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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A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.