New Plastics Research Promises Lighter, More Cost-Effective Production

The Centre for Industrial Application of Microcellular Plastics (CIAMP) officially opened May 2, bringing with it the promise of lighter, stronger and more cost effective plastic materials for the automotive and construction industries. Located in Mississauga, CIAMP is a state-of-the-art research and development centre with industry-scale facilities for developing innovative, commercially viable plastic foaming and composite technologies.

TORONTO, ON — The Centre for Industrial Application of Microcellular Plastics (CIAMP) officially opened May 2, bringing with it the promise of lighter, stronger and more cost effective plastic materials for the automotive and construction industries.

Located in Mississauga, CIAMP is a state-of-the-art research and development centre with industry-scale facilities for developing innovative, commercially viable plastic foaming and composite technologies, according to University of Toronto Engineering Professor Chul Park, Director of the Centre.

It is funded by a $9.2-million grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation – Leading Edge Funds and the Ontario Research Fund – Large Infrastructure Fund and is part of the Network for Innovative Plastic Materials and Manufacturing Processes, a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council network of 21 researchers across Canada. CIAMP is also supported by the Consortium of Cellular and Microcellular Plastics (CCMCP), a network uniting more than 20 leading plastic companies around the world.

CIMAP's goal is to collaborate with industry to develop innovative microcellular plastic products and commercially viable processing technologies, Park says. The techniques that CIAMP will work on should lead to lighter weight, stronger plastics that use less raw material, he says. The construction and automotive industries will benefit in particular, but other uses are possible too, for example, electrical insulators and household electronic devices.

"Chul Park's research and leadership has already led to significant advances in the field of foamed plastics," said Professor Jean Zu, Chair of U of T's Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. "CIAMP will allow him and his colleagues to build on this cutting-edge work and apply it at an industrial scale."

"This is the kind of advanced manufacturing that we should all be excited about because it creates jobs, contributes to economic growth and showcases Canadian innovation," said the Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology). "That is why our Government has made significant research investments in the Centre."

"Plastics are a ubiquitous part of our lives and we taken them for granted," said Allison Barr, director of the research branch of the Ontario Research Fund. "But that doesn’t mean that we’re immune to rising costs, and there are many potential applications for plastics that are lighter, stronger and longer-lasting, especially in the auto industry to reduce fossil fuel consumption and cut down on the costs of pollution. If Ontario can develop these plastics and the methods to manufacture them we will have an important advantage. In Ontario, we’re very fortunate to have a leader in research such as Chul Park who can help us realize the promise of these plastics."

Chul Park is a professor in U of T's Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. He is a world leader in the development of innovative, cost-effective technologies for foamed plastics. Dr. Park has been extensively involved in industrial projects through research contracts on various foaming processes including microcellular processing, inert gas-injection processing, rotational foam molding, wood-fibre composites, and open-cell foams.

Founded in 1873, U of T Engineering has approximately 5,200 undergraduate students, 1,950 graduate students and 240 faculty members. U of T Engineering is at the fore of innovation in engineering education and research and ranks first in Canada and among the top Engineering schools worldwide.

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