.  Read More


Adding the value

Success in the medical sector can depend on the close relationship between designers and materials suppliers. Justin Cunningham finds out what you need to know and the new materials becoming available.   Read More


3D printing nears the mainstream

Almost since its inception as a technology, we have been promised that additive manufacturing will become a mainstream industrial technology. Thus far, this has not proved to be the case, but a number of new technologies have appeared that seem to be moving 3D printing into much more accessible areas.  Read More


Taking the weight off

Plastics are beginning to replace metals in some 'impossible' automotive applications – such as the chassis and even the wheels. Lou Reade reports.  Read More


Untangling rubber reasoning

Specifying the right compound for rubber components is a deceptively tricky task that leads many engineers out of their comfort zone. Justin Cunningham reports.  Read More


Designing in 3D: How 3D printing is changing the way product design and development are taking place

The availability and variety of additive manufacturing technologies has fundamentally altered the time and approaches taken in product development and seems likely to continue to do so.  Read More


Advanced Engineering Show 2011: Adressing material shortcomings

The Advanced Engineering show held at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC) served up a host of innovative materials for engineers to assess and critique. The sheer number of materials available on the market has never been more varied. But there is no perfect material and it is up to engineers to find the best fit for the product or application at hand.  Read More

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