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.
The new composites manufacturing innovation center is intended to be a source of grand challenges for industry, like the kind that got us to the moon under JFK. These aren't the words its new CEO Craig Blue used, but that's the idea and the vision behind the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
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