Here’s a switch on the whole global outsourcing trend: a Canadian custom compounder called JER Envirotech is closing compounding capacity in Malaysia and the Philippines and moving the equipment to Greenville, SC. CEO Ed Trueman told Design News in an interview that development of infrastructure at the Asian sites was difficult, and the company needs a rapid ramp-up in capacity to meet skyrocketing demand for its new wood-plastic biocomposite that is already being molded for application in toys and car trim. One compounding line will open in South Carolina by the end of the year to supplement three lines already operating in Delta, British Columbia. JER expects to add capacity in South Carolina in 2009. One hot new market is biocomposite sheet that is replacing plywood for chicken coops made by a Pennsylvania company. The JER product contains no toxic chemicals (unlike plywood) and may find a huge market in the construction industry. Other types of wood composites are already used for decking and some other building applications. JER uses a new, proprietary formula that started with a material patented by the National Research Council of Canada.
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.
The company that brought you 3D-printed eyeglasses has launched both an improved clear polymer material for 3D printing optical components and a high-speed, precision, 3D-printing process for making small- and medium-sized batches in a few days.
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