Do you keep music or tax files on compact discs you bought at a big box store? Well any money you saved by buying cheap CDs could be lost in a hurry. There are some reports that cheap CDs only last two years or so. Cutting corners on materials’ quality exponentially increases the potential for damage from poor handling or storage practices. You have a couple options: 1) Buy high-quality CDs and be careful when handling or 2) Practice extremely careful storage and handling with special technology.
One way to protected CDs is to pay a quarter for a special plastic sleeve developed by Bell Labs. The sleeve features a semiconductive plastic film or sheet. The base polymer is typically polyethylene or polyester that is chemically reacted with conductive copper and other ingredients to form a covalently bonded, homogeneous structure. If someone walks on a carpet and then touches a CD, they can discharge electricity that can locally oxidize a region of the aluminum layer embedded in the CD. The oxidized aluminum will no longer reflect a CD drive’s laser light properly, so all data recorded in the affected area ceases to be readable. Bell Labs licensed the idea to a company called Intercept Technology.
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.
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.