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.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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