There’s a “real horse race” at General Motors between new magnesium alloys and carbon-fiber reinforced plastics for use in load-bearing structural applications of future car platforms. That comment was made in an exclusive Design News interview today with Mark Verbrugge, the director of GM’s materials and process lab. For the moment, magnesium is leading because of the successful use of a new Norsk Hydro magnesium alloy in the engine cradle of the Corvette Z06, The cradle provides a 35 percent weight savings over the previous aluminum structure. “There are only about 10 pounds of magnesium in a car now,” says Verbrugge. “There’s a lot of bandwidth there for magnesium to go after.”
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
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.
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