Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Turn Plastic Back to Oil?

The BLEST company from Japan introduced a machine back in 2007 that they claim can revert waste plastic back to its oil form, without the use of flames or excessive gas emissions. The claim was revisited recently by Our World 2.0. Check out the excerpt below.

Though Japan has much improved its “effective utilization” rate over the years to 72% in 2006, that leaves 28% of plastic to be buried in landfills or burned. According to Plastic Waste Management Institute data, “effective utilization” includes not just the 20% that is actually recycled, but also 52% that is being incinerated for “energy recovery” purposes, i.e., generating heat or electric power.

“If we burn the plastic, we generate toxins and a large amount of CO2. If we convert it into oil, we save CO2 and at the same time increase people’s awareness about the value of plastic garbage,” says Akinori Ito, CEO of Blest.

Blest’s conversion technology is very safe because it uses a temperature controlling electric heater rather than flame. The machines are able to process polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene (numbers 2-4) but not PET bottles (number 1). The result is a crude gas that can fuel things like generators or stoves and, when refined, can even be pumped into a car, a boat or motorbike. One kilogram of plastic produces almost one liter of oil. To convert that amount takes about 1 kilowatt of electricity, which is approximately ¥20 or 20 cents’ worth.

Check out this You Tube Video

Friday, January 7, 2011

3D Printer for Plastic Products

3D printers have been on the market for some time now but have only recently been better adapted for personal use. Units are also less expensive now and more affordable for individual hobbyists, not just manufacturers or corporations.

3D printers can be used to build small plastic machine parts, sculptures, toys, models, etc. There are numerous brands and models available that use either plaster or resins to print 3D models from AUTO-CAD or other 3D rendering software. These models are not made by cutting away materials as a CNC machining tool would do, rather the models are printed or extruded in layers. The printers can print complex designs.

This model from UP! costs only $2000 in China and the material for printing casts about $50 per kg. This video demonstrates how simple it is to make a small container with a threaded closure in only 45 minutes. The system utilizes the extrusion method.

3D Systems has a very impressive range of printers for personal and commercial use. Personal printers start at about 10K USD. The ProJet HD 3000 prints precision, durable plastic parts ideal for functional testing, design communication, rapid manufacturing, rapid tooling and more. It features selectable resolution choices for speed and quality. This is for commercial use and 3D Systems also offers great after sales support and raw materials for printing.This machine is much larger than the model from UP! As you can see in this video, the 3D printer can be used to make compex parts with moving elements like hinges, gears, and even bearings.

Z Corporation offers color 3D printers and scanners for commercial use. In a higher price bracket, these machines are much faster and larger than the less expensive brands.The finishing of the product is also far superior and the details are mind blowing. Z Corp has by far, the best 3D printer on the market with the largest printing bed for larger or multiple prints.

Rapid Prototyping

Leading product designers use our prototyping machines to accelerate the design process and bring products to market sooner. Applications include:

  • Concept Models - Get early design feedback, improve communication, and test ergonomics
  • Functional Testing - Verify designs for form, fit and function prior to full-scale production; plus reduce costly modifications to production tooling
  • Finite Element Analysis - Produce prototypes displaying color finite element analysis data right on the part. Improve collaboration among project teams, and identify design flaws earlier
  • Presentation Models - Communicate clearly with peers and clients, and perform focus group testing
  • Packaging Development - Streamline the design process for glass and plastic packaging used in consumer products, healthcare, chemicals, beverages, and automotive products

3D printers have reduced the cost and make it so much easier to generate product prototypes. The finish of the products on the cheaper models make be slightly rough and require to be sanded down but technology is moving fast across the board insuring more accurate, faster, and cheaper machines will soon be on the market.