• NEC develops plant-based plastic lacquerware

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    TRADITIONAL black Japanese lacquerware has been successfully reproduced using a bioplastic created from cellulose resin extracted from grasses, trees, and other non-edible plants, researchers from Japanese tech giant NEC Corporation and the Kyoto Institute of Technology announced last month.

    Working with Japanese lacquerware artist Dr. Yutaro Shimode, the researchers used a resin similar to the one that NEC already uses to produce some plastic parts in electronic equipment, adjusting additives to achieve the high-gloss, low-brightness characteristics of the famous “Urushi black” color of traditional Japanese lacquerware, which is ordinarily made of clay.

    Because it is a form of plastic, the company explained, it can easily be molded and mass-produced in various shapes.

    In a statement, Dr. Masatoshi Iji, Research Fellow at NEC’s IoT Devices Research Laboratories: “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 (NeCycle(R)*3) using non-edible plant materials for use in durable electronic products, we have now developed a new bioplastic 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.”

    “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 company said in a separate statement.

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