Düsseldorf, Germany — Positive Plastics may sound like a contradiction in terms today, but it's the name of an initiative launched last year by three materials experts who are seeking to provide designers and engineers with reliable, trusted information about alternatives to fossil-based plastics.
Positive Plastics was at K 2022 in Düsseldorf with a newly updated sample kit, which could be seen — and touched — at the booths of various participating manufacturers.
The three members of the Positive Plastics team — Efrat Friedland, Erik Moth-Müller and Markus Paloheimo, all consultants and educators in the materials and polymers field — were 'extremely overwhelmed' by the response to their first sample kit, launched at last year's Fakuma.
"In fact, what we very often hear is that this is the right kit at the right time," said Friedland. For designers, it is very difficult to get the information they need about alternatives to fossil-based polymers, she explained.
"Not only do they lack the time to research such materials, but they also very often lack the connections to the manufacturers, and they have to navigate between a lot of greenwashing. Positive Plastics caters for those who are looking for a valid, commercially available, injection moldable polymer with a reduced environmental footprint," she said.
The sample kit developed by Positive Plastics consists of a number of square-shaped samples with 13-14 different mechanical properties, such as an internal hinge, corners, stress points, different wall thicknesses and different surface treatments. The focus is on injection moldable plastic materials with a reduced environmental footprint: PCR, PIR, bio-based, biocomposite and mass-balanced plastics from various manufacturers. Each sample shows how the material in question behaves under different conditions, its properties and potential applications — essential information for designers tasked with selecting the material for a particular product.
Designers, however, are not the only ones who have benefited. Materials producers have, in the past, also found it very difficult to reach designers. By participating in the Positive Plastics platform, they gain a direct line of communications with the designers working in the industry.
"They have understood that, today, they must offer alternative solutions to designers," said Friedland. "And once they have such materials, Positive Plastics is a fantastic platform to be part of."