Plastics prices are soaring right now with a renewed conviction. Until recent years, plastics producers have been more focused on market share than margins. They paid a steep price for that approach, and some big names such as GE, have exited the business. Many are determined to recover every penny of the new, higher costs for hydrocarbons. Huntsman and PolyOne, for example, issued announcements they will hike prices up to 25 and 20 percent, respectively. Interestingly, many suppliers also want to end arrangements that protected big customers. In such cases, price hikes often were delayed for a quarter or longer. Look for companies like Dow Chemical to try to end those practices. Dow’s feedstock and energy bill for the first three months of 2008 was 42 percent higher than the year-earlier quarter.
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.