Using cellulose resin sourced from grasses, trees and other bio-sources, technology giant NEC has developed a new bio-plastic that mimics the famous Japanese lacquerware and could be usedacross a number of industries and even in the interiors of luxury cars. Lacquerware a key part of Japan’sdecorative arts culture is used in paintings, prints and on a wide variety of objects from Buddha statues to bento boxes. In partnership with the Kyoto Institute of Technology and a representative Japanese lacquerware artist, Dr. Yutaro Shimode, 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” colour 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 molding 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 using non-edible plant materials for use in durable electronic products, we have now developed a new bio-plastic 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 (@)
Going forward, NEC will pursue business partnerships aimed at commercializing 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.
The new bio-plastic can be mass-produced into products of various shapes using the molding process for ordinary plastics. Conventionally, lacquerware is produced by coating the surface of substrates with lacquer and polishing them. For this newly developed bioplastic, the materials can be heated, melted, and injected into molds (mirror-finishing) to form shapes (injection molding), as with ordinary plastics. This makes it possible to mass-produce the bio-plastic into products of various shapes and patterns.
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