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.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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