NEC is developing shape memory plastics made of plant-based materials for use as wearable electronic products. The new plastic will lose it shape when heated with something as simple as a hair dryer and then will resume its original shape when heated again. The plan is to use the materials for mobile phones that users can form into unique shapes and wear around their wastes. They can be heated again to resume their original shape. NEC also plans to use the shape memory plastics in PCs. If a housing is deformed by heat, it could be returned to its original shape through application of heat. NEC commented that there were efforts to introduce oil-based shape memory plastics to these applications before but they were abandoned because the plastics were not recyclable. NEC first reported its work on bioplastc shape memory products in 2005, and updated Design News this month.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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