New polymer systems will be featured players in a bevy of new drug-eluting stents set to enter the market. The stents are placed in blood vessels close to the heart with the intent of releasing drugs that keep arteries open with patients who suffer from arteriosclerosis. It’s become a multi-billion dollar business with a couple of star players, and a spectacular technology display for high tech plastics. One of the exciting new entries features a bioresorbale polymer, first predicted by Design News. This is a plastic that disintegrates within six months, leaving just the cobalt chromium metal stent to prop open the artery. It comes in the Costar system from Conor Medical Systems. Conor was recently acquired by J&J. Abbott is developing a stent that is made of bioresobrale resin, specifically polylactic acid (PLA). It isn’t expected to hit the market for another five years. The new technologies in the stent business were reviewed yesterday at a cardiology meeting called CRT 2007 (Cardiovascular Revascularization Therapies) in Washington DC. My take: It will take a longer for new exciting technologies to make it to the operating table because of lingering questions about the effects of the original drug-eluting polymer stents. The questions focus more on the drugs than the polymers, but this one of the most exciting technology development areas for plastics on the planet.
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.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
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