Entries with tag materials.

US Start-up Supplies the Emerging Consumer 3D-Printing Market

Consumers and hobbyists are increasingly interested in 3D printing, but one barrier to wider adoption has been the lack of accessible, affordable materials. Now, a company called Proto-pasta is stepping in to fill the void. The firm, a spin-off of the engineering consultancy ProtoPlant, is making specialty, high-performance 3D printer filaments—the “ink” used in 3D printers—that customers can color and customize to meet their specific needs.  One of Proto-pasta’s products, for example, mixes polylactic acid with carbon fiber. The resulting material can be used easily with 3D printers and is strong and light among its other desirable properties. Industry observers say the emergence of companies like Proto-pasta could help 3D printing become mainstream. (GeekWire)(ZD Net)

Researchers Discover Piezoelectric Material

University of Houston, Rice University, and University of Washington scientists have identified a new, ultrathin piezoelectric material that can be used in new ways. These substances—which generate electricity when bent, stretched, or subject to other mechanical forces—are considered important because they can be used in, for example, sensors, energy-harvesting systems, and loudspeakers. The scientists found that putting triangular holes pointing in the same direction in graphene nitride or any semiconducting material, gives them piezoelectric properties that they don’t otherwise have. Unlike other similar materials, the graphene nitride can be stacked in layers without losing its piezoelectric properties. The researchers published their work in the journal Nature Communications. (EurekAlert)(Nature Communications)

Apple Awarded Patent for Bulk Metal Glass Manufacturing Process

Apple was recently awarded a US parent for the production of bulk metal glass. The process would reportedly be able to produce the so-called liquid metal non-stop for 10 to 15 years and produce the alloy in sheets of between 0.1 and 25 millimeters with widths of as much as 3 meters. Apple, through Liquidmetal Technologies, has exclusive license for the development and sale of processed liquid alloys. This alloy in particular is used to create a glass-like metal touted for strength and durability as well as its light weight. Apple has been interested in using the technology for its device cases. To date, the material has only been used to manufacture its SIM card ejector tool. The alloy material may first be used in portable devices such as the iPhone or iPad, but may eventually be used with larger devices. (SlashDot)(Hot Hardware)(ZDNet)(Mashable)

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