Highlights from Interbike 2014

Packaging

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for transf...

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for transforming two-dimensional print output into 3-D structures, using nothing but light. A pre-stressed polymer sheet is fed into a conventional inkjet printer, which applies black stripes to areas designed to be used as hinges. The desired pattern is then cut out and subjected to infrared light. The material contracts at the hinges, and the sheet collapses into a predefined 3D structure. Dr. Michael Dickey, who co-authored a paper describing the research, says the process could be used for packaging purposes and could be applied to high-volume manufacturing.  Read More

A new technology is able to convert paper mill waste into bio-foam (Photo: P199)

In a world increasingly concerned with waste, the smart manufacturers are identifying ways of utilizing the by-products of manufacturing and creating two products from one process. One example – a graduate student in agriculture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has developed a way of creating foam from the waste from paper mills, radically reducing waste from paper production and creating two products that are highly valuable and in demand.  Read More

Don't eat that fish - the blue color of the indicator film indicates that it's spoiled (Ph...

When it comes to buying packaged meat and fish, consumers usually just have to go by the “best before” label to know that it hasn’t begun to spoil. Needless to say, the dates on those labels are just estimates and certainly won’t tell you if the product has sat through a lengthy power failure, or been left out of the cooler for several hours. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies in Munich, however, have developed an inexpensive plastic film that will change color in the presence of rotten foods.  Read More

A new coating that reportedly allows foods to last longer has a structure similar to a bri...

We’ve already heard about new types of packaging that use things such as sorbic acid and silver nanoparticles to keep food fresh for longer, but this week scientists from Texas A&M University announced the development of a “nano-brick” film that utilizes yet another substance to achieve the same purpose. That substance is montmorillonite clay, which is one of the ingredients used to make bricks. The film is about 70 percent clay (with the rest of it made from various polymer materials) and when its structure is viewed through an electron microscope, it actually even looks like bricks and mortar.  Read More

Scientists have coated paper with silver nanoparticles, to create a 'killer paper' packagi...

Silver is a known killer of harmful bacteria, and has already been incorporated into things such as antibacterial keyboards, washing machines, water filters, and plastic coatings for medical devices. Now, scientists have added another potential product to the list: silver nanoparticle-impregnated “killer paper" packaging, that could help keep food from spoiling.  Read More

Prof. Andrew Mills with food packaged in his smart plastic (Photo: University of Strathcly...

Given that German scientists have already developed packaging film that kills food-inhabiting bacteria, it only makes sense that Scottish scientists should be developing the next step in the process – food packaging that changes color when the food is going bad. The “intelligent plastic” film, which is being created at Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde, is intended to take the guesswork out of whether or not the food packaged within it is still safe to eat.  Read More

The perfect box for all shapes

This one-size-fits-all packaging concept delivers an efficient way to send an item by reducing bulk and cost while keeping your goods safe from bumps and scrapes in transit. The clever Universal Packaging System (UPACKS) system – not be confused with UPS (United Parcel Service) – from designer Patrick Sung uses perforated sheets made from recyclable corrugated cardboard that can snugly pack almost any shaped item, whilst reducing the need to pad-out empty spaces.  Read More

A boll of cotton matures in the field  (Texas AgriLife Research photo by Kathleen Phillips...

Cotton has held an important significance for mankind for thousands of years. Not only are all parts of the cotton plant economically useful, but the multitude of uses and processes it can be put to make it America's number one value-added crop. Over the years we have crushed and extruded and woven cotton into many forms, but even today scientists and entrepreneurs are transforming the way we use cotton; from reducing pollution, insulating homes, and cleaning up oil spills to feeding the hungry. Here's a look at seven new companies being championed for their sustainability by Cotton Incorporated.  Read More

One and a half liters of petrol are used in the production of every cubic foot of Styrofoa...

In an age where many oil fields are in terminal decline and our dependence on petroleum reaches critical proportions, it is simply crazy that with every Styrofoam-packaged item consumers purchase, one cubed foot of Styrofoam representing 1.5 liters of petrol is thrown away. Moreover, in the U.S., Styrofoam is said to take up 25 percent of the space in landfills. A much better-sounding alternative is to use naturally-produced EcoCradle. It's created from useless agricultural by-products and mushroom roots, has all the same properties as other expandable polystyrenes (EPS), and is fully compostable.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of the milk and clay-based biodegradable foam

It’s always a bummer when you take something like a computer or TV out of its box, and realize that all that Styrofoam is just going to end up in the landfill. Although it can be recycled, due to transport costs and lack of market demand, most cities don’t do so. There’s also the fact that it’s made from petroleum – so it's a long way from being sustainable. Fortunately, though, an international team of scientists has recently developed a biodegradable foam. It’s made from clay and casein, which is a naturally-occurring protein in cow’s milk.  Read More

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