Metabolix is moving forward with its plans to produce bioengineered polymers from crops other than corn. The Massachusetts company announced it has completed a field trial of tobacco, genetically engineered to “express” polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) biobased polymers. In the Metabloix plan, crops such as switchgrass are bioengineered to create a polymer that grows within the plants’ molecular structure.
Tobacco will not be one of those plants when, and if, the idea goes commercial. “Tobacco was one of the crops they were working with in the lab and they were able to gain field trials,” says a company spokesperson. “They saw it as an opportunity to use it as a test crop to lay the groundwork for planning and permitting activities for field trials in bioengineered, non-food oilseed and biomass crops (such as switchgrass and sugarcane) producing PHA.”
A lightweight electric urban concept car designed by several European companies weighs only 992 lb without its battery. It would have weighed 26.7 lb more if its windows were made of glass instead of the specially coated LEXAN polycarbonate resin from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Skylar Tibbits' team in MIT's Self-Assembly Lab is now 4D printing self-assembling shapes made of programmable carbon composites and custom wood grain. The composites are being used in a sport car airfoil, and the wood grain is beautiful.
The NanoSteel Company has produced high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite (MMC) parts using a new nanosteel powder in a one-step 3D-printing process. Parts are 99.9% dense, crack-free, and with wear resistance comparable to M2 tool steels.
The company that brought you 3D-printed eyeglasses has launched both an improved clear polymer material for 3D printing optical components and a high-speed, precision, 3D-printing process for making small- and medium-sized batches in a few days.
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