There’s a lot of hype about new power trains and lightweight plastics, but traditional materials are sure to play a big, if not leading role, in making cars more fuel efficient. The new models on display at the International Motor Show Sept. 19-27 in Frankfurt are a case in point. Ten of the models from Audi, BMW, Opel, Peugeot and Renault use Hydro aluminum components and systems. Examples include:
Opel Astra, front and rear bumper beams;
Rolls-Royce Ghost, front end;
Audi R8 Spyder, rollover protection system; and
Peugeot 5008 MPV, rear bumper.
In addition, Hydro is supplying flat-rolled aluminum strip for body parts to the new BMW 5 series, the Mercedes-Benz E-class station wagon and all versions of the new C-class model, as well as the current Porsche Panamera.
Hydro supplies the aluminum content pictured above for several BMW models, including the new “small” Rolls-Royce.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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