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.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
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.