Lou, recyclable and recycled composites and plastics are a subject that's getting more attention all the time. We covered it here: http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=271489 Since recycled polymers are already being used in heavy truck parts, bridges, and Ford's car seats, among many other uses, it's clear that they must meet the same performance standards as any other plastics. Making materials recyclable is also being investigated. Recycling composites, though, especially carbon fiber-reinforced ones, is a lot more difficult. One of the biggest problems in recycling plastics is when they're made of multiple materials, as composites are. The companies mentioned in the story at the link I gave are pioneers. Some are also working on making carbon composites recyclable.
Ann, I was just talking to my son this morning about cars made from carbon fiber composites and comparing them to cars made from aluminium. Since steel and aluminium are easily recyclable, it makes sense to use them when appropriate. On the other hand, if more composite materials are used I think that there should be standards for recyclability. This material seems to be a good first step.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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