Opel is in the news almost weekly for financial reasons. But the German-based subsidiary of General Motors is also making some technical news. Opel joined with Recaro, a Tier II seat maker, and BASF to develop an all plastic car seat that eliminates the requirement for a steel frame.
The seats are low weight while offering high mechanical strength, good ergonomic properties and a sporty look. The seat pan is made of Ultramid B3ZG8, a very tough yet stiff PA6. Ultramid B3G10 SI is used in the large, free-standing backrest shell as well as in the crossbar. The insert for the backrest shell is made of Neopolen P 9225 K (EPP), an energy-absorbing foam that also covers edges and serves as a module carrier for motors and seat components such as the spinal column support.
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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