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Rubber tube used to create bird song

Put together two rubber tubes and pull on a motor to listen to what is music to one's ears, or more likely what will attract a bird! For centuries, hunters have imitated their avian prey by whistling through their fingers or by using carved out wooden bird calls.

Now, a team of physicists at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has reproduced many of the characteristics of real bird song with a simple physical model made of a rubber tube.

Bird song is a complex sound full of intricate patterns and rich harmonics and has long been studied by neuroscientists. The research has explained much about how young birds learn these songs from adults and the complex neurological changes that allow them to control their voices.

But Aryesh Mukherjee, a graduate student, suggests that this neural control need not be that complicated. He suspects that the physics of a bird's vocal tract could explain much of the complexity of its voice, even with relatively simple neural control

His bird call device consists of an air source, which creates a flow through a stretched rubber tube (modelled after a bird's vocal tract), and a linear motor that presses on the tube in a fashion analogous to a contracting muscle - no need for any sophisticated equipment!

When analysed on a spectrogram, the harmonics and other characteristics of the sounds made by the physical model closely resemble the songs of a zebra finch.

And the researchers say that with a few tweaks their simple models could mimic a variety of bird calls - all from a rubber tube!

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E-News Update
January 2011


Lead Feature

Henkel on a roll

One company that has emerged from the global financial crisis unscathed is Germany-based consumer goods and adhesives company Henkel. In fact, it says 2010 was the best year in its corporate history, with record performances in Asia Pacific in its third quarter 2010 results and sales rising by 15% compared to the previous year. The region also contributed to 15% of Henkel's global business.

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Company News

Perstorp strengthens polyol capacity
Swedish speciality chemicals company Perstorp has acquired the pentaerythritol business from Ashland, in line with its plan to increase polyol capacity. Pentaerythritol is a building block for the manufacture of alkyd resins, varnishes, PVC stabilisers and olefin antioxidants.
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PolyOne expands in Brazil
US compounder and distributor PolyOne has acquired Uniplen Industria de Polimeros Ltda, a leading Brazilian producer of speciality engineered materials and distributor of thermoplastics, for US$21 million.
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DuPont to double R&D centre in China
As part of US chemicals company DuPont's strategy to accelerate growth in developing economies, the company is doubling its R&D facility in China to focus on next-generation material developments like photovoltaics, bio-based materials and automotive applications.
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Arkema to increase PVDF capacity in China
Due to the increasing demand for PVDF in China, French company Arkema will expand output of its Kynar PVDF by 50%. The facility will be completed this March.
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Materials News

China leads in PET resin supply
According to Chemical Market Associates's 2011 World Terephthalates & Polyester analysis, China's contribution to global terephthalic acid (PTA) capacity expansions slowed in 2010 compared to recent years but the country accounted for more than half of new capacity for PET resins.
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Intelligent packaging indicates spoiled food
Researchers at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, have developed "intelligent" plastic packaging that is able to detect spoiled food. The modified atmosphere packaging project is based on the use of an additive that triggers a pigment change in the packaging when food, such as seafood and red meats, turn bad.
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Cereplast sets foot in Europe
US bio-based materials producer Cereplast has opened a European headquarters in Germany and plans to add on a facility, too. The move follows a number of multi-million dollar agreements it has made with European manufacturers and distributors last year, including Sezersan Ambalaj and RI.ME.
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Using CO2 to infuse additives into plastics
We all know that carbon dioxide is responsible for global warming but the gas also has some positive characteristics and researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute are now impregnating plastics with compressed CO2 in a process that could lead to new applications ranging from coloured contact lenses to bacteria-resistant door handles.
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Italians face a new year of no plastic bags!
Italy has become the first country in the European Union to ban plastic bags. The ban, which covers single use PE retail plastic bags, was imposed by its parliament late last year and took effect beginning of this year.
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Exclusive contract supply for Toho Tenax in Thailand
Toho Tenax, the core company of the Teijin Group's carbon fibres business, said it will supply Tenax carbon fibre for compressed natural gas tanks developed and manufactured by Metal Mate, a pressure-vessel manufacturer in Thailand. Toho Tenax envisions sales of US$10 million a year.
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Machinery News

Gloucester clinches orders and has new owner
Following the exit of US extrusion machinery company Gloucester Engineering (GEC) from Chapter 11 protection, Blue Wolf Capital Fund II is now the new owner. GEC has also received nine orders totalling US$12 million from the US, Malaysia, Germany, India, Mexico and Taiwan.
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New owner and lab line for EDI
Following the announcement of its sale to private equity firm Bertram Capital last year, US sheet/film flat die specialist Extrusion Dies Industries (EDI) has completed a recapitalisation with financing provided by Bertram. EDI has also added on a 1.6 m line to its lab.
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Italian machinery sector in upbeat mood
Italy's plastics machinery trade association, Assocomaplast, presented an upbeat close to last year with a higher growth of sales in Asia, with China leading the momentum. Overall, it expects a production value growth of 8% or EUR3.5 billion for 2010.
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Exhibition News

Rubber products push at Chinese plastics show
In view of the growing rubber industry in China, the organiser of the Chinaplas 2011 show, Adsale Exhibition Services, has added on a Rubber Machinery and Equipment Zone. According to Adsale, sales of Chinese rubber products upped by 35% to RMB220.5 billion in the first five months of 2010, compared with the same period in 2009.
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Rubber Journal Asia

Top Glove to secure raw material source
The world's largest rubber glove manufacturer Top Glove is investing RM160 million in Cambodia to plant rubber trees so that it has its own source of latex, said Chairman Tan Sri Lim Wee Chai at a media briefing recently.
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Russian billionaire takes up equity in Sibur
Billionaire shareholder and CEO of Russian gas producer Novatek, Leonid Mikhelson, has taken up a 25% stake in Sibur Holding, the country's largest petrochemical producer, and is looking at increasing his shareholding to 50%.
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Taiwanese tyre maker expanding capacity
Taiwan-based producer of tyres, Cheng Shin Rubber Industry is to set up three new plants in Taiwan and China, with a budget of NT$30 million. The plants in China will be in Chongqing and Xiamen.
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. Injection Moulding Asia

Resin for caps/closures
US company Nova Chemicals's PE resin for the caps and closures market offers organoleptic performance that has passed the stringent testing of several major global brand owners of bottled water for one-piece, linerless closures.
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No downtime for Chinese tooling company
With the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) holidays next month, almost of all China's manufacturing will shut down for three weeks. This poses a problem for moulders in the US and Europe coming back to work after the Western new year holidays! One company that says it will be business as usual during the holidays is Hong Kong-based tooling supplier Bluestar Mould.
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IAC buys Indian auto parts supplier
To expand its footprint globally, US processor International Automotive Components (IAC), which is owned by billionaire financier Wilbur Ross, is acquiring the automotive assets of India-based Multivac, a manufacturer of console trays, door trims, headliners and other interior trims.
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Metal-like compound for surgical device
When engineers at Wright Medical Technology wanted to increase the value of their PRO-DENSE bone-grafting paste by offering surgeons and hospitals a set of disposable, pre-sterilised surgical tools for performing specific ankle procedures, they turned to custom compounder RTP for help with designing a retrograde drill guide for the ankle.
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In-mass solution for vehicle grills
French car maker PSA says it has been able to breathe new life into its best-selling hatchback, the Peugeot 206, using Borealis's PP compound for the front grill.
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