April 21, 2020 Volume 16 Issue 15

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How a BattleBot was built using Onshape

Learn how RoboGym Robotics, a veteran BattleBots team, said goodbye to Solidworks and took their design game to the next level using Onshape, the cloud-native, all-in-one CAD and PDM solution. RoboGym was able to analyze key components of their Roundhouse BattleBot like its armor and weapon bar, run simulations, collaborate, iterate, and optimize their design to its fullest.
Read this informative Onshape blog.


Who knew? How colorants affect plastic

In plastic injection molding, one aspect of polymer characteristics that doesn't always get the consideration it deserves is the addition of colorant. Believe it or not, there is a whole scientific body of knowledge about the ways in which adding color to plastic can affect its behavioral properties. This short article by Denny Scher of ICO Mold takes a high-level look at some of the different, and surprising, ways colorants can affect plastics.
Read the full article.


Smart fixed flange bearings unlock predictive maintenance

igus has developed intelligent two- and four-hole fixed flange bearings with wireless sensing capabilities for wear detection. Constructed from self-lubricating, high-performance plastic, the bearings feature an integrated abrasion sensor, thin circuit board, and cableless battery supply. Wear interrupts the board's conductor paths, causing the electronics to lose the signal. The sensor then transmits a long-range network signal to an igus i.Cee switch cabinet module for analysis, including the percentage of abrasion.
Learn about igus smart bearing technology.


Screw jack configuration and selection tool

Thomson has added a screw jack config and select tool to its online engineering toolset to help design engineers optimize and specify screw jacks for applications involving loads up to 100 tons. Screw jacks are increasingly replacing hydraulic cylinders in many ultra-heavy, low duty-cycle applications. Enter load, speed, travel, duty cycle, and other motion parameters.
Learn more.


Retaining magnets from JW Winco: Universal and clever

JW Winco has expanded its magnet line to support more applications with new materials, shapes, systems, and even raw magnets. Learn about their latest offerings, including retaining magnets designed for corrosive environments (GN 50.8), encapsulated magnets designed for sensitive or painted surfaces (GN 51.8), handle magnets (GN 53.3), and powerful magnets designed to handle challenging environs (GN 52.6).
Learn more.


3D print tool steel with the ease of a plastic

The Virtual Foundry, a pioneer in advanced 3D-printing materials, is excited to announce the launch of their latest innovation: M300 Tool Steel Filametâ„¢ (not a typo). This material answers the demand for FFF 3D-printable Tool Steel, delivering unparalleled strength and versatility. What sets this material apart is its seamless compatibility with various 3D printers, including Creality, Bambu Lab, Ultimaker, and more. The filament prints effortlessly, resembling the ease of working with PLA (plastic).
Learn more.


New from Ruland: Inch-to-metric rigid couplings

Ruland Manufacturing now offers rigid couplings with inch-to-metric bores as a standard product, giving users a wider range of off-the-shelf couplings. This expansion is the latest addition to the company's inch-to-metric, standard coupling product line that includes seven types of motion-control couplings and universal joints. Instead of re-machining or ordering custom-made couplings, using off-the-shelf, inch-to-metric rigid couplings saves time and money.
Learn more.


Case study: YouTuber builds one-of-a-kind PC chassis with Xometry's manufacturing services

Learn how Josh Sniffen, the YouTuber behind the popular PC-building channel Not From Concentrate, leaned on Xometry for a wide range of manufacturing options, personalized DFM feedback, and order management support for his latest creation: the HEXO ATX.
Read this very cool Xometry case study.


E-Z Lok threaded insert CAD models available in online catalog

E-Z Lok, a leading manufacturer and master distributor of threaded inserts for metal, plastic, and wood, has recently launched an online CAD library to showcase a wide selection of its products. Built by CADENAS PARTsolutions, this catalog streamlines the design and spec process for engineers, MRO, and OEMs. Datasheets available for download.
Learn more about E-Z Lok threaded inserts.


70% longer service life for linear bushings

As a result of an optimized production process, Bosch Rexroth's segmental linear bushings with plastic cage used in a wide variety of industries achieve a load capacity that is up to 20% higher and a service life that is up to 70% longer. They are part of a Rexroth round guide with a matching shaft. The increase in load capacity makes it possible to use a smaller size in many cases while meeting the same requirements. Downsizing reduces system costs, saves space, and reduces weight.
Learn more.


Trick to measuring angles in SOLIDWORKS

Learn from the pros at TriMech how to take angle measurements easily in SOLID-WORKS. TriMech has an entire YouTube channel dedicated to SOLIDWORKS tips, and the company is excellent at training too.
View the video.


6 considerations for selecting a ball valve

Ball valves are the ideal valve of choice for liquid and gas conveyance lines ranging from diesel fuel to compressed air. Although these valves may seem simple, there's a lot more to them. Parker Hannifin offers valuable advice on body materials, configuration, seals, venting, and more in this informative post.
Read the Parker blog.


Great Resources: Sheet metal design guide

If you're looking for a basic guide to sheet metal design, this one from Xometry will serve your needs well. Follow the design requirements and tolerances in this guide to ensure parts fall closer to design intent. This is the type of information you'll sock away and then refer to again and again.
Read the full article.


What's a magnetic GHOST fastener?

PEM® GHOST™ Fastening Technology from Penn-Engineering uses a fully concealed pinch-lock mechanism to create a secure and sleek lock with zero visible evidence of disassembly once engaged. Using a magnetic release tool on the concealed fastener actuates the internal components, unlocking the pinch-lock grip and instantly releasing the pin from the fastener. From automotive interiors to access control systems, this clever fastening tech is adaptable to many applications.
View the video.


Engineer's Toolbox: The secret to living hinges that fold flat

Living hinges are often used to produce a container and its lid as a single molded part. If properly designed, they can open and close thousands of times without ever losing strength or flexibility. Proto Labs provides valuable tips on designing these (sometimes thin and fragile) parts.
Read the full article.


German scientists identify extremophile microbe that could help degrade polyurethane-based plastics

There may be a small answer to one of the biggest problems on the planet.

German researchers report in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology that they have identified and characterized a strain of bacteria capable of degrading some of the chemical building blocks of polyurethane.

"The bacteria can use these compounds as a sole source of carbon, nitrogen, and energy," said Dr. Hermann J. Heipieper, a senior scientist at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research-UFZ in Leipzig, Germany, and co-author of the new paper. "This finding represents an important step in being able to reuse hard-to-recycle PU products."

In 2015, polyurethane products alone accounted for 3.5 million tons of the plastics produced in Europe. Polyurethane is used in everything from refrigerators and buildings to footwear and furniture to numerous other applications that can leverage its lightweight, insulating, and flexible properties.

Unfortunately, polyurethane is difficult and energy intensive to recycle or destroy as most of these kinds of plastics are thermosetting polymers that do not melt when heated. The waste mostly ends up in landfills where it releases a number of toxic chemicals, some of which are carcinogenic.

The use of microorganisms like bacteria and fungi to break down oil-based plastics is an ongoing area of research. However, few studies have addressed biodegradation of polyurethanes like the current paper.

The team out of Germany managed to isolate a bacterium, Pseudomonas sp. TDA1, from a site rich in brittle plastic waste that shows promise in attacking some of the chemical bonds that make up polyurethane plastics.

The researchers performed a genomic analysis to identify the degradation pathways at work. They made preliminary discoveries about the factors that help the microbe metabolize certain chemical compounds in plastic for energy. They also conducted other analyses and experiments to understand the bacterium's capabilities.

This particular strain is part of a group of bacteria that are well known for their tolerance of toxic organic compounds and other forms of stress, according to Dr. Christian Eberlein with the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research-UFZ. He is a co-author on the paper who coordinated and supervised the work.

"That trait is also named solvent-tolerance and is one form of extremophilic microorganisms," he said.

The research is part of a European Union scientific program dubbed P4SB (From Plastic waste to Plastic value using Pseudomonas putida Synthetic Biology), which is attempting to find useful microorganisms that can bioconvert oil-based plastics into fully biodegradable ones. As the name implies, the project has focused on a bacterium known as Pseudomonas putida.

In addition to polyurethane, the P4SB consortium, which includes the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research-UFZ, is also testing the efficacy of microbes to degrade plastics made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is widely used in plastic water bottles.

Heipieper said the first step of any future research on Pseudomonas sp. TDA1 will be to identify the genes that code for the extracellular enzymes that are capable of breaking down certain chemical compounds in polyester-based polyurethanes. Extracellular enzymes, also called exoenzymes, are proteins secreted outside of a cell that cause a biochemical reaction.

However, there is no immediate plan to engineer these or other enzymes using synthetic biology techniques for bioplastic production. That could involve, for instance, genetically converting the bacteria into mini-factories capable of transforming oil-based chemical compounds into biodegradable ones for planet-friendly plastics.

Heipieper said more "fundamental knowledge" like in the current study is needed before scientists can make that technological and commercial leap.

One small step at a time.

Source: Frontiers in Microbiology journal

Published April 2020

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