Jim, I noticed the same things about the article. I included the link as an example of what's out there. If you Google "PLA and 3D printing", you''ll come up with a lot of other sources, some of which have a very different take. Beth's article says "PLA was chosen because of its strength and ability to make very large prints without cracking or warping."
Gosh, Ann – That article is less than encouraging as an endorsement for PLA. It actually says it is best used as the support-structure for the primary material being ABS; that the PLA will degrade away, leaving the host ABS in place. The article is about 2 years old. I'm hoping that if MakerBot has invested their product line on this material as the primary building block, that it has rugged, stable material characteristics. Guess the Jury's still out.
Beth, I notice that the Replicator 2 uses bioplastic PLA, not ABS. This appears to be an emerging trend in additive manufacturing, at least at the higher end. Do you know of any other 3D printers that use bioplastics?
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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.