The economy may be weak, but not the entrepreneurial spirit. A major new nylon producer emerged at the National Plastics Exposition this week in Chicago. The new producer is Invista, a company that was formed more than five years ago from assets spun off from DuPont. Based in Wichita, KS, Invista is one of the world’s largest producers of polymers and fibers, primarily for apparel and carpeting and other applications. Brands include Stainmaster carpet and Lycra apparel, both once iconic names in the DuPont portfolio. The assets were purchased by Koch Industries as DuPont repositioned into other markets-a strategy still unwinding for many chemicals companies.
Invista has been selling polyester resins, including PBT-type polyester for engineering applications. Koch had signed a five year non-compete for nylon resins. That agreement has now expired, and Invista enters the market with a lot of nylon-producing firepower. “We’re taking a more focused approach by creating a simplified portfolio of products, each with the ability to perform in numerous applications,” said Kurt Burmeister, executive vice president on Invista’s engineering polymers business. “The benefits are economics of scale and customer flexibility, due to less complex operational systems and reduce inventory requirements.” Burmeister told Design News that Invista will sell a variety of compounded nylon products using an array of toll compounders operating as contract manufacturers. Emphasis will be on nylon 6,6.
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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