In collaboration with Mr. Yutaro Shimode, a professor at Kyoto Sangyo University, NEC has developed a lacquer black tone with the beauty of urushi-like traditional craft lacquerware. The bioplastic (NeCycle R) is composed of polylactic acid and a grounded extract of cashew nuts containing cellulose and cardanol, a phenolic lipid based on anacardic acid. A blending technique of these ingredients was developed that keeps the optical properties of lacquer black and makes scratches less prone to rubbing with cloth and paper. In addition, digital image processing was performed through cooperation of printing makers strong in special skills concerning ink composition, coloring components and printing conditions for the production of sprinkled pictures (maki-e), lacquer ware on which the design is made by sprinkling or spraying wet lacquer with metallic powder, usually gold or silver. As a result, maki-e printed designs were obtained on an artificial bioplastic which have high scratch resistance and keep a beautiful artistic appearance, a new material for luxury consumer goods.
JST news release, February 6, 2018