Lina: The World’s First Biocomposite Car Made From Flax

Photos: TU Eindhoven / Ruptly / NOS

Plastics Insight

When you think about cars, the first word to come to mind is probably not sustainability. While more and more cars are becoming electric, they are still made from metal and plastic. Now, students from the Eindhoven University of Technology (NL) have created the world’s first bio-composite car, called Lina, made from flax.

Flax (Latin: Linum usitatissimum) is a great material, because it has a very strong structure. When the fibres are stacked crosswise and compressed, these panels have a similar strength to carbon and aluminium, which are materials widely used in the car industry. Carbon and aluminium are lightweight, but use six times more energy to produce than steel, which annuls the energy they save after production.

Flax is therefore an interesting alternative. It costs less energy to produce than aluminium and carbon, and it is a renewable material. What’s more, it is lightweight and can be recycled. Flax grows all over Europe, including the Netherlands.

On Wednesday (17 May), Lina the bio-composite car was revealed. The complete chassis, the body of the car and the interior are all made of bio-based materials. The chassis is made of a combination of bio-composite and bio-plastic. The honeycomb structure bio-plastic, or PLA, is used as the core material and is manufactured entirely from sugar beet. It is enveloped in bio-composite sheets that have been composed on the basis of flax. In terms of its strength-weight ratio, the bio-composite is comparable with the familiar fiberglass but manufactured in a sustainable way. The bodywork is also flax-based.

The car is electric-powered and has a total weight of 300 kilograms (661 pounds). Lina is certified by the Netherlands Vehicle Authority as roadworthy and is suitable to carry four people. It is a city car, reaching speeds up to 85 kilometres (52.8 miles) per hour. The car only needs a licence plate before it can drive on public roads.

While the students have shown that it is possible to build a car from bio-based materials, it is unlikely the car industry will pick up the idea immediately. However, there is definitely a future for bio composite cars.

Study compares P20 steel to tooling made via 3D printing

Plastics News, Roger Renstrom

Anaheim, Calif. — A Steinwall Inc. study determined that parts injection molded with additive manufacturing (AM) tools can perform comparably to parts made on a P20 steel tool.

Progress with AM technology allows development of the tools at lower cost and shorter lead time for limited runs.

Jeremy Dworshak, research and development manager for Steinwall in Coon Rapids, Minn., presented the study findings during an Antec technical session in Anaheim.

“Additive manufacturing in injection molding has been around for more than 20 years,” demonstrating limited production advantages and lower expense and making “a business case justifiable,” he said.

Additional research could examine the tools’ thermal conductivity, experiment with cooling and attempt to use alternative auxiliary cooling techniques.

For the recent study, investigators used Stratasys Ltd. machines incorporating PolyJet and Fused Deposition Modeling technologies to make tools of Stratasys-supplied epoxy-based FullCure 720 photopolymer, commonly used Digital ABS photopolymer and heat/chemical-resistant Ultem 1010 polyetherimide.

Each tool sequentially processed acetal, polycarbonate and polypropylene on a 55-ton Toshiba electric press until the tool broke or operators observed part failure from flash, short shots or excess pulling.

Each AM tool ran in the manual mode so an operator could apply Zero Stick E342 mold release agent from Stoner Inc. between cycles. No mold release was used with the P20 tool.

The FullCure 720 tool cost $500 and took six hours to produce. The Digital ABS cost $550 and took six hours. The Ultem 1010 cost $800 and took nine hours. And the P20 tool cost $2,000 and took four weeks.

By material, the Digital ABS tool, for example, molded 250 PP parts, 150 acetal parts and 40 PC parts. The P20 tool molded more than 2,000 parts.

Dworshak said future plans are advancing to blend AM benefits toward meeting injection molding demands.

The study investigated three AM tools with an understanding that many other concepts are available.

In addition to Dworshak, credits for the paper go to Steinwall employees Jake Nelson, James LaValle and Brian Kautzman; Eric Johnson with Deere & Co.’s technology innovation center in Moline, Ill.; Chad Ulven with North Dakota State University’s department of mechanical engineering; and biocomposite material designer and compounder c2renew Inc. of Fargo, N.D.

Deere and c2renew assisted in tool making and mechanical testing.

~Roger Renstrom

gustave eiffel

Famous Engineers in History: Gustave Eiffel

plastic injection molding minneapolis mnCan anyone guess what famous structure Gustave Eiffel is famous for?

If you guessed the Eiffel Tower, you’re right!

The construction of the tower was started in  1887 for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. The tower is composed of 12,000 different components and 2,500,000 rivets, all designed and assembled to handle wind pressure. The structure is a marvel in material economy, which Eiffel perfected in his years of building bridges—if it were melted down, the tower’s metal would only fill up its base about two and a half inches deep.

Onlookers were both awed that Eiffel could build the world’s tallest structure (at 984 feet) in just two years and torn by the tower’s unique design, most deriding it as hideously modern and useless. Despite the tower’s immediate draw as a tourist attraction, only years later did critics and Parisians begin to view the structure as a work of art.plastic injection molding minneapolis mn

The tower also directed Eiffel’s interest to the field of aerodynamics, and he used the structure for several experiments and built the first aerodynamic laboratory at its base, later moving the lab to the outskirts of Paris. The lab included a wind tunnel, and Eiffel’s work there influenced some of the first aviators, including the Wright Brothers. Eiffel went on to write several books on aerodynamics, most notably Resistance of the Air and Aviation, first published in 1907.

Did you know: In 1879, when the Statue of Liberty’s initial internal engineer, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, unexpectedly died, Eiffel was hired to replace him on the project. He created a new support system for the statue that would rely on a skeletal structure instead of weight to support the copper skin. Eiffel and his team built the statue from the ground up and then dismantled it for its journey to New York Harbor.

Steinwall in the Community with Sand Creek Elementary

“Sand Creek Elementary School is raising funds to build the first barrier-free playground in the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

In the past year, the school has received $105,000 in commitments – one-third of its $300,000 goal.

Barrier-free playgrounds are accessible to all students, including those who use wheelchairs and walkers. Inclusive play allows everyone to be socially and emotionally engaged, physically active, stimulated in a sensory-rich environment, ever thinking and always communicating.

Screen Shot 2017-03-17 at 3.25.03 PMPrincipal Paul Anderson has been dreaming about a new playground at Sand Creek since an addition was built onto the school in 2014, allowing students with developmental cognitive disabilities to return to their neighborhood school.

“We believe that all students deserve equal access to our playground, and we look forward to each of our Sand Creek Stars being able to be included in a new barrier-free playground designed for everyone,” Anderson said.

Some of Sand Creek’s nearly 800 students are excluded from using the playground with disabilities and must travel more than 10 miles to access a barrier-free playground.”

To read the full article, click HERE.

To find out how you can help Sand Creek Elementary, click HERE.

What is the Job of a Process Engineer?

What is Process Engineering?

process engineering minneapolis mn Process Engineering can be defined as “the branch of engineering concerned with industrial processes (especially continuous ones), such as the production of petrochemicals.

What is Involved in a Process Engineering Minneapolis MN Job?

There are many variants within the wider scope of an engineering career, and one that has seen a growth in awareness recently is that of process engineer. So, what does someone working in a process engineer job actually do on a day-to-day basis?

Within a manufacturing company, the process engineers will be the people most closely involved in the planning, management, on-going co-ordination and control of a manufacturing process, whatever the end product may be. They are the ones who ensure that the manufacturer creates goods efficiently, within its cost parameters, and that those goods are up to the required level of quality.

When the manufacturing process begins, the process engineer will be the one who takes on the responsibility for the end to end creation of process engineering minneapolis mn whatever the product is, and who will be there on a day to day basis to ensure that the manufacturing process runs to plan. They will normally be responsible for setting costs and budgets, determining timescales and employment needs, and supervising this team through the process. They may also be involved in overseeing tenders for new equipment.

The nature of the manufacturing process will, of course, differ between industries. Process engineers could be overseeing the creation of anything from industrial paint and chemicals to our everyday household consumables, but the skills that are required to maintain the required manufacturing discipline and output will be the same.

What are Some Good Traits of a Process Engineer?

Problem-solving skills are essential when becoming a Process Engineer. Process engineers need to be logical thinkers, with the capability to look at a problem from various angles and come up with a practical, cost-effective solution. They will need good negotiating and motivational skills, as well as fine attention to detail. Typically, they will be working with a range of other


engineers across the project, and will also need to be able to liaise with many other employees who have input into the process, such as accountants, constructionprocess engineering minneapolis mn workers, and human resources.

Process engineers must be able to keep a project to time and to budget, and ensure that a wide team of employees also work consistently towards this goal. Over time, process engineers can look to attained incorporated engineer status.

Steinwall, Inc. Earns Recognition as a John Deere “Partner-level Supplier”

Minneapolis, MN – Steinwall Inc. has earned recognition as a Partner-level supplier for 2016 in the John Deere Achieving Excellence Program. The Partner-level status is Deere & Company’s highest supplier rating. The Minneapolis-based company was selected for the honor in recognition of its dedication to providing products and service of outstanding quality as well as 1its commitment to continuous improvement. Company employees accepted the recognition during formal ceremonies held on January 11 in Bettendorf, IA.

Steinwall, Inc. is a supplier of custom thermoplastic injection molded parts to John Deere’s operation in Moline, IL.

Suppliers who participate in the Achieving Excellence program are evaluated annually in several key performance categories, including quality, cost management, delivery, technical support and wavelength, which is a measure of responsiveness. John Deere Supply Management created the program in 1991 to provide a supplier evaluation and feedback process that promotes continuous improvement.

Minneapolis-based Steinwall, Inc. is a custom thermoplastic injection molder specializing in full-service manufacturing for small to large parts. Since 1965, we have built a reputation of handling tight tolerance, high cosmetic, precision molds and using engineering grade resins. We are committed to providing the highest quality customer support and strive to understand our customers’ unique needs, thus removing their obstacles in providing quality parts.

Shampoo Bottle Made From Ocean Plastics Hailed as ‘Technological Breakthrough’ – “The Guardian”

“Beaches strewn with plastic waste have become a graphic illustration of just how much plastic we use in everything from food packaging to cosmetics, and how much of it gets thrown away.

Consumer goods giant P&G has become the latest company to attempt to show it is tackling the problem, announcing plans for a limited run of Head & Shoulders shampoo in bottles made partly from plastic waste collected by volunteers on France’s beaches.

It follows the likes of Adidas, which put 7,000 pairs of trainers made from marine plastics on sale in November, and Pharrell Williams, whose clothing line for G-Star RAW has featured denim containing plastic from the oceans.

Ecover, which sells cleaning products, has produced several limited edition bottles, using marine plastics from the North Sea and waste collected from Amsterdam’s canals. Saskia van Gendt, head of sustainability for Europe at Ecover, says it plans to launch new packaging later this year with plastic collected from UK beaches by environmental charity Surfers Against Sewage.Steinwall_Injection-molding-manufacturing-in-minnesota-plastic-injection-plastics-molding-terracycle-logo

P&G expects to manufacture up to 170,000 of their special edition bottle, produced in collaboration with recycling business TerraCycle and waste management firm Suez.

That may be the biggest deployment of marine and beach plastic ever, according to TerraCycle CEO Tom Szaky, but it still represents less than 0.6% of the 29m bottles of Head & Shoulders P&G was reported in 2011 to be selling every year.

However, Steve Morgan, technical director at plastics recycling network Recoup, says the level of recycled content in the beach plastic shampoo bottles – up to 25% according to P&G – makes the initiative a “technological breakthrough”, despite its limited size.

“In the past when companies have tried to use plastics that have been sourced from oceans or beaches, it hasn’t been technically possible because of the exposure to UV, and also the plastics degrade and don’t recycle that well. What they’ve done here is make it technically viable, which is kind of the big thing,” says Morgan.

That breakthrough – and its potential knock-on effects for recycling of challenging materials in general – is more significant than the origins of the waste plastic, says Morgan. “The bigger thing for me is the fact they’re using recycled plastic. Whether it’s from the oceans or not is kind of irrelevant.”

“Once the technology is developed a bit more and economies of scale are made easier, it might become more mainstream,” he adds.

Solutions to plastic waste

Millions of tons of plastic are sent to landfill every year, and a large chunk of this ends up in the oceans: research suggests there could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.

Plastics production is expected to double in the next 20 years (pdf), but just 14% of plastic packaging is currently recycled globally, a figure that could be raisedSteinwall_Injection-molding-manufacturing-in-minnesota-plastic-injection-molding-plastics to 70% with concerted effort from industry, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Recycling may be the first step but if companies want to show real leadership they should shift to more circular economy business models, says Sophie Unwin, director of Scottish social enterprise Remade in Edinburgh. That means zero waste. “Innovations in product design are to be welcomed, but they mean little if the company is contributing to a trend of generating more waste overall,” says Unwin.

Liz Goodwin, senior fellow, and director of food loss and waste at the World Resources Institute, echoes this. While initiatives to remove plastics from the ocean are positive, she believes more needs to be done at an earlier stage: “In an ideal world we should be preventing waste plastic from going into the water in the first place and keeping waste plastic in use for as long as possible and recycling it.”

This may require a more dramatic shift in approach – in the words of Ecover’s Van Gendt, “rethinking the bottle in general to something that’s much more closed loop”. Ecover, for example, is trying to encourage greater reuse with refillable cleaning products: “The most sustainable way to use a bottle is by refilling it multiple times,” she says.

P&G has meanwhile pledged to boost its use of recycled content more broadly by using half a billion bottles made with 25% recycled plastic for European hair products by the end of 2018.”

-Olivia Boyd

For the full article, click HERE.

Plastic Injection Molding vs. 3D Printing

With 3D printing advancing every day, some may wonder why we don’t put a greater focus on it. While it has been a great invention, there are drawbacks to it. Read on to find out more!

What are some differences between plastic injection molding and 3D printing?


  • Up front, the cost of 3D printing is low, but due to the chance of misprints, it could go up. Plastic injection molding is relatively expensive at first, but the costs will go down over the course of a high-volume production run.


  • The number of 3D printable materials is very small compared to the number available for injection molding.  Because of this, 3D printed things will not have the same plastic injection moldingproperties as injection molded parts.


  • When using injection molding you inject polymers into a mold and then rapidly cool them in order for another cycle can start. 3D printing requires a plastic filament be melted and used a drop at a time to make the printed item; which can take hours. Overall, plastic injection molding is a much faster process than 3D printing.

Technical Issues

  • For the most part, injection molding doesn’t come with any technical difficulties, but software glitches continue to hit 3D printers

What are your thoughts on the two processes? Would you prefer plastic injection molding or 3D printing? Comment below!

Steinwall is a Woman Owned Plastic Injection Molding Company

Since 1985, Steinwall Inc. has been a woman owned plastic injection molding company. It all started when Maureen Steinwall purchased the company from her father, the founder, Carl Steinwall. The story goes like this:

Maureen Steinwall bought the molding company from her father, Carl Steinwall, in 1987. But her professional career began much earlier, at Honeywell Inc.’s Micro Switch Division in Freeport, Ill. Asked to name her most interesting or unusual job, she said it was working on a team that developed the solid state Hall effect, which used digital technology to replace points in the ignition timing for cars. She handled market research for the team, which worked with Bosch GmbH and Ford Motor Co.

The solid state technology expanded to other applications, including ATMs and joysticks for video games. One has to withstand snow and rain. The other, pumped-up gamers.

When Honeywell offered her a promotion — running the third shift of a factory in New Mexico — she called her father for advice. He said to take the job. Since she had an accounting degree, her dad, who was looking to retire, also asked her “How do you sell a business?” Maureen said: “You sell it to your daughter!”

In a three-minute conversation, her dad agreed. “He just went, ‘Oh my God, you’d be perfect for it.’” She took a leave of absence at Honeywell to help and became vice president of Steinwall Inc. in 1983, so her father could show her the ropes. “I loved it — absolutely loved it.”

She became president in 1985, and two years later, bought the company.

When Carl sold the company to Maureen, he knew he had made one of the greatest business decisions of his career.

CLICK HERE to read more!

Maureen Steinwall – An EY Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee

The company’s name is Steinwall Incorporated. We are a thermo-plastic injection molding company located up in Coon Rapids. We are a durable good manufacturing; most of our customers are like a John Deere or a Bosch. They make the finished components.

The equipment and raw materials are pretty generic. So, the only differentiator today is going to be the human element and moving forward, and that has been my focus for my whole career. And its a huge competitive advantage for us.

Most of what my competitors are doing is automating out the human element, we’ve done that also. But there’s still the human being that needs to be involved in running the automation. We’ll hire folks that are just mechanically orientated and then we have a training process and a communication process that works very very quickly to bring them up to speed.

It’s not always about the money, it’s not always about the benefits. Those are, those are given. Now its “What can we do as an organization to empower the people to have a better career path?”

I’m actually publishing what I know about this in little books and handing them to my customers; they absolutely love it. So, not too many injection molding companies are actually publishing literature that helps people tap into the human element.

-Maureen Steinwall