Weight reduction in cars and other applications is driving use of innovative technologies such as glass microspheres in plastic compounds. Noble Polymers, a compounding business of Cascade Engineering, has developed a low-density polyolefin formulation using 3M glass bubbles that reduces the weight of TPO plastic parts up to 20 percent. A part on display at the 3M booth at this week’s National Plastics Exposition in Chicago incorporates glass bubbles (10 percent loading) to reduce weight of a seat frame from 2.25 pounds to 2.05 pounds. The glass bubbles replaced talc, and weight reduction wasn’t the only benefit. “We increased the flow of the compound by using specialty additives with the glass microspheres,” says Tim Patterson, business unit manager of Noble Polymers, Grand Rapids. MI. As a result, the mold cavity filled better for the complex design. The glass bubbles improve dimensional stability, reduce density and cut back on warpage, according to Louis J. Lundberg, business manager for transportation markets for the 3M Energy and Advanced Materials Division, St. Paul, MN. 3M announced a new line that has isostatic crush strength of 30,000 psi, expanding applications in several engineering plastics. These microspheres are 40 percent stronger than 3M’s previous leading high-strength glass microspheres and, at 17 microns, are approximately half their size. 3M Performance Additive iM30K has a density of 0.6 g/cc.
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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