Toxic toys were a major story last year. The Chinese toy scare stirred up a lot of new business for wooden toys made in the United States. That feel good story is now getting even a little better. Two American toy manufacturers are rolling out this year toys or games made with “thermoplastic biocomposite compounds”. These compounds are made of waste agricultural products such as discarded rise hulls and recycled plastics held together with patented additives developed by the National Research Council of Canada. The new coupling agents are a powerful moisture absorber that allow a tight bond between the wood fiber and the plastic. The toymakers are Sprig Toys of Fort Collins, CO and Rolco of Kasota, MN. The materials supplier is JER Enviortech International of Vancouver, BC.
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.