Keep a close eye on developments with China’s home grown car producers, such as Chery, Brilliance and Geely. They put emphasis on low-cost, mass output and not on technical innovation—a critical factor for advancing the use of engineering plastics. We’re not talking the Chevy Volt here; we’re talking the Chery Tiggio. You’ve probably heard a lot about the involvement of VW and GM in the China market. And in fact those two OEMs and their local JV partners are the current leaders in production. But the Chinese-owned and developed companies are growing fastest. Sales by Chery are up 48% for example, while GM’s sales are up 22%. News that Chrysler is collaborating with Chery on new models that will be sold by Chrysler in the United States under the Dodge brand turns up the heat.
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.