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.
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.