Polymerization: How Plastic Materials are Made

Plastic materials have been created using many different kinds of matter over the years. Originally, resins were made from vegetable matter including cellulose from cotton, furfural from oat hulls, oil from seeds and various starch derivatives.  Bakelite (phenol formaldehyde resin), one of the first plastics made from synthetic components, was developed by Belgian born chemist Leo Baekeland in New York in 1907. Bakelite is made through an elimination reaction of phenol with formaldehyde.Read more

Can 3D Printing Overtake Traditional Manufacturing Processes?

3D printing has been generating a lot of excitement in the last year but the technology’s future in industrial manufacturing is still unclear.  With technology advancing, the 3d printing industry grown quickly and can now print many different types of materials.  Yet, 3D printing has not replaced traditional subtractive machining or injection molding.  Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.
1)      Aesthetic Quality
The use of 3D printing is not recommended when the end product needs to have a highly smooth, … Read more

The Rise of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastics

The use of carbon fibers in plastic materials has a long history.  As early as 1879, Thomas Edison was experimenting with carbon fibers made from cotton threads and bamboo slivers.  In fact, the first incandescent light bulb heated by electricity contained carbon fibers.  In the 1960’s, Dr. Akio Shindo at the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology in Japan developed a carbon fiber based on polyacrylonitrile (PAN).  The resulting fiber contained 55% carbon. Read more

What is ASTM International?

Have you ever been reading a material data sheet and wondered what ASTM means?  Well, you’re not alone.  “ASTM” followed by numbers or letters is used on data sheets to indicate the test used to develop the data.   These tests are standardized so that they can be reproduced by labs around the world.  Here’s a brief rundown on ASTM International’s history and operations. 
ASTM is an international standards and testing organization with headquarters in West Conshohocken,Read more

How Do Engineers Evaluate Plastic Materials and Material Strength?

When evaluating a material for use in a particular application, engineers usually look first at the material properties data sheet or material data sheet for short.  These are available on-line for most plastic materials.  This sheet will give typical values for a variety of properties. Usually it will include values for physical properties and mechanical properties as well as thermal and electrical properties. Typically, the material properties data sheet will include what ASTM,Read more