A three-fold increase in lead in the past three years is aiding in the phase-out of the toxic metal in some applications. Example: There’s a surge in demand for environmentally friendly stabilizers used in polyvinyl chloride. The Baerlocher Group of Companies of Munich, Germany, reports higher demand for its calcium-based stabilizers as well as calcium-and zinc stearate stabilizers used to improve thermal performance. Baerlocher is investing 20 million Euros ($29 million) to boost production capacity in Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India and Malaysia. In a program called Vinyl 2010, the European vinyl industry has made a voluntary commitment to improve the environmental profile of PVC.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
Researchers at MIT's d'Arbeloff Laboratory are developing shoulder- and hip-mounted robotic arms to help workers in aircraft manufacturing perform difficult or complex assembly tasks that would normally require two people.
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