SPE Library

The SPE Library contains thousands of papers, presentations, journal briefs and recorded webinars from the best minds in the Plastics Industry. Spanning almost two decades, this collection of published research and development work in polymer science and plastics technology is a wealth of knowledge and information for anyone involved in plastics.

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3 Challenges of Testing Plastics
Sammi Sadler & Stephanie Williams, September 2023

The world of plastics is constantly evolving, with new applications such as high-performance polymers, additive manufacturing, and bioplastics continually emerging to transform the field. Common to all applications - old and new - is the importance of mechanical testing that ensures manufacturers are producing quality products. In this webinar we'll be discussing the specific challenges of testing plastics, the importance of repeatable and reliable mechanical testing results, and what you can do to improve your results. Topics

  • Overview of recent changes in key standards
  • Factors that influence test results – solutions and troubleshooting tips
  • How to increase laboratory efficiency and throughput to improve test times

Biodegradation Studies and Experiments for Materials in the Marine Environment - Part 3
Dr. Micheline Labrie, August 2023

In 2022, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth established a state-of-the-art research and product development facility to advance the science, standards, and products related to biodegradability of plastics in the marine environment. The primary objective of the Biodegradability Laboratory is to test and develop new biodegradable materials suitable for use in various industries, such as textiles, packaging, and other sectors that contribute significantly to marine plastic pollution.  This webinar will offer an overview of the laboratory's first year, highlighting the challenges, successes, and insights gained during the setup and testing of two Columbus Instrument's respirometry systems. A 60-channel and 80-channel aerobic Micro-Oxymax system were used to develop a standard operating procedure in adherence to the ASTM D6691 standard method. An overview of the full suite of instrumentation, equipment, and assays included in the standard operating procedure, biodegradation experiment setup and monitoring, and critical lessons learned will be covered.

Biodegradation Studies and Experiments for Materials in the Marine Environment - Part 2
Linda Amaral-Zettler, July 2023

The Marine Biodegradation Standard Test Method ASTM D6691 “Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Biodegradation of Plastic Materials in the Marine Environment by a Defined Microbial Consortium or Natural Sea Water Inoculum” is currently under revision at the ASTM International and ASTM D7081 “The Standard Specification for Non-Floating Biodegradable Plastics in the Marine Environment”, withdrawn in 2014, is being reworked into a new standard specification “Specification for Non-Floating Biodegradable Products in the Aquatic Environment WK75797” and broadens the scope to include fresh and marine waters. ASTM D6691 optimizes conditions (temperature, surface area, nutrients) to accelerate the biodegradation test at 30°C, but new ISO test methods broaden this temperature to include more realistic temperatures encountered in the marine environment from 15°-25°C, and allow for the use of films in addition to powders for testing. This talk will provide a brief overview of existing ASTM and ISO/CEN marine degradation and biodegradation test methods and specifications and share experiences using open and closed respirometry systems followed during ISO Round Robin Marine Biodegradation Testing and subsequent follow-up experiments.

An Overview of Additive Manufacturing: Exploring the 7 Families of 3D Printing Technologies
Elliot Saldukaite, July 2023

Join us for an insightful and educational webinar as we delve into the captivating world of additive manufacturing! Through its partnership with 3Dnatives, the largest online media platform for 3D printing, SPE is proud to present this webinar dedicated to additive manufacturing. It will take place on July 12th 11AM ET and will be made available free of charge exclusively to members of SPE.

Embark on a comprehensive journey through the seven families of 3D printing technologies while gaining an understanding on the landscape of the 3D printing industry. With a focus on the current state of additive manufacturing, we will explore the latest advancements, trends, and innovations that are shaping the industry and may define the future of additive manufacturing.

Led by Elliot Saldukaite, 3Dnatives' passionate Technical & Digital Content Specialist, this webinar aims to equip members with a solid foundation on the topic of 3D printing, enabling them to further explore the dynamic world of additive manufacturing as well as understand the processes and solutions available.

Don't miss out on this opportunity to broaden your horizons and discover the potential of additive manufacturing. Reserve your spot today and join us on July 12th to discover more about 3D printing and how it can affect the plastic and manufacturing industries.

Biodegradation Studies and Experiments for Materials in the Marine Environment - Part 1
Dr. Jo Ann Ratto, June 2023

Marine debris continues to be an immense problem, thus eliciting the global emphasis on pollution prevention. Biodegradable polymers have historically been studied as a solution to reduce solid waste for the military. However, biodegradation is a challenge for most materials in the marine environment. A tiered approach to evaluate polymers in the marine environment will be reviewed. The Tier 1 method utilized an optimized environment, sample preparation and conditions to evaluate biodegradation by respirometry. A Tier 2 test used weight loss as a function of time to evaluate actual items in the marine environment, and a Tier 3 test had items positioned in the deep sea for weight loss studies. Toxicity as well as disintegration were also studied for all samples that underwent biodegradation testing. Overall, this tier 1 approach was a valuable screening method for polymers while tier 2 and 3 were real-life test methods for determining the fate of polymers in the marine environment. Sample data will be displayed to show the types of materials that biodegrade in the marine environment.

Build A Strong Business Case for Bringing 3D Printing Into Your Plastic Injection Operations
Arnaud Divialle, June 2023

3D printing holds great promise for manufacturing. And yet, deployment and adoption has lagged. One reason for this appears to be that building the business case for 3D printing is a major roadblock for many companies. Join us to find out why building your business case is critical to successfully using 3D printing in plastic injection, and to learn how to build robust justifications for investing in 3D printing by:

  • Identifying which parts would benefit from 3D printing, and how
  • Estimating the reduction in cycle time achievable with 3D-printed inserts/li>
  • Reducing uncertainty about the benefits of 3D printing/li>
In this webinar, we discuss the challenges of adopting 3D printing in the plastic injection industry and share our in-depth knowledge of powerful solutions you can use to make the best investment decisions. You'll learn:
  • How front-end simulation can help you make better decisions faster
  • What to consider in your decisions
  • Strategies for reducing the risk of adopting new technologies

Elevating Aerospace Composite Manufacturing: The Role of Thermal Analysis In Maximizing Efficiency And Minimizing Waste
Alec Redmann and Ryley Karl, May 2023

Thermosets and composites can be difficult materials to use in serial production. How do you know what combinations of curing temperatures and time can be used? When is it safe to demold parts? And are the final properties what you expect? Without this information, it is impossible to optimize your cycle times and minimize waste. This webinar will introduce how thermal analysis is being utilized by DarkAero to manufacture high-performance two-seat aircraft and composite structures with a new level of technical understanding and engineering confidence. The material covered will include:

  • Fundamentals of manufacturing composite structures and sandwich panels.
  • Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and how it is used to understand curing reactions.
  • Curing kinetics and simple methods to reduce cycle times.
  • High-force dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) and how it enables unprecedented evaluation of structural composites.

Large Thermoforming Molds Twice as Fast for Half the Cost
Bradley Mount, Clay Guillory, Dave Rheinheimer, Nino Pecina, April 2023

To address growing supply chain pressures, manufacturers are turning to Additive Manufacturing (AM) to create quality, cost-efficient products faster. Plastic thermoforming companies like Duo Form have discovered how to leverage large-format extrusion 3D printing using low-cost plastic pellets to gain a competitive edge. They are producing medium-to-large-sized thermoforming molds in less than half the time, and at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional mold-making methods.

Join engineering and business experts from 3D Systems and Duo Form as we dive deep into the integration that has made pellet-extrusion AM so beneficial for Duo Form, and how you can reap the same benefits in your own thermoforming processes.

In this webinar, you will learn about:

  • How pellet extrusion 3D printing enables up to 10X faster mold print times, with up to 10X savings on material costs
  • Duo Form specific case studies and ROI examples
  • Best practices that improve AM production and mold performance such as: how to print porous molds, using infill settings for improved vacuum pulls, and more!
  • How to select the right AM solution, including options for additive-subtractive hybrid systems

The Consequences of Ductile-to-Brittle Transitions in Plastics
Jeff Jansen, February 2023

Thermoplastic resins are utilized in many applications because of their unique property set, including their ductile response to applied stress. This ductility is associated with the viscoelastic nature of polymers and is attributed to their unique molecular structure. In spite of that inherent ductility, most plastic components fail through one of the many brittle fracture modes. Experience through conducting thousands of plastic component failure analyses has shown that less than 5% were associated with ductile overload. The remainder represent brittle fractures of normally ductile materials. Thus, within evaluations of plastic component failures, the focus of the investigation frequently turns to identifying the nature of the ductile to brittle transition. This relatively brittle response to stress is evident through the examination and characterization of the fracture surface morphology. There are numerous factors, associated with material, processing, design, and service conditions that influence a ductile-to-brittle transition within plastic materials. These include:

  • Temperature
  • Stress Concentration
  • Chemical Contact
  • Molecular Weight
  • Degradation
  • Filler Content
  • Contamination
  • Poor Fusion
  • Strain Rate
  • Time Under Load
  • Crystallinity
  • Plasticizer Content

Jeff Jansen, November 2022

Plastics are viscoelastic materials, meaning that they exhibit both viscous and elastic characteristics when undergoing deformation. This is due to their unique molecular structure. The polymer molecules consist of long chains with high molecular weight. Those individual polymer chains are and tangled into each other, but are mobile and can slide past each other because they do not share chemical bonds with the other chains. Because of their viscoelastic nature, the mechanical properties of plastics vary depending on the conditions under which stress is applied. Most commonly, the mechanical properties of plastics will vary with temperature, time under load, and strain rate. Their viscoelastic nature is important to those designing, manufacturing, or using plastic components. and is a fundamental concept of plastic behavior that needs to be understood. It is important to recognize the viscoelastic nature of plastic materials so that their behavior in the intended application can be understood. This webinar will expose the attendees to the following concepts:

  • The viscoelastic nature of plastics is attributed to their molecular structure.
  • Thermoplastic materials have both long-term and short-term properties – they flow due to the application of stress over time.
  • Most mechanical testing of plastic materials is actually testing the material’s viscoelasticity – how the plastic flows when different stresses are applied.
  • Plastics are time, temperature, and strain rate sensitive.

Polymer Characterization – Indentation and Scratch
Mark Haase, November 2022

Polymers, in their various forms, are a vital part of our material infrastructure and continue to grow in importance and utilization. Due to their unique and diverse mechanical properties, they offer solutions to technical challenges in many applications. Whether their role is as a bulk material, composite, or coating, quantifying the resulting properties and responses to stress is vital to development and production. As these applications grown in complexity and shrink in size, quantification by traditional means becomes increasingly difficult. It is also increasingly vital, as tolerances tighten and conditions become more extreme. This presentation will review the mechanical properties that are quantifiable by modern instrumented indentation and scratch testing systems. It also includes practical examples exploring those properties and their relevance to a range of applications.

Applications of Wound Thermoplastic Composites for Injection Molding
Lucas Ciccarelli, October 2022

Continuous fiber reinforced thermoplastic (CFR TP) components have anisotropic (direction dependent) properties which can be designed to withstand specific load cases. Combined with the fact that their specific strength is higher than that of metals, while the ability to machine them is comparable, there is an opportunity for producing lighter, simpler, plastic components with tailored properties. This webinar will introduce the Laser-Assisted Tape Deposition (LATD) technology of AFPT GmbH and the production capacities of its subsidiary, Alformet GmbH. Then the applications of CFR TP components will be explored, while focusing on how inserts for injection molding, and the overmolding of tubular structures can allow for new part designs otherwise considered unachieveable.

An Introduction to Dynamic Mechanical Analysis
Jeff Jansen, October 2022

Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) is a thermoanalytical technique that measures the stiffness (modulus) and damping (tan delta) of polymeric materials to assess the viscoelastic properties as a function of time, temperature, and frequency. Polymeric materials display both elastic and viscous behavior simultaneously, and DMA can separate these responses. Polymers, composed of long molecular chains, have unique viscoelastic properties, which combine the characteristics of elastic solids and Newtonian fluids. As part of the DMA evaluation, a small deformation is applied to a sample in a cyclic manner. This allows the material’s response to stress, temperature, and frequency to be studied. The analysis can be in several modes, including tension, shear, compression, torsion, and flexure. DMA is a very powerful tool for the analysis of plastics and can provide information regarding: This webinar will provide an introductory look into DMA and how it can be applied to better understand plastic behavior, both long-term and short-term.

  1. Modulus
  2. Damping
  3. Glass Transition
  4. Softening Temperature
  5. Creep Behavior
  6. Stress Relaxation
  7. Degree of Cure

Can 3D Printed Mold Tools Solve Your Supply Chain Challenges?
Craig Crossley and Dan Cronin, October 2022

The age-old supply chain challenge - do order production tooling without completing design validation in end-use material in order to save weeks to months of lead times? With quick-turn injection molded parts from 3D printed tools, you don’t have to sacrifice the prototype phase to meet product deadlines. At a fraction of the cost and time of traditional steel and aluminum tools, designers can leverage this technology to iterate new designs many times over - and FAST. Materials ranging from commodity to high-performance resins can run on these tools with complex geometries. This webinar will highlight the benefits of this technology, use cases, and customer case studies where this solution helped bridge the gap between design and production tooling.

Navigating Plastic Material Selection
Jeff Jansen, September 2022

Material selection is one of the fundamental aspects that will determine the success or failure of a product. With so many choices available today regarding plastic materials, it is imperative that anyone involved in product design or material selection understand resin properties and how they will affect end product performance as well as part design and manufacturability. While plastic material selection is a frequent topic of discussion, it is not as simple as it may first appear. A thorough understanding of the short-term and long-term properties of the potential plastic resins is essential. To help make the best plastic resin choice, is also essential to have a basic knowledge of polymer chemistry.   This webinar will address some of the considerations that need to be made when selecting a plastic resin, and outline the challenges and benefits of selecting an appropriate material. The presentation will introduce a method of systematic selection that will optimize the plastics material selection process.

Increase 3D Print Speeds Up to 2X and Throughput up to 3X with 3D Systems
David Leigh, June 2022

Recognized over the years for its exceptional prototyping quality and part accuracy, SLA-based additive manufacturing is changing in a big way, with an automation-ready solution that offers up to twice the print speed and up to three times the throughput of existing SLA systems. Join us as we reveal the revolutionary innovations that we are introducing with our new SLA 750 full workflow solution. Providing breakthrough gains in speed, throughput, material performance, and cost-efficiency for factory-floor production, this complete solution features production-grade materials, automation compatibility, and AI-based seamless integration with all factory floor equipment. These innovations now more effectively answer your requirements, from prototyping to production, whether you are a service bureau, automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, foundry or medical device manufacturer.

UV Effects on Plastic Materials: Degradation, Testing and Protection
Jeff Jansen, May 2022

If you work with plastic components that include outdoor exposure, then "Ultraviolet (UV) Effects on Plastic Material" will provide you with information that will enhance your understanding of the interaction between UV radiation-based weathering and plastic resins, and help prevent premature failure. Topics covered during this session include an introduction to UV degradation and an explanation of the failure mechanism characteristic of UV radiation/plastic interaction. Case studies associated with UV radiation exposure will be presented. You will learn…

  • The mechanism of UV degradation
  • The materials susceptible to and most affected by UV degradation
  • The effects of UV degradation on plastic materials
  • How the use of stabilizers can improve UV resistance of plastic materials
  • How testing can be used to determine whether plastic materials are susceptible to UV degradation

An Overview of Nylon Resins
Jeff Jansen, April 2022

Nylon (polyamide) (PA) resins are very versatile, and accordingly are used in many different applications. As a family, they have a diverse property range. However, in order to effectively design, produce, and utilize products made from polyamides, it is essential to thoroughly understand the nature of this material, including the mechanical, thermal, and chemical properties. Polyamide (nylon) is a generic designation for a family of synthetic thermoplastics, based on aliphatic or semi-aromatic polymers with amide functionality. Polyamides can be mixed with a wide variety of additives, fillers, and reinforcers to achieve many different properties. Many different types of polyamide resins are available commercially based upon the monomers used in the polymerization process. While the structure of polyamide is relatively straightforward, and it is often viewed as a basic resin, polyamides are used in many highly engineered and demanding applications. In order to do this, however, there must be a thorough understanding of the material. This webinar will illustrate the advantages and disadvantages over other materials and differentiate between the various types of polyamides. By understanding the critical performance characteristics of polyamides, it is possible to make smart decisions on when polyamides are suitable for an application, and which type would be most appropriate. Recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of this important class of material will help to avoid failures.

Polymer Molecular Weight: A Key Factor in Plastic Performance
Jeff Jansen, March 2022

The characteristic properties exhibited by plastics are the direct result of their unique molecular structure. Plastics are polymers of very high molecular mass. To enhance their properties, they often contain additives, however, the underlying attributes of a plastic material are determined by the polymer. The molecular weight of the base polymer is a fundamental factor in the characteristics of plastic materials. This includes the mechanical, thermal, chemical, and environmental properties of the material, and ultimately the formed part. Through the polymerization process, polymers - materials of relatively high molecular weight, macromolecules - are produced. Higher molecular weights are associated with longer molecular chains, and this results in a greater level of entanglement. This has important implications, as higher-molecular-weight grades of plastics will have superior mechanical, thermal and chemical resistance properties compared with lower molecular-weight grades of the same material. Through this webinar, the viewers will:

  • Gain an appreciation of the criticality of Molecular Weight on the performance of polymeric materials
  • Get insight as to how Molecular Weight can be altered during life cycle of the polymer
  • Identify different analytical tools to measure Molecular Weight, and recognize which is best in different circumstances
  • Polymerization
  • Molecular Weight and Its Relationship with Plastic Properties
  • Molecular Weight Distribution
  • Molecular Degradation
  • Molecular Weight Measurement
  • Complementary Methods for Assessing Molecular Degradation

Rubber O-rings
Jeff Jansen, March 2022

O-rings function as a means of sealing, essentially closing off a passageway to prevent the escape or loss of a fluid, either a liquid or a gas. An O-ring has a toric shape, and is typically manufactured from an elastomeric material. The seal is established by placing the O-ring into a cavity, known as a gland. The gland acts to compress the O-ring, and produces a zero-clearance condition, which effectively blocks the flow of the fluid. The sealing effect is produced through axial or radial compression of the O-ring. In general, O-ring seals are considered to be particularly reliable due to the simplicity of the O-ring/gland design and overall material resilience. However, under a number of circumstances failure can occur. O-ring failure can range from minor leakage to catastrophic equipment breakdown. Regardless of the magnitude, an O-ring failure can be diagnosed through proper visual and analytical techniques. This webinar will review:

  • O-ring Function
  • Failure Modes
  • Sealing System Design Factors
  • O-ring Materials – Selection and Specification

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