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Special forces: these robust innovations help protect everything from airplanes to food.

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In this column, we ask Material Connexion vice president Andrew Dent, Ph.D., to select five innovations set to influence what designers will be using tomorrow.

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01 Kraton Polymers' Cariflex synthetic latex is completely free of naturally occurring, sometimes allergy-inducing impurities--unlike regular latex. It also maintains high elasticity and tear resistance when used in food-packaging adhesives, paint additives, and medical applications such as surgical gloves.

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02 Ravago Manufacturing's Enviramid not only separates plastics from residential carpet but reclaims them. When discarded floor coverings are diverted from landfills and deconstructed, the fibers--composed primarily of nylon--are ground and extruded into pellets, which can then be used as a raw material (often as a compounding agent for prime nylon) in the production of automotive and industrial parts.

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03 Athletics giant Adidas continually finds ways to outdo itself. One recent innovation: nano-ceramic compression pins. Designed for use in Adizero sprint shoes, the pins are made from a composite of ceramic particulate and an aerospace alloy-also used in rivets on Boeing planes--which boasts the same strength as steel at only one-third the weight. And unlike traditional sprint-shoe spikes, the pins feature a flat surface, minimizing the energy needed to pull the shoe from the ground.

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04 Rogers Corporation's Poron XRD series of foams focuses on impact protection, and its X-Pad is especially suited to extreme sports. The molded foam is flexible but stiffens on impact, absorbing repeated, intense force. Its honeycomb texture promotes airflow to keep the wearer cool, and an anti-microbial treatment inhibits the growth of odor-causing mildew and bacteria in shin guards and padding.

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05 Saratech foam media from German manufacturer Blucher addresses air and water purity concerns with a unique filtration system. Built around tiny, polymer-based porous spheres that trap harmful particles, the technology eliminates pollutants and odors from the air, even in high relative humidity. The spheres also can be used in drinking-water filters to remove unwanted flavors and contaminants.

PHOTO TOM HAYES

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Title Annotation:MATERIALS
Author:Stanley, Carolyn
Publication:Surface
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2012
Words:334
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