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.
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.