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.”
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
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