Ford has emerged as a leader in green technologies, particularly in the use of soybeans to produce foam for car seats. Our sister publication Modern Plastics Worldwide reports that Ford now plans to use recycled utility waste as a functional plastics filler. An English company called Rocktron produces glass spheres from fly ash waste from coal-fired power plants. The new compounds may be used to produce parts throughout the car, even under the hood. The hollow alumino-silicate spheres are said to provide a superior hardness and density compared to talc filler and are also described as less expensive than glass spheres made from virgin raw materials.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.