The following appeared in the March-April edition of the ISU Center for Crops Utilization Research Newsletter. Read the original article at http://www.ccur.iastate.edu.
The Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2) injection molded over 5,000 biobased plant containers while exhibiting at the NPE2015 International Plastics Showcase held March 23-27 in Orlando, Fla. Nearly half of the containers made at NPE were given away to attendees.
The plant containers were molded from Bio-ResTM PLA, a 100 percent renewable and compostable plastic. This bioplastic is a blend of PLA and Bio-Res, an environmentally friendly product developed by CB2 industry member Laurel BioComposite, LLC. It is derived from distillers grains, a renewable feedstock. Laurel BioComposite shared the NPE booth with CB2.
“These biobased plant containers are a viable and sustainable replacement for the petroleum-based pots that are currently used,” said David Grewell, director of CB2 and professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering at Iowa State University. The Bio-Res PLA plant containers are part of a five-year study of the production and performance of various bioplastic pots led by CB2 faculty members at Iowa State.
NPE attendees could watch the containers being made with an injection molding machine with an integrated end-of-arm-tooling robot. Wittmann Battenfeld, Inc. generously provided the injection molding machine and auxiliary equipment to CB2during the show. VistaTek provided the plant container mold.
Even though the live demonstration of injection molding with biobased plastics was an important aspect of the CB2 booth, Grewell noted that meeting with company representatives was equally important to help encourage industry engagement in the center and expand its research areas.
“This was a great opportunity for industry to see these pots firsthand, but our goal also was to develop industrial collaborations and invite companies to join CB2,” said Grewell. “These pots are a testimony to CB2’s willingness and ability to work with industry. In addition, these pots represent only one of many possible applications the team has helped commercialize.”
This year’s NPE was the most successful in its 69-year history with 65,810 attendees, 2,029 exhibitors from 37 nations, and over a million square feet of exhibition space.