The news is full of bankruptcies at shoot-and-ship plastics processors, particularly those who serve the price-focused automotive industry. But if you have a specialty, business is great. Take for example, Micromold Products of Yonkers, NY, which specializes in production of PTFE and PVDF parts for handling of corrosive liquids. There’s technology in the design as well as in the handling of the materials. Two patents for fluid handling show the trend. PTFE, either compression molded or formed from shapes, replace glass, which is extremely brittle, inflexible, and subject to manufacturing imperfections. Other proprietary technology is used in the fusion process. PTFE has a high coefficient of expansion and the lowest coefficient of friction of any known solid material. Micromold was started in 1950 by a former scientist at DuPont, where PTFE was commercialized as Teflon. One thing interesting about Micromold: Despite its name, it does no injection molding. Why the name? “That’s lost in the mists of time,” laughs Claude Berman, engineering manager. Micromold’s sales are up about 30 per cent in the past three years.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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