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The future of plastics- starch-based products start coming into their own

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I got this in my e-Mail and found it somewhat interesting. Some of you may have heard mention of starch-based plastics, and here's an example of practical usage of the material.

Will we see models made of this? I'm not sure, as it does have something of a shelf life, but if this stuff can start relieving some of the pressure on the rest of the plastics market as a commodity, it may help kit prices drop a little as raw material prices will decline, or at least stabilize.

http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=246540&f_src=designnews_sitedefault&dfpPParams=ind_183,industry_consumer,bid_27,aid_246540&dfpLayout=blog

Charlie Larkin

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Posted · Report post

PLA plastic is corn based and meant to be an alternative to polystyrene. PLA, along with ABS plasic, are two filament plastics used in 3D printers. For more info on PLA, search PLA plastic.

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Posted · Report post

Will do, Doug. For curiosity's sake, do/did you work in plastics?

Charlie Larkin

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Charlie, thanks for posting this. I let my Design News paper subscription expire a couple of years back. Thanks to you, I'm back in this particular loop again. Glad to see modelers looking at the future of the materials we rely on and take for granted.

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Posted · Report post

Corn based plastic for models? well if you mess it up, you can always eat it LOL

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Posted · Report post

Not so odd really, if you think about it. Plastic as we currently know it is a mix of hydrocarbon compounds derived from petroleum, which is of course ancient vegatable matter and a few dinosaurs processed by nature under elevated temperature and pressure over a LONG time.

Making plastic from growing things simply eliminates the eons it takes for nature to make petroleum from the same stuff. A hydrocarbon molecule is a hydrocarbon molecule.

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Posted · Report post

I got this in my e-Mail and found it somewhat interesting. Some of you may have heard mention of starch-based plastics, and here's an example of practical usage of the material.

Will we see models made of this? I'm not sure, as it does have something of a shelf life, but if this stuff can start relieving some of the pressure on the rest of the plastics market as a commodity, it may help kit prices drop a little as raw material prices will decline, or at least stabilize.

http://www.designnew...&dfpLayout=blog

Charlie Larkin

Plant-based plastic isn't all tht new; Henry Ford experimented with making an "acetate plastic" from soybeans back in the 1930's, in fact even had an experiimental version of a '41 Ford Tudor sedan built with body panels made from the stuff. Ford also used soy-based plastic materials in the production of the Model T, the Model A (both used pyroxylin plastic as the surfacing for artificial leather seats in open cars, and for the top material used on roadsters, touring cars and even the fabric top inserts on coupes and sedans. With the introduction of the Model A, Ford used pyroxylin based lacquer for painting body shells as well.

Art

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Great historical points Art. Have you ever seen the film of ol' Henry hitting the soy-based '41 body with a sledgehammer? Pretty tough stuff, but a little too bio-degradable at the time.

Celluloid (dash nobs, film stock, flexible side curtains on phaetons and roadsters) was another somewhat plant-based early plastic, the first I think, made with nitro-cellulose (cellulose being plant fibers) and camphor. Also a little too bio-degradable.

For what it's worth, Hexel, one of today's makers of carbon-fiber for Formula 1, made an all plastic (phenolic with linen/flax fiber reinforcement) Spitfire fighter airframe in WWII. Never flew, but it was a proof-of-concept project to deal with Britain's lack of aluminum resources.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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Posted (edited) · Report post

As long as the stuff doesn't craze when I paint it, I don't give a...errr...it's not one of my primary concerns.

However, I really like this 'closed loop return logistics' thingy. Sounds rather fancy for sending back empties.

Edited by Junkman

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Posted · Report post

However, I really like this 'closed loop return logistics' thingy. Sounds rather fancy for sending back empties.

Yep, that's basically what it amounts to.

I remember seeing a still of Henry taking what I thought was an axe to one of the soybean plastic trunk-lids and it didn't bother it. I thought that was pretty impressive

Like I said, I don't know if they've solved the biodegrability issue, but if this becomes de regiur material for disposable items where such a feature is desirable, or if they managed to make this into a shelf-stable-lasts-for-centuries material, and they can make it in almost unlimited quantities from excess plant material, then it could be a benefit to us all.

Charlie Larkin

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Workability is the issue with Polylactic Acid (PLA), as it doesn't respond so well to solvents. PLA is more a replacement for polyethylene or polypropylene, than polystyrene.

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