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.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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