The word is in: An article in yesterday’s New York Times declares that stainless steel is better than plastic bottles for the environment–if one stainless bottle takes the place of at least 50 plastic bottles. The two writers of the column are developing a software product that conducts lifecycle assessments. They issued their verdict on stainless steel bottles after taking into account the environmental impacts of mining iron ore, chromium, and nickel, transporting them large distances, making the steel, transporting the steel, fabricating the bottles, and so on.
I can’t comment on the quality of the argument because zero data is provided on any of the inputs, and no information at all is provided on the plastic product.Assuming they are correct, however, isn’t this a little strange? Under what circumstances would someone use a stainless steel bottle to drink water? A hike maybe. No, stainless is too heavy. And how does stainless steel get into the recycling stream? Do you take it to a car shredder? What if people re-fill plastic bottles to drink water?
And what about the environmental waste of printing this silliness on half a page of the New York Times and distributing it across North America to a million people?
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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