I commented yesterday on the ridiculous study commissioned by the American Christmas Tree Association that claims PVC Christmas trees are better for the environment than natural trees. A study earlier this year by a consulting firm in Canada makes the opposite conclusion. ”The results for this impact category are clear: the natural tree is better than the artificial tree considering an average life span of six years for the artificial tree. This conclusion holds true for resource depletion as well,” state researchers for Ellipsos of Montréal, Quebec. If someone kept an artificial tree for a very long time, “ideally over 20 years”, they could reduce the impacts of the artificial tree, says Ellipsos.
If you like to drive deep into the country to chop down your own tree, then you could be better off with a PVC tree, strictly from an environmental lifecycle analysis, says the study. I say, go into the country, have a great time with your kids, and chop down your own tree. Deposit the tree at a composting site when done. I didn’t do any research, but how is that worse than a PVC tree made in China?
Thanks to my colleague Don Loepp at Plastics News for citing my blog post, and pointing out the Ellipsos citation in one of the Plastics News comments.
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.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
Two teams, one based in the US and one in Europe, have 3D printed space-worthy support structures for satellite antenna arrays. These aren't prototypes: they're fully functioning antenna supports that will operate while exposed to the harsh temperatures and radiation of outer space.
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