Honeycomb cores have also been used in aerospace carbon fiber composites, such as the structure and blades of Sikorsky Aircraft's S-97 RAIDER helicopters and, reportedly, in the shell of Virgin Galactics' SpaceShip Two. A similar honeycomb sandwich structure is used in some parts of Boeing 787's Dreamliner.
The new material's honeycomb core is covered on both its top and bottom with glass fiber mats, then sprayed with the Baypreg system, which contains a flame retardant and may optionally also contain cut glass fibers. The component is placed in a compression mold while it is still moist and is pressed at a temperature of 130°C. The polyurethane system foams slightly and binds the components together. After about two minutes, the part can be removed from the mold and deburred.
Components as large as four square meters in area can be produced, yet they have excellent dimensional stability, allowing the parts to be installed in the final assembly with a high level of precision. "By using this new material, we can reduce the component’s weight by over 35 percent -- and cut costs by 30 percent," said Jan Kuppinger, a Fraunhofer ICT scientist, in a press release.
Bayer's Baypreg spray system has been used in automotive applications for producing panorama roof modules, spare tire covers, and the floor of a car's trunk. The team optimized the standard fiber spraying manufacturing process by developing a mixing chamber that allows more complex structures to be produced in any required size. The prototype diesel engine housing measures approximately 4.5 meters long and more than 2 meters wide.
The diesel engine housing prototype was produced as part of the PURtrain project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The prototype has passed its first strength test; the next step is field tests. If the prototype passes those tests, the team expects the material to also be useful in applications such as roof segments, side flaps, and wind deflectors for automobiles and commercial vehicles.
Ok, so it's jumbled, but that's the point. We've heard so much about the use of composites in the automotive sector and in aerospace, even with large-scale boats and yachts, but not so much in trains. Improved access to more efficient and cost-effective mass transportation is equally as important as alternative energy sources and lightweighting vehicles as part of green energy strategies. This is a cool development. Any big deals yet for the technology?
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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