More than 70 percent of an ABS substitute is made from starch, palm oil, and carbon dioxide. The research team used it to manufacture a vacuum cleaner cover to demonstrate its usefulness in consumer products. (Source: Siemens)
Thanks for your comments. I'm aware of the palm oil problem, which is not insignificant. I decided to report this anyway, because finding a substitute for styrene is a big deal, since it's also bad for the environment. Humans aren't the only beings that are affected by it. Since this material is still in R&D it's possible that BASF, which has a deservedly good rep in sustainability consciousness, might be looking for an alternative to palm oil.
I don't think we should have to trade off one sustainability factor against another, in this case, a styrene alternative vs using palm oil. Actually this is a three-way tradeoff, since it's a creative way to reduce and make use of CO2.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
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