What do US military planners consider top materials research targets? Well according to the head of the Pentagon’s research arm (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA) low-cost titanium tops the list. Titanium is in increasing demand for light weight aircraft and stealth-seeking submarines, while its costs are rising and significant amounts of supply are controlled by Russia. One troubling indication is the recent huge supply agreement made between Boeing and Russia’s top titanium provider. DARPA has distributed more than $20 million in grants in efforts to develop lower-cost titanium, as well as material that would have improved fabrication capabilities. DuPont is teaming with a company called MER to explore a technology in which titanium dioxide can be converted into titanium power which can be easily shaped through molding or casting processes.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.