A North American manufacturer will be one of the show stoppers at next month’s Fakuma injection molding fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Trexel of Woburn, MA, will show how long-fiber reinforced plastics can be used in its microcellular foam process called MuCell. The MuCell process produces lower cost engineering parts with high quality and exceptional dimensional stability in applications where foaming has not historically been deployed. The long fiber technology from Ticona works well for large and complex parts. New parts use an advanced screw design developed jointly by Trexel and Ticona. Hartmut Traut, business director - Europe of Trexel, said several benefits result. “These include potential weight savings of 10 percent, and a 10 to 20 percent cycle time reduction. In addition, customers can get these benefits along with reduced warpage compared to solid injection molding and prior iterations of the MuCell process,” says Traut. One advanced American user of MuCell is fastener maker Soutcho, which uses injection molding machines sized from 55 to 350 tons in clamping force to make MuCell parts.
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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