We all want to trust “the system” when it comes to issues such as potentially toxic chemicals that could affect our health. But new reports about polycarbonate baby bottles are disturbing. Research from the federal National Toxicology Program is said to raise ‘’some concern” about bisphenol A potentially leaching from polycarbonate baby bottles and other products. Rats exposed to the chemical showed disturbing changes, including some linked to cancer. Canadian health officials say bisphenol A may endanger humans and any may ban the substance from baby bottles. Polycarbonate producers such as Sabic Innovative Plastics are referring questions to Dr. Steven Hentges, a polycarbonate expert at the American Chemistry Council. The ACC has released a very guarded statement, which says that the new studies confirm their position that exposure to BPA is negligible. Dr. Hentges calls on the U.S. government to conduct more studies to affirm the safety of BPA. I wonder what Dr. Hentges is telling his family members about use of polycarbonate baby bottles, which are typically exposed to high heat in a dishwasher? I’ll bet he’s telling them to take no chances. Use safer BPA-free alternatives. Why take any chances? There are limits (big limits) to how far we should go to protect our chemical industry.
It’s not clear to what extent there are also health concerns about epoxy resins, which are typically made with bisphenol A and widely used as a coating in food n beverage cans.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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