There’s a new polymer contender in the effort to find replacements for expandable polystyrene packaging. David A. Schiraldi, chair of the chemistry department at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio says that an ultra-light biodegradable foam plastic substitute can be made from the protein in milk and ordinary clay. The new substance could be used in furniture cushions, insulation, packaging, and other products, they report in Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal from the American Chemical Society.
Eighty percent of the protein in cow milk is a substance called casein, which is used in adhesives and paper coatings. But water can wash it away. To increase strength and hike resistance to water, the CWRU scientists blended in a small amount of clay and a reactive molecule called glyceraldehyde, which links casein’s protein molecules together.
The scientists freeze-dried the resulting mixture, removing the water to produce a spongy aerogel. Academics sometimes refer to this family of substances as “solid smoke.” To make the gossamer foam stronger, they cured it in an oven. Almost a third of the material breaks down within 30 days in the right environment, but it’s described as strong enough to have commercial applications.
Schiraldi is chief science officer of Aeroclay, which has been formed to commercialize the technology. “There is a real intent to commercialize this, and other aerogel products,” says Schiraldi. Aeroclay is based in Solon, OH.
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
A recent report sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) focuses on emerging gasification technologies for converting waste into energy and fuel on a large scale and saving it from the landfill. Some of that waste includes non-recycled plastic.
Capping a 30-year quest, GE Aviation has broken ground on the first high-volume factory for producing commercial jet engine components from ceramic matrix composites. The plant will produce high-pressure turbine shrouds for the LEAP Turbofan engine.
Seismic shifts in 3D printing materials include an optimization method that reduces the material needed to print an object by 85 percent, research designed to create new, stronger materials, and a new ASTM standard for their mechanical properties.
A recent study finds that 3D printing is both cheaper and greener than traditional factory-based mass manufacturing and distribution. At least, it's true for making consumer plastic products on open-source, low-cost RepRap printers.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.