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.
HP revealed more of its 3D printing plans in a recent webinar. Senior vice president of inkjet and graphics solution business Stephen Nigro spoke about how the technology works and expanded on HP's vision of open collaboration to commercialize its Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology for end-production, and open collaboration on new materials. He also said HP will create software to help users decide when to use Multi Jet Fusion versus conventional subtractive manufacturing.
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.
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