Use of bioabsorbable polymers as a medical device is moving to what I think is an amazing new level. Abbott vascular announced successful initial tests of a full bioabsorbable stent used to prop open diseased coronary arteries. The device is called ABSORB because it is completely absorbed back into the body after it restores blood flow, and the blood vessel heals. Six month results for the first 30 patients in the Abbott trial showed similar rates of success as metal stents. The new stent is made of polylactic acid, which is widely used in dissolvable sutures and anchor screws. Engineers in Japan are also rapidly developing mechanical applications for PLA.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
The 100-percent solar-powered Solar Impulse plane flies on a piloted, cross-country flight this summer over the US as a prelude to the longer, round-the-world flight by its successor aircraft planned for 2015.
GE Aviation expects to chop off about 25 percent of the total 3D printing time of metallic production components for its LEAP Turbofan engine, using in-process inspection. That's pretty amazing, considering how slow additive manufacturing (AM) build times usually are.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.