Mirel bioplastic performs well as a film when annealed for two to three seconds after processing. New data on the PHB polymer was presented at the opening of the Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC) of the Society of Plastics Engineers in Boston today by Ray Krishnaswamy of Metabolix, the technology startup behind Mirel. Annealing relaxes stresses in noncrystalline chain segments, dramatically improving tear properties. Annealing equipment that could be used commercially includes IR heaters, embossing stations, or annealing roll stands. “We could build this for you for $1,000,” said to a large audience at the Fundamentals & Fellows Forum. Future research opportunities for bioplastics include controlling the rate of biodegradtion, controlling crystallization, improving thermal stability, exploring blends, and education.
NASA and Boeing developed a huge, carbon composite cryogenic fuel tank for deep space missions, and started testing it last month. The 18-ft cryotank will enable heavy-lift launch vehicles to send both humans and robots into deep space.
German engineering firm EDAG Group showed a single-piece, 3D-printed car body design inspired by a turtle at the Geneva Motor Show. It came about after an assessment of how additive manufacturing could be applied to making industrial components, modules, and complete vehicle bodies.
Some of the biggest self-assembled building blocks and structures made from engineered DNA have been developed by researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute. The largest, a hexagonal prism, is one-tenth the size of an average bacterium.
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