I wrote last year about the potential for growing use of wood-plastic composites in car design. Now comes word that bamboo-reinforced bioplastic may make its commercial debut in the interiors of Mitsubishi’s iMiEV Sport Air electric vehicle in 2010. Mitsubishi would not confirm the roll-out date, which has been rumored on car blogs. It’s no secret though tat Mitsubishi has been working on bamboo-reinforced bioplastic for at least four years. The Japanese OEM cuts bamboos into strips, removing the joints and then crushes them. Then hot steam is used to loosen the fibers, making it fit as a reinforcement. The bamboo will be reinforcing a novel bioplastic called PBS (polybutylene succinate) resins, which is derived from succinic acid and corn starch.
According to Mitsubishi’s tests, PBS/bamboo-fiber compound achieves an estimated 50% reduction in lifecycle carbon dioxide emissions over polypropylene. VOC (volatile organic compounds) levels are also reduced drastically over processed wood hardboards (roughly 85% in testing).
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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