Look for bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) to make a strong run at polystyrene foam packaging in the next three years. The major reason is significant technology development in screw design that brings productivity rates for PLA foaming more in line with polystyrene systems. David Fogarty, president, Plastic Engineering Associates (PEA) of Boca Raton, FL says he has developed new screw designs that have now been licensed to three companies.
Ability to maintain melt temperature is critical because of the low glass transition temperature of PLA. PEA supplies 4.50″ x 6.00″ (120mm x 150mm) and 6.00″ x 8.00″ (150mm x 200mm) sized Turbo-Screws specifically designed for the bioplastic, and has worked in tandem with PLA Supplier NatureWorks. Output rates are said to be in the 75 percent to 85 percent range of polystyrene output.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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