Look for bioplastics such as polylactic acid (PLA) to make a strong run at polystyrene foam packaging in the next three years. The major reason is significant technology development in screw design that brings productivity rates for PLA foaming more in line with polystyrene systems. David Fogarty, president, Plastic Engineering Associates (PEA) of Boca Raton, FL says he has developed new screw designs that have now been licensed to three companies.
Ability to maintain melt temperature is critical because of the low glass transition temperature of PLA. PEA supplies 4.50″ x 6.00″ (120mm x 150mm) and 6.00″ x 8.00″ (150mm x 200mm) sized Turbo-Screws specifically designed for the bioplastic, and has worked in tandem with PLA Supplier NatureWorks. Output rates are said to be in the 75 percent to 85 percent range of polystyrene output.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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