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Just One Word: Plastics

By: , Posted on: April 26, 2016

thermoplastic material selection

Around the middle of last year, I was reading Thermoplastics Material Selection: A Practical Guide, by Eric Larson. He says “Even though we are in the midst of The Plastics Age, the plastics industry is transforming…and becoming more innovative.

Professionals in all industries need to become familiar enough with plastic materials to understand their traditional use and manufacture, their history as a material, their untapped potential, and their role in the future.”

As he says, the industry continues to face challenges. In addition to being a ubiquitous, indispensable material which we all come into contact with on a daily basis, plastics play a key role in delivering on the sustainability agenda across multiple sectors, hopefully shaking off their traditional image as a petrochemical-derived, synthetic product with a bad record on pollution.

I am continually encouraged by the work of people in this field to advocate for plastics. In April there was the SPI’s ReFocus Recycling Summit and Expo, a meeting of the minds on the subject of plastics sustainability. When I was at NPE 2016 in Orlando last year, there was the zero waste fashion show, a fun take on a very serious topic.  Whether it is through recycling, ‘plastics-to-energy’, bio-based or biodegradable polymers, the industry is actively engaging with this question from multiple angles.

And of course, this isn’t to mention the new developments that are continually being made in packaging, automotive, aerospace, biomaterials, and many other sectors.

The books I publish are intended to facilitate plastics engineers and materials scientists’ work. We want to give them information that increases their productivity, reduces cost, and enables future innovation, by assisting with material selection, processing, application development, product design, and failure analysis to name a few key themes. Elsevier’s Plastics Design Library Series – edited as a whole by Dr. Sina Ebnesajjad, a veteran of DuPont and now President of FluoroConsultants, LLC – is aimed at practitioners who are trying to get a job done, and it speaks perfectly to those concerns that plastics engineers face.

We have some really top notch books coming out this year. My thoughts on a few:

science and technology flexible packaging

The Science and Technology of Flexible Packaging by Barry Morris is a truly comprehensive book covering the scientific principles, properties, processes and end-user considerations of multilayer films in flexible packaging. Barry Morris an SPE Fellow and a real thought leader in this area, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing this publish later in the year.

introductiong bioplastics engineering

Introduction to Bioplastics Engineering by Syed Ali Ashter provides critical underpinning knowledge for what has been a rapidly expanding area in recent years. It’s a book by an engineer for engineers – giving a practical understanding of the processing and applications of biopolymers.

fatigue and tribological plastics

Fatigue and Tribological Properties of Plastics and Elastomers, 3rd edition, by Laurence W. McKeen provides useful graphical and tabular data covering the fatigue and Tribological performance of different plastics materials. The data are all up to date, and will be of significant interest to engineers involved in materials selection and product design where fatigue is a major consideration.

Around this time last year – in preparation for NPE – I was quoting Mr. McGuire’s famous “Just one word: Plastics” line from The Graduate, and I suspect my colleagues are starting to wonder when I will stop repeating it.

But it’s true: there’s a great future here, and it is materials scientists and engineers who are making it happen. With any luck, publishers like myself can help them a little bit on the way.

Elsevier will be exhibiting at the Society of Plastics Engineers ANTEC in Indianapolis in May – displaying all of our books and presenting our upcoming 2016 books list, which will include books on materials selection, additives, failure analysis, and much more. I will of course be there, so please do drop by booth #227!

Want to read more? You can save up to 30% on any of our plastics books when you purchase via the Elsevier Store, Enter code STC215 at the checkout!

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Materials Science

The highly interdisciplinary field of materials science examines elements of applied physics and chemistry, as well as chemical, mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering. Nanoscience and nanotechnology in particular have yielded major innovations in this area, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. Elsevier’s authoritative content in this area ranges from undergraduate textbooks to multi-volume reference works investigating the relationships between the structure of materials and their properties. Our journals (including Materials Today), books, and eBooks help researchers stay abreast of developments in this swiftly advancing field, coving major sub-disciplines like energy and power; metals and alloys; ceramics; composite materials; polymer science and biomaterials; interdisciplinary materials science; and structural materials.