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 lightweight electric urban concept car designed by several European companies weighs only 992 lb without its battery. It would have weighed 26.7 lb more if its windows were made of glass instead of the specially coated LEXAN polycarbonate resin from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Skylar Tibbits' team in MIT's Self-Assembly Lab is now 4D printing self-assembling shapes made of programmable carbon composites and custom wood grain. The composites are being used in a sport car airfoil, and the wood grain is beautiful.
The NanoSteel Company has produced high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite (MMC) parts using a new nanosteel powder in a one-step 3D-printing process. Parts are 99.9% dense, crack-free, and with wear resistance comparable to M2 tool steels.
The company that brought you 3D-printed eyeglasses has launched both an improved clear polymer material for 3D printing optical components and a high-speed, precision, 3D-printing process for making small- and medium-sized batches in a few days.
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