Japanese OEMs, particularly in the electronics and IT fields, are leading the way on engineering applications for plant-based plastics. The latest: Fujitsu is testing a new polymer that uses caster oil extracted from the seeds of the caster bean. The new polymer is being tested for small components in notebook PCs and for mobile phones. A target application is connector covers. Five years ago, Fujitsu was one of the pioneers, using polymers based on corn-based polylactic acid in the chassis of a notebook PC. The goal of the new polymer, developed with Arkema, is better flexibility.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
This year's Dupont-sponsored WardsAuto survey of automotive designers and other engineers shows lightweighting dominates the discussion. But which materials will help them meet the 2025 CAFE standards are not entirely clear.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
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