An interesting design innovation at K 2010 is an electrically conductive plastic compound from A. Schulman being used by a Finnish lighting manufacturer. Copper and tin are loaded at a very high level (60 and 25 percent respectively) in nylon 6. The tin acts like a solder connecting the copper fibers. “The conductivity of the compound is 1,000 times better than the next most conductive plastic compound available (plastic loaded with steel fibers),” says Thilo Stier, innovation manager for A. Schulman. The first production part is a light made by Hella.
The production process for the light is a great story. First, the ABS plate and the PMMA (acrylic) reflector are injection molded in a three-component process. The electrical resistor, diodes, LED and contact pins for the plug are inserted and connected with the new conductive compound, which is called Schulatec TinCo 50. The ABS-coated reflector is then mounted to ensure watertight encapsulation.
Stier says the material is good for housings and lighting applications.
A lightweight electric urban concept car designed by several European companies weighs only 992 lb without its battery. It would have weighed 26.7 lb more if its windows were made of glass instead of the specially coated LEXAN polycarbonate resin from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Skylar Tibbits' team in MIT's Self-Assembly Lab is now 4D printing self-assembling shapes made of programmable carbon composites and custom wood grain. The composites are being used in a sport car airfoil, and the wood grain is beautiful.
The NanoSteel Company has produced high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite (MMC) parts using a new nanosteel powder in a one-step 3D-printing process. Parts are 99.9% dense, crack-free, and with wear resistance comparable to M2 tool steels.
The company that brought you 3D-printed eyeglasses has launched both an improved clear polymer material for 3D printing optical components and a high-speed, precision, 3D-printing process for making small- and medium-sized batches in a few days.
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