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Uncle Sam Wants You — and Your DFARS Compliance

Following rules of engagement is a common concept, but knowing the rules — and whether they really apply to one’s own business — is not always a common condition. The federal market can be especially confusing for smaller companies that may be delive

Boeing Max Crisis Hits Airline Growth as Ryanair Pares Plans

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Doctor Who Sold $12 Billion Drug Firm Eyes Biotech Property

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Nissan Bets on New Skyline Model to Heal Brand Image After Ghosn

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SpaceX's First Flight With Astronauts On Board May Slip to 2020

The April 20 incident at Cape Canaveral Air Station in Florida destroyed a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

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UK Guarantees Jaguar Loans After Pledge to Make Electric Cars

The news provided a much-needed boost for a British automotive industry that’s been rocked by job cuts and plant closures.

Toyota’s War With Dealer Over Recalls Cost It $16 Million

The owner of Capistrano Toyota and Claremont Toyota accused the Japanese carmaker of concealing that it was planning to oust him from its franchise system while he was investing millions of dollars to expand and renovate his dealerships.

Google AI Could Challenge Big Pharma in Drug Discovery

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Plant Closings and Corruption Color Detroit UAW Talks

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Printed wood could make it into space

These microscope images of real wood tissue and the 3D printed version show how the researchers mimicked the real wood's cellular architecture. The printed version is at a larger scale for ease of handling and display, but the researchers are able to print at any scale. Image: Yen Strandqvist/Chalmers University of Technology.

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden have developed a wood-based ink for 3D printing that mimics the unique ‘ultrastructure’ of wood. Their research, reported in a paper in Applied Materials Today, could revolutionize the manufacturing of green products.

Through emulating the natural cellular architecture of wood, the researchers present the ability to create green products with unique properties – everything from clothes, packaging and furniture to healthcare and personal care products.

The way in which wood grows is controlled by its genetic code, which provides it with unique properties in terms of porosity, toughness and torsional strength. But wood has limitations when it comes to processing. Unlike metals and plastics, it cannot be melted and easily reshaped, and must instead be sawn, planed or curved. More extensive processing, such as required to make products such as paper, card and textiles, destroys the underlying ultrastructure, or architecture, of the wood cells. But the new 3D printing technology allows wood to be, in effect, grown into exactly the shape desired for the final product.

By previously converting wood pulp into a nanocellulose gel, researchers at Chalmers had already succeeded in creating a type of ink that could be 3D printed. Now, they present a major progression – successfully interpreting and digitizing wood’s genetic code, so that it can instruct a 3D printer.

This means precisely controlling the arrangement of the cellulose nanofibrils during the printing process, to replicate the desirable ultrastructure of wood. Being able to control the orientation and shape of these nanofibrils allows the researchers to capture the useful properties of natural wood.

“This is a breakthrough in manufacturing technology,” says Paul Gatenholm, who led this research at the Wallenberg Wood Science Centre at Chalmers University of Technology. “It allows us to move beyond the limits of nature, to create new sustainable, green products. It means that those products which today are already forest-based can now be 3D printed, in a much shorter time. And the metals and plastics currently used in 3D printing can be replaced with a renewable, sustainable alternative.”

A further advance on previous research is the addition of hemicellulose, a natural component of plant cells, to the nanocellulose gel. Hemicellulose acts as a glue, giving the cellulose sufficient strength to be useful, in a similar manner to the natural process of lignification, through which cell walls are built.

The new technology opens up a whole new range of possibilities. Wood-based products could now be designed and ‘grown’ to order – at a vastly reduced timescale compared with natural wood.

Gatenholm's group has already used the technology to develop a prototype for an innovative packaging concept. They printed honeycomb structures with chambers in between the printed walls, and then encapsulated solid particles inside those chambers. Cellulose has excellent oxygen barrier properties, meaning this could be a promising method for creating airtight packaging for foodstuffs or pharmaceuticals.

“Manufacturing products in this way could lead to huge savings in terms of resources and harmful emissions,” explains Gatenholm. “Imagine, for example, if we could start printing packaging locally. It would mean an alternative to today's industries, with heavy reliance on plastics and CO2-generating transport. Packaging could be designed and manufactured to order without any waste.”

The researchers have also developed prototypes for healthcare products and clothing. Another area where Gatenholm sees huge potential for the technology is in space, believing that it offers the perfect testbed to develop the technology further. “The source material of plants is fantastically renewable, so the raw materials can be produced on site during longer space travel, or on the moon or on Mars. If you are growing food, there will probably be access to both cellulose and hemicellulose.”

The researchers have already successfully demonstrated their technology at a workshop at the European Space Agency (ESA), and are also working with Florida Tech and NASA on another project, including tests of materials in microgravity. “Traveling in space has always acted as a catalyst for material development on Earth,” Gatenholm says.

This story is adapted from material from Chalmers University of Technology, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.

Small Cars Are Being Driven Out of Existence

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J&J Denials of Asbestos in Baby Powder Spur New Criminal Probe

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Manufacturing’s Potentially ‘Ominous’ Future

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Sandvik acquires stake in AM company

Sandvik says that it has acquired a significant stake in Beam IT, a European-based additive manufacturing (AM) service provider, with the right to increase its stake over time.

According to the company, Beam IT complements Sandvik’s existing AM products. ‘The investment is also in line with Sandvik’s strategic ambition to become a leading solution provider for the wider component manufacturing industry,’ Sandvik said.

Beam IT is a privately-owned company based in Italy, which makes metal 3D printed components for industries such as aerospace, automotive, energy and racing. In 2018 Beam IT had 38 employees and more than 20 powder bed fusion systems installed. 

‘The AM sector is developing fast and there is a need for AM-specialist-partners with the advanced skills and resources required to help industrial customers develop and launch their AM programs,’ said Kristian Egeberg, president of Sandvik Additive Manufacturing.

This story uses material from Sandvik, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. 

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