Consider laser welding for applications using electronic components. Other joining methods can shake embedded components, causing damage. Lasers shine through a transmissive material on top, often natural, into an opaque black material that heats up and melts the natural. The bottom piece often contains carbon black to create opacity that absorbs the laser beam. When two black parts are required, a laser-transmissive black dye is used for the top piece. A new glass-filled nylon compound is designed specifically for laser welding. Luvotech J-3/15/LW BK from Techmer Lehvoss LLC, Clinton, Tenn. is a 15% glass-filled nylon 6. Laser welding requires a pair of materials, one transparent to laser energy and the other laser-absorbing. The first commercial application is a black automotive under-hood part. Techmer is also developing laser-weldable PBT.
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.