Toyota Motors and Mitsubishi Motors are pushing the envelope on lightweight car design with new concept cars introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show this week. The Toyota 1/X hybrid weighs 67 per cent less than Prius due to its use of carbon fiber composites in its body, yet has more interior space. Composites previously used in auto car bodies have much heavier glass reinforcement. Carbon fiber reinforced composites, also widely used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, weigh 40 percent less than glass-reinforced composites. Toray, the world’s leading supplier of carbon fiber prepregs, is reportedly studying a new production plant just for automotive demand. The Mitsubishi i-MiEV (electric vehicle) uses an aluminum suspension and frame. It weighs just one-third what a steel suspension and frame weighs.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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