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.
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.