Metal may have a new entry in the battle for super lightweight aircraft skins. General Electric received a U.S. patent June 17 for a powder metal sheet composition that could compete with plastic composites, such as those used in the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or new Airbus wide-bodied aircraft. The GE sheet is made from a nickel-base superalloy having more than about 30 percent by volume of gamma prime phase, or an intermetallic such as a titanium aluminide. A GE spokesperson commented to Design News: “We have no plans at this time to introduce this into any product, but it offers GE the interesting option to use this for high temperature sheet material.”
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.