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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Largest diamond in a century

The second largest diamond ever has been extracted from a mine in Botswana.   Read More


Productionising 3D printing

Additive manufacturing is having a profound effect on the way some engineers produce plastic parts. Ben Hargreaves and Justin Cunningham look at some pioneering aerospace examples that could see the technology exploited more widely.  Read More


Resurrecting the plastic engine

We catch up with the inventor and instigator of the original Polimotor to see what has changed, and why the project is returning to frontline development. Justin Cunningham tells the story.  Read More


Options and opportunities

The proliferation of engineering plastics in to all industrial sectors continues at speed. These days, nothing seems to be off limits and some incredible products have come to market replacing components traditionally made from metals. The automotive market seems to be on the frontline of this materials sea change, with everything from interior panels to structural parts being made from polymers.  Read More


The (long) road to qualification

While parts are being flown on aircraft made from additive manufacturing processes, what are the challenges in getting the material flying. Justin Cunningham finds out.   Read More


Raising the BAR

If you have the best sailor in the Olympic history, sailing the best boat available, then the long wait for a British victory in the America's Cup will be over. Easier said than done of course  Read More


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

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