Plastics takes centre stage at Ambiente

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The German Pro-K plastics consumer goods association showed 18 “products of the year” at Ambiente 2011. Amongst the more eye-catching was Leifheit’s Perfect Roll sushi roller, which was made using a greater range of plastics than any other exhibit – ABS, SAN and PP. According to the manufacturer, it is designed to help provide “sushi rolls for everyone”.

Also aimed at the food market was a knife from Martor made from PA, a material employed by Wolcraft, in combination with PP, in the manufacture of a set of drill guides for use when fitting garden decking. Emsa, meanwhile, won an award for its Mix & Bake bowl, made in PP using a two-component moulding process. TPE is applied to the underside and base for safe handling.

Polyolefins predominated in two packaging awards. One went to the Eco Tech collapsible crate, designed by Volker Pils and Dietheim Hirz for Fritz Schäfer in PP, while the other went to the Düsseldorfer Smartfix transport packing system. This is produced by KTP Palettentechnik and comprises a PP pallet with PE folding sidewalls.

Polycarbonate and PS were combined with a carbon fibre composite liner insert for two exhibits – Alpina Sports’ Pheos cycling helmet and the Micro Travel Scooter, which combines a suitcase with a scooter, from Micro Mobility systems.

Lighting applications were also on show at Ambiente, notably the Kunstststofftechnik pyramid-shaped Make 01 partying light unit, designed by Karl-Heinz Fuchs in translucent white PP with integrated loudspeakers. SLG Lighting also combined loudspeakers into its product, the Space audio lamp, designed by Alexander Ludwig and Benno Simma in PMMA for Ludwig Leuchten.

Thermosetting melamine formaldehyde was used for the Vital Mega plate, designed by Bernhard Birk for Ornamin Kunststoffwerke Wilhem Zschetsche. The plate has an inclined bottom and a concave edge that enable uses with restricted dexterity to pick up food without risk of spills or mess. Ormanin also won an award for its easy-pour Thermosana Vital cup in PP.

Plastics also had a strong showing amongst the 26 winners of the Design Plus 2011 awards held during Ambiente. These included Joseph Joseph’s Pie analogue display kitchen timer and the SL25 interlocking cutlery. The cutlery was designed by Ding 3000 and BASF Designfabrik using BASF’s Ultramid A3EG6 grade of polyamide 6.6. The chemical giant says the cutlery serves as “brain-teaser, conversation piece and table decoration”, thanks to a design that allows the knife, fork and spoon to lock into a freestanding pyramid shape.

Karim Rashid designed the Bobble drinking bottle for New York’s Move Collective. The bottle has a plastic closure containing a carbon filter, which can be used to filter tap water up to 300 times. Squeezing the Bobble, which was launched in 2010 in France and Spain, creates pressure to help filtration. It is available in sizes of 385, 560 and 1,000ml and is produced in a BPA- and plasticiser-free plastic.

Product plagiarism and counterfeiting were the targets of the Aktion Plagiarius awards and plastics featured in four of the 10 awards, including one for a copy of a kitchen cutter. Designed by SwizzzProzzz in Switzerland, the cutter housing and blade holders are moulded in China by a European-owned firm. However, China’s NingHai Well International Trade China has sold an almost identical product.

Close inspection by European Plastics News showed sink marks on the counterfeit product and matt surfaces where they should be glossy. The Chinese supplier did not react to SwizzzProzzz complaints but the French distributor named the Chinese supplier, removed the plagiarised products from the market and destroyed them.

Germany’s Flexi-Bogdahn International had its Flexi Classic retractable dog lead copied by Cixi Jian Er Plastics in China. The original product sells for €17.25, while the copied version sells for €5 and is said to fail after 4-5 weeks.

The Patchy Paul G2 sex toy from Fun Factory is made in rubber and an unspecified plastic material. It has been copied by Love Toys Industrial in Guangdong, China, and sold at €29, compared with €50 for the original vibrator. The Austrian distributor of the plagiarised product has named the Chinese producer and removed the product from the market.

Fun Factory public relations manager Noëll Brandl said of the original product: “It takes a lot of development, even if you do not believe it. It is not the first time we have been a victim.”

Also mentioned was Shenzhen Guro Windows & Doors Hardware from Guangdong, China, which had copied Hoppe’s Secustik Atlanta plastic window grip. The weight and surface of the copy differ from the original, says Hoppe.

Amongst the gold medal winners at the Designpreis Deutschland 2011 awards, also held at Ambiente, was the Transformer T double-layer, shell-shaped children’s car safety seat, designed by White ID Product Design for Concord. The unit is made using a number of processes and materials, including sheet steel forming and punching, single and two-component injection moulding of PA and PP, and expanded polystyrene foaming.

The 20 silver medal winners included the PP Eva Solo salad spinner with stainless steel base, the VarioLED Flex Venus lights strips from LED Linear, the Gladiator II industrial lamp from Sonlux in BMC compound, and the Hans Grohe mineral reinforced PMMA plastic wall basin designed by Axor Urquiola.

Curver used the Ambiente show to preview its Ecolife recycled plastic kitchen storage boxes. The range launches this month with Essential products, which are being followed in May by Deco versions, which feature “a touch of unique style” such as open-structure containers. A number of Smart products for waste recycling and storage follow by the end of 2011. Curver’s sister company Allibert showed its Ecologic containers in either virgin or recycled PP with 15% wood and 15% bamboo fibre reinforcement.

Back at Ambiente 2011 Propper showed its watering cans and pots in its Proganic mineral filled glucose and plant-based carnauba wax biodegradable plastic. Since then the company has added heat-resistant kitchen utensils. Kishwar Zuberi, vice-president sales at Propper, told EPN that Proganic is now heat resistance to 100°C.


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