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.
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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