Polycarbonate, one of the fastest-growing engineering polymers in recent years, looks like it’s in for some hard times. On one side, the clear thermoplastic is getting battered by concerns over adverse health effects of biphenyl A (a key constituent) and on the other by declining sales of CDs and DVDs.New clarified polypropylenes are replacing PCs used in food and beverage containers. The economics favoring polyolefins is also changing. The price differential between the two polymers, already substantial, is likely to widen further as massive new PP supplies come on one. PC is easily twice as expensive as PP right now.
Meanwhile, one of the giant markets for PC is under siege. Since the introduction of the MP3, sales of CDs have dropped in seven out of the last eight years. Large label CD sales dropped 20% in 2008. The outlook is grim as it becomes apparent that movies and other content will be increasingly delivered over the Internet.
That’s why you see so many concept cars (like the first Chevy Volt) featuring polycarbonate roofs. Automotive glazing has been the Holy Grail for PC for at least five years. But that won’t be coming anytime soon because of concerns over performance issues.
What does all this mean for mechanical engineers? Look for major producers (such as Sabic IP, Bayer, Dow or Mitsubishi) to show more interest on working with you to develop new applications. Key candidates are components requiring clarity, stiffness, temperature resistance and impact resistance.
The grab bag of plastic and rubber materials featured in this new product slideshow are aimed at lighting applications or automotive uses. The rest are for a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, oil & gas, RF and radar, automotive, building materials, and more.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.