With 54.5-mpg CAFE mandates looming, most automakers are deseperate to find ways to cut weight. If suppliers can develop the mechanical strength needed for body panels and seat components, and provide the heat resistance for underhood components, automakers will snap up these materials.
The low-hanging fruit of plastic-to-metal conversion is no longer there for the taking, but that doesn't mean there are no opportunities. This article does a good job of explaining how to go about finding these opportunities: design engineers should sit down with suppliers or other experts, with a focus on part function. You are probably not going to make the same exact part out of plastic that you made out of metal -- at least, not if you want the part to work! But, with a little creativity, you might be able to get the same function. It takes design ingenuity, along with a knowledge of what's out there in terms of materials. This is where suppliers and outside experts can help.
Designing trade-offs are always more complex than getting exact matches of properties. The thermally conductive compounds referenced in the article have thermal conductivities up to about 20 W/mK. While that isn't quite equivalent to aluminum at 100W/mK, it's over 3 orders of magnitude improvement over base plastics which sit at around 0.1 W/mK.
That does make these formulations viable options for heat management. We've done several design cases in areas such as automotive lighting and have shown that those sorts of conductivities are more than enough to replace metal heat sinks which in many cases are *overspecified* for thermal conductivity.
As to 3D printing. We have 3D printing capability and development programs to be able to print some of our key functional formulations. Happy to discuss further if you like.
Not that conductive, but sounds like a great material that can both house and supply data for low voltage sensors. I wonder if this is being explored. Also, a great way to send power or a signal through a enclosed container. That is if both conductive and non-conductive plastics can be molded together. Sound like this will revolutionize the automotive sector sometime soon.
I found myself wondering if there were some polymer/metal hybrid materials out there for use in automotive applications? Is that a practical tradeoff for weight, strength, conductivity, etc.? Any thoughts?
I agree Kendall. The improved thermal conductivity of many polymers is now opening design doors that were previously closed for us. In addition to metal heat sinks that may have been overspecified in the past, new LED technologies burn cooler and brighter, so the opportunity to replace a metal heatsink with a thermally conductive plastic heatsink may now be available.
Scott, not sure what sort of construct you mean specifically by a 'hybrid.' Some of our systems are filled with various substances. Metals sometimes play a role. But the metal itself doens't play a role for strength. Obviously the trade-off when systems are more highly filled is for strength properties (flex mod, impact). I think maintaining this balance is more critical for automotive applications than say electronics. We are also looking at composite-based constructs for these types of properties. Best, Kendall -
Because of the increasing ubiquity of wearable technology, it would be easy to think that design of wearable devices is routine and involves common design and engineering knowledge. Missed efforts in development will be remembered once the devices are used in the field
As governments, associations, and NGOs around the world seek to protect consumers, national and regional standards are becoming mandatory, challenging manufacturers and making testing and certification necessary for any product developed and brought to market.
Manufacturers of plastic parts recognize the potential of conformal cooling to reduce molding cycle times. Problem is, conformal molds require additive manufacturing (AM), and technologies in that space are still evolving. Costs also can be high, and beyond that, many manufacturing organizations lack the knowledge and expertise needed to apply and incorporate additive technologies into their operations.
Machine vision and video streaming systems are used for a variety of purposes, and each has applications for which it is best suited. This denotes that there are differences between them, and these differences can be categorized as the type of lenses used, the resolution of imaging elements, and the underlying software used to interpret the data.
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