The Automotive composites Alliance is pushing thermoset plastic composites for a wide variety of applications in hybrid cars, including modules that contain the battery pack, electronic controller and wiring harness. In the US the modules are typically made of several metal stampings which are assembled. Use of composites could reduce the module to two pieces with major savings in weight as well as tooling investment. “Unlike metal, composites don’t conduct electricity, therefore providing an extra safety advantage,” says the Alliance report. “They also won’t corrode and allow integrated airflow cooling in the module’s tunnel, all adding to longer battery life.”
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.