Any type of government management of the car industry is a bad idea. One proof of that is the Trabant, a “car” produced in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. To start with, the vehicle was made from plastic composite, no not the type of high-tech thermoplastic material envisioned for the hood of the Chevy Volt concept car or the carbon composite hood used in the Corvette ZR1. The Trabant’s composite was called Duroplast, a thermoset resin reinforced with cotton waste from Russia. It couldn’t be recycled and when it burned the material produced toxic residue. Paper was also at times used as a reinforcing material for the phenolic waste matrix material, leading to the erroneous suggestion that the Trabant’s body was made from cardboard. Duroplast was the best part of the Trabant, which was made by VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau. One reviewer commented: “Ostensibly, there’s not a whole lot to love about a car that creaks like an out-of-warranty pirate ship and spews more smoke than a Winston Churchill-Fidel Castro summit.” The car cost a comrade a year’s salary and some buyers had to wait as long as 15 years for a delivery. The Trabant–a car made in a Socialist system– is one of the reasons why I don’t want the federal government to get involved in the car industry – in any way, shape or form.
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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