One of the big trends at K 2007 is the availability of new compounds that deal with tightening regulations on chemicals used to make plastics flame retardant, particularly for consumer electronics products. Example: Clariant Masterbatches announced Renol, a new color that is FR compliant for polycarbonate/ABS alloys used in such products as televisions. They can be used at loadings of just 3 percent.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.