Imagine a pair of rubber gloves whose surface texture could be altered on demand to provide more grip for climbing. Or maybe gloves with "fingerprints" that can be changed in the blink of an eye. They are just a couple of the many potential applications envisioned by researchers at Duke University for a process they have developed that allows the texture of plastics to be changed at will.
Gizmag regulars will be well-used to the idea of self-healing materials
, and even materials that repair themselves when exposed to light
; but a new plastic demonstrated to the American Chemical Society on Monday purports to be the first self-healing material to incorporate a damage-reporting mechanism, almost akin to the bleeding of human skin.
Spartanburg, South Carolina, is home to one of the largest privately owned chemical and textile research establishments in the world, Milliken & Company. The firm's innovative research that combines textiles and chemistry has now produced a thermoplastic composite called Tegris that is cheap, recyclable and tough. These properties make Tegris an attractive alternative to (or composite partner for) carbon fiber, and it's already proving to have wide ranging applications in the automotive, military and sporting industries.
Anatoliy Omelchenko of Triangle Tree reports that since launching the iBamboo speaker
we featured in June 2011, he has received numerous requests from customers asking if there's anything like it that's made from plastic. Despite being made from a material considered stronger than some plastics and metal, users seem worried that the beautifully simple iPhone amplification device may get damaged if made part of their regular travel kit. Enter the new iBamboo Urban design, which is shaped just like its natural elder but is made from recycled plastic.
Synthetic resins start out as viscous liquids that eventually solidify or "cure" into clear or translucent solids. These materials, which combine the desirable properties of strength, durability and light weight, are so useful that you can find them in thousands of applications, particularly aircraft, automobiles and electronic circuits. But for all that versatility, there's one thing that's remained elusive: once cured, resins can not be reshaped. Now, a team from France's National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), led by award-winning physicist Ludwik Leibler, has developed an inexpensive and easily-produced material that is not only reshapable (like glass), but also repairable and
recyclable, again, like glass. That's a potential boon for the auto body industry alone, and the possibilities for other uses are seemingly endless.
Remember not so long ago, when everyone was getting rid of their plastic water bottles and replacing them with metal ones? That's because they contained bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastic. Several recent studies had linked BPA to a number of health problems, including breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and behavioral difficulties. The chemical was also found to be present in baby bottles
and tin can linings, but a more recent study has exposed a source of BPA exposure that many people might not expect - thermal cash register receipts.
If Israeli industrial design student Dror Peleg had been around in the late 1950s, I feel sure that his Frii plastic bike concept would have found its way into Mosanto's House of the Future
. Over 50 years later, that vision of a world of plastic has also given rise to some serious disposal issues and grave environmental concerns. Frii proposes to be part of the solution, not the problem. Made from recycled plastic, the city cycling concept would be manufactured locally for local use. Components would be injection molded into modular shapes that snap together to form a strong, lightweight and very colorful single-speed bike for quick trips through the city streets.
When it comes to buying packaged meat and fish, consumers usually just have to go by the “best before” label to know that it hasn’t begun to spoil. Needless to say, the dates on those labels are just estimates and certainly won’t tell you if the product has sat through a lengthy power failure, or been left out of the cooler for several hours. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Research Institution for Modular Solid State Technologies in Munich, however, have developed an inexpensive plastic film that will change color in the presence of rotten foods.
We’ve seen the world’s first Formula 3 car
running on a fuel derived from waste chocolate
, and now engineers at Ford
have turned to the tasty treat for inspiration to produce lighter plastic parts for Ford’s vehicles. Plastic parts have traditionally been a difficult area to save weight without sacrificing strength and durability, but by looking to the Aero chocolate bar they have produced a lighter plastic by introducing gas bubbles into the plastic as it is molded. The result is a microscopic honeycomb structure that Ford says saves weight by reducing the amount of plastic used without compromising the integrity of the part.
Mountain Dew’s green bottles could become even “greener” with an announcement from PepsiCo
claiming it has developed the world’s first polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based, fully renewable resources including switch grass, pine bark and corn husks. The bottle not only offers a significantly reduced carbon footprint compared to petroleum-based PET, but is also 100 percent recyclable.