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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0904

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bioplasticsMAGAZINE_0904

Applications Bioplastics

Applications Bioplastics - from Walkman to Ultra-Slim OLED TVs Sony uses annually around 1.4 million tons of various materials such as plastics, metals, papers, etc., worldwide. In order to contribute to the creation of a sustainable society, Sony promotes the use of materials made from renewable resources. One typical renewable material is bioplastics made, from biomass resources. Sony has, since 2000, been continuously increasing the use of bioplastics in its electronics products. At this point in time, Sony has applied the use of bioplastics to twenty parts in over ten products, including Walkman ® casings and the accessory cap of digital SLR cameras. Not only is the application of bioplastics environmentally friendly, it is also beneficial in hedging the price risk of fossil-based plastics, because such prices are expected to go up in the long term. Thus products with bioplastics pose an attractive offering to customers. Bio-polyamide for Ultra-slim TV Sony recently applied bio-polyamide and its blend to some parts of the Ultra-slim OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) television, XEL-1, manufactured for the European region. Polyamide 11 is applied in the use of the terminal cover on the back of the television, and ABS/ polyamide 11 blend is used in the bottom casing and in the battery cover of the remote controller. This is the world’s first application of high performance bioplastics for use in a television set. In applying ABS/polyamide 11 for the remote controller reuse of existing mould tools originally designed for ABS was a prerequisite. Re-use of tools is one of the effective measures in consumer electronics to save manufacturing costs. It requires high precision to manufacture electronics products, thus the mould shrinkage had to be strictly controlled. For this reason, ABS/polyamide blend, which has a similar shrinkage ratio and mouldability to ABS, was adopted. In applying ABS/polyamide 11 for the product casings, good surface appearance of the moulding was required. Flash, flow marks, or sink marks were not permissible. With conventional plastics such as ABS it is comparatively easy to achieve good appearance, because they have a relatively wide range of moulding conditions, and moulders have sufficient experience to handle them. However, the biopolyamide exhibited completely different flow properties, so mould tests had to be carried out a number of times before finally identifying the optimum moulding conditions. PLA sheet for contactless IC card Sony also applied bioplastic to contactless IC cards. The contactless IC cards are now widespread as e-money or security cards and employ Sony FeliCa contactless smart card technology. Highly secure and tamper-resistant, FeliCa cards also support speedy data transfer. Card data can be rewritten, so that cards can be used for a long period of time. The card consists of a printed circuit board with IC chip, antenna inside and plastic lamination sheets on both sides. Sony themselves developed the PLA-based lamination sheets. This new bioplastic IC card has been adopted as a student and faculty ID card by Shohoku College in Kanagawa, Japan. 38 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/09] Vol. 4

Characteristics of bioplastic application in Sony In general, the main applications of bioplastics are in non-durable goods such as packaging, but Sony aims to further develop its applications in durable goods since the company uses significantly more plastic in electronics products. Thus the durability of the material is an important requirement. However, compostability of the material is not a priority, because in many countries electronics products are required by law to be recycled. Additionally, compostability sometimes conflicts with durability, and in this case, the products are designed to prioritize durability rather than compostability. In consumer electronics, ABS, PC and PC/ABS blends are mainly used, thus bioplastics are required to satisfy the same level of physical properties as these plastics. Regarding content ratio of biomaterials, blends of bioplastics and conventional plastics are permissible, because the main objective in using bioplastics is to reduce the use of fossil-based materials by using renewable materials. Thus polymers from bio-based monomers and fossil-based monomers are also allowable. Conclusion Applying new materials to products requires various technologies. It needs not only polymer technology, but also compounding, moulding, design, and material evaluation technology. Thus close collaboration with suppliers to aggregate the technologies and accelerate commercialization is extremely important. Sony‘s product category is very wide, including consumer electronics, games, and non-consumer electronics and devices. Each product has its own requirements with regard to material properties, such as heat resistance, shock resistance, flame resistance, stiffness, durability, and printability. No bioplastic can satisfy all requirements, thus it is expected that many kinds of bioplastics and material combinations will be introduced in the market. By applying significantly more bioplastics to products, Sony are doing their best to contribute to the creation of a sustainable society. Article contributed by Yuko Fujihira, Researcher, and Hiroyuki Mori, Senior eco-products producer Sony Corporation, Tokyo, Japan Applications www.sony.com bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/09] Vol. 4 39

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