I have never been a big fan of biodegradable plastics, primarily because of what I consider bogus marketing. There is no environmental advantage to biodegradable packaging unless you’re the type who throws wrappers out of your car window. Properly run landfills are anaerobic. That is, they have no air or water because material degradation is an environmental problem. Chemicals leach into aquifers or form methane gases that contribute to global warming.
A company called Green Toys is now launching toys made from biodegradable plastic. Their pitch is simple and fair: plastics made from corn or potatoes use less energy to produce than plastics made from oil. There is no documentation of that claim on their Web site, however, and there should be because fuel made from corn (ethanol) may consume more petroleum than it saves. Furthermore, Green Toys use biodegradable colorants supplied by PolyOne Corp. That sounds like a real winner.
Green Toys also uses packaging made from recycled materials. Again another real score.
A recent report sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) focuses on emerging gasification technologies for converting waste into energy and fuel on a large scale and saving it from the landfill. Some of that waste includes non-recycled plastic.
Capping a 30-year quest, GE Aviation has broken ground on the first high-volume factory for producing commercial jet engine components from ceramic matrix composites. The plant will produce high-pressure turbine shrouds for the LEAP Turbofan engine.
Seismic shifts in 3D printing materials include an optimization method that reduces the material needed to print an object by 85 percent, research designed to create new, stronger materials, and a new ASTM standard for their mechanical properties.
A recent study finds that 3D printing is both cheaper and greener than traditional factory-based mass manufacturing and distribution. At least, it's true for making consumer plastic products on open-source, low-cost RepRap printers.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.