Development of new therapies for a range of medical conditions, including sports injuries and heart attacks, could depend on a new production-scale microthread extruder developed by a team of graduate students and biomedical engineering faculty at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The microthreads would support tissue regeneration, wound healing, and cell therapy.
A team of chemical engineers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found an inexpensive way to achieve a 75% yield from biomass for the formation of the chemical p-xylene, a key ingredient used to make plastic bottles. This chemical is normally made using petroleum.
Using a self-assembly method that combines synthetic molecules typically used in photocopying, researchers in France and Germany have made highly conductive plastic fibers that are only several nanometers thick.
Bayer MaterialScience has developed an extensive range of polyurethane materials that can reduce the weight of finished parts by up to 30%. To be showcased at UTECH 2012, the Bayflex RIM LightWeight material has a density of 0.9 kg/l and is lighter than water.
A new genre of plastics that mimic the human skin's ability to heal scratches and cuts offers the promise of endowing cell phones, laptops, cars, and other products with self-repairing surfaces, scientists reported. The plastics change color to warn of wounds and heal themselves when exposed to light.
Just as a chameleon changes its color to blend in with its environment, Duke University engineers have demonstrated for the first time that they can alter the texture of plastics on demand, for example, switching back and forth between a rough surface and a smooth one.
Inspired by nature's ability to shape a petal, and building on simple techniques used in photolithography and printing, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a new tool for manufacturing three-dimensional shapes easily and cheaply. A new method of gel lithography allowed them to photo-pattern polymer gel sheets that can then be shaped at will.
Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a self-healing hydrogel that binds quickly, as easily as Velcro, and forms a bond strong enough to withstand repeated stretching. Computer simulations of the gel network helped them discover the key to its properties: the length of side chain molecules, or fingers.
The diesel engine housing for a train has to be tough enough to protect the engine at high speeds, but also to contain fire and oil leaks Researchers in Germany who have developed an extremely durable polyurethane sandwich material say it’s tough enough to replace aluminum or steel in these types of applications, and at a weight savings of up to 35%.
A new catalyst developed by chemists in The Netherlands with cooperation from Dow Benelux can convert materials to key components of various plastics, medicines, and paint without the use of petroleum. Made from tiny iron spheres, the catalyst can operate on a wood-like biomass raw materials.
Researchers in Switzerland have succeeded for the first time in producing regularly ordered planar polymers that form a kind of “molecular carpet” on a nanoscale. The scientists can separate each layer, creating a 2D sheet of plastic.
A Colorado State University chemistry professor has developed several patent-pending chemical processes that would create sustainable bioplastics from renewable resources for use on everything from optical fibers and contact lenses to furniture and automobile parts.
When a young man was advised to pursue a career in plastics in the 1967 movie, "The Graduate," people could not have envisioned one of the material's uses developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists. In a key discovery, a team of LLNL researchers has developed the first plastic material capable of efficiently distinguishing neutrons from gamma rays, something not thought possible for the past five decades or so.
Porphyins are ring-shaped molecules that can flexibly change their structure, making them useful for a wide array of applications. Researchers in Germany have taken a variety of this material, tetraphenylporphyrin, and built a molecular switch that holds a pair of hydrogen atoms that can change their positions between just two configurations.
Engineers in England this week are piloting the ASTRA Atom, a high-altitude balloon-borne pod that was built in its entirety from printouts created with a Microsoft rapid electronic prototyping toolkit. Even the on-board data logging equipment was created with a 3D printer.
Identity cards such as driver’s licenses and passports have to meet functional and esthetic demands in terms of scratch resistance. Bayer MaterialScience’ Makrofol ID 320 has developed an outer film (overlay) for these cards that is scratch-resistant and hard-coated on one side.
Made from 368,640 tubes of white PVC that will eventually be filled with 500 truckloads of mineral oil, the skeleton of the Department of Energy’s NOvA detector could be the largest structure ever to be built from plastic. A hydraulic system built to help assemble the 200-ton plastic blocks successfully passed a recent test run.
The Brazilian fern Salvinia molesta has proliferated around the Americas and Australia in part because its surface is dotted with odd, eggbeater-shaped hairs that trap air, reduce friction, and help the plant stay afloat. Ohio State University engineers have recreated this texture in a new coating that is both hydrophobic and hydrophilic.
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a simple way to convert 2D patterns into 3D objects using only light. The process works by taking a pre-stressed plastic sheet and running it through a conventional inkjet printer to print bold black lines on the material, the material is then cut into a desired pattern and placed under an infrared light, such as a heat lamp.
Inspired by the skin of the sea cucumber, which is normally soft and flexible but becomes rigid in self defense, biomedical engineers at Case Western Reserve University have built a nanostructured polymer mesh that is firm enough to reach the cortex, but begins unlinking in water, causing less brain damage.
To date, scientists have developed low-density polyethylene by first establishing a new formulation and later finding a use for it. A team in Europe is attempting to eliminate this guesswork by building a microscole polymer code that predicts the flow and shape of polymer molecules before they are manufactured.
Just as a corset improves the appearance of its wearer by keeping everything tightly together, new rigidly constraining insulating materials invented at Duke University helps prevent the inevitable microscopic breakdown of the “soft” polymers often used in their construction.
Doing some detective work, biologists and earth scientists surveyed 18 coasts worldwide, evaluating contamination by small particles of plastic. Based on the size and shape of the particles, they concluded that fibers loosened during a typical laundry cycle in a washing machine could be the primary source for this swiftly growing form of pollution.
Makers of the controversial chemical bisphenol-A have asked federal regulators to phase out rules that allow its use in baby bottles and sippy cups, saying those products haven't contained the plastic-hardening ingredient for two years.
Researchers at the University of Leeds and Durham University have solved a long-standing problem that could revolutionize the way new plastics are developed. The breakthrough will allow experts to create the 'perfect plastic' with specific uses and properties by using a high-tech 'recipe book.' It will also increase the ability to recycle plastics.