GE Plastics yesterday introduced a one pellet solution aimed at overcoming blending problems with long-glass fiber compounds used for structural components. Previously it was necessary for processors to blend two pellet types, an approach that often lead to blotchy color and other quality issues. It was a problem related to the difficulty in fully blending materials with the long glass fibers. The Verton XC is available in nylon base resins, while XFR comes in PC/ABS materials. A brand new grade called Verton XW is based on weatherable ASA material. It's the first time long glass fiber is available in ASA, opening up opportunities for structural parts requiring weatherability. GE Plastics also announced several other developments, including a package of nonhalogen flame retardant grades at its LNP compounding arm in Exton, PA. The 800-pound elephant in the room was the acquisition of GE Plastics by SABIC, which is on schedule to close in the early fall. The press conference had been in the works for a few months, and SABIC was not on the agenda.One early sign of a positive impact from SABIC is a report that GE Plastics may have some presence at K 2007, an event it missed in 2004 as it sought to improve its financial performance.
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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