The latest reports on the economy show mixed results. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 266,000 non-farm payrolls were created in November, pushing the unemployment rate to a historically low 3.5%. Government data released today showed the United States added far more jobs than expected in November, “relieving concerns that one of the brightest spots in the economy may have started to run out of steam,” said Business Insider in its Markets report.

Profit and loss graphic

Manufacturing employment also increased in November, noted the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM). The sector gained 54,000 jobs, according to the BLS, with the bulk of growth coming from automotive jobs. AAM’s President Scott Paul commented: “With only one month left in 2019, Trump’s promise that manufacturing jobs will boom has sputtered. November’s jobs number was aided by UAW workers securing a new contract and returning to the factory floor.

“Overall, 2019 factory job growth has been incredibly weak, lagging well behind 2018 and underperforming [compared with] the rest of the economy. While there has been periodic bluster about policies to boost infrastructure and stop China’s cheating, no real progress has been made to date. American workers deserve better from the administration and Congress,” said Paul.

Nick Bunker, Research Director at Indeed Hiring Lab, commented to Business Insider, that the high number of jobs added in November doesn’t tell the whole story. “You might forget that the story for most of this year was that the economy was slowing down,” he said. “The slowdown did happen, but we can move into 2020 with a bit more optimism.”

Business Insider reported that while wage growth continued to outpace inflation last month, it “remained stubbornly below what would be expected with an unemployment rate at its lowest level in half a century. Average hourly earnings rose 3.1% year-over-year in November, a slight uptick from a month earlier but short of the peak growth levels seen in early 2019.”

November’s Purchasing Managers Index from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), released on Dec. 2, showed yet another contraction to 48.1 from October’s 48.3. In fact, most of the index measurements were in the “contracting” mode even though the index showed the overall economy “growing.”

New orders for November fell to 47.2 from October’s 49.1. New export orders also fell from 50.4 (growing) in October to 47.9 (contraction) in November. Production’s contraction slowed from October’s 46.2 to 49.1 in November. Inventories contracted faster, from 48.9 in October to 45.5 in November, and customer inventories fell to levels considered “too low,” from 47.8 in October to 45.0 in November. Order backlogs also dropped 1.1% in November to 43.0.

Comments from respondents to ISM’s November survey included this one from a machinery supplier: “Demand has stabilized for the last half of [the fourth quarter], and production will be stable for the rest of this year.”

A respondent from the plastics and rubber products sector commented, “Heading into the holiday season, we are seeing the backlog decrease, as new orders for 2020 seem lighter than in past years.”

A new report from ResearchAndMarkets (Global Plastic Processing Machinery Markets Report 2019: 2017-2018 Data & CAGR Projections 2019-2023), noted that “increasing demand for processed food and beverages, followed by increasing requirements for packaging, is fueling the overall growth in the plastics processing machinery market. The increasing demand for plastics in a variety of applications is expected to fuel growth of the plastics processing machinery global market. Accuracy, reliability, and energy efficiency play an important role in the growth of plastic processing machinery global market.”

Image: Hywards/Adobe Stock


Kraiburg TPE is embarking on what it describes as an ambitious campaign to develop custom-engineered thermoplastic elastomers containing variable proportions of renewable raw materials. By developing customer-specific and application-specific compounds using renewable raw materials, Kraiburg TPE is aiming to meet the growing demand for environmentally-friendly and sustainable thermoplastic elastomers.

Kraiburg TPE sees tremendous potential for custom-engineered thermoplastic elastomers with adjustable proportions of renewable raw materials of up to 90%, both in the consumer market and also in the industrial and automotive markets.

Kraiburg points out that “bio” is a broad term that is by no means synonymous with “sustainable” in the sense of a strategy for saving resources and protecting the environment. Because even renewable raw materials also have carbon footprints, as well as water footprints, that can have an impact on the environmental balance, depending on their provenance and the way they are grown. Factors that play a decisive role here include irrigation, fertilizers, transport energy and energy consumed for reprocessing.

“Part of the challenge involves taking into account the environmental balance of the materials’ whole life cycles, including their impact on ecosystems and people’s health,” emphasizes CEO Franz Hinterecker from Kraiburg TPE. “It has also become apparent that what our customers expect from the properties of ‘biomaterials’ varies widely depending on the application – while at the same time we have to meet strict criteria regarding the materials’ conformity and performance.”

Kraiburg TPE’s modular system makes it possible to develop customer-specific materials with different proportions of renewable raw materials. Typical performance characteristics that are also relevant here include mechanical properties such as tensile strength and elongation, as well as processability, heat resistance and adhesion to ABS/PC or PP and PE, for example. The requirements are determined in close collaboration with each customer and translated into a sustainable and cost-effective solution by our developers.

In classical approaches, it is technically possible to produce bio-based materials with very high proportions of renewable raw materials. However, materials of this kind usually suffer from very high raw materials costs, while providing only very limited mechanical properties. However, the modular system has now enabled Kraiburg TPE to resolve this contradiction almost completely by following a new, innovative approach beside the classical one.

The initial pilot projects based on the classical approach are showing a trend towards bio-based, certifiable proportions of 20% and more. Their potential use extends to all TPE applications in the consumer, industry and automotive markets. Examples range from toothbrushes and hypoallergenic elastic watch straps to fender gaskets.

Kraiburg TPE sees tremendous potential for custom-engineered thermoplastic elastomers with adjustable proportions of renewable raw materials of up to 90%, both in the consumer market and also in the industrial and automotive segments.


Since 1950, approximately 8.3 billion metric tons of virgin plastics have been produced worldwide, the equivalent of 176 million big rigs.

Less than 20% of that plastic has been recycled or incinerated, leaving nearly 80% to accumulate in landfills or as litter in our natural environment. Despite its significant contributions to innovation, the plastics industry has garnered increasing criticism over the years for its environmental impact. In a poll conducted by market research firm Morning Consult in 2018, a majority of people (55%) reported that they did not believe corporations were doing enough to reduce waste that could make it into the environment, and two-thirds of individuals (66%) reported that they would view companies more favorably if they implemented policies to reduce plastic waste.

So, why do we continue to use plastics in the first place?

Alex Hoffer, VP, Hoffer Plastics Corp.
The argument to remove plastics from our way of life entirely is not a feasible option for Alex Hoffer, Vice President of Sales and Operations at Hoffer Plastics Corp.

The technical answer is that plastic has a high strength-to-weight ratio and can be easily shaped into a wide variety of forms that are impermeable to liquids and are highly resistant to physical and chemical degradation. These materials can be produced at a relatively low cost, making it easier for companies to sell, scale, save and so forth. The primary challenge is that the proliferation of plastics in everyday use in combination with poor end-of-life waste management has resulted in widespread and persistent plastic pollution. Plastic pollution is present in all of the world’s major ocean basins, including remote islands, the poles and the deep seas. An additional 5 to 13 million metric tons are introduced every year.

However, consider for a moment the possibility that the plastics industry is doing more good than harm, and that the environmental issues the industry faces have more to do with recycling than production.

Here is how we should be thinking about plastics in 2020.

Plastics and the environment

Austrian environmental consultancy Denkstatt recently conducted a study to determine the impact of farmers, retailers and consumers using recyclable products (wood, tins, glass bottles and jars, and cardboard) to package their goods rather than plastic. What they found was that the mass of packaging would increase by a whopping 3.6 times, and would take more than double the energy to make, thereby increasing greenhouse gases by an astounding 2.7 times.

One common proposal for replacing plastics with different materials is to replace plastic bags with paper ones in grocery stores. While this may sound like a more sustainable solution, the data does not support it. By volume, paper takes up more room in landfills and does not disintegrate as rapidly as plastic. Because of this, plastic bags leave half the carbon footprint of cotton and paper bags.

Plastics and hunger

In my visits to the Northern Illinois Food Bank, I’ve had the honor to serve those in need of access to nutritious food. While helping stock the pantry or pass out holiday baskets, I couldn’t help but notice how food packaging alone impacts visitors’ perceptions. Most of the food at the food bank is canned or jarred, yet it is the plastic-wrapped food that always looks fresher and a little less dangerous.

Now, consider the properties of plastic that make it so attractive: It is durable, flexible, does not shatter, can breathe (or not) and is extremely lightweight. As a result, food and drink are protected from damage and preserved for previously unimaginable lengths of time.


Despite some speed bumps in the automotive sector, the global plastic injection molding market is poised for sustained growth, according to Saipriya Iyer, Research Content Developer at Global Market Insights (Selbyville, DE). The market research and management consulting company has published a report on the global injection molded plastic market, which can be purchased on its website. Iyer shared some key insights from her research with PlasticsToday.

  • The global plastic injection molding market is expected to reach a value of $345 billion by 2024. Key sectors contributing to this growth are automotive, driven by lightweighting to improve fuel efficiency and electric vehicle range; packaging, including thin-wall and rigid bulk products; and electronics, where plastic injection molding results in consumer-friendly designs and lower production costs.
  • China’s market for plastic injection molding is expected to grow at 6% through 2024. The continued building spree and norms supporting sustainable construction contribute to this growth.
  • The German market, which was valued at $11 billion in 2018, is expected to reach $14.5 billion by 2024. The automotive sector historically has been a big customer of injection molding services, but it is currently in a down cycle.
  • The automotive sector typically is one of the prime, revenue-generating end markets for injection molders in Germany and elsewhere, but economic factors and technological change are affecting that dynamic. Slumping demand in China, emissions-related issues in Europe and a shifting trend toward electric cars are conspiring to drive down global demand. Germany saw an approximate 12% decline in car production in the first half of 2019. Although new car sales have declined from historic highs in the United States, the country remains a bit of an economic oasis in the world, and that has propped up vehicle sales in 2018, which grew 0.3% over the previous year.
  • Stringent regulations regarding CO2 emissions in Europe will saddle carmakers with an additional expense of approximately €1000 per vehicle to comply with the new standards. But demand for injection molded plastic parts will continue to grow, as automotive OEMs seek to improve fuel efficiency through lightweighting. Molded plastic parts are widely used throughout automobiles, from wiring harnesses and light covers to dashboards and door handles.
  • The adoption of electrical vehicles is likely to increase at a rapid rate by the year 2030. Companies such as Tesla are witnessing double-digit growth in terms of revenue. The company’s Model 3 was ranked the best-selling electric car in 2018, followed by Model X (ranked fourth) and Model S (fifth). The company reported revenue growth of 82.5% in 2018 as compared to 2017. Electric vehicle sales volumes are creating significant profit pools for upstream players and distributors: Sales of electric vehicles grew to more than two million units globally, 63% year-on-year growth but a market penetration rate of only 2.2%.


Squatting in the defensive trenches of the war against plastics, one’s thoughts may turn to the future of Tupperware (Orlando, FL). Few brands are as joined at the hip with the postwar plastics revolution as this iconic product. Will it survive in today’s plastiphobic environment? A surprising answer may rise from the concrete canyons of New York: Tupperware has unsealed its first pop-up installation in its almost 75-year-history on Mulberry Street.

Tupperware popup

The TuppSoho is a store with a built-in shelf life through Dec. 22 at 227 Mulberry St. The installation is “designed to engage and excite all generations of Tupperware fans,” said the press release, with hands-on product demonstrations and Instagram-worthy perspectives. They can also buy Tupperware products, which is groundbreaking in a way, because the polyethylene containers are almost exclusively sold through direct sales channels to this day. Those Tupperware parties of yore? Still happening, dude.

With the TuppSoho pop-up store, the “party” takes on a new dimension. It’s an opportunity for the brand, which is approaching its 75th anniversary, to show off newer products and to share culinary tips. It won’t come as a surprise in the current context that Tupperware is also highlighting its sustainability cred by reducing the consumption of single-use plastics and avoiding food waste.

“The opening of TuppSoho marks a monumental point in our brand’s longstanding history,” said Asha Gupta, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer of Tupperware Brands, in a prepared statement. “We are giving access to our brand like never before. Tupperware has been an important part of how people interact with their kitchen and their food for decades. In fact, we are a cultural touchstone and we’re embracing that now by opening our doors for more people to experience the magic and depth of Tupperware,” said Gupta.

Tupperware popup

There’s no denying the cultural significance of Tupperware. The product has become such a part of daily life for generations that, like Kleenex or Frisbee, the brand name has largely supplanted the generic terms for those products. So, it’s interesting to consider that Tupperware initially failed to connect with consumers.


As a global leader in developing and producing responsible packaging for food and beverage, pharmaceutical, medical, home and personal care, and other products, Amcor is boldly stepping up to the plate to promote plastics as the material of choice. With a goal of educating consumers, customers and other stakeholders on the benefits of plastic packaging, Amcor (Ann Arbor, MI) recently launched a “Choose Plastic” marketing campaign. The multi-pronged initiative, which includes a new web page, an informative brochure and other materials, is designed to:

  • Tell the “PET story” with truth, strength and conviction, clearing up common misperceptions regarding plastic packaging;
  • demonstrate where PET stands versus other packaging types, including glass, cans and Tetra aseptic boxes;
  • help customers educate their employees, legislators and consumers on the benefits of plastic packaging.

Amcor's PET campaign

“Plastic packaging gives our customers a safe, responsible and recyclable way to deliver products to their consumers,” said Eric Roegner, President of Amcor Rigid Packaging (ARP). “PET is infinitely recyclable and its carbon footprint is less than glass and other packaging materials. But there is still room for improvement, which is why we are working together with our customers and industry partners to boost recycling rates, increase the proportion of recycled content in the plastics we use, and reduce the waste in landfills and nature. Our goal is to create an overall positive impact for all stakeholders.”

Not only are PET bottles and jars lightweight, shatterproof, transparent, recloseable and resealable, studies also show that they are infinitely recyclable, generate up to 70% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than other packaging types, require fewer fossil fuels to produce than aluminum cans and cost less to transport than glass. Additionally, 90% of the PET that goes into recycling bins gets recycled, while only 49% of cans, 40% of glass and 16% of Tetra aseptic boxes get recycled.

Roegner also noted that 97% of Amcor Rigid Packaging’s bottles and jars are designed to be recyclable. The company has pledged to develop all of its packaging to be recyclable or reusable by 2025.

In addition, Amcor is working with organizations such as the Plastics Industry Association, NAPCOR and The Recycling Partnership to promote plastics, increase recycling rates and drive greater use of post-consumer materials. Amcor is also working with environmental organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund and Trash Free Seas Alliance to eliminate plastic waste.

“PET has a positive story to tell,” added Roegner. “Together with industry partners, we want to make sure that story gets told.”


We are approaching the halfway mark of the Made in China 2025 initiative. Announced in 2015, the 10-year-plan’s goal is to turn the modern-day “workshop of the world” into an advanced manufacturing powerhouse. Do Chinese manufacturers see 3D printing as an essential enabling technology in this transition, wondered Materialise, the 3D printing technology company based in Leuven, Belgium. It conducted a survey to find out, and the results reveal some ambivalence.

Made in China 2025 “called for domestic companies to control not just Chinese markets, but also global ones,” reported the PBS show Frontline, by focusing on 10 key sectors, including automation, artificial intelligence and renewable energy. 3D printing as a complementary manufacturing technology is a key element in this transition, according to Stefaan Motte, Vice President and General Manager of the software division of Materialise. “China understands that it needs to lift the game on its manufacturing competitiveness to face increasing competition and to move away from being the world’s low-cost workshop. 3D printing plays an important role in this plan,” writes Motte in a blog post inspired by the survey.

While 30% of respondents believe that 3D printing is destined to be “as important” or “more important” than traditional manufacturing technologies, the vast majority continue to view the technology through a prototyping lens. It’s mature enough for the production of visual prototypes (63%) and even functional prototypes (34%), said respondents, but only 11% consider it to be ready for the production of end-use products.

This is a bit short-sighted, when you consider that “companies like Stryker and GE Aviation have started to 3D print high-quality, end-use products in high volumes in strictly regulated markets,” writes Motte. “Stryker has 3D printed over 300,000 medical implants, and GE Aviation has printed over 30,000 fuel nozzles.”  

While half of Chinese manufacturers surveyed said that the global adoption of 3D printing could challenge China’s position as a manufacturing leader, only 15% of them are considering adopting 3D printing technology. Moreover, 65% of respondents have never seriously considered using the technology. A lack of technical expertise was cited by 41% of respondents as a major hurdle in adoption of the technology. And that is where Motte sees an opportunity for companies like Materialise.

“The main hurdle that China will have to overcome to meet the government’s [Made in China 2025] target is getting companies to understand how to work with the technology,” writes Motte in his blog post. One means to that end is for companies to partner with 3D printing leaders to “gain the expertise needed to impact the market. We strongly believe in the process of co-creation to combine our knowledge of the technology with a company’s expertise in its field to make industry-changing innovations,” said Motte.

The infographic below provided by Materialise highlights several findings from the survey.

The survey was commissioned by Materialise and conducted by Beats Group in August 2019. Executives, technical managers and senior technical staff at Chinese manufacturing companies participated. Materialise did not release the sample size of the survey.

Infographic: Chinese manufacturers' attitudes toward 3D printing

  • Introduction

    Halloween used to be a neighborhood celebration, with homemade costumes and a flickering candle inside a carved out pumpkin on the front porch. Now it has evolved into a holiday of flying drones, 3D printing, and microcomputer animation.

    Today, Americans shell out more than $8.4 billion on Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations. The market has grown more than 70% in the past 10 years and continues to grow.

    As consumers purchase more and more of their Halloween needs ready-made, the technology to support the celebration has kept pace. Growing enough pumpkins to supply demand requires agriculture on an industrial scale. Silicon and latex rubber masks are designed by CAD engineers. The animatronics of home displays and commercial haunted houses requires the skills of mechanical engineers. 

    Here then, are a few of the ways that technology and engineering have become part of trick or treat.

    (Image source: Alic-e.me)

  • Pumpkins

    Pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima) are a member of the squash family and are native to North America. About 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkin are produced in the US every year—the majority used for animal feed and human food products. An acre of land can produce about 1,000 pumpkins. According to Purdue University Cooperative Extension, pumpkins need low nitrogen, high potassium, and high phosphorus soils to be most successful. Soil pH should be in the 5.6-6.6 range. Pumpkins grow on vines that can be surprisingly long, sometimes reaching several dozen feet. Farmers plant their pumpkins on small hills of dirt, with about 5-6 feet apart in rows that are 10 feet apart. They require a constant supply of moisture when they are growing, so drip irrigation is popular.

    Pumpkin plants have very little insect resistance so insecticides are used during growing. Because pumpkins are pollinated by honey bees, the insecticides must be managed to avoid killing the bees. Plastic mulches that block certain wavelengths of light are often used for weed control in industrial pumpkin patches.

    The most common pumpkin used for Halloween decoration is the “Connecticut Field Pumpkin” which also happens to be one of the oldest cultivars of the pumpkin. Fortunately, pumpkins are fairly hardy (although they don’t handle frost and cold weather very well) and are a favorite of both hobby farmers and industrial agricultural giants.

    (Image source: abbeyfarms.org)

  • Carving Jack-o-Lanterns

    In Irish and Scottish folklore, people carved scary faces into potatoes, turnips, and beets and placed them in windows or doorways to frighten away wandering evil spirits. Immigrants from these countries brought the tradition to the US in the mid-1800s and found that the pumpkin was softer and much easier to carve than turnips and potatoes.

    Although traditionally, triangle eyes and nose and a jagged smile are all that’s required to make a jack-o-lantern face from a pumpkin, more recently much more complicated faces and imagery have found their way onto the orange vegetable. NASA even holds a competition at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to find the most intricate and complex carved pumpkin. There are a variety of pumpkin carving tools and accessories available online, along with templates to carve scenes and even famous faces into the side of a pumpkin. Some tech-savvy people are even foregoing the pulpy flesh of the pumpkin and are using 3D printers and LED lighting to create their Halloween decorations.

    (Image source: pumpkinpatchesandmore.org)

  • Rubber Masks

    Masks today have gotten far more sophisticated than the hard plastic shells, held on by an elastic band that kids in the 1960s and 1970s used. Made mostly in China and Mexico, silicon rubber masks of ghouls, goblins, aliens, and political figures are the product of computer aided design (CAD) and precision molding. It’s also possible to make your own silicon or latex rubber mask, using art supplies and instructions from the Internet. Freelance mask makers will also create that special one-of-a-kind look for prices ranging between $60 and $400.

    (Image source: halloweencostumes.com)

  • Fake Spider Webs

    Spraying fake cobwebs inside and out has become a popular quick and easy Halloween decoration. Although they can be made from household items such as cotton balls, the silly string in a can web has become increasingly popular. But, there is a downside and it comes when the fake spider web act too much like real ones. Insects, bats, and even birds can become trapped in outdoor web displays, resulting in their injury or death. The spray-on webs should only be used inside the home, away from vulnerable wildlife.

    (Image source: thegreenhead.com)

  • Halloween Drones

    If you are a fan of drones you might consider dressing your flying machine up as a ghost, goblin, or witch on a broomstick. Drones are typically lightweight and have limited payload capacity, so the use of foam and paper to dress up the flying machine makes an aerial Halloween possible. Flying a drone near a crowd of people can be dangerous and flying at night could be a real problem, so make sure you know what you are doing if you decide your trick or treating needs to go vertical.

    (Image source: Mark Cawley)

  • Glow Sticks

    Glow sticks and glow necklaces have become popular kid’s Halloween costume accessories, but they have an important practical aspect. Adding light to a child’s ensemble allows them to be seen more easily by motorists who might be otherwise distracted by trick or treating activities. Children are more than twice as likely to be killed by a car while walking on Halloween night as at any other time of the year, according to a study by Safe Kids USA.

    The original “Cyalume” was invented in 1969 and became popular among police, fire, EMS, and military forces, and for recreation. The glow stick can be stored for long periods of time, is single use, and produces almost no heat. It works by the mixing of two chemicals inside a plastic tube. One of the chemicals is held in a thin glass vial that is broken when the glow stick is bent. This allows the chemicals to mix, creating a luminescence that can last several hours. Although glow sticks are permanently sealed, should one be cut open, the chemicals inside have a low level of toxicity and may cause irritation, particularly to the eyes.

    (Image source: British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Centre)

  • 3D-Printed Decorations

    Making things that go bump in the night with your 3D printer is as easy as downloading a file and pressing start. Home hobbyists have been using their own 3D printers for several years now and prices for a hobby-level machine have dropped to less than people are paying for video game consoles. Making scary pieces from various color plastic filaments means that you can get what you want and not have to settle for “store-bought” decorations.

    (Image source: Thingiverse.com)

  • Candy Corn

    Candy corn is a three-color confectionary that is popular in the US and Canada around Halloween. It is made from sugar, corn syrup, carnauba wax, and coloring and binders. It was first developed in the 1880s and by 2016, more than 35 million pounds (almost 9 billion pieces of candy) were produced in the US. Each candy corn is about 7 calories.

    The National Confectioners Association celebrates National Candy Corn Day on October 30. Although they used to be made by hand, the three colors, yellow for the broad end, orange for the tapered section, and white for the tip, are applied in separate steps, today using specially designed machinery and molds.

    As romantic as making candy sounds, it is actually a straightforward industrial process. Sugar and corn syrup are blended, and gelatin and sugar are whipped with air, and a fondant is added, along with yellow and orange coloring. A fondant is highly-crystalized sugar syrup that is used to create a candy that breaks off easily in the mouth and doesn’t have the chewy texture that comes from the sugar crystals. Corn starch is placed into hundreds of individual molds that move along a conveyer belt and triangle-shaped air nozzles inject layers of white, orange, and yellow candy corn mixture into the molds. The candy corn pieces are cooled, polished, and shipped.

    The result is the candy treat that best represents Halloween.

    (Image source: candywarehouse.com)

  • Haunted Houses

    Haunted houses exist to scare people. As early as the 19th Century, they were designed to shock, surprise and frighten their visitors, often using the latest technology of the day. In 1802, it was wax figures of the decapitated King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. In 1969, Disney opened the Disneyland Haunted Mansion and used visual effects to create a cultural icon. Today, it’s more likely to be zombies, vampires, and loud explosions, but the special effects are up to date and what some people believe a good Halloween experience should be all about.

    (Image source: Corbis/Smithsonian)

  • Safer Lighting

    People used to put candles in their jack-o-lanterns—the flickering light would add to the spooky effect. Open flames can be dangerous and burns are one of the leading types of Halloween injuries. Instead, small LED lights are available that can be placed inside the pumpkin and provide a realistic flickering effect. Outdoor lighting, once the mainstay of Christmas decorations has become more popular for homeowners who want to decorate their home for Halloween. Flashing lights, glow-in-the-dark skeletons, and all manner of eerie effects are available on-line and at retailers in every part of the country. It has become a big business. Just be sure that you don’t overload electrical outlets, or run extension cords across lawns or paths where they could become a tripping or shock hazard.

    (Image source: houselogic.com)

  • A Raspberry Pi Treat

    Learning coding with a Raspberry Pi microcomputer has become popular, so there is no reason not to use one to create a variety of animated Halloween effects. Everything from spooky doorways to projected eyes that follow you as you walk around a room are not only possible, but relatively easy to accomplish. All it takes is some ingenuity and a handful of sensors. Best of all, the coding skills that you pick up can be useful in other parts of your life.

    (Image source: Adafruit)

  • Candy X-Rays

    One of a parent’s biggest Halloween fears is that the treats that their children bring home might have include a potentially deadly trick. In spite of stories of razor blades in apples and pins in candy bars, most of the fears seem to be based on urban legend than actual cases of candy tampering. It all seems to have started with a brief story in the New York Times in 1971 that reported on a broken razor blade found in an apple after trick or treating. It set off a nationwide scare and, despite very few instances, it is a fear that remains strong today.

    To assuage parent’s fears, some hospital’s radiology departments apply their technology and will x-ray candies for free on Halloween night to look for foreign objects. In any case, parents should carefully examine the haul of candy and treats that their children bring home, discarding any candy that has been opened of whose packaging appears to have been tampered with.

    (Image source: creativeelectron.com)