Environmental themes have been strong at the K Fairs for at least 15 years. This year new bioplastics moved front and center. One of the most interesting new products comes from Novamont, which is showing a tire in which bioplastics made from starch replace some of the carbon black and silica used in automobile tires. The new material is aid to provide better grip on roads by reducing “rolling resistance” 30 per cent, according to development partner Goodyear. The result is improved fuel efficiency. Tread wear and noise pollution are also said to be reduced with the new compound. Goodyear anticipates he tire will cost the same as traditional tires. The first user is expected to be BMW, which is also a development partner. Goodyear received a 3 million euro ($4.3 million) grant from the European Commission to develop the new tire.
A lightweight electric urban concept car designed by several European companies weighs only 992 lb without its battery. It would have weighed 26.7 lb more if its windows were made of glass instead of the specially coated LEXAN polycarbonate resin from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Skylar Tibbits' team in MIT's Self-Assembly Lab is now 4D printing self-assembling shapes made of programmable carbon composites and custom wood grain. The composites are being used in a sport car airfoil, and the wood grain is beautiful.
The NanoSteel Company has produced high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite (MMC) parts using a new nanosteel powder in a one-step 3D-printing process. Parts are 99.9% dense, crack-free, and with wear resistance comparable to M2 tool steels.
The company that brought you 3D-printed eyeglasses has launched both an improved clear polymer material for 3D printing optical components and a high-speed, precision, 3D-printing process for making small- and medium-sized batches in a few days.
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