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.”
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.