Novelis, an Alcan spinoff that is now part of the Aditya Birla Group, has developed a new aluminum alloy that is making impressive gains in automotive and elsewhere. Novelis Fusion is based on a conventional direct chill (DC) mold that is modified in order to allow multiple metal streams to be cast into one single aluminum sheet ingot. The result is an alloy, not unlike multilayer polymer sheet, that is joined together by a metallurgical bond. One of the heavyweight users is the BMW 7 Series, which uses lightweight door components made from Novelis Fusion. A new grade (PA221) designed for appliances is also now available.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
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