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.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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.
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