The Chevy Volt got big headlines at the Detroit Auto Show because of its electric power train. There was a tons of news in the materials as well. The materials used in a high-tech composite hood are made from regenerated plastic bottle scrap. In a proprietary GE Plastics process, bottles are reduced to their chemical constituents, which are then recovered for the manufacture of Xenoy iQ resins, which were first announced last July. As a result, there is no sacrifice in physical properties of the material, as can be the case with recycle resins. Denso, a Tier One automotive supplier, based in Kariya, Japan, has been validating applications.
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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