Plastic heat sinks will be getting a huge push on new Boeing aircraft, possibly starting on the Dreamliner. They offer additional opportunities to reduce weight and improve design through net shape injection molding. “This is a coming attraction,” says Dr. Alan G. Miller, director of technology integration on the Dreamliner. “This technology is already in the marketplace, but is just now moving into aircraft. Thermoplastics can become heat sinks through high loadings (30 to 40 percent) of carbon-graphite fiber or ceramics. Suppliers of thermally conductive thermoplastics include LNP Engineering Plastics (GE Plastics), RTP, Cool Plastics, and DuPont On the thermoset side, suppliers include Epoxies, Etc.
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.