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.
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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