Improving production efficiencies of carbon composite processing is front and center at Apple and Daimler. Apple sees carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) as a way to reduce weight for housings used on iPads, laptops and other portable electronics equipment.
Daimler has signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with German automobile major Daimler AG to develop automobile parts made of CFRP. The focal point of the project is High Cycle Resin Transfer Molding (RTM), a molding process technology developed by Toray. Toray, in addition to developing optimal CFRP materials, handles design and molding processes, with Daimler being responsible for developing technologies for joining of the parts. The companies aim for adoption of the newly developed parts in Mercedes-Benz models within next three years. Daimler plans to mold CFP parts in a captive plant in Germany.
Daimler has set a target of reducing the weight of the body-in-white of its cars up to ten percent for all models under its Mercedes-Benz series compared with their existing models.
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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