Green Materials LLC is working to replace synthetic plastics with plastics that are plant-based and biodegradable. Bio-based materials, such as corn gluten meal or canola meal, are not traditionally regarded as being suitable for injection molding in their present form. Green Materials’ research has showed that, under the right conditions, these bio-based materials behave like solid thermosets, and methodologies for molding articles from these materials were developed. Unlike thermoplastics, which are reversibly melt-processable and usually of high molecular weight, or liquid thermosets, which are irreversibly formed from low molecular-weight precursors (monomers), these bio-based materials have their own unique characteristics and therefore cannot be processed like conventional plastics. Injection-compression molding or “coining” was found to be most suitable for molding these articles, and standard injection molding machines have been adapted to achieve this goal.
The advantages are numerous:
• Product can be manufactured using readily available agricultural by-products, precluding need to synthesize new polymer • Lower cost than the synthetic polymers or materials they replace • Attractive mechanical and environmental properties • Standard injection molding equipment can be readily adapted and used to manufacture parts • Manufacturing process is energy efficient (processing temperatures are low and cycle times are short)
The company has patents issued and others pending.