What are the biggest trends in product design? Someone asked me that at dinner. I gave this response: 1) lightweighting (what else could I say after the big stories this year on the Chevy Volt and Dreamliner), 2) miniaturization, and related issues concerning thermal conductivity of plastics, and 3) a move back toward styling. This came to mind because of the great new looking washers and dryers from Whirlpool and, more recently, the Nokia Classic 6500.The renewed emphasis on styling is due, in part, to the enormous success of Apple with the Mac, the iPod and iPhone. What do you think are the biggest trends?
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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