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.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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