DuPont officially launched a fully commercialized portfolio of biobased plastics at the National Plastics Exposition in Chicago that is clearly the broadest and most ambitious in the industry. Biobased resins that have been on the market for the past four or five years had limited scope. They were aimed at biodegradable packaging applications, and putting biobased polymers into the engineering arena was a far tougher challenge. “Our goal from the very beginning was to develop materials that offered equal or superior performance to the competitive materials,” Marsha A. Craig, DuPont’s global business manager for renewably sourced materials, told Design News in an interview.The three families shown by DuPont at the NPE are Sorona EP PTT-type polyesters, Hytrel RS thermoplastic elastomer, and Zytel RS thermoplastics long chain nylons (6,10 and 10,10).
The Sorona family contains 37 percent corn-based feedstock and is offered in 15 and 30 percent glass filled grades. ”We will also be selling unreinforced , toughened and other grades,” says Craig. DuPont has not yet announced any commercial applications for Sorona EP, but Craig says several customers are conducting tests with the material. A sample glass-filled Sorona EP part on display at the DuPont booth (which had a distinctly earth-friendly theme) had an excellent surface finish, one of the attributes of the renewably sourced blend. Prices for the compounds will be in the $2-$3 per pound range, and will reflect a premium for their superior attributes. Renewable content varies from 20 to 65 percent depending on the hardness grade.
The Hytrel RS is a drop-in replacement for existing Hytrels, and will be priced at a 10 percent premium, reflecting higher costs for the sustainable component, which is produced from nonfood biomass. The exact biomass is currently being kept confidential by DuPont. Target customers are seeking materials with a renewably sourced component. The first announced application is a collar for a Salomon ski boot. The third family, Zytel RS, is based on sebacic acid made from castor oil. Renewable content varies from 60 to 100 percent, depending on the grade.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
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