Any type of government management of the car industry is a bad idea. One proof of that is the Trabant, a “car” produced in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. To start with, the vehicle was made from plastic composite, no not the type of high-tech thermoplastic material envisioned for the hood of the Chevy Volt concept car or the carbon composite hood used in the Corvette ZR1. The Trabant’s composite was called Duroplast, a thermoset resin reinforced with cotton waste from Russia. It couldn’t be recycled and when it burned the material produced toxic residue. Paper was also at times used as a reinforcing material for the phenolic waste matrix material, leading to the erroneous suggestion that the Trabant’s body was made from cardboard. Duroplast was the best part of the Trabant, which was made by VEB Sachsenring Automobilwerke Zwickau. One reviewer commented: “Ostensibly, there’s not a whole lot to love about a car that creaks like an out-of-warranty pirate ship and spews more smoke than a Winston Churchill-Fidel Castro summit.” The car cost a comrade a year’s salary and some buyers had to wait as long as 15 years for a delivery. The Trabant–a car made in a Socialist system– is one of the reasons why I don’t want the federal government to get involved in the car industry – in any way, shape or form.
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.