You might not think of cement as an engineering material because of its brittleness. But a new engineered cement composite developed at the University of Michigan may cause you to think again. Specially coated fibers replace stone aggregate and act as ligaments that tie the cement together under stress. Engineering Professor Victor Li comments: “How the fiber works inside the composite—especially when loading is excessive and the crack starts to break—needs to be just right. it means that fibers don’t come out too easily. Otherwise you don’t have a composite per se. On the other hand you don’t want them bonded too strong. If that was the case you wouldn’t allow the fiber to slide; you would break the fiber. In either case it would return to a brittle material as opposed to the ductile behavior we are looking for.“
Dow Chemical and several other companies have launched a program in Omaha, Neb. to divert about 36 tons of plastics from landfills in its first phase, and convert it into energy used for cement production.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
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