Engineers still need to make tradeoffs when trying to achieve improved thermal conductivity in plastics. One of the biggest challenges in plastics design today is efficient heat removal from smaller components, some of which operate at higher voltages. Example: LED arrays are becoming more popular in auto headlamps to conserve energy. Research data presented by DuPont at its pre-K 2007 press conference in Prague show three different approaches: 1) Use of high filler content including carbon fiber achieves a high rate of thermal conductivity but is difficult to mold, 2) Boron nitride coated graphite coupled with copper particles coated with glass also work well, but are not cost effective and also have molding issues, and 3) Use of ceramic particles as fillers does not achieve the level of thermal conductivity required by emerging applications.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
A theme that was reflected in several ways at NPE 2015 was the use of 3D printing to assist in, or improve on, injection molding, as well as improvements in 3D printing materials and processes that are making better functional prototypes and end-use parts.
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