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.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.