So what does it mean to claim a plastic is environmentally friendly? It might mean the material contains recycled plastics or can be easily recycled at the end of its first life. Or it might involve biodegradability. It could also mean the material is derived from feedstocks based on sustainable — agricultural or biological — sources. Plastics suppliers are increasingly pursuing one or more of these environmental strategies as they develop new products. But they have to maintain good mechanical properties and low costs if these eco-friendly polymers are ever to be widely specified by engineers. Three of the newest eco-friendly thermoplastics have properties much like conventional polybutylene-terephthalate (PBT) and just might pass muster with both engineers and environmentalists alike.
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The Beam Store from Suitable Technologies is managed by remote workers from places as diverse as New York and Sydney, Australia. Employees attend to store visitors through Beam Smart Presence Systems (SPSs) from the company. The systems combine mobility and video conferencing and allow people to communicate directly from a remote location via a screen as well as move around as if they are actually in the room.
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.
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