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.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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