Novelis, an Alcan spinoff that is now part of the Aditya Birla Group, has developed a new aluminum alloy that is making impressive gains in automotive and elsewhere. Novelis Fusion is based on a conventional direct chill (DC) mold that is modified in order to allow multiple metal streams to be cast into one single aluminum sheet ingot. The result is an alloy, not unlike multilayer polymer sheet, that is joined together by a metallurgical bond. One of the heavyweight users is the BMW 7 Series, which uses lightweight door components made from Novelis Fusion. A new grade (PA221) designed for appliances is also now available.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
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