You don’t often think of glass reinforcement as an issue when it comes green engineering. But engineers at Ford Motor Company are taking a different tack.
Dr. Deborah Mielewski, who heads plastics research at Ford, is studying several different plant materials as a substitute for glass as reinforcement in plastics. One of the big payoffs is a 30 percent weight reduction. The other issue, she says, is that glass fiber is a very energy-intensive process. Mielewski’s six-woman engineering group is taking a close look at kenaf, hemp, coconut hair (coir), and wheat straw.
Now comes news that glass giant Owens Corning wants to reduce the environmental footprint of glass fibers used to reinforce plastics. The company will re-start a glass fiber reinforcement manufacturing facility in Italy that has been converted to a boron- and fluorine-free process called Advantex. The new process is also more energy efficient, resulting in less demand for fossil fuel and emissions reductions of up to:
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
The 100-percent solar-powered Solar Impulse plane flies on a piloted, cross-country flight this summer over the US as a prelude to the longer, round-the-world flight by its successor aircraft planned for 2015.
GE Aviation expects to chop off about 25 percent of the total 3D printing time of metallic production components for its LEAP Turbofan engine, using in-process inspection. That's pretty amazing, considering how slow additive manufacturing (AM) build times usually are.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.