Eastman Chemical is introducing at K 2007 a new material it describes as the most important plastic resin developed in many years. Tritan copolyester uses a new monomer (not identified) to provide a higher glass transition temperature (Tg) than traditional copolyesters. The first grade will target polycarbonate applications in housewares where the new material offers superior chemical resistance and hydrolytic stability. Three commercial applications were announced at the show: Camelbak Products, Petaluma, CA, for a re-usable sports water bottle; VitaMix Corp., Olmstead Falls, OH, for a blender container; and Carlisle Food Service Products,Oklahoma City, OK; for a commercial soup bowl. CamelBak and Vita-Mix specified the new resin in part because it contains no bisphenol-A. Tom Pecorini, senior research associate at Eastman, says the new material has comparable shrinkage rates to PC, requiring no changes to the tooling. Another benefit: Tritan has a lower density than PC, boosting yield. Eastman said it plans to extend the grade slate, but gave no details.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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