The Seattle, WA, area is rapidly emerging as a global center for carbon composites technology. The ball got rolling with the development of the composite-bodied Dreamliner 787 by Boeing. Toray Composites (America), Boeing’s primary carbon fiber supplier, has been adding capacity in Tacoma, WA, and now operates four prepreg lines there.
Italian automobile manufacturer Lamborghini has identified carbon composites as a core development area and is investigating new technologies in collaboration with the University of Washington and the Boeing Research and Technology Center in Seattle.
BMW wants to be the first to introduce large-scale use of carbon composites in cars and established SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, a joint venture with the SGL Group. The JV is building a plant in Moses Lake, WA, to produce carbon fiber. The plant will operate two lines, each with annual capacity of 1,500 metric tons. The first line is expected to be commissioned late next year. This is despite the fact that the car is being designed and assembled in Germany.
Hats off to Boeing for making the USA a global center for this pivotal new materials’ technology.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
A theme that was reflected in several ways at NPE 2015 was the use of 3D printing to assist in, or improve on, injection molding, as well as improvements in 3D printing materials and processes that are making better functional prototypes and end-use parts.
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