The Chevy Volt got big headlines at the Detroit Auto Show because of its electric power train. There was a tons of news in the materials as well. The materials used in a high-tech composite hood are made from regenerated plastic bottle scrap. In a proprietary GE Plastics process, bottles are reduced to their chemical constituents, which are then recovered for the manufacture of Xenoy iQ resins, which were first announced last July. As a result, there is no sacrifice in physical properties of the material, as can be the case with recycle resins. Denso, a Tier One automotive supplier, based in Kariya, Japan, has been validating applications.
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
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