The best hope for new bioplastics is to find niche applications where they fill a technical need. One great new example comes out of Cornell University, where research set up a company called Novomer to develop plastics made from carbon dioxide and cirtus fruits. Aliphatic polycarbonates (APCs) made from the process are biodegradable, biocompatible, are optically clear and provide high oxygen and water barrier. They’re also quite pricey – say $50 a pound an up.
Novomer today announced its first commercial product — NB-180, a poly(propylene carbonate) (PPC) sacrificial binder that burns cleaner, more uniformly and at lower temperatures than currently available products. Sacrificial binders provide mechanical strength to ensure uniform consistency, solidification or adhesion during manufacturing processes. Application areas are extremely broad and include advanced ceramics, microelectronics, nanotechnology, metal brazing and fuel cells. It’s aimed at assembly of micro- and nano-scale devices.
Fox Holt, product manager for Novomer says there are no plans yet to use the material as a sacrificial binder in powder injection molding – a mass market where it could really achieve some volume.
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.
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