Huge new projects are coming on line to produce plastics from corn through the processes of fermentation and polymerization. Now a Korean research team says it has developed a way to produce bioplastics, specifically polylactic acid, more efficiently.
Lee Sang-yup of the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology says PLA can be produced through a one-step process using bioengineering. Polymers are made directly from natural feedstocks using newly developed microbial genetics that starts with E. coli. The process has the potential to reduce costs of PLA. The Korean team also says they are studying ways to build polyesters through the process.
It’s a long. long way from the lab to the factory, however
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.
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