It’s amazing to consider the long-term potential of carbon nanotubes as a polymer reinforcement if major issues (cost and health concerns) can be overcome. Research reveals the possibility of cross-linking CNT molecules prior to incorporation in a polymer matrix to form a super composite with a tensile strength of 20 million psi. Single-walled nanotubes exhibit unique electric properties and may be used for miniaturizing electronics beyond the micro electromechanical scale. Big producers are placing major bets on the technology. In Japan, Showa Denko is building a 400 million metric tons per year production plant. In Germany, Bayer is building a 200 million metric tons per year plant. They’re betting they can dramatically reduce the cost of CNTs which had been in the stratosphere as a pilot scale product, say $40,000 per pound. Multiwall nanotubes are down to $50 to $70 per pound now. Prices will drop as new plants come on line. Health issues must also be addressed.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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