NEC is developing shape memory plastics made of plant-based materials for use as wearable electronic products. The new plastic will lose it shape when heated with something as simple as a hair dryer and then will resume its original shape when heated again. The plan is to use the materials for mobile phones that users can form into unique shapes and wear around their wastes. They can be heated again to resume their original shape. NEC also plans to use the shape memory plastics in PCs. If a housing is deformed by heat, it could be returned to its original shape through application of heat. NEC commented that there were efforts to introduce oil-based shape memory plastics to these applications before but they were abandoned because the plastics were not recyclable. NEC first reported its work on bioplastc shape memory products in 2005, and updated Design News this month.
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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