We all know the sun is a great source of heat, and it takes heat to process plastic. So what if the two could be combined to create an innovative molding process that doesn't use fossil fuels? LightManufacturing LLC, founded in 2010 as a solar thermal technology company, announced last month that the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued it a patent covering the use of concentrated solar thermal energy for molding plastic.
The proprietary technology, Solar Rotational Molding (SRM), allows low-cost manufacturing of large plastic objects like water tanks and boats without the use of fossil fuels. The patent describes the use of heliostats (sun-tracking mirrors) to concentrate heat in a plastic molding system.
"Our technology eliminates the energy costs of roto-molding or vacuum-forming plastic parts," said Karl von Kries, LightManufacturing founder and CEO, "while offering opportunities to simplify and reduce the cost of the molding system."