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 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.