This past June Design News co-sponsored the International Plastics Design Competition held at the National Plastics Exposition in Chicago. One entry stood in stark contrast to the tractor hoods and water-ski bodies usually on display at previous plastic design contests held by the Society of Plastics Industry.
It clearly showed that polymers have entered a brave new world. Membrane Technologies B.V. of the Netherlands showed a hollow fiber membrane, which had been cast with a new sulfonated copolymer from Kraton. Varying sulfonation levels allow ion exchange capacity of 0.4 to 2.0 milli-equivalent per gram. The ion selectivity and unique polymer architecture results in efficient salt rejection. The fibers can be used in a larger water purification or desalinization plant.
The technical complexity of the entry must have baffled the judges, who didn’t even award it some kind of honorable mention among the bevy of announced awards.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
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