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issue: August 2006 APPLIANCE Magazine

Plastics Technology
The Need for New Ideas in Plastics

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The plastics industry faces substantial challenges from globalization, materials costs and the need to compete through enhanced design. Sound familiar?

Members of the plastics industry see the need for innovation, new technologies and strategies for managing challenges arising from a fiercely competitive global marketplace. These were among the findings of a DuPont Engineering Polymers (Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.) survey of plastics professionals who attended NPE 2006.
The survey said nearly 20 percent of NPE attendees are looking for new ideas, and 20 percent are seeking new resins. Nearly 25 percent say their greatest challenge is globalization, while 14 percent say they are challenged by new materials and new material technology. Approximately 11 percent point to speed to market as the greatest challenge.
“Collectively, the results indicate our industry is on a hunt for knowledge and ideas that will set us apart in this competitive global environment,” said Tim McCann, DuPont Engineering Polymers global vice president, sales and marketing. “New ideas and technologies to reduce cost, improve integration opportunities and differentiate products in a crowded marketplace are emerging from many directions. Making sense of all the information and putting it to work quickly—those are the keys to true innovation.”

Material Needs and Material Technology
The technologies predicted to have the greatest impact on the industry over the next 5 years, according to the attendees responding to the survey:
• 18 percent said bonding technologies
• 15 percent said nanotechnology
• 14 percent said renewable resources such as bio-based polymers

In their most recent programs, attendees said they were looking for:
• structural materials (20 percent)
• good processability (20 percent)
• heat, chemical, moisture materials (15 percent)

Competing in a Global Environment
Asked which strategies will strengthen the plastics processing industry:

• 18 percent said collaborating among processors, suppliers and customers
• 14 percent said globalize the network
• 11 percent said emphasize consumer facing innovation.

The most important aspect of innovation and global development capabilities lies in product development for various markets, McCann said. The survey indicated the greatest growth opportunities were in transportation markets, while electrical and electronic markets and home use applications tied at 13 percent.

Within those markets
• 25 percent of attendees say the best growth opportunity is in design to enhance functionality and reduce overall cost
• 21 percent say they’ll grow by replacing metal
• 21 percent say opportunities lie in designing completely new products


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