As we like to remind you often, engineering plastics are getting tougher, stronger, and doing more and more jobs. In fact, they're changing and evolving so fast it's hard to keep up with everything they can do.
Although this still surprises many engineers, plastics are even replacing metals in some cases, including load-bearing structures. Design engineers aren't just choosing plastics because they weigh less, but because they can also have superior characteristics. This is happening in airplane parts and components, in car parts including those that go under the hood and in the engine, and, amazingly, in bearings. Sometimes these plastic components are equally effective and reliable as the metal parts they replace, and sometimes they actually outperform those parts.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available to them as alternatives to other materials, Design News presents several articles on the topic. Technology Roundup: Plastic Can Do The Job helps you discover new uses for plastics, and determine when you can pick a lightweight option instead of more traditional and expensive standard materials.
The Technology Roundup includes articles such as "Plastic Replaces Metal in Car Engine." This discusses the replacement of brazed metal manifold components in two of Ford's V6 engines with a PPA resin, saving 1 lb in weight and $1 in cost per engine. Another article, "Engineering Plastics Get Tough, Lightweight," looks at a range of applications -- from tiny medical devices to huge offshore oil rigs -- that make them appealing to engineers due to their versatility, durability, light weight, and easy customization.
Other topics in the presentation include articles about igus' self-lubricating plastic bearings: the different plastic bearing materials and geometries that suit different applications; their use in millions of systems around the world including automobiles; how these materials compare to metals; a case study about how they solved problems in automated packaging machinery; a tutorial on installing and testing a plain bearing;and even an article on the new 3D-printable version of the company's bearings material.
@Ann: Metals can easily be recycled and reused. No harm there, however plastic cannot be recycled. They can only be broken down and reused. Your article tells about plastic doing the job of metal, which makes it less costly right now, but if the plastic isn't biodegradable, then we're talking about huge disposal costs in the future.
"My only issue with plastics is that they are organic polymers based on carbon. The issue here is the source. Metals, such as steel and aluminum, are not and are very easily recyclable into their original forms. Plastics can be recycled, but are generally reused in other forms."
There are biodegradable plastics available, there just aren't stronger laws to enforce biodegradable plastic using. In India we had a brief encounter with shopkeepers packaging materials with Biodegradable plastics, but that was only to trick patrolling police officers into thinking that they would continue packaging using biodegradable plastics forever. The word got out and the government understood that without proper eduction, no shopkeeper or customer cared about biodegradable plastics, which cost more than regular plastic.
Lou, sure I remember that line--it has become famous in the industry, as well as outside the industry. I'm not sure I understand what you mean by comparative recyclability of plastics vs. metals. Can you please clarify?
Ann, my wife and I recently watched The Graduate. She had never seen it. Do you remember at the main character's graduation party when one of his father's friends took him aside and said, "I have one word for you..." That word was PLASTICS. This moviw was made in the 1960s. It seems this is true even about 50 years later.
My only issue with plastics is that they are organic polymers based on carbon. The issue here is the source. Metals, such as steel and aluminum, are not and are very easily recyclable into their original forms. Plastics can be recycled, but are generally reused in other forms.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.