An interesting design innovation at K 2010 is an electrically conductive plastic compound from A. Schulman being used by a Finnish lighting manufacturer. Copper and tin are loaded at a very high level (60 and 25 percent respectively) in nylon 6. The tin acts like a solder connecting the copper fibers. “The conductivity of the compound is 1,000 times better than the next most conductive plastic compound available (plastic loaded with steel fibers),” says Thilo Stier, innovation manager for A. Schulman. The first production part is a light made by Hella.
The production process for the light is a great story. First, the ABS plate and the PMMA (acrylic) reflector are injection molded in a three-component process. The electrical resistor, diodes, LED and contact pins for the plug are inserted and connected with the new conductive compound, which is called Schulatec TinCo 50. The ABS-coated reflector is then mounted to ensure watertight encapsulation.
Stier says the material is good for housings and lighting applications.
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.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.