This is kind of funny: As part of a marketing push flogging their upcoming collection of textile-based products, IKEA has released a video asking viewers to imagine life without fabric.
A place where comfortable pillows are replaced with tree stumps. Where curtains are made of sheet metal, rugs are made of sand, and sofas are made of cactus. That's a hard world. Literally. At IKEA, we have a soft spot for the soft parts. The fun and fluffy parts. The romantic and refreshing parts. The colorful and comfortable parts. The parts that put us to sleep, dry us off, help us relax and hide the stuff we don't want to see. Without textiles, life is hard.
I realize IKEA won't make these, but other videos I'd like to see are a world without metals, a world without plastics, or even something more specific like a world with no injection molding.
The criteria for the ultimate urban bicycle varies widely from rider to rider, but cyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike can agree that visibility is paramount. We see plenty of lights—Sparse is just the latest of many—but there is growing interest in alternative illumination for alternative transportation.
As a bike law specialist, Boston's Joshua Zisson combines his passion for cycling with his JD, extemporaneously sharing his thoughts and experiences on his blog, Bike Safe Boston. He recently posted his long-awaited custom city bike, featuring hub dynamo-powered lights, an ad hoc brake light (activated by decreasing voltage from the dynamo), internal gearing, fenders and a chainguard—in a word, the works.
But the most salient feature of the bicycle isn't visible to the naked eye: the frame and fork (built by Ted Wojcik) are powdercoated with a custom retro-reflective paint job by Halo Coatings. "Unlike existing retroreflective tech that's produced as a laminate (think 3M Scotchlite), Halo came up with an ultra-durable reflective coating that can be applied to just about anything (metal, plastic, rubber, etc.) at a fraction of the cost of reflective tape."
We first sawAnirudha Surabhi's "Kranium" bicycle helmet shortly after he presented his graduation project at the Royal College of Art. Two years and £20,000 (courtesy of a James Dyson grant) later, the "Kranium" will finally be available to savvy cyclists in Europe.
Surabhi, who goes by Ani for short, essentially designed the helmet from scratch: "the revolutionary Kranium liner is based on the corrugated structure found in the woodpecker and it is this structure, which provides the right amount of crumple zone to absorb impact energy."
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) helmets are proven to protect your head only 20% of the time. The Kranium liner has proven to absorb 3 times the amount of impact energy during collision. At the same time, it is 15% lighter than Polystyrene helmets. EPS helmets are made from petroleum based products where are the Kranium liner is made from recycled paper. They have been tested at several test labs across the globe, including TUV in Germany and HPE in the UK. They have been developed for mass production and will be available in the market in December 2012.
As Ani explains in the must-see video (below), the project originated in his final year at the Royal College of Art, when he had the misfortune of falling off his bike and cracking the helmet which he was wearing at the time. The rest, as they say, is history:
Having suffered minor concussions, I decided to take this as a design challenge and create the safest helmet on the planet. Looking into nature, the woodpecker is one of the only animal which experiences the same kind of impact on a regular basis. In fact, it strikes the tree ten times a second and closes its eyes every time so that they don't pop out, which means a monumental amount of energy that goes through its head.
Those of you unenthusiastic about 3D printing might have had the same thought as Dr. Simon Leigh: "It's always great seeing the complex and intricate models of devices such as mobile phones or television remote controls that can be produced with 3D printing," he said, "but that's it, they are invariably models that don't really function."
With that in mind Dr. Leigh, a researcher at the University of Warwick's School of Engineering, decided to do something about it. He and his research team developed a material called carbomorph, which is basically an inexpensive, printable plastic. It can be loaded into any of the rash of low-cost 3D printers we see hitting the market. But here's the thing: it's conductive.
What this means is that owners of 3D printers can spec electronic tracks, sensors, and touch-sensitive areas into their designs, and print out things like functioning game controllers or sensor-embedded objects. (To prove the latter, the research team printed a mug that could detect how much liquid it was holding.) Of course you still need a connection point, but it's as simple as printing sockets into your object, and then you can connect things like Arduino controllers.
It'll take a bit of diligence, but I'm hoping to save up enough for my first custom bicycle next year. (I've acquired two bikes a year for the past two years and while I've been very happy with my collection thus far, I hope to go for quality over quantity from here on out.) As such, I've been following Prolly's excellent documentation of his enviable new ride, a custom carbon road frame from Portland's Argonaut Cycles (not pictured here).
Weaving is one of the oldest textile techniques at all. Alternately yarns over and under each other out and thus formed a braid. Converted textile looms have been used for the 80 years in research facilities for the processing of carbon fibers and developed. The braiding is now used in the series.
With the help of braiding the fibers are braided into a tube which stores closely to a shaping core. The fibers are then infiltrated in an injection process with resin and cured. The braiding technique offers the advantage of fully automating the fiber deposition. This minimizes the manual work previously required and possible sources of error are eliminated.
This manufacturing process was the subject of Haim's thesis project for his degree in Applied Technology and Science from the University for Applied Sciences FH Joanneum - Graz. "The goal of this diploma work is a product range for high-end racing and casual bikes on the basis of a new frame technology, lug connections, special materials and high-end components." As Haim told Bicycle Design:
His goal with the project was to challenge the way high-end composite bicycles are constructed today, and he went with a lugged construction that allows for a range of frames sizes (50cm to 60cm) using the same parts. Jacob points out a few of his reasons for the construction—"no material waste, low error rate, customized to the individual needs." He also feels that it creates "a connection between high class engineering and the spirit of design."
The young designer shared more information about the project via e-mail:
Remember the camo-dipping technique we looked at last month? To refresh your memory, it's a good way to get a complicated pattern (provided you can acquire the material) onto a complicated surface. Well, turns out you can use the technique for really complicated surfaces—like the human hand:
While it's true I couldn't think of any practical reason why you'd need the inside of your hand to look like carbon fiber, hydrographics still has plenty of useful applications. There have been lots of times when I needed to stash my deer skulls in nearby forests where the neighbors wouldn't spot them, and this stuff really saved my bacon.
If they had this coating in the first place, they wouldn't have ended up like this. Oh, the irony
Something we haven't seen a lot of yet in 3D printing, but which we're sure will become common, is people rocking a single material in such a way that it changes characteristics within a single object. Up above is the "Sweater" Case, which beat out 70 other designs to win Shapeways' recent Design for iPhone 5 contest. Designed by ArtizanWork, a Maryland-based collective of independent artisans focusing primarily on jewelry, the case goes from rigid at the edges to flexible on the larger surface as the material changes thicknesses. Looks pretty cool in the vid:
"Handwoven by robots," the company cheekily writes, "the cross stitching can move separately from each other creating an awesome tactile feel while acting like mini shock absorbers that protects your phone." It's available both on Shapeways' website in white, or you can buy directly from ArtizanWork with a few more color choices and a protective anti-stain coating.
Through a solid three years of experimentation and tinkering, Yusuke Hayashi and Yoko Yasunishi of Drill Design have arrived at "Paper-Wood" which is now sold as a material used by a range of different designers and companies to make everyday objects (furniture, stationary, garden and kitchen utensils).
According to Yoko, the initial combination they came up with used acrylic and wood but the latest series (four and five) use paper and basswood. Since the colors aren't painted on, the material always retains its bright colors, even when it wears down. When I asked what kind of paper they use, I was quietly told it's a 'company secret.'
"...the first two years we experimented in workshops to find out what materials, colors and combinations worked best... we wanted to explore the concept of adding things to wood to make new kinds of 'layer cake' materials," explains Yoko. Look closely at a slice of Paper-Wood and you can clearly see the "layer cake" she's talking about—each layer alternates between, well, paper and wood.
Industrial design is a broad profession, which is a good thing for the Core77 Discussion Boards. No matter how deep your area of expertise, at some point you'll run into an issue that someone with expertise in a different area under ID's broad umbrella can help answer.
We first caught wind of Matt Binns (he of the Giant Globes) when he popped up on the Core77 boards inquiring about how these things are produced:
Those are a series of gardening tools sold by the UK's V&A Museum, each covered in a William Morris print from 1864. Any idea how they got the pattern onto the steel tools?
Reader Greenman's best guess is dip coating, a/k/a hydrographics. Hunters and the military-minded call it "camo dipping," as it's the best way to cover the complex surfaces of a firearm with a camouflage pattern. Here's one manufacturer, "EZ Dip Kits," showing you how it's done:
Hear hear for cross-disciplinary education. Doris Kim Sung was a biology major who switched into architecture, and her combination of the two interests has now led her, as an assistant professor at USC, to experimenting with building systems inspired by everything from human skin to grasshoppers' breathing systems. "[Skin is] the first line of defense for the body," she says. "Our building skins should be more similar to human skin."
To that end Sung has been experimenting with thermo-bimetals, two thin layers of metal that expand and contract, in response to temperature, at different rates. Laminating two like-sized sheets of different material together and subjecting them to a temperature change causes the sheet to curl up—and this phenomenon can be exploited to create a building that ingeniously shades itself as needed, requiring no external power.
Check it out in Sung's "Metal That Breathes" TED Talk, released just yesterday:
Up above is the restored staircase at the Caroline Ladd Pratt House, an 1898 neo-Georgian mansion owned by Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. When Core77's founders and myself attended Pratt in the early '90s, the restoration had just been completed; prior to that the house had been abandoned and had fallen into disrepair. The crackheads of the '80s, it was said, had broken up the bannister spindles to use as firewood.
To take someone's painstaking, historical lathework and break it up for something to burn is a shame, but one that Pratt was able to reverse. The city of Detroit, on the other hand, is facing a much larger-scale defacement with no solution in sight.
Here's what's going on there, as uncovered by Detroit-based photographer Robert Monaghan and the website DetroitUrbex.com: Their city is filled with beautiful and abandoned old buildings. Those buildings are filled with ornate, Art Deco wooden carvings around doorways, staircases and the like. And someone is stealing them, as revealed in this surprising series of before/after photos.
As we've seen in the previous entries, the mountain pine beetle problem is so widespread that no individual designer or craftsman can really make a dent. Beetle Kill Pine is so widespread and ever-increasing that it will be broad policies, like British Columbia's wood-content building mandate, and mass-manufacturing, like Confluence Energy's pelletization, that hold the only hope for a large-scale solution.
But that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do. For those of us living in democracies, we all know that our single vote cannot change the tide of an election, but we participate in order to exercise our freedom. By participating in a design sense, we have the added bonus that our work may inspire others to get involved, and with any luck, with a domino effect.
Ideally you would design, build, spec, or market products made from Beetle Kill Pine. To do that you'd need to find a local supplier of the material, which will be a lot easier if you live in Colorado, British Columbia, or other affected areas in the western United States. We have not been surprised to find that lumberyards in those areas do not put an emphasis on website development, so you're probably going to have to get on the horn, or find Craigslist-style local ads like this one on Backpage.com.
As a distant option for those not in that region, Beetle Kill Pine can actually be purchased on eBay, with current prices running at $0.54 per lineal (not board) foot, not including shipping. eBay being what it is, the link in this paragraph will probably be dead in a week's time; but the relevant seller, a guy named Wes, has listed his phone number as (303) 420-3331.
In the early 1800s most buildings in New York City were made of brick or wood. But sometime in the 1830s the economy started to bustle, enabling people to earn a little more scratch, and this emerging middle class wanted a classier-looking domicile.
Architects of the era kept building with brick, but sought a more refined-looking material to skin the buildings in. They found it in brownstone, a brown-colored sandstone located at relatively nearby quarries in Hummelstown, Pennsylvania and Portland, Connecticut. The Portland Brownstone Quarries had the added benefit of being located on the Connecticut River, which dumped directly into the Long Island Sound and was thus a fairly quick boat ride to building-hungry NYC.
Brownstone was relatively affordable, aesthetically pleasing (at least to our eyes; Edith Wharton reportedly found it an eyesore), and best of all, easy to carve. Manhattan and Brooklyn became dotted with the earth-colored townhouses.
The Hummelstown Quarry shut down in 1929, victim to declining demand and the looming disaster that would become the Great Depression. The larger Portland quarry soldiered on until the 1940s, when a major flood knocked them out of business. Parts of it are still filled, to this day, with the water from that flood.
It seemed like a good bet: Turn waste into biomass fuel. Faced with an enormous surplus of Beetle Kill Pine just waiting to be harvested, Colorado entrepreneur Mark Mathis gambled that pressing them into fuel pellets would be the way to go. The pressed pellets, which are more efficient than burning logs, are used in special stoves and give off little smoke. As a bonus, they could even be used to power the very facility producing them.
Mathis was optimistic in a 2007 article in The Denver Post, which touched on his construction of a $9 million dollar facility for his company, Confluence Energy. "Our intention is to build it and they will come. In my opinion there is opportunity in every natural disaster. You just have to ferret it out." But lest you think the man a mere profiteer, it's important to note that Mathis was trying to find the solution to a problem, not exploit the environment: "It's unfortunate," he said of the situation, "and I'd just as soon have a healthy forest."
What was unfortunate became even more unfortunate. By 2010 the company was open for business—and struggling. Heating oil prices in oil-rich Colorado had dropped, there was competition from other pellet manufacturers, and the winters had not been as cold, further driving down demand. There was demand for pellets in Europe, but shipping product from landlocked Colorado all the way across the Atlantic would eat up any profits.
It was a Canadian company, Viridis Energy, that came to the rescue and acquired Confluence Energy the following year. Mathis still ran one of the largest pellet facilities in the western United States, and Viridis had the distribution muscle to efficiently get the product to ports on both coasts.
In the previous entry in this series, we looked at the raw materials disaster that is the North American mountain pine beetle infestation. Millions of acres' worth of trees have been prematurely killed by an unstoppable bug species stretching from Canada to Mexico.
The good news is that the blue-tinged wood is still useable, if harvested in time. (If you don't get to it within several years, the dead trees will fall over and rot will set in.) It's also kind of cool from an aesthetic viewpoint because, well, some of the pieces can get pretty darn blue.
Best of all, Canadian researchers have determined that blue pine is still sound lumber. To prove it, the Canadian government had the roof of the Richmond Olympic Oval built from it.
In the U.S., it is individuals and businesses that have stepped up to address the blue pine question. Montana-based Sustainable Lumber Co. sells it in slabs, boards and timbers under its common name, Beetle Kill Pine. The variety of grains ranges from beautiful to "let's use this for the back."
In the early 2000s, tree-heavy Colorado suffered an outbreak of mountain pine beetles, decimating some 70% of the lodgepole pine population. In recent years the infestation spread south as far as Mexico, and north through Wyoming, Montana and Idaho to reach western Canada, where the current outbreak dwarfs the Colorado infestation. Colorado's loss of tree acreage is in the low millions; it's estimated British Columbia will lose some 44 million acres of pine trees.
The mountain pine beetle typically lays its eggs under the bark of dead pine trees, and historically the bugs' population was kept in check by the winter cold. But as North America has recently had warmer-than-normal winters, the MP beetle's population has exploded. With not enough dead trees to go around, the beetles start laying their eggs into live trees.
When that happens, the live tree becomes infected with a blue fungus that arrests its internal flow of nutrients. Its pine needles turn red, its bark starts to turn grey, the internal wood takes on a bluish tinge, and the tree dies. Here you can see dead trees from literally miles away:
Top: New York City myThread Installation by Jenny Sabin. Bottom: Beijing Design Week Feather Pavilion by Arthur Huang
Coming off the success of their Flyknit collection, Nike has launched the Nike Flyknit Collective: an architectural initiative challenging a curated group of designers, artists and architects to create installations based on the core features of the collection—performance, lightness, formfitting and sustainability.
We had an opportunity to see 2 of the installations in person over the past few weeks and although the installations were quite different, it was interesting to follow the path of practitioners separated by geography and disciplines as they explored the way that yarn can be employed to create engaging structural experiences.
Jenny Sabin installing the myThread Pavilion
Philadelphia-based architectural designer Jenny Sabin's work explores the intersection of architecture, biology, craft, technology and generative design.
"Use a knife!"
"Smack the 57!"
"Hold it at a 45-degree angle!"
Ketchup eaters have long been giving and receiving such advice on the art of beckoning their beloved condiment from its bottle, but thanks to the Varanasi Group at MIT, ketchup lovers will no longer lose the battle. Though the technology behind LiquiGlide is still being tested, the results so far are extremely promising. The nontoxic coating works not only on glass, but also on plastic, metal and ceramic. Made entirely from food materials, LiquiGlide is completely safe to eat. "Even if you scraped the coating with a knife and ate it, it would be completely harmless and flavorless."
You may be asking yourself what the big deal is. It's just a little ketchup (or mayo, mustard, sriracha, jelly...), right? LiquiGlide actually solves a much larger problem than making it easier for you to dress your burger: food waste. "With condiment bottles there's still a bunch of food left in the bottle when you throw it out. By our calculations," the Varanasi Group explained, "about one million pounds of food gets thrown out each year worldwide. Also, those squeeze bottle need a big cap. By eliminating the need for such a big cap we'd save 25,000 tons of petroleum-based plastics each year." And you won't have a fridge door full of bottles with gummy, sticky caps. Watch the weirdly gross and entertaining side-by-side demo videos of regular condiment bottles vs. those coated with LiquiGlide.
I like watching craftsman and maniac Ronald Walters' woodworking videos for two reasons. Number one is his skill. Number two is because he sounds enough like Parks & Recreation's Ron Swanson that I half-expect him to say things like "Turkey can never beat cow" or "Kendra, I think I will have that third steak."
In any case, if I showed you a bunch of plywood gears like the ones pictured above, you'd probably ask where I had them CNC'd. But Walters cuts his teeth the old-fashioned way: With a freaking scroll saw, following along on a pencil line. His accuracy is pretty nuts—if he were off by a millimeter here and there, he probably wouldn't be able to rotate his pin gear and ring gear assembly at this speed:
Perhaps Duncan Irschick and Alfred Crosby, from UMass Amherst, will have better luck. The pair of scientists--one from Biology, the other from Polymer Science & Engineering--have devised "Geckskin," a reusable tape that can reportedly stick something weighing 700 pounds to a flat wall. Manufacturers of wall mounts for flatscreen TVs ought to be worried.
Like Geckel, Geckskin is based on the millions of fine hairs on a Gecko's skin.
Those tiny hairs form attractions to surfaces on a molecular level, creating strong bonds. But that doesn't mean it's sticky, like conventional tape is:
I had to wrack my brain to remember "Rock-a-Stack," the name of the Fisher-Price toy some of us had as children. Designer Nathan Day's Rainbow Side Table recalls that object's classic form, but updates the base (and top) with classy Jarrah wood rather than plastic; the "donuts" are made from solid timber shop cut-offs, glossed up nicely with automotive paint.
Day is a bespoke furniture maker out of Yallingup, Western Australia, hence the access to Jarrah, the Aboriginal name for a species of Eucalyptus common to that region. For those who've never heard of it, it's an interesting wood, as the Fun Facts below will attest:
Recent Beijing transplant Henny van Nistelrooy presented a selection of his textile work at this year's Beijing Design Week. Exploring the intersection of craft and industry van Nistelrooy's work centers on the process of creating (and deconstructing) textiles. Although he studied Industrial Design, the Dutch designer found himself drawn to textile design—first learning on the hand loom and later working with an industrial weaving process.
Fabricate 1 Lampshade
On display is van Nistelrooy's screen and daybed he created with the Scottish textile brand Bute, as well as an interesting lamp shade that challenges the idea of mass-production. Using computer-generated design and industrial weaving, he created bolts of lamp shades that are then hand-assembled into pendant lighting.
The push and pull of the design poles of craft and industry continue to enchant designers young and old. This year's Beijing Design Week theme of "Craft" invited Chinese designers to delve into the cultural history of object design in the country while taking advantage of the manufacturing prowess of China today. Although we didn't see a wide-reaching rigor in the design practice on exhibit, it was great to get a glance into future possibilities for design in China.
Man this is trippy. In the beautiful facility you see pictured above, Seattle-based artist Etsuko Ichikawa draws using molten glass and fire. It's one of those things where words doesn't do her process any justice, but luckily there's video of it:
GlassLab provides designers with rare access to explore concepts in glass. In public "design performances" or private workshops, designers and glassmakers collaborate, rapidly prototyping design concepts and using the immediacy of hot glass as a catalyst for innovation. Using a mobile hot glass studio, GlassLab sessions have taken place in public design venues like Design Miami/Art Basel Miami and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, offering audiences a live, authentic glimpse of the design and glassmaking processes, while allowing designers to explore the material of glass in a way that few have access to. - Corning Museum of Glass
I live in North Kohala on the Big Island of Hawai'i. I grow food, I chase sunsets and I brew. When it came time to source bottles for my first batch of ginger beer, I went to the transfer station to intercept a few before they were hauled off for recycling. While chatting with the manager, I learned that shipping costs prohibit the bottles from leaving the island, and instead they're pulverized and sold as raw material. (There's rumor of a man laying a shiny road on the island, will keep you posted...) Hearing this while living in a community practicing permaculture and preservation, I was inspired to dust off an old idea.
In 2008 I had a moment of gin-spiration. I was at a gathering watching a group of architect friends attempt to redeem the collegiate party pastime of beer can stacking and I began thinking how much more interesting the game would be if the cans interlocked, if they were more like Legos. Shortly after, I came across the (loose) statistic that "every month [in America], we throw out enough glass bottles and jars to fill up a giant skyscraper." So when I was invited to participate in GlassLab at the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG) I accepted without hesitation, eager to bring my bottle brick to life and build that skyscraper rather than fill it. The following is my process from concept to prototype.
Like many before, this process began on a napkin. The first study was a simple cartoon of a bottle and a Lego on a date. I thought if all goes well, this design will work itself out.
Imagined first date between a bottle and a toy.
It turned out that more action was required on my part, so in preparation for my GlassLab sessions I spoke with gaffer Eric Meek at CMOG. To best execute this design, we would need a mold. Our best material options for glassmaking molds included wood, plaster and graphite. I decided on a wood mold as this current design is conceptual and would deserve a more adept design before committing to the more expensive—but lasting—graphite mold. The ultimate goal for the bottle is to become ubiquitous and a readily upcyclable, viable building material, but at this stage I was interested in starting a conversation to garner the resources in order to move to the next step.
We decided on a three-part hardwood mold. Eric estimated the wood could withstand the 2,100 degree glass for roughly 6-8 castings. To produce the mold I turned to Tietz-Baccon, a design and digital fabrication studio in Long Island City, NY. After the initial conversation with T-B, I elaborated on the first-date sketch, snapped it with my phone and emailed it across the Pacific. Between a phone call, a quick sketch and a snapshot, this idea was coming to life.
Follow-up sketch sent to Tietz-Baccon
Mold sketch, CMOG
A mockup made from water bottles. Could plastic be an option for implementation?
A few days later I received the CAD renderings and technical drawings from Tietz-Baccon. We increased the scale of the bottle so that it would be easier to work with by hand out of a mold.
Technical drawing, Tietz-Baccon
Rendering 1, Tietz-Baccon
Rendering 2, Tietz-Baccon. Just like my napkin sketch. I don't see any difference...
We decided on a dense cherrywood for the mold because of its ability to withstand the heat of the molten glass without burning away too quickly. The job was cued up, and by the time I would arrive in New York City a few days later, it was complete. The CNC milling required 8 hours, with an additional 4 hours of finishing and construction. When I arrived to the T-B studio, I was greeted with a thing of true beauty:
Within this world of rapid prototyping and sleek renderings the notion of something being created to evoke deterioration, or a worn look, seems a bit nostalgic. Every product seems to be sporting a brushed aluminum surface or otherwise a sterile finish.
The case however for Sayan Chanda's project "Fabric Construction" would suggest otherwise against this new-old look. Unlike the trend of retro products that have been sprouting up, Chandra is replicating a natural process onto a different medium—akin to the rust and patina that a vintage car wears or wooden doors constantly exposed to the elements wither and peel.
That natural chemical reaction is reproduced and controlled to create the exposed and distressed fabric you see before you. A multitude of processes were used to create this effect, almost all involving acid and basic stitching techniques.
Using skills that he learned at India's National Institute of Design, Chanda's fabric designs mimic the wear of the paint and wood. The fabrics display the weave and at times highlight the flaws of the fabric. The idea of creating the inconsistencies in a product aligns itself to making a retro product. Both are tapping into the texture of time yet these textile designs wear with time just as the wooden doors have.
As a textile design major Chanda is always seeking ways to create something new from already existing materials as reflected in his other works.
Chemical giant BASF has developed a new type of polyamide containing long glass fibers, and this "Ultramid Structure" plastic, as they're calling it, can then be pelletized for injection molding. After it comes out of the mold, the resultant product is so strong it can be used in vehicle and machinery applications, in areas where the only game in town used to be metal.
Here's what that boils down to in the consumer sector: Robust, yet fully plastic, automotive rims that are 30% lighter than the metal equivalent. As automakers continue trending towards lightweighting technologies to increase fuel efficiency, it's a good bet that these rims will make it into many an engineering meeting. Take a look: