Lou, recyclable and recycled composites and plastics are a subject that's getting more attention all the time. We covered it here: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=271489 Since recycled polymers are already being used in heavy truck parts, bridges, and Ford's car seats, among many other uses, it's clear that they must meet the same performance standards as any other plastics. Making materials recyclable is also being investigated. Recycling composites, though, especially carbon fiber-reinforced ones, is a lot more difficult. One of the biggest problems in recycling plastics is when they're made of multiple materials, as composites are. The companies mentioned in the story at the link I gave are pioneers. Some are also working on making carbon composites recyclable.
Ann, I was just talking to my son this morning about cars made from carbon fiber composites and comparing them to cars made from aluminium. Since steel and aluminium are easily recyclable, it makes sense to use them when appropriate. On the other hand, if more composite materials are used I think that there should be standards for recyclability. This material seems to be a good first step.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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