New plastics/metal hybrids introduced at K 2007 by A. Schulman eliminate soldering for electronic parts and also create shielded housings. “Conductor paths and contact points for connectors and cables can be injection molded simultaneously,” says Thilo Stier, innovation manager, told me at the packed Schulman stand this morning. Traditional lead frame techniques are replaced by the hybrids, called TinCo. They consist of 15 percent thermoplastics, such as nylon; 30 percent of a low-melting alloy such as tin; and 55 percent copper fiber. Nylon is overmolded with the low melting metal in a two-barrel injection molding machine using conventional tooling. Siemens is a development partner. Five other OEMs are also beta testing the technology under secrecy agreements. The process was demonstrated at the K Fair on an Arburg press. Due to the high loading of copper, the hybrid has excellent specific electrical conductivity—greater than 106 S/m. Most plastic and elastomers can be used as the matrix in the compound. Cycle times are short due to the material’s high thermal conductivity.
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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