Look for extensive use of ceramics and new woven polymer materials in the armored vehicle that will replace the US Army’s Humvee. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle will come in three types that will haul cargo and perform reconnaissance missions. The target weight is 20,000 pounds, about half the weight of currently used armored vehicles. That’s only three to four times the weight of pickup trucks. Under consideration will be use of composite systems such as aramid-fiber reinforced materials (Kevlar), ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) composites, and S-2 glass armor systems, which are also used in the Boeing Dreamliner. Capacities of all three are being rapidly expanded in anticipation of higher demand for military and other types of applications. Manufacturers of all three materials are dramatically expanding capacity right now to meet soaring demand.
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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