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Consumer Electronics

Consumer Electronics Biomassbased Bathroom Scale Unitika Ltd. of Osaka, Japan, has successfully developed a new blend of biomass-based resin, which has unprecedented properties such as mouldability, heat resistance, durability and impact resistance. Unitika’s techniques for improving polylactic acid (PLA) and their accumulated knowledge of producing engineering plastic blends have brought this latest development to a successful conclusion. The new PLA blend, known as TERRAMAC ® resin, offers impact properties comparable to those of ABS. Tanita is a world leader in precision electronic scales. With an almost 50% share of the domestic market the name of Tanita is now a household word in Japan. Tanita recently introduced their second generation of ‘green’ products with the HS-302 Solar Digital Scale. This environmentally conscious scale has built-in solar cells that draw power from sunlight or from ordinary household light, eliminating the need to buy or recharge batteries, as well as saving landfill sites from additional battery contamination. The new eco-friendly bathroom scale, nicknamed ECO Living, is equipped with a chassis made from the new Terramac resin, which contributes to about a 20% reduction in CO 2 emission for the product compared with the previous model. Tanita has started selling this new bathroom scale mainly in Europe, where the population is relatively ecologicallyminded, and plans to expand the sales area step by step. Technological background of Unitika In order to improve the properties of PLA, Unitika developed a world-first commercially available heat resistant PLA sheet in October 2002. After that, the shortcomings with regard to heat resistance, flame retardation, and impact resistance of PLA resins for injection moulding and foam were overcome by applying Unitika’s nanotechnology, plant-based reinforcements, inorganic fillers, etc. Unitika’s PLA-based durable Terramac resins have been used in commercially available cell phones, dishwasher-proof lacquered bowls, digital printers, copying machines, and more. These ground-breaking resins have driven the expansion of the PLA market. The new Terramac alloy type can also be used for high mechanical load conditions. Unitika’s new Terramac alloy, as used in Tanita’s new bathroom scale, has the following features: • heat resistance, durability, impact resistance, and processability equal to or surpassing ABS • about 20% less emission of CO 2 than ABS • suitable for many of the same applications as ABS • compliance with ‘BiomassPla’, which means biomass-based plastics, certified by Japan Biomass Plastics Association (JBPA) 24 bioplastics MAGAZINE [06/09] Vol. 4

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