This morning’s newspapers are full of stories of deep budgets that are sure to affect funds for scientific research. And buried deep inside is a story of a call by leading American scientists to research and develop new sources for energy-critical materials, such as lithium and tellurium.
There are two issues. Demand is rising for these materials to produce lighter weight vehicles, batteries for electric cars, thin film solar cells, and a variety of other emerging energy-related applications. At the same time, the largest known source of these materials, China, is taking steps to shut off the spigot.
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.