The giant K Fair, held every three years in Germany, is a great place to take the pulse of plastics technology. This year, for the first time, there will be a strong showing of plastics made from renewable resources.
One example is a Novamont-led project called ReBioFoam, which is developing a new flexible and eco-sustainable process with a low-energy impact for the production of expanded biodegradable packaging containing renewable raw materials. Biopolymers will be expanded using microwave technology in specially designed molding presses with innovative coatings. The process uses the water naturally present in the materials as expansion agents.
Can’t make it to K Fair? No problem. Keep an eye on the Engineering Materials blog and the news pages of www.designews.com Oct. 27 through Nov. 3 as I’ll be roaming the 19 halls in Düsseldorf looking for insights for design engineers. You can also follow me @plasticsblogger on Twitter.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
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