Additives are an area where design engineers could focus a little more time and attention. When added to plastic resins, these chemicals impart a needed property and they also change the mechanical characteristics of the compound. There are also new technologies emerging that can save time and money. One I saw recently comes from Carolina Color of Salisbury, NC. A new process creates so-called “super concentrates”. “G2 has overcome processing challenges with a proven ability to provide exceptionally effective dispersion and distribution in both large and small parts,” says President Matt Barr. The new G2 product line is claimed to save up to 30 per cent in color cost and allow processing at lower temperatures, which can save up to 10 percent in cycle time. Part thickness can even be reduced because of improved physical properties. That also means reduced cycle time and clamping force. It’s worth a look.
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.