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.
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.