Chalk a big one up for metals in the ongoing battle with engineering plastics for applications that reduce weight of cars. Novelis Inc, an Indian-owned spin-off from Alcan, will supply aluminum sheet for the hood of the 2008 Buick Enclave. Novelis describes itself as the world’s leading supplier of high performance aluminum sheet for use in automotive applications. The Enclave is a beautifully designed vehicle that was first shown at the Detroit Auto Show in 2006. It’s a cousin to GMC’s Acadia crossover vehicle, which also features an aluminum hood made with Novelis sheet. Both vehicles are built on GM’s all-new Lambda unibody architecture. Aluminum sheet for the Enclave and the Acadia is supplied from Novelis plants in Oswego, NY, and Kingston, Ontario
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.