Amid the blast of news about soaring gas prices, came this whiff of good news on New England Cable News: A group in Maine hopes to make plastic from potatoes. Wow, we can get away from high oil prices and at the same time packaging made from potatoes would be biodegradable, right? That was the tone of the gee-whizz newscast. It sure would be nice to get a little context in these news reports. As reported here recently, the economics of using crops as a feedstock are way out of whack, even with high-priced oil. And also as reported here, there is no composting infrastructure in place to handle biodegradable packaging. I like Mane potatoes. Let’s just eat them.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.