New plastics/metal hybrids introduced at K 2007 by A. Schulman eliminate soldering for electronic parts and also create shielded housings. “Conductor paths and contact points for connectors and cables can be injection molded simultaneously,” says Thilo Stier, innovation manager, told me at the packed Schulman stand this morning. Traditional lead frame techniques are replaced by the hybrids, called TinCo. They consist of 15 percent thermoplastics, such as nylon; 30 percent of a low-melting alloy such as tin; and 55 percent copper fiber. Nylon is overmolded with the low melting metal in a two-barrel injection molding machine using conventional tooling. Siemens is a development partner. Five other OEMs are also beta testing the technology under secrecy agreements. The process was demonstrated at the K Fair on an Arburg press. Due to the high loading of copper, the hybrid has excellent specific electrical conductivity—greater than 106 S/m. Most plastic and elastomers can be used as the matrix in the compound. Cycle times are short due to the material’s high thermal conductivity.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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