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.
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.