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.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.