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.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
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