Innovation of the Week: 2013

Professor Plastic loves to share new innovations in plastics that contribute to sustainability, safety, longer lives and better performance. Choose an Innovation of the Week to learn more.

  • Wine glasses against sunset
    Wine not? December 19, 2013 - Fear not, wine lovers. A new portable, premium wine serving is making headway at concerts, outdoor events and other venues—made from the same recyclable plastic as beverage bottles. Learn More
  • Peyton in plastics
    Peyton in plastics... December 12, 2013 - After an injury in Indianapolis, what did Peyton Manning rely on to play three weeks later in Denver? An ankle brace made with polyurethane plastics—manufactured in Indianapolis. Learn More
  • Cello made of plastics
    Can you see the music? December 5, 2013 - Move over, Stradivarius. Bayer MaterialScience has developed a transparent, futuristic cello using polyurethane plastics, incorporating color and lighting effects—even video. Learn More
  • That's pretty cool...
    That's pretty cool... November 21, 2013 - Forgot ice for the tailgate? A new cooler uses two plastics to provide enough insulation to keep a case of beverages “refreshingly cold” for at least 10 hours, the manufacturer says. Learn More
  • Plastic medical device
    The knee bone's connected to the... November 14, 2013 - FDA recently cleared a new plastic medical device that allows surgeons to attach tendons, ligaments and soft tissue to bone—and it fastens better than screws, the manufacturer says. Learn More
  • Soldiers rescuing another soldier
    To the rescue... November 7, 2013 - Can plastic foam save lives on the battlefield? Pentagon is funding research to determine if polyurethane foam can stem internal bleeding in wounded soldiers. Learn More
  • Cell phone with bandage on it
    Stronger under stress? October 31, 2013 - Duke University researchers have created a plastic they say actually gets stronger when stressed—it may find uses in artificial hearts and prosthetics. (Or maybe cell phones…?) Learn More
  • Shark
    The "power" of plastics October 24, 2013 - Breakthrough in solar power? Stanford University researchers have dramatically improved the ability of lightweight plastic solar cells to absorb sunlight and conduct electricity. Learn More
  • Coffee cup with creamers
    Hot Stuff!! October 17, 2013 - An Australian company has developed a way to make its plastic coffee cup lids turn bright red when hot to warn against scalding. The Aussie company now ships the “Smart Lid” worldwide. Learn More
  • Young boy wearing hockey helmet
    Power plays in the basement? October 10, 2013 - Clear out the ping-pong table, it’s time for basement ice hockey! While long used in commercial rinks, plastic “ice” flooring is now available to homeowners. Watch those body checks… Learn More
  • Woman about to bite apple
    Just chomp to clean your chompers October 3, 2013 - Brush your teeth in six seconds? A new 3-D printed plastic toothbrush makes brushing your teeth “as easy as biting into an apple,” says the manufacturer. Learn More
  • Broken glasses
    Heal Thyself September 26, 2013 - Remember the liquid metal cyborg in Terminator 2 that could repair itself? Researchers have developed a plastic (nickname: Terminator) that heals itself after being cut into pieces. Learn More
  • Hand touching computer screen
    High-five! September 19, 2013 - Ever wish you could give a friend a high-five through your computer screen? It may be possible in the future with a sheet of plastic bubbles that pop up to replicate the pressure of touch. Learn More
  • Red car with green recycle symbol
    Now THIS is environmental engineering... September 12, 2013 - BMW makes its i3 high production electric car using carbon fiber-reinforced plastics—plus, 25 percent of plastics in interior are made from recycled material or renewable resources. Learn More
  • Young girl smiling
    From markers to motors... September 5, 2013 - Back to school means lots of colorful markers. Crayola Colorcycle™ program now takes back used markers from schools and turns the plastics into fuel. Learn More
  • Woman enjoying her music
    Can you feeeeeeel the music …? August 22, 2013 - 4D headphones? Thin plastic film imprinted with electrodes vibrates to stimulate physical sensations in your head. Manufacturer: It’s like putting “subwoofers on ears.” Learn More
  • Plastic balloon
    Connecting the world ... August 15, 2013 - Can lightweight polyethylene plastic balloons help Google deliver Internet service to unserved regions of the globe? That’s what “Project Loon” is all about… (Photo: John Shenk, AP) Learn More
  • Printing plastic bones
    Printing plastic bones August 8, 2013 - Doctors use plastics (PKKK or polyetherketoneketone) to replace 75 percent of man’s skull. Manufacturer says 3-D printed plastic implants can replace injured bones throughout the human body. Learn More
  • Plastic umbrella
    Better design with plastics August 1, 2013 - A plastic umbrella wins an international design award? This Italian umbrella is made completely of tough, flexible polypropylene plastic – no more wrestling with flimsy umbrellas! Learn More
  • New running shoes with plastic components
    Need a spring in your step? How about 16 ... July 25, 2013 - Can a shoe do your running for you? Nope — but this new running shoe features an insole with 16 plastic blades that Adidas says are designed to spring back and propel you forward as you run. Learn More
  • From bottles to bridges
    From bottles to bridges July 18, 2013 - Bridges made from shampoo bottles? Axion says its bridges made from recycled HDPE and polystyrene plastics won’t “rust, splinter, crumble, rot” and require “virtually no maintenance.” Learn More
  • Blue cloudy sky with sun
    Taking flight with plastics July 11, 2013 - Plastics from Bayer and Solvay help lighten the load on innovative airplane that crossed the country using solar power. Next trip for the “Solar Impulse”? Around the world… Learn More
  • Soldiers carrying an injured soldier
    A few precious minutes ... June 27, 2013 - Synthetic platelets made with plastics may save lives by slowing internal bleeding of wounded soldiers or crash victims, researchers say. Learn More
  • Astronaut with Earth in background
    Totally cosmic ... June 20, 2013 - Problem: galactic cosmic rays bombard astronauts. NASA moon probe finding: plastic shielding is “pound for pound more effective for shielding against cosmic radiation than aluminum. Learn More
  • Wonderbag
    Wonderbag = more efficient cooking June 13, 2013 - Can a simple bag insulated with recycled polystyrene foam make cooking more efficient—saving energy, water and time? See how plastics enable the Wonderbag™. Learn More
  • Lego sculpture
    Iconic plastic bricks become works of art June 6, 2013 - ABS plastic (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) gives LEGO® bricks their stick-togetherness … here’s artist Nathan Sawaya’s Yellow from THE ART OF THE BRICK® ( Learn More
  • The Crane Game
    "Try the claw ..." May 30, 2013 - Play “The Crane Game” app from Covanta and have fun learning about turning non-recycled plastics and other household waste into energy. Learn More
  • Man holding baby
    Doctors "print" 3D plastic breathing tube May 23, 2013 A plastic tube made by a 3-D printer saves a baby’s life by supporting his breathing airway – the “resorbable” plastic will dissolve within three years, according to doctors. Learn More
  • Plastics from algae
    Plastics from algae May 16, 2013 - Can algae + sunlight = plastics? Researchers have engineered blue-green algae that use photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into a chemical used to make plastics, paints and fuels. Learn More
  • Male and female zombies
    Plastics come "alive" May 9, 2013 - Zombies in the operating room? Not quite … high-tech plastic “digitally controlled mannequins” simulate real patients to give medical students some real-world experience.” Learn More
  • 3-D in the palm of your hand
    3-D in the palm of your hand May 2, 2013 - 3-D without the glasses. Thanks to “half a million perfectly shaped lenses” nano-imprinted on plastic film, games and images will be seen in brilliant 3-D on mobile devices. Learn More
  • Hand touching phone screen
    No more cracked phones? April 23, 2013 - Dare you to drop it! Samsung plans to replace the glass screen on its new Galaxy Note® phablet (phone/tablet) with a thinner, lighter, “unbreakable” plastic screen. Learn More
  • polycarbonate plastic license
    That's one tough ID... April 18, 2013 - The end of the fake ID? New York State will make drivers’ licenses from super-tough polycarbonate plastic—officials say the high-tech licenses are almost impossible to forge. Learn More
  • Two light bulbs
    That's one tough bulb… April 11, 2013 - This polycarbonate LED bulb uses 90 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb, is “virtually unbreakable and shock resistant,” and lasts nearly six years, says the manufacturer.
  • Cell phone repels water
    Cell phone repels water April 4, 2013 - OMG I dropped my cell phone in the sink!!! No worries, according to the maker of a “hydrophobic polymer layer” (OK, plastic) that coats the outside and the inside of some current cell phones. Learn More
  • Delivered with less fuel
    Delivered with less fuel March 28, 2013 - UPS “Composite Car” with plastic composite body panels weighs 900 pounds less than traditional UPS truck, helping lead to 40 percent increase in fuel efficiency. Learn More
  • Play Offs
    And the winner is ...? March 21, 2013 - Six college basketball teams are wearing REALLY BRIGHTLY COLORED Adidas uniforms made from 60% recycled plastics. Regardless who wins, chalk one up for the planet. Learn More
  • Two men examining a bulb
    What's a FIPEL bulb? Researchers: Look for the glowing plastic “field-induced polymer electroluminescent light” (FIPEL) bulb this year — more energy-efficient than LEDs. Photo: Wake Forest University. Learn More
  • Auto windows begin diet
    Auto windows begin diet March 14, 2013 - Need to shed some pounds? Shatter-resistant polycarbonate plastic could cut automobile window weight in half and enhance aerodynamics to help improve fuel efficiency.
  • Ocean waves
    Plastics help rebuild March 8, 2013 - Strong, long-lasting polyurethane plastic composite is being used to rebuild seawalls following Hurricane Sandy. Learn More
  • Tire on blue car
    Where the plastics meet the road February 22, 2013 - Time to reinvent the wheel? To improve fuel economy, one auto wheel maker now uses plastic composites to improve aerodynamics and reduce weight, potentially adding more than 1 MPG. Learn More
  • Plastic eye lens
    Plastic eye lens February 14, 2013 - Hundreds or thousands of ultra-thin layers of plastics form a lens that works like the human eye lens—and potentially may be used to repair damaged human eyes. Learn More
  • Plastic protectant
    Plastic protectant February 7, 2013 - Tired of doing laundry? A new coating made with plastics is virtually impervious to most liquids. It could protect against stains and bacteria – maybe even biological and chemical threats on the battlefield.
  • Space habitats
    Space habitats January 31, 2013 - NASA looks to inflatable plastic space habitats for international Space Station—layers of tough plastics help protect against severe temperatures, space debris moving seven times faster than a bullet. Learn More
  • Burts Bees
    Recycled plastics January 24, 2013 - Burt’s Bees is partnering with Preserve’s “Gimme 5” recycling program to collect polypropylene plastic (#5) lip balm tubes and caps, which Preserve uses to make new consumer products. Learn More
  • Corvette stingray
    Corvette stingray January 17, 2013 - Plastics + carbon fiber = ultra cool, lighter 2014 Corvette Stingray. Tough, lightweight plastic composites help cars go further on a gallon of gas—and improve safety and performance. Learn More
  • Dream reaction project
    Dream reaction project January 7, 2013 - Can plastics be made from carbon dioxide? Bayer MaterialScience’s “Dream Reaction” project hopes to make it a reality. Learn More