In a new process, a metal insert is partially premolded and then overmolded using conventional technology with traditional plastics used for housings. In the premolding ptocess, conductive paths are affixed in place, and are also tightly sealed in one step. Application targets are sophisticated automotive mechatronic parts such as transmission and brake controls, sensors and plug-in connectors. A key new material is a nonreinforced copolyamide that overmolds the electrical conductive paths in electronic components, ensuring there is no contact with moisture or oil. According to a technical expert at BASF, the material’s developer, the polymer adheres very well to either metals or plastics. To compensate, other sealing methods, such a silicon adhesives or hot melts, were used. Some engineers even precoated metals to improve adhesion
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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