The goal of the NSERC Network for Innovative Plastic Materials and Manufacturing Processes (NIPMMP) is to establish a collaborative network that will develop advanced manufacturing technologies for high-value-added plastic materials. Canadian plastics manufacturers have reduced their in-house R&D over the last decade due to economic setbacks; the network proposes to redress this decline in R&D with a comprehensive set of initiatives that emphasize research into both the scientific and technological aspects of plastic materials and related manufacturing processes.
The network brings together 23 academics from 11 Canadian universities and 1 national institute to create a leading-edge group devoted to the research and development of cost-effective plastic materials with superior properties and lower environmental impacts.
NIPMMP will work closely with 20 Canadian industrial partners to tailor its research in response to their needs and ensure an effective transfer of knowledge and direct implementation of new technologies. In order to address the needs of various industries in a meaningful way, the network proposes a varied and far-reaching research program organized according to the following four themes: Theme 1: Biomaterials; Theme 2: Lightweight Hybrid Composite Materials; Theme 3: Micro- and Nanostructured Polymeric Materials; and Theme 4: Microcellular Foams.
The management structure of the NSERC NIPMMP is comprised of: (1) Board of Directors; (2) Principal Investigator; (3) Network Manager; (4) Network Coordinator; (5) Scientific Committee; and (6) Theme and Co-Theme Leaders.
The network addresses the pressing need for more highly qualified personnel (HQP) within Canada. It will train a total of 51 HQPs, including 25 PhD students, 6 master’s students, 16 undergraduate students, and 4 postdoctoral fellows.
The chief objective of the NSERC NIPMMP is to develop a wide range of novel polymer materials and technologies that will make Canada a prominent innovator in original, high-value-added plastic products and related manufacturing processes. Above all, the network’s themes are united by a drive to produce value-added plastic commodities that are lightweight, high strength, low density, versatile, environmentally friendly and cost effective, and that do not compromise any of the functionality displayed by more traditional plastic products currently on the market. In fact, the aim is to significantly broaden the functional spectrum of plastics by developing novel materials and technologies that meet a wider range of application requirements in the automotive, aerospace, biomedical, construction, packaging and electronics industries.
The NSERC NIPMMP’s research activities and collaboration with industrial partners will secure Canada’s position as a global leader in the development of innovative plastic materials and manufacturing processes. As such, the network will have a significant impact on Canada’s economic, social and environmental progress. In contrast to offshore manufacturers who make low-value, inexpensive plastics, the network will enable this country to distinguish itself as a producer of high-value-added polymer materials and advanced manufacturing processes that offshore competitors will not be able to easily replicate. This will further secure Canada’s niche claim as a manufacturer of high-value plastics.
Chul B. Park
Acting Network Manager