Design engineers surely will feel some heat from the current financial liquidity crisis, even assuming the proposed bailout plan is enacted and has a positive effect. It will be hard, particularly in the short-term, for companies to raise capital. All companies are affected, but the hardest hit will be small, entrepreneurial firms that are burning cash. One area of concern could be the fledgling companies that are attempting to build a bioplastic industry in the United States. The Chief Operating Officer at Cereplast, a bioplastic startup in California, announced a decision to concentrate all manufacturing at a plant n Seymour, IN and focus sales activities on a smaller, targeted group of prospects. The move comes as Cereplast prepares for the second phase of a previously announced joint development agreements with Danone and Peugeot-Citroen. Big companies will also feel at least some pain. GE announced it will take on less debt in the fourth quarter to improve its financial liquidity. Less debt means less spending. Will that mean some slowdown in development of its aggressive wind energy program? We don’t know right now. GM is putting significant financial muscle into Chevy Volt even though its cash position is weak. GM is looking for federal help, possibly in the form of tax benefits, to ease purchasing of the Volt.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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.
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