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.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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