Engineers still need to make tradeoffs when trying to achieve improved thermal conductivity in plastics. One of the biggest challenges in plastics design today is efficient heat removal from smaller components, some of which operate at higher voltages. Example: LED arrays are becoming more popular in auto headlamps to conserve energy. Research data presented by DuPont at its pre-K 2007 press conference in Prague show three different approaches: 1) Use of high filler content including carbon fiber achieves a high rate of thermal conductivity but is difficult to mold, 2) Boron nitride coated graphite coupled with copper particles coated with glass also work well, but are not cost effective and also have molding issues, and 3) Use of ceramic particles as fillers does not achieve the level of thermal conductivity required by emerging applications.
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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