A three-fold increase in lead in the past three years is aiding in the phase-out of the toxic metal in some applications. Example: There’s a surge in demand for environmentally friendly stabilizers used in polyvinyl chloride. The Baerlocher Group of Companies of Munich, Germany, reports higher demand for its calcium-based stabilizers as well as calcium-and zinc stearate stabilizers used to improve thermal performance. Baerlocher is investing 20 million Euros ($29 million) to boost production capacity in Germany, the United Kingdom, Brazil, India and Malaysia. In a program called Vinyl 2010, the European vinyl industry has made a voluntary commitment to improve the environmental profile of PVC.
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.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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