Times may be tough, but companies with strong engineering have a better chance of riding things out.
Example: A Canadian company called Camoplast, developed a dramatically different technology for making hulls for personal watercraft that is economical and creates large parts that are lighter and stronger. The company’s engineering director, Yves Carbonneau, forged ahead even though he told his concept was impossible.
Hulls for the watercraft have been made for decades by the well-known fiberglass processes using polyester in SMC. A customer told Camoplast they wanted something better. Carbonneau worked with two key suppliers-Bayer MaterialScience and KraussMaffei-to develop a polyurethane process using insertion of chopped long glass fiber at the mix head. Bayer developed a new material with far superior flow characteristics, allowing more detail in the mold. The result: a
first time capability to design-in ribs, for example. Huge breakthrough.
“Camoplast’s mission is to set a goal and take all the necessary steps to reach it, one at a time,” says Carbonneau. It took seven years of collaboration and hard work, but the new boat hull is now a reality.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
This month will mark the launch of the SpeedFoiler, a super-fast, ultra-lightweight foiling catamaran that can fly short distances over water faster than other foiling designs, in part because of its carbon composite materials.
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