Nissei’s theme at last week’s K show was “Injection for Innovation”. The company lived up to the promise, showcasing, among other things, long-stemmed PLA champagne glasses, representing both an eco-friendly and a technological innovation.
As a part of the plastics injection moulding machinery producer’s ongoing efforts towards achieving zero-waste production and reducing the carbon footprint of manufacturing, the company exhibited a moulding system from its well-known PLA bioplastic line.
The technologies used in this system allow for the practical application of plant-based eco-friendly PLA materials, while pushing the material’s application envelope.
While promoting the 3Rs of sustainable practice – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – Nissei has also been actively exploring the use of plant-based biodegradable plastics to tackle the important issues of microplastics and plastic debris in the oceans as well as plastic waste in general.
Biobased, biodegradable resins can be composted and returned to nature. One such material is PLA, which has considerable potential to replace petroleum-based plastics in various applications. However, it also has a number of drawbacks, including a low heat resistance around 60 degrees Celsius), low shock resistance, poor fluidity – leading to short shots – and poor mould releasability. This makes it difficult to process and limits its applications in deep or thin-wall parts.
Yet, top-down pressure – new legislation – in the form of, for example, a French law requiring all disposable tableware to be made from 50% or more biologically-sourced compostable materials by the year 2020, in order to reduce marine plastic debris. Other countries have implemented regulations designed to reduce the use of plastics bags and disposable containers.
In response, Nissei developed practical thin-wall container moulding technologies that would enable the replacement of conventional disposable containers with containers made of 100% PLA. The technology involved mixing supercritical carbon dioxide into the molten PLA to improve the fluidity of injected material. This made it possible to produce highly transparent injection moulded thin-wall PLA containers with wall thicknesses of 0.65mm.
In the practical application of the technology, Nissei collaborated closely with Mr. Michio Komatsu, a renowned engineer possessing abundant knowledge and patents in PLA moulding.