Building Things: 

  • The latest from LEGO on their quest to replace the petroleum-sourced ABS plastic they use for their products with a bioplastic. They seem to have ruled out polylactic acid (PLA), a common material for consumer 3D printers due to its propensity to "creep" and shift form over time. LEGO uses 70,000 metric tons of ABS every year, and if they can make bioplastics a reality for mass production, it could have a massive impact on consumer plastic goods in general. As people who design products for the advantages and constraints of plastics everyday, we're genuinely, nerdily, excited about bioplastics becoming that much closer to a mass-production reality. 
  • There must be something in the air- more and more people are discussing how 3D printing is on a clear trajectory towards living up to the term additive manufacturing: making end-use components and products as an alternative to traditional methods like injection molding, stamping, and so on. Christopher Mims in The Wall Street Journal stress tests some 3D printed shoe soles and a metal hinge from Desktop Metal, and Jon Bruner interviews Max Lobvosky of Formlabs on how 3D printing will expand to include more and more industries. While the story of 3D printing supplanting other mass production methods has been a hyped story for awhile, advances in speed, material science, and methods are starting to deliver on some of that promise, at least for goods that require some degree of customization.






Data Logging: 

  • Apple has acquired the sleep tracking hardware company Beddit, likely in a bid to appease people that have a deep desire for round-the-clock quantified self analytics (the Apple Watch has had some criticism from quantified self die-hards as its battery life precluded round-the-clock use). Adding sleep tracking to the buffet of data available will add value for some, but we'd bet that Apple has more in mind for this asset. 



More next week.