Friday, 27 January 2023

Polymer Material Selection - My Book is now as Paperback available!

 

Polymer Material Selection - my book as paperback version

Dear community,

welcome to this exciting update!

From today on the paperback version of my book Polymer Material Selection is available worldwide on Amazon. 📖

I invite you all to have a look and grab a copy.

Enjoy the read! 

Thank you and #findoutaboutplastics

Herwig

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Polymer Material Selection Funnel Example - Baby Bottles (Consumer Packing Example)

Polymer Material Selection Funnel Example - Plastic Baby Bottles

Hello and welcome to this new blog post with the topic of polymer material selection. In this post we cover the material selection of baby bottles as an example of the packaging market. We will apply the Polymer Funnel Method (in detail explained here and in this video).

Figure 1 presents the four different stages of the material selection funnel and this overview serves us as a guideline. 

Figure 1: Polymer Selection Funnel - overview of the four different funnel stages 

Before we start, what are the top 10 markets for plastic applications?

The top 10 markets are: 

-Packaging; 

-Building and civil engineering; 

-Automotive and transportation;

-Electrical and electronics; 

-Household, entertainment, and office appliances; 

-Mechanical engineering; 

-Sports and leisure; 

-Medical market; 

-Furniture, and bedding; 

-Agriculture.

Different types of polymers dominate each market. Packing needs high volume and reliability as well as cost effective  commodity polymers, elsewhere Automotive needs engineering and high performance polymers to enable long lasting applications. 

Polymer material selection for baby bottles 

A standard baby bottle consists of the (1) protection cap, (2) suction, (3) ring connector, and (4) the bottle itself. In this example we focus on (4) the bottle itself. For the suction, a FDA food grade silicone was selected.
Four parts of a standard baby bottle (source: https://www.mambaby.com/at/p/easy-active-baby-bottle-330ml-deep-ocean-babyflaschen-kombi/fc2f4zf001-hdt21/)


Funnel stage 1: Material selection factors

The minimum requirements according customer specification are:

  • Fulfillment of EN 14350, regulation 2018/213, and 1895/2005
  • Heat Deflection Temperature of 80°C
  • Impact strength of 100 kJ/m2

Furthermore, in Table 1 we summarized all important requirement information (requirement worksheet).

Table 1: Requirement worksheet for baby bottles.


Funnel stage 2: Decision on thermoplastic or thermoset

Reflecting on the must-have requirements which need to be fulfilled, thermoplastics present the optimal choice. Thermosets will struggle with the regulations, together with the mechanical properties, in particular the impact performance. Amorphous polymers are transparent and have good temperature and mechanical performance. In the meantime,  semi-crystalline polymers are available as transparent food contact grade and polyolefins are particularly interesting since they are globally in high quantities at competitive price available. 

Last step of Funnel stage 2 is the preselection of suitable grades which can be discussed in Funnel stage 3. Table 2 lists all selected grades and their commercial suppliers. The pre-selected materials are Styrene-acrylonitrile resin (SAN), Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), Polycarbonate (PC), and Polypropylene (PP). 

Table 2:  Overview preselected grades and their commercial suppliers.


Funnel stage 3: Selection discussion with worksheet (qualitative matrix analysis)

Now, we have reached the third funnel stage where the matrix analysis takes place. We use the qualitative decision-making process to rank the preselected polymers. 

Table 3 summarizes the outcome of this process. In the first step we rank how good each material can fulfill the requirements (0 to 5=best) and then we assign priorities to each of the requirements (0 to 5 = highest priority). In the last step we multiply the requirement fulfillment with the priority and add the values up. In our case PP (score: 102 points) and PC (score: 95 points) have the highest rank and both materials should be evaluated in Funnel stage 4.  

Table 3: Qualitative matrix analysis for polymer based baby bottles


Funnel stage 4: Testing, selection of material and vendor

In the last funnel stage we will do a part and system component testing with the PP and PC from Funnel stage 3. After that we are able to make a final material selection and vendor respectively. Since public discussion on Bisphenol-A (BPA) as well as Bisphenol-S (BPS) and PC is impacting customer buying decisions due to safety concerns, more and more baby bottle manufacturers use PP instead of PC. In our case, we select PP since it results in a cost-efficient approach due to  less material usage (thinner walls) together with a contribution to lower resource consumption and no risk of BPA/BPS. 

Conclusions
I hope this post helped to understand the Polymer Selection Funnel method by applying it to an example of the consumer market. There will be some more polymer material selection examples where I show the application of the funnel method. 

Thank you and #findoutaboutplastics

Best regards, 
Herwig 


Interested to talk with me about your polymer material selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

*NEW* my Polymer Material Selection book is available for purchase here *NEW*

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.

Literature: 
[1] https://www.compliancegate.com/baby-feeding-bottle-standards-european-union/#EU_Food_Contact_Materials_Framework_Regulation
[2] https://www.borealisgroup.com/news/borealis-brings-a-transparency-boost-to-cosmetics-and-baby-bottles
[4] https://www.packagingtoday.co.uk/news/newsborealis-launches-bpa-free-pp-grade-for-baby-bottles-and-cosmetics-719
[5] https://www.mambaby.com/at/warum-mam/mam-qualit-t-sicherheit/

Monday, 16 January 2023

Summary of Long-Term Testing Standards of Thermoplastics for Polymer Material Selection

Long-Term Testing Standards of Thermoplastics for Polymer Material Selection

Hello and welcome back to a new post. As a continuation of the blog post Summary of Testing Standards for Polymer Material Selection we discuss today the topic of long-term testing standards for polymer material selection

Environmental effects such as temperature, different chemicals, radiation, and time can impact the performance of your plastic product. Irreversible changes are the result and therefore proper preparing by long-term testing during material selection will decrease the chances of part failure under environmental influence. 

What are some helpful long-term tests?

Following are the most helpful long-term tests for thermoplastics listed and in Table 1 they are summarized.

Summary of Long-Term Testing Standards for Thermoplastics

1) Immersion test in different media (water, water-glycol, aromatics, alcohols, ketones, acids, bases) for 1,000 - 3,000 hours at room temperature and elevated temperature; standard tensile bars; checking mechanical properties before and after; 

2) Heat aging test at different temperatures for 1,000 -3,000 hours;  standard tensile bars; checking mechanical properties before and after; supportive standard: ASTM D3045;

3) Creep test according EN ISO 899

4) Tensile Fatigue test according ASTM D3479

5) Thermal Index test according IEC60216 and ISO-527-1/-2 (5,000 hours)

6) Relative Thermal Index according UL 746B

7) Outdoor suitability test according UL 746C

8) Automotive test according ISO 16750

9) Fatigue performance according ASTM D638

Results of the aforementioned tests help to better decide on the suitability of the one or other grade to select for your application. 

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

Greetings, 

Herwig 

Interested to talk with me about your polymer material selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

*NEW* my Polymer Material Selection book is available for purchase here *NEW*

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.

Literature:

[1] V. Shah: Handbook of Plastics Testing and Failure Analysis, Wiley


Saturday, 14 January 2023

Major Benefits of Plastics for the Environment

Major Benefits of Plastics for the Environment

Hello and welcome to a new blog post. Today we discuss briefly the major benefits of plastics for our environment. In this post I selected nine impact factors which are in my view important and the list of benefits of plastics not only for the environment is much longer. 

The following video shows a brief summary: 


Let us get started: 

1) Durability: polymer based pipes are designed to last for more than 100 years. Also they reduce the overall failure rate and ensure fresh water supply to many difficult reachable regions of the world. 

2) Water saver: as we mentioned water before, the production of a plastic bag consumes less than 4% of the water needed to make a paper bag.

3) Light weighting: lightweight plastic parts save around 3,000 liters of fuel over the lifetime of an average car.

4) Food waste prevention: plastics packaging increases the shelf life. In the case of bananas, wrapping them in a modified atmosphere bag extends their shelf-life by 2 to 3 days.

5) Product protection: plastics packaging helps to reduce the products which are sold loose. It has been found that this  in-store waste in some cases leads to losses of 20%.

6) Resourceful in production: producing plastics uses only 4% of the world's oil production. The remaining 96% are used for transport, energy, heat or are burnt.

7) Recyclability: thermoplastics can be recycled however it is not always technically or economically possible. In general, recycling one tonne of plastic bottles saves 1.5 tonnes of Carbon emission.

8) Reduction of CO2 emissions: it is shown by several studies that plastics reduce CO2 emissions massively and fossil fuel use massively.

9) Safety: chemicals and additives  in plastics are strictly regulated, tested for decades. In most cases they are only present in parts per million amounts.

Altogether we can state that plastics are part of our solution and are not the problem. 

I published already several posts on how polymer impacting the environment in a positive way:

Turning thermoplastics carbon neutral 

Global warming potential vs thermal properties of thermoplastics

Sustainability in plastics industry

Eco profiles of polymer resins

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

Greetings,

Herwig

Interested to talk with me about your polymer material selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

*NEW* my Polymer Material Selection book is available for purchase here *NEW*

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.

Literature: 

[1] https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/mark-stewart-md-pb?trk=author-info__article-link

[2] https://plasticsparadox.com/

[3] E. G. Hertwich, Increased carbon footprint of materials production driven by rise in investments, Nature Geoscience, 14, pp 151-155 2021


Monday, 2 January 2023

Publicly Traded Materials Stocks - 2022 Performance and Outlook for 2023 - Is the Global Recession on its Way?

Hello and welcome back to a new blog post in this fresh year of 2023! I hope you had a successful start into this new year. 

Again, materials companies were hit hard in 2022: from supply chain disruptions due to Covid lockdowns in Asia, the Ukraine conflict with its impact on engery prices, in particular Europe and global inflation continued to increase (Eurozone around 10%; North America around 9%).

Looking at the financial markets, the situation is similar. The S&P 500 finished 2022 with -19 % for the year and the NASDAQ composite decreased -35 % in 2022. The Vanguard Materials Index Fund ETF made also -11 % in 2022. Altogether, only 1 of the 11 main sectors was up double-digits (Energy sector + 58%). All the other sectors performed negatively and Communication Services had -14 % the biggest decrease. 

Performance of 30 major material stocks - How did the 30 major material stock companies perform in 2022?

5 out of the 30 stocks could make gains for their shareholders (date of estimation: 02.01.2023) and this is 20 less compared to 2021. Cabot and Hexcel Corp. were in the lead with double digit gains.

Performance of 30 major material stocks 2022

Higher energy costs in Europe impact companies such as BASF which considers future investments outside Europe. Not only in Europe things are shaking. Globally we see shocks in geopolitics, energy and economics which accelerates the probability for a global recession. Predictions for global growth is 2.7% in 2023. This projection was done by the International Monetary Fund and would represent the weakest year for the world economy since 2001 (excluding global financial crisis 2008 and Covid pandemic 2020). 

Staying focused for 2023

For sure we will see much slower growth and if a recession can be avoided, material companies will still have several challenges to face (energy prices, supply chain, to name a few).

We know that economy moves in waves and it is important to stay focused during the down-wave. 

What plastics businesses can do in such times: 

-build up the cash reserves and reduce debt; 

-follow the old saying: "when times are good, prepare for tough times".

-keep an eye on future and mega-trends; the next up-wave is around the corner

-diversification due to several income streams

-protect the existing customer base 

-continue to innovate and keep up the quality over quantity

-as a small company: find partner and make it together due to hard times by sharing certain assets and skill sets

Thanks for reading and #findoutaboutplastics

Greetings,

Herwig

Interested to talk with me about your polymer material selection, sustainability, and part design needs - here you can contact me 

*NEW* my Polymer Material Selection book is available for purchase here *NEW*

Interested in my monthly blog posts – then subscribe here and receive my high performance polymers knowledge matrix.

Literature:

[1] https://eresearch.fidelity.com/eresearch/markets_sectors/sectors/si_performance.jhtml?tab=siperformance

[2] https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2022/11/18/why-a-global-recession-is-inevitable-in-2023?utm_medium=cpc.adword.pd&utm_source=google&ppccampaignID=18151738051&ppcadID=&utm_campaign=a.22brand_pmax&utm_content=conversion.direct-response.anonymous&gclid=Cj0KCQiAnsqdBhCGARIsAAyjYjTXbfw9837wHG86GmChEaQo9BtO48dBNn3jwp_kVr6rw1v3ETpwiFQaAmZhEALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

[3] https://edition.cnn.com/2022/12/29/business/global-economy-2023-recession/index.html

[4] https://www.shrm.org/executive/resources/articles/pages/weathering-recession-.aspx