RTP Co. is introducing carbon nanotube compounds (CNT) in several different resin systems for improved electrical performance. In situations where engineers typically used carbon fiber reinforcements, carbon nanotubes provide much better electrical performance,” says Ned Bryant, senior product development engineer for RTP, which is based in Winona, MN. The first resin systems offered with the new technology are polycarbonate, polyetherimide and polyetheretherketone. Coming next are PC/ABS, nylon 66 and nylon 12. The nylons will be aimed at automotive components, such as fuel filler doors, where the conductive materials allow superior painting processes. Electrostatic painting is about 80 per cent efficient, while spray painting is only about 12 percent efficient. CNT compounds also process better, avoiding isotropic effects of fibers.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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