PLA (polylactic acid) plastics aren’t just for food packaging anymore! Fujitsu’s 2005 spring model of its FMV-BIBLO NB80K notebook computer is the first of its kind to feature bioplastic components. While the polymer used in this computer is actually a 50/50 blend of PLA and petroleum based plastic (probably ABS or polycarbonate), GreenBiz reports that this polymer blend accounts for 60% of the plastic in the product.
Kara Johnson, Director of Materials at IDEO, explained in a materials lecture at Stanford that the future is bright, but 100% PLA has a long way to go before being able to meet the engineering requirements for consumer electronics, especially toughness, flame retardancy, and glass transition temperature. Fortunately, lots of sharp students and researchers are working on it.