Techno Polymer Co. of Japan has developed a new, highly functional ABS film for use in solar panels. The recently developed black-colored backing sheet consists of a special pigment blended with weather-resistant ASA resin. Compared to solar cell modules with conventional black backing sheets, conversion efficiency has been improved by approximately 2 percent, according to Techno Polymer. The company says there were no negative effects on the module after the new sheet was subjected to a 3000-hour heat and humidity aging test. The backing sheet is currently under evaluation for commercial viability by manufacturers of solar cell modules both in Japan and elsewhere.
The new film is also being pitched to enhance appearance in the interior of luxury cars, and enable multilayer printing, mainly for building-related materials.
Techno Polymer has built a new production facility in Ohio to service American automotive OEMs.
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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