The next-generation materials approaches used in the Chevy Volt concept car last year are still “very much in play”, says Mark Verbrugge, director of the GM Materials and Processes Lab. Costs of materials used in the Volt, which is due for delivery in two years, will be higher than those normally used to ensure light weight, he said in an exclusive interview with Design News. Reducing mass will be an important strategy to meet the mandate that the Volt must go at least 40 miles without a charge. “If you use more material, you will need a bigger battery,” comments Verbrugge. The vehicle must also sell for less than $30,000, per a mandate from Vice Chairman Robert Lutz. The concept car used a polycarbonate roof, an idea Verburgge confirmed is manageable. The Volt also used a molded thermoplastic hood developed by Sabic Innovative Plastics .The 2010 timeline is doable, says Verbrugge. “You can do it, but at what kind of volumes and what kind of value proposition?’
My thinking is that a version of the Volt will debut by the end of 2010. But it will still be very much of a work in progress. The price probably will rise close to $40,000 and the first Volt will be more of a boutique model than a mass market version. But it’s great to see GM press so hard on the concept.
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.