There’s a resurgence of chrome in trim, door handles, and other decorative touches to impart a high-end, luxury look to new cars. Special grades of Cycoloy polycarbonate/acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (PC/ABS) resin and Cycolac ABS resin feature low stress and superior adhesion to the metal layer, and are aimed at helping automakers easily incorporate jewel-bright chrome details into designs
Higher yields are especially important due to the relatively high cost of chrome plating. In addition, the use of plated plastic components versus all-metal parts avoids the expense of secondary operations including milling and polishing. Lightweight plastics also help with weight-out for improved fuel economy. Finally, plastics offer greater design flexibility than traditional metal. Chrome plating can be unforgiving in terms of quality. Even the slightest defects can create a negative impression of the entire vehicle. Target applications include exterior trim, interior trim, running boards, wheel covers, roof racks, and mirror housings that require stiffness, impact strength, and processability.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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