GE Plastics long-standing attack on polyvinyl chloride continues in the Chevy Volt. Flexible Noryl replaces polyvinyl chloride for environmental and weight-saving reasons. Today's cars have over a mile of wiring, which is mostly made with PVC coating. The case against PVC, says GE, is that it contains halogen and releases dioxins when burned. The Noryl coating is also smaller in diameter than the PVC, making it easier for engineers to manipulate wires in the car. The PVC producers have long maintained that PVC is safe when incinerated properly. European regulators have been the most aggressive in attacking the use of PVC.
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.