The Lola-Drayson B12/69EV prototype race car, which will compete in the all-electric FIA Formula E World Championship Series, uses recycled and plant-based composites in underhood components. (Source: Lola Cars International Ltd.)
Yes, I remember the difficulties with component tracking and part numbers. For some reason REACH didn't see to cause the same consternation. At least not that I noticed. I guess it's becasue REACH was more of a reporting function.
Actually, among the high-end embedded board-level products we covered, RoHS seemed to affect most the manufacturers that served both mil and commercial customers, since they often ended up running two separate lines for two different versions of the "same" product. Mil-only board manufacturers were not affected much until later. One thing that did affect them both was the nightmare of components tracking and part numbers changing.
Since there were only two of us, myself and the editor-in-chief, I did a little of everything. Mostly we did not address distribution, but design and development technologies for HW and SW, comms, and a lot of board-level products and technologies. I wrote several features on RoHS, too.
As I learned working for COTS Journal, COTS doesn't just mean actual end-system computers and apps software. It can also refer more broadly to both software and hardware design and development platforms, specifically for creating end-system hardware and software used in the field. Ruggedization is taken for granted for military field use; that feature doesn't determine whether a machine is COTS. A COTS-based machine may also be further tweaked--and usually is--for specific apps. The big difference is that the military is no longer spending zillions of dollars on proprietary, entirely customized systems.
What I've heard is that the COTS stuff is used for office and support functions. When it comes to electronics out in the field, the electronics are ruggedized (and leaded) so they can withstand a difficult environment over many years.
The COTS systems, platforms, networking technologies, and software are, as the term says, commercial off-the-shelf hardware and software, meaning stuff that's originally designed and built for the rest of us. Basically, that means the military is using Windows-based laptops and other standard commercial hardware and software, as well as standard networking protocols, which is actually kind of scary. This is instead of spending zillions of dollars on designing their own stuff, like in the "good old days." Even the NSA buys a lot of standard signal-processing equipment.
Interestingly, many of the older "antiques"--more like family heirlooms--in my house are made of bio-based materials, such as wood and paper (which also used to be considered sustainable materials until we nearly used them up), or ceramics and brick, which are sustainable. Even metals were sustainable, and still are. Most of these materials are commonly found in the rubbish heaps of our ancestors, and give archaeologists a lot to study. Much of the problem with materials becoming non-sustainable has occurred in more recent times because of overuse (due in part to enormous population growth), as well as because of newer materials with complex processes and polluting wastes.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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.
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