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New Biopolymers: Synchronizing Biomaterial Properties with Business Opportunities
The key to determining suitable applications for a biobased or bioderived material is to understand its properties and capabilities. What are its barrier, molding characteristics, mechanical properties, etc.? Is the material suitable for injection molding, injection stretch blow molding, extrusion blow molding, etc.? Can it be used to produce a marketable film, sheet, pouch, blown film? Does the biopolymer deliver a benefit which other materials cannot match? Will the next generation of renewable packaging materials achieve the same efficiencies and production levels as current supply chains? Understanding the performance properties and economic hurdles of biomaterials will enable end users to make appropriate commercialization choices.
A program for evaluating new materials could typically involve obtaining as much information that is known to be able to carry out some simple experiments. These early experiments would be designed to yield information that will be useful and needed to begin optimizing the preform design and/or the material properties to allow for the production of functional packages. The material studies could include basic material characterization, molding and orientation studies, mechanical testing, and ultimately development of design criteria for the new material. While this development process may require time and investment, this facilitates the interaction of material, process, and package to be synergized before commercial launch.