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.
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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