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.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a surface preparation method to improve joining carbon composites with aluminum, with potentially far-reaching ramifications for high-volume industrial applications.
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