Materials Driving Product Innovation in 2010

[Via Fast Company]

The folks at Material ConneXion recently gave Fast Company a peek into their annual Material Technology Reports for 2010. Here’s five of the twenty significant developments they’ve identified in the report:

1. Newsflash: plastics are made made from oil. So a lot of research is going into finding real-world feasible alternatives to the black goo. Pictured above is a skiboot which performs to the same specs, but is made from Dupont’s Hytrel RS bio-plastic–part of a new generation of plastics made with plant-based derivatives rather than oil. (Do a search for “bio-plastics” in this blog for more related articles.)

2. Recycled products used to be the province of cheap, low-end goods that would simply be thrown away once used. As companies begin managing the entire product lifecycle which creates new opportunities for recycled materials. As an example, Recycline’s Preserve line of products can  can be returned, at any time, to the manufacturer for 100% reuse. Pictured above is their “paperboard” cutting board, which mimics wood but is made completely of recycled paper.

3. Despite their Earth-friendly source, bioplastics create their own problem because can’t be recycled–they’re not included in the waste streams recognized by the seven recycling symbols currently in use. But now The Society of Plastics, which developed the symbols, is creating a new designation for PLA, a corn-based plastic . Problem solved.

4. Imitation is the kindest form of flattery. Biomimickry is finally making its way into mass-produced products. One of several examples outlined in the Material ConneXion report is Sharklet (pictured above, lower right). Sharks don’t have to clean their skin because the skin itself prevents microbes from growing on it, thanks to its microscopic texture. Sharklet mimics that in an adhesive film that can replace chemically based anti-microbial treatments.  Sweet.

5. Plastic, it turns out, is filled with all kinds of nasty stuff that can seep into our bodies; we’ve only now begun to understand all the disastrous effects that those can cause. But Plastic doesn’t have to be toxic, and one company, Green Toys, is making an entire line of products that are free from BPA, phthalates, and lead paint. (Pictured above, lower right.)

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