Sustainable and renewable materials must meet the same performance requirements as petro-based materials, including thermal stability, durability, and stiffness. Ford says its prototype vehicle components made with Weyerhaeuser's cellulose-based plastic composites meet those requirements and have other benefits. They weigh about 10 percent less than fiberglass components and can be produced 20-40 percent faster while using less energy. They don't discolor, and they have no odor.
In June, Ford teamed up with Coca-Cola, Heinz, Nike, Procter & Gamble, and other companies to form the Plant PET Technology Collaborative. Its members use polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a material found in things like automotive fabric and carpeting, plastic bottles, and footwear. The group aims to speed up the use and development of 100 percent plant-based PET materials and fiber in multiple industries. It also wants to develop common methods and standards for the new materials' use, such as common terminology and life cycle analyses.
In its latest sustainability report, Ford outlined its efforts to cut waste during the car manufacturing processes. These efforts include recycling scrap metals and collecting damaged parts from dealer-repaired vehicles -- such as sensors, fuel injectors, engine parts, headlamps, and bumpers -- and remanufacturing them or recycling them to recover the raw materials. About 85 percent of materials used in each vehicle is recyclable, according to the report. From 2007 to 2011, the company cut landfill waste by 40 percent to 22.7 pounds per vehicle, and it has set a goal of lowering that figure another 40 percent by 2016.
Other internal goals include cutting the water used in car manufacturing by 30 percent per vehicle between 2009 and 2015, cutting greenhouse gas emissions at manufacturing facilities by 30 percent per vehicle from 2010 and 2025, and cutting energy consumed per vehicle globally by 25 percent between 2011 and 2016.
A lightweight electric urban concept car designed by several European companies weighs only 992 lb without its battery. It would have weighed 26.7 lb more if its windows were made of glass instead of the specially coated LEXAN polycarbonate resin from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Skylar Tibbits' team in MIT's Self-Assembly Lab is now 4D printing self-assembling shapes made of programmable carbon composites and custom wood grain. The composites are being used in a sport car airfoil, and the wood grain is beautiful.
The NanoSteel Company has produced high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite (MMC) parts using a new nanosteel powder in a one-step 3D-printing process. Parts are 99.9% dense, crack-free, and with wear resistance comparable to M2 tool steels.
The company that brought you 3D-printed eyeglasses has launched both an improved clear polymer material for 3D printing optical components and a high-speed, precision, 3D-printing process for making small- and medium-sized batches in a few days.
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