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NISSEI Expands Their Effort to Establish Sustainable Societies by Utilizing a Plant-Based Biodegradable Material

  • 2019/8/28 Products Information
  • NISSEI PLASTIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD. has been operating their business in accordance with their environmental policies. As a part of their ongoing effort to establish sustainable zero-waste societies and to reduce carbon footprints to combat climate change, NISSEI developed a PLA (Polylactic Acid)(*1) injection molding machine system. The technologies used in this system materialize a practical use of plant-based eco-friendly PLA materials as well as expanding the envelope for its applications. A machine equipped with these new technologies will be exhibited at “K2019,” the world’s largest plastics-related exhibition held in Germany this October to kick off their active sales activities targeting the global market.

    [Background and Reasons for Developing PLA Injection Molding Technologies]
    1. Microplastics and plastic debris in the oceans are becoming a world-wide problem, and the principles of 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) have been discussed to make effective uses of the resources. NISSEI has actively been promoting the uses of plant-based biodegradable plastics to tackle the issue from a different angle in addition to the 3Rs approach. Biodegradable resins can be composted and biodegraded to return to nature. Therefore, it will prevent the plastic wastes from entering the oceans.
    2. PLA, which is derived from corns and sugar canes, is considered as one of the best prospects among the biodegradable resins to replace petroleum-based plastics in the future. However, it possesses low heat resistance (heat resistance: around 60 degrees Celsius), low shock resistance, poor fluidity and mold release. Therefore, its uses in injection molding are still limited. Currently, the uses of PLA materials are mostly limited to packaging films and agricultural sheets using extrusion and inflation molding machines.
    Most of the plastic debris floating in the oceans are disposed single-use products. A new French law will require all disposable tableware to be made from 50% or more biologically-sourced materials that can be composted by 2020 in order to reduce marine plastic debris. Other regulations to reduce plastics bags and disposable containers have been enforced in many countries. To offer a solution to this worldwide movement, NISSEI developed practical thin-wall container molding technologies that can replace petroleum-based disposable containers with 100% PLA.

    [A Summary of the Thin-Wall PLA Injection Molding Technologies]
    In standard PLA molding processes, it is prone to have short shots in thin-wall parts since the fluidity of PLA is very poor, and solidification starts before the flow paths have been completely filled. NISSEI came up with a new technology to mix supercritical carbon dioxide into molten PLA to improve the fluidity of injected material. It makes injection molding of the world’s thinnest level (0.65mm) thin-wall container possible while achieving super high transparency.
    To make practical use of these technologies, NISSEI teamed up with Komatsu & Associates (*2) to combine NISSEI’s injection molding machine and mold processing technology with Mr. Komatsu’s patents, how-how, and its related technologies in PLA molding.

    “As a global company, NISSEI will enrich communities through plastics” is NISSEI Group’s corporate philosophy. Since its inauguration in 1947, NISSEI captured plastics’ potentials for manufacturing uses to enrich our lives. In order to deliver its excellent benefits throughout the world, NISSEI has been making ongoing effort in researching and developing the mold processing technologies, injection molding machines, and the technologies to process new materials.
    NISSEI is eager to share the benefits of plastics (e.g., lightweight, strength, heat resistance, chemical resistance, shape flexibility, easy processability, etc.) with people around the globe while striving for zero environmental impact. As a part of their ongoing effort to establish sustainable zero-waste societies, NISSEI continues to highlight the benefits of PLA to the world so that it will be popularized and utilized in the future as well as developing the infrastructures.

    [Additional Information]
    *1 PLA (Polylactic Acid)
    PLA is one of the plant-based plastics (biomass plastics), which does not depend on fossil resources. Starches are extracted from corns and sugarcanes, then fermented to create lactic acid.
    Polylactic acid is made by polymerizing the lactic acid.
    Below is the comparison of the amount of PLA that can be made from the plants. If corns are 1:
    • Sweet potatoes, potatoes, and beats: 1/10
    • Sugarcanes: 1/2
    • Rice and wheats: the same as corns
    The same amount of PLA as corns can be made from rice and wheats; however, these are mainly consumed as food. Since 80% of corns are made for industrial uses, most of PLA materials are currently made from the industrial corns.
    PLA is biodegradable and can be broken down into carbon dioxide and water by microorganisms. Carbon dioxide released during the process is absorbed by plants, and the plants produce starch through photosynthesis, which is a raw material of PLA. Therefore, it is attracting wide attention as a “carbon neutral” material. According to European Bioplastics Association, the production of PLA will be increased by 50% plus in 2022 compared to 2017.

    *2 About Mr. Michio Komatsu.
    • President of Komatsu & Associates
    • Master of Monodzukuri (manufacturing)
    • A board director of Japan Society of Plastics Technology
    • A fellow of the Institution of Professional Engineers, Japan
    • A former Cluster Ambassador of Rhone-Alpes region in France
    • The Commendation for Science and Technology (Technology Category) by The Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology
    • The Prime Minister's Award of The 7th Monodzukuri Nippon (Japan's Manufacturing) Grand Award
    • Master of Monodzukuri (manufacturing)
    Mr. Michio Komatsu provides consulting of mold design, production, and injection molding production systems from small to large listed companies.
    He possesses 38 PLA molding process related patents in Japan, France, Germany, and United States (280 inventions) as well as expertise in its related technologies.
    • [Examples of Thin-Wall Transparent PLA Glasses]
      [Examples of Thin-Wall Transparent PLA Glasses]
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