A brand new lightweight material for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner was announced this morning at K 2007, the giant plastics fair in Düsseldorf. BASF will produce a new ultra light foam for the interior of the groundbreaking aircraft. The new foam is 30 per cent lighter than films that had been used for sound and thermal insulation. Pieces cut from the elastic membrane resin foam can be installed with ease in cabin walls because of its open cell network structure. “We investigated several material combinations, and our testing determined that a laminate containing Basotect, the new material, was the most weight-efficient solution to reduce the interior noise in the forward fuselage,” said Randall Smith, Interiors Design Engineer at Boeing.
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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