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.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
A theme that was reflected in several ways at NPE 2015 was the use of 3D printing to assist in, or improve on, injection molding, as well as improvements in 3D printing materials and processes that are making better functional prototypes and end-use parts.
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