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.
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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