NEC develops cellulose-based bioplastic decorative paints, coatings

NEC develops cellulose-based bioplastic for decorative paints, coatings

11:15 AM, 17th August 2016
NEC develops cellulose-based bioplastic for decorative paints, coatings
The new plastic balances a high level of environmental friendliness and decorativeness.

TOKYO, JAPAN: NEC Corporation, a leader in IT and network technologies in collaboration with the Kyoto Institute of Technology and a representative Japanese lacquerware artist, Dr Yutaro Shimode, have developed a bioplastic using resin (cellulose resin) from grasses, trees and other non-edible plant resources that features the highly regarded "Urushi black" color of Japanese traditional lacquerware.

Japanese lacquerware, fine and decorative arts made by substrate processing of the surface of wood products, manual coating with lacquer (a mixture of natural lacquer substance and colouring agents), and letting the lacquer harden, followed by repeated polishing of the product. Since manufacturing involves a tedious process, mass production as an industrial product has not been possible.

In order to create the new cellulose-based bioplastic, NEC developed a unique technology for mixing additives to adjust coloration and light reflectance of the material, enabling, for the first time, the realization of optical properties (low brightness, high glossiness, etc.) similar to the deep and shiny "Urushi black" color of high-grade Japanese lacquerware. The new plastic balances a high level of environmental friendliness and decorativeness and makes it possible to mass produce products of various shapes and patterns using the usual moulding process for ordinary plastics.

"In response to the depletion of resources and food shortage problems, the need for non-edible-plant-based plastics is increasing. In addition to NEC's history in the development of a unique cellulose-based plastic (NeCycle(R)) using non-edible plant materials for use in durable electronic products, we have now developed a new bioplastic that, in addition to high functionality, realizes the decorativeness of Japanese lacquerware, which is highly evaluated throughout the world, and illustrates a beauty well beyond what petroleum-based plastics can provide," said Dr Masatoshi Iji, research fellow, IoT devices research laboratories NEC Corporation.

The development process involved, first, the fabrication by Dr Shimode of a Japanese lacquerware "Urushi craft" model (transparent resin plate repeatedly coated with Japanese lacquer and polished by hand) that served as the standard for the advanced optical properties exhibited by high-quality Japanese lacquerware. Scientific analysis was performed on Japanese lacquerware at the Kyoto Institute of Technology. Based on the results, NEC then developed an optimised technology for modifying and mixing of the additives.

Going forward, NEC will pursue business partnerships aimed at commercialising the new bioplastic in durable products and high-grade materials that require a high level of decorativeness, such as the interior components of luxury cars.

Key features of the "Urushi black" bioplastic

  • Use of non-edible plant materials that are readily available as the main ingredient

The new bioplastic uses cellulose resin produced from cellulose that is widely available from non-edible plant resources, such as grasses, the stalks of cereal crops and wood and has the potential to be used as a substitute for petroleum.

  • Realises the advanced optical properties (Urushi black) of high-grade Japanese lacquerware

Black colouring agents and highly refractive organic ingredients were mixed with the above cellulose resin as special additives to adjust the resin's coloration and light reflectance properties. By dispersing the additives into fine particles, NEC became the first to achieve the advanced optical properties exhibited by high-grade Japanese lacquerware. The new bioplastic was able to exhibit the deep and shiny "Urushi black" colour characteristic of Japanese lacquerware, at a quality similar to the high-grade "Urushi craft" model fabricated by Dr Yutaro Shimode.

  • The new bioplastic can be mass-produced into products of various shapes using the moulding process for ordinary plastics

For this newly developed bioplastic, the materials can be heated, melted, and injected into moulds (mirror-finishing) to form shapes (injection moulding), as with ordinary plastics. This makes it possible to mass-produce the bioplastic into products of various shapes and patterns.

© Worldofchemicals News

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