PT_Plastics Today

Plastics Today, September 2015

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12 GLObaL PLaSTICS REPORT 2015 PLaSTICSTOday.COm NEW TECHNOLOGIES Can this 3D printer really compete with injection molding for high-volume parts production? Sonoco AlloydÕs dispensable packaging system Sonoco Alloyd, a unit of global pack- aging company Sonoco (Hartsville, SC), has developed a dispensable packaging system called the DivvyPack that com- bines thermoforming technology with a sliding lid. The new system allows careful, singular "divvying" of product for multi-count packages. The lid slides away without opening entirely, making it easy to dispense a single product from a multi-product package. Interlocking channels along the sides of the lid and tray allow for one-handed opening and reclosing of the package, producing an audible snap when locking closed. The format is suited not only for standard multiple-quantity packaging, but also special-use cases such as club store packaging and gift-with-purchase promotions. The flat lid, clear packaging and customizable shape and size provide a variety of marketing options. The DivvyPack is made of PET plas- tic and SBS board. The materials may be adjusted based on customer requests, as long as the blister card coating is com- patible with the blister plastic material. "Our newest packaging innovation . . . provides our customers with a dif- ferentiated competitive advantage," Kim Goyke, Marketing Specialist, Sonoco Alloyd, told PlasticsToday. — Kari Embree The world's first 3D printer that reportedly can make parts as cheaply and rapidly as injection molding is being developed at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. The machine will build parts up to three times larger and 100 times faster than current comparable additive manu- facturing (AM) machines, making it capable of challenging conventional injection molding for high volume production, according to the university. The £1 million project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), a UK gov- ernment agency that is mandated to fund research and training programs in engineering and the physical sciences. If the technology under development at the university achieves its goals, it will enable the production of volumes over one million, which is currently unattain- able using 3D printing. "Additive man- ufacturing is already being used to make tens of thousands of a product—such as iPhone covers—and 10 years ago that volume was unthinkable," said Professor Neil Hopkinson from the University of Sheffield's Faculty of Engineering in a prepared statement. "I believe history will repeat itself and in 10 years' time, producing volumes over a million using additive manufacturing will become commonplace." The 3D printer is based on a tech- nology developed by Hopkinson, who originally filed patents on the process as lead inventor at Loughborough Uni- versity. The technology for high-speed sintering (HSS) is being licensed to industrial machine manufacturers on a non-exclusive basis, with new machines expected on the market between 2017 and 2018. HSS selectively fuses polymer powder layer by layer, similar to other AM pro- cesses. However, instead of using lasers, HSS prints infra-red-absorbing ink onto a powder bed. Once a layer has been printed, it is exposed to infra-red light, which heats the powder covered by the ink, causing it to fuse, while the rest of the powder remains cool. The new machine will be able to make parts as large as a washing machine. The speed will depend on the size of the prod- uct, but the team estimates that small components will be built at a rate of less than one second per part, allowing AM to compete with injection molding for high- volume manufacturing. — Norbert Sparrow A 3D printer developed at the University of Sheffield reportedly can build parts 100 times faster than cur- rent additive manufacturing systems.

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