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.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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