Tuesday, December 16th, 2008

Innovation and the Plastics Industry

In a recent interview, a General Motors executive said, “to win, you've got to win with product and technology.”  I couldn’t agree more.  With 2008 slowly coming to a close, I’ve begun to reflect upon the plastics industry – where it has been and where it’s headed from a technology standpoint.  Quite frankly, I’ve seen some impressive innovations, and every day I read about something new.  Just yesterday a colleague  gave me an article about conducting polymers that have the potential to be used in a range of applications including biosensors, battery technology, medical prosthetics and light-emitting diodes. Plastics have traditionally been thought of as nonconductors of electricity, but that perspective is changing.  The industry has come a long way.
 
What about innovation in other areas?  Bioplastics continue to grow, including the development of new materials and applications.  SPI even launched a Bioplastics Council this year to focus on this new part of the industry and to help educate others on this technology.  Nanotechnology also has seen some big changes ranging from new nanobased plastics being developed which could provide lighter body armor, as well as aircraft and vehicle parts, to work being done in the UK to create self healing paints and packaging.  Innovations have been made in using plastics in the area of alternate energy sources like solar power, the development of new plastics processing equipment to reduce environmental impact and new resins to help improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions of vehicles. Very impressive!
 
Looking ahead, I think I am most excited about seeing these technologies and learning more about them at NPE2009, which will be held next June at McCormick Place in Chicago.  This event is where the innovative minds of the plastics industry come together. Through both technical and business-focused education sessions, as well as visiting with exhibitors, attendees can learn more about these emerging technologies all under one roof.  NPE is definitely the place to be.
 

Innovation is what distinguishes a leader from a follower.  I am proud that our industry is a leader and and look forward to what’s in store for 2009.

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