GE Plastics long-standing attack on polyvinyl chloride continues in the Chevy Volt. Flexible Noryl replaces polyvinyl chloride for environmental and weight-saving reasons. Today's cars have over a mile of wiring, which is mostly made with PVC coating. The case against PVC, says GE, is that it contains halogen and releases dioxins when burned. The Noryl coating is also smaller in diameter than the PVC, making it easier for engineers to manipulate wires in the car. The PVC producers have long maintained that PVC is safe when incinerated properly. European regulators have been the most aggressive in attacking the use of PVC.
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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