Hefty steel price increases will accelerate the shift to aluminum and other light weight materials in automobiles. News that Japanese steelmakers agreed to a 65 percent hike in iron ore prices is causing alarm at large Japanese automakers. “The consumer won’t accept price increases,” Honda President Takeo Fukui says. “We may see a quicker shift to aluminum.” Analysts estimate that Japanese car makers will pay $1.9 billion more for steel in the coming year than in the past year. Research departments at the car companies accelerated efforts to light weight future vehicles even before iron ore contracts exploded. Fukui began at Honda in 1969 as an engineer.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
This year's Dupont-sponsored WardsAuto survey of automotive designers and other engineers shows lightweighting dominates the discussion. But which materials will help them meet the 2025 CAFE standards are not entirely clear.
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.
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