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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Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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