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.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
As we saw on the show floor this week at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing and co-located events in Anaheim, Calif., 3D printing is contributing to distributed manufacturing and being reinvented by engineers for their own needs. Meanwhile, new fasteners are appearing for wearable consumer and medical devices and Baxter Robot has another software upgrade.
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