Sometimes even the simplest of designs can get you in trouble. Consider this: Maxwell House launched a 39-ounce plastics container for coffee. Procter & Gamble subsequently requested a preliminary injunction stopping use of the design, claiming that it infringes on its plastic canister patent in use for Folgers coffee. It seems almost that P&G claims that use of a plastics container is a patent infringement. Five specific areas of infringement are cited (see image below), and none seem particularly unique. One for example is use of a flexible lid. Another is use of rigid areas in the package. That strikes me as a tad much.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.