A study by two business school professors makes the case that green manufacturing is not an expense; in fact it’s a money-maker. It took 20 years, but a Subaru plant in Indiana that makes 800 cars a day has reduced by waste 47 percent and makes use of 99.9 percent of the remaining waste. Nothing goes to a landfill, and dumpsters have been converted to recycling bins. One of the biggest problems was a toxic solvent used to flush painting systems. Subaru now distills impurities from used solvent so that it can be re-used. The impurities go to a company that makes coatings for steel industry ladles. There are a thousand examples, but one of the more intriguing (odder?) is to use all cafeteria food waste in a circular composting track. One day’s waste would be placed next to the last day’s in a plan under study. Special worms devour the waste, leaving rich soil behind. Or, I guess, Subaru could just hire workers who clear their plates.
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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