Like it or not, design engineers need to get prepared for more environmentally oriented requirements. The newest evidence is an executive order from President George W. Bush that ramps by green requirements for the federal government. One of the six parts of the new order requires federal agencies to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 3% annually through the end of fiscal year 2015. President Bush also wants agency acquisitions to reflect sustainable environmental practices, including acquisition of biobased, environmentally preferable, energy-efficient, water-efficient, and recycled-content products, and use of paper of at least 30% post-consumer fiber content. The requirement on bio-based materials is interesting. Design News plans to look intensively at the potential of bio-based polymers for engineering applications in the April 30 issue. Stay tuned.
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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