I'm noticing a trend in your recent stories. Namely, that rising prices of existing materials (in this case, ABS plastic) is/are driving the search for more economically viable substitutes. This is analogous to the economic driver in the alternative energy field. I'm wondering if you perceive an ongoing trend here (that the prices of exisiting materials will continue to rise, spurring further research) or whether there's instability, and we might see a whipsawing back and forth as prices fluctuate.
Alex, my opinion is that we will continue to see a rollar coaster of pricing for plastics derived from hydrocarbons. I think major oil producing countries, notably Saudi Arabia, will boost production to lower hydrocarbon prices when we approach the tipping point toward alternative feestocks and fuels. And for that reason, many companies will be reluctant to make major commitments to alternative feedstocks unless there is legislative and regulatory pressure to do so. And I don't see that happening in the USA given the political climate in the country. But it is happening in Italy, and there are signs of potenital action in other European countries and Japan.
Domestic production of feedstock for polymers definitely helps the bottom line and would allow companies to level load production and maintain the same profit margin. Large companies like Solvay going after PA production from bio feedstock is a good sign for the future of the use of organic matter to produce plastic.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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