The Chevy Volt gets 230 mpg? Wow. To me, that’s a really silly statement. How is the gas mileage of a plug-in electric car relevant? The real issues, of course, are the net impact on carbon dioxide emissions and the reliance on imported hydrocarbons. And there the picture for cars like the Volt is really fuzzy. Most of the energy for the Volt comes from the electric power grid. Forty-nine percent of electric power in the United States is generated from coal, which spews carbon dioxide and pollutants. About 7-8 percent of power is lost during transmission.
Cars like the Volt that will be charged in off-peak hours (overnight) in areas heavily reliant on hydro and nuclear power, such as the Toronto area or parts of California, will definitely be a major improvement over gas-powered cars,
But I haven’t seen a scientific third-party study that really lays out the facts on the real net contribution of electric vehicles. To announce that it achieves 230 mpg is silly and misleading.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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