INNOVATIONS BLOG

Skating on Ice in the Summer..?

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Feb 26, 2018 8:28:29 AM

On midday in mid-June, with the temperature at 81, people in shorts, T-shirts and sunscreen now skate around on a  outdoor rink — with fake ice made from plastic! “Does it look like real ice?”

It does, from afar. Up close, the plastic panels appear snapped together like puzzle pieces. It doesn't feel like real ice, it isn't cold like the real thing, but sure seems just as smooth.

This is the latest in skating’s quest for outdoor year-round ice, partly to help skaters and hockey players who jockey for expensive ice time at a limited number of indoor rinks, some of which close for the summer.

Synthetic rinks have opened at the Museum of Natural History in New York, which had one last winter, and in municipalities like Great Bend, Kan., and Tallahassee, Fla. Brock University in Ontario trains young hockey players on a fake ice treadmill. And in Middletown, Del., a permanent rink called Skate Unlimited is also made of plastic, eliminating the expense and environmental cost of water for ice-making, and Zambonis.

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Topics: Industry News

A Flat Wine Bottle...?

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Feb 14, 2018 10:23:00 AM

Wine packaging has seen innovations over the years:  Single-serve bottles; corks swapped out for screw caps; and canned wine taking millennials by storm. But though different wine packages have their pros and cons, few of them can say they are as uniquely functional as a bottle developed by London’s Garcon Wines – a company which has unveiled a flat plastic wine bottle specially designed to slip through a mail slot.

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Topics: Specialty Packaging

3D graphene structure is strongest and lightest material in the world...

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Feb 11, 2018 10:30:00 AM

graphene material.gifResearchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new graphene material that is one of the strongest in the world while also being lightweight in form. The new graphene material is 10-times stronger than steel with only 5% of its density. MIT researchers have designed the lightweight material by taking small flakes of graphene, previously considered one of the strongest forms of material in the world, and compressing and fusing them into a mesh-like structure that not only retains the material’s strength but the graphene remains porous.

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Topics: 3D Printing

Plastic Side Mirrors for Cars

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Feb 8, 2018 1:04:53 PM

Plastic Glass for Automobiles.jpgAn Australian plastics scientist has won the inaugural Prime Minister's Prize for New Innovators for creating a process that allows manufacturers to replace glass components with light-weight plastic.

Dr Colin Hall and his colleagues at the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute combined micron thin layers of plastics to develop a material that can replace glass in cars, aircraft, spacecraft, and even whitegoods – making them lighter and more efficient.

One of the first applications for the technology has been the creation of shatter-proof plastic side mirrors for cars that are now being exported to the US. The mirrors are made in Adelaide, South Australia, by SMR Automotive and have earned AUD$160m (£101m, US$123m) in exports to date.

Over the last five years, the Ford Motor Company has purchased more than 1.6 million assemblies for the plastic side mirrors for use on its F-Series trucks.

Car makers have long searched for new ways to reduce the body weight of vehicles and the car-wing mirror design weighs a fraction of the conventional glass product.

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Topics: Automotive

American Made Greatness Expands to Pet Bowls...

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Feb 6, 2018 8:49:37 AM

American Made Pet Bowl.jpgWe're sure many of you noticed the auto accessories maker WeatherTech ran another ad during the Big Game on Sunday, once again touting its committment to American manufacturing. This year, the Illinois company offered a look at the construction of its new facility. WeatherTech ads are typically patriotic, promoting their American-made products and the American workers who they employ. However, they seemed to have left out a few important details in the commercial: Where is this new factory? What will WeatherTech (well known for its popular line of custom-made automotive floor mats) manufacture there?

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Topics: Industry News

A Plastic Pill to Detect Colon Cancer...?

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Feb 2, 2018 8:09:41 AM

IV-AA594_COLON_P_20140603175359.jpgA biocompatible plastic pill can pass through your digestive system and record images for your doctor’s review. 

Cameras in the colon. Pop a pill and get screened for colon cancer. It’s an alternative to colonoscopy doctors hope will bring more patients in for the life-saving test. It’s just another day at the office. But as Brian Reed works, this new device works its way through his body. Brian Reed, PillCam Colon patient: “I think it’s cool because it doesn’t restrict my day.” Brian’s day started here at Loyola University Medical Center. Instead of undergoing a traditional colonoscopy, he chose an experimental screening tool – the PillCam Colon.

Dr Mukund Venu, Loyola Medicine gastroenterologist: “The first thing you’ll do is swallow the capsule. This one is about three centimeters long so it’s like a big vitamin pill. The contour is very smooth so it allows it to slide down a lot easier as well.” Brian Reed: “I looked at it and said, ‘Boy, this looks kind of large.’ But as soon as I put it in, it just seemed to slide right down.” Gastroenterologists use similar technology to help them see inside the esophagus and small intestine. But the colon is much larger – that’s why the video capsule is equipped with two cameras.

Dr Venu: “Allows us to get an almost 360 degree view of the colon as the pill tumbles through it.”

Brian Reed: “My grandfather had colon cancer, and it’s impacted our family. It’s been something that’s been top of mind, and I wanted to make sure I was doing my screening.”

Patients prep for PillCam the same way they do for a colonoscopy – clearing out their bowels. Once the capsule went down, Brian headed out of the hospital wearing a portable recording device to store the images. Typically, it takes about four hours for the device to pass through the body.

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Game Changing Ballet Shoe Plastic Insert...

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Jan 28, 2018 10:00:00 AM

custom plastic ballerina shoe insert.pngPointe ballet shoes, used by ballerinas who perform on their toes, was designed more than a century ago and is made of paper, glue and fabric. To improve the fit of the shoes, dancers would stuff their toes in lamb’s wool or household items such as paper towels and makeup pads.

However, some dancers are embracing custom-molded shoe inserts made from silicone putty, a distinctly modern product from a Bay Area start-up called PerfectFit Pointe. The inserts are meant to help distribute dancers’ weight more evenly and prevent skin abrasions like blisters and corns.

Kelly Schmutte, the PerfectFit Pointe founder, initially marketed her product to dance stores and ballet studios. When some elite studios expressed reluctance, she decided to take a different tack: She approached professional dancers directly through Instagram.

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Turning the greenhouse gas CO2 into Plastic...?

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Jan 26, 2018 8:11:55 AM

carbon dioxide plastic.pngResearchers have developed a method for efficiently converting carbon dioxide into plastic. They say their findings could help divert carbon dioxide – a major contributor to climate change – from entering the atmosphere. They could also help to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. A team of scientists from University of Toronto, University of California, Berkeley and the Canadian Light Source (CLS) successfully managed to work out the ideal conditions for converting carbon dioxide to ethylene. 

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Smart Bumpers, Tailgates, and more... Oh My!

Posted by NOVATION Staff on Jan 23, 2018 10:05:23 AM

smart bumpers and tailgates.pngWatch out Apple, Plastic Omnium is getting into the facial recognition game too. Wanna open your tailgate? Just give it a look. The interactive tailgate was one of several smart exterior parts on display at the company's booth at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Company officials touted smart exterior parts made of plastics as the future of automotive parts and discussed its aggressive bid to enter the hydrogen fuel cell market. Co-CEO Jean-Michel Szczerba said he expects many exterior parts to be made of plastics in the future, including doors, roofs and hoods. Say goodbye to steel and aluminum, and hello to advanced composites.

The company displayed an intelligent bumper: a complete system with lidar and radar built in, active air-flow management, a crash box made with high-performance composites, and protections for the expensive sensors and radars. The rear tailgate uses LED lighting as a design feature and even displays messages for other drivers or pedestrians. Conductive coatings and paints could allow for touch open as well.

"We want to utilize plastic as much as possible," said Marc Cornet, president and CEO of the Americas, Auto Exterior division. "Radar sensors can't transmit through steel or aluminum. But it can through plastics."

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Topics: Automotive

New Material that can Adabt to it's Enviroment Inspired by Sea Worm

Posted by Greg Showers on Jan 18, 2018 1:06:05 PM

sea worm.jpgThe gelatinous jaw of the sea worm, which becomes hard or flexible depending on the environment around it, has inspired researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a new material that can be applied to soft robotics. Despite having the texture of a gel, this compound is endowed with great mechanical resistance and consistency, and can adapt to changing environments.  Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have looked at a sea worm called Nereis virens in order to create a changing material, which has the ability to be flexible or rigid at convenience. The jaw of this worm has a texture similar to gelatin, but if the environment varies, the material may adopt the hardness of dentin or human bones. 

Chemical engineer Francisco Martín-Martínez, a Spanish researcher at the MIT Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics and co-author of the paper, explained to SINC, "the jaw of Nereis virens is composed of a protein that contains large amounts of histidine, an amino acid that interacts with the ions of the environment and makes it more or less flexible depending on the environment in which it finds itself."  The material, described in a study published in the journal 'ACS Nano', has been developed in collaboration with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)."It's a hydrogel made from a synthesized protein, similar to the one that makes up the jaw of this worm and which gives it structural stability and impressive mechanical performance," says Martín-Martínez, who adds: "When we change the ions of the environment and the salt concentration, the material expands or contracts." 

The team found that at the molecular level, the structure of protein material is strengthened when the environment contains zinc ions and certain pH indexes. The Zinc ions create chemical bonds with the structure of the compound. These bonds are reversible, and can form or break at convenience, making the material more dynamic and flexible. 

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