Plans by Airbus to use an aluminum alloy skeleton for the A350 have been abandoned due to customer pressure. It’s now reported that Airbus will use advanced composites for the frame, echoing the strategy used in Boeing’s much-heralded Dreamliner. Customers pushed Airbus to the all-composite approach because of perceptions there would be maintenance problems in mating composites and aluminum in the manner Airbus planned. The shift is a blow to technical officials at Alcoa, who had developed innovative new designs. The new aluminum concepts, particularly an interesting wing box concept, are still very much in play for the next generation of single-aisle aircraft.
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.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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