What price premium will you pay for bioplastics? In general, look for a premium of 20 to 30 percent above what you now pay for a comparable material. That’s an artificial figure, but it’s what OEMs think customers will pay for the environmental friendliness plus the enhanced properties some of these grades will have.I say artificial, because seemingly like all things that overcome our “energy” or “global warming” crisis (pick your decade) costs will be very high until there is economy of scale. And economy of scale for plastics is huge. American OEMs that have been leaders in this field, such as John Deere, have not pursued bio materials for economic reasons. They pursued them for political reasons. Deere, for example, wanted to support its farmer-customers, particularly in the soybean area, where grants were available.
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.