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 amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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