Automotive lightweighting is a big deal these days in the world of plastics, with US Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) requirements that will force automakers to jack up mileage to 35.5 mpg by 2016, and to 54.5 mpg by 2025. Major plastics manufacturers are responding with new formulations to achieve these drastic reductions in fuel consumption by losing as much weight as possible in every part of the vehicle while maintaining strength, toughness, impact resistance, chemical resistance, and other properties in replacement materials. Many of these plastics were on display recently at NPE2012 in Orlando, Fla.
Click on the image below to see these some of these solutions on display.
The smart forvision electric concept car co-developed by BASF and smart has several features that help it lose weight. One of the main ones, which BASF showed at NPE, is the polymer wheel rim made of its Ultramid Structure, with long reinforcing glass fibers, which saves up to 30 percent of the weight of a metal wheel rim. BASF representatives said this is the first polymer wheel rim that can be mass-produced. (Source: BASF)
The lightest parts are inflated parts with the internal pressure adding to get rigidity. Too bad space is such a premium on cars. Maybe the wheels and some structual body parts could benefit from this technology. (might add a softer collision factor in an accident)
This is great. Plastics (a variety of them) have been used in firearms frames for a while. That is a demanding application, and they last. The next step is to bring back aerodynamics. The trend toward SUVs and cross-overs (or station wagons, as they should be called) has hurt fuel economy at least as much as increased weight. I understand that most of the weight increase is the result of safety measures. Using plastics will help mitigate some of that.
I'd be concerned about using polycarbonate or PC/ABS for the hood of a tractor. These materials are known for poor environmental stress cracking resistance, especially when exposed to fuel or oil. Friends have told me about having this problem with other injection molded tractor hoods.
By the way, it seems like the images for slide 2 and slide 10 have been switched. Slide 2 shows a door module, but the text is about a tractor hood. Slide 10 shows a tractor, but the text is about a door module.
Ann: I ride a motorcycle. My curiousity is around appllying the newer lightweight plastics to helmets. Helmets have gotten much lighter over the years but there is a perception that heavy equals safe. Lightweight componets have been introduced over the years but tend to break off and need replacement with intense use.
Thanks, Beth. There are many opportunities to take weight out of the frame and structure via composites, but there are assembly and process issues involved with transferring those technologies to highly automated, high volume automobile manufacturing. Meanwhile, lightweight metals production for cars is also being studied and occasionally applied, though usually, like composites, to high end race cars and more customized apps.
Thanks for sharing this. Lots of great possibilities here.
I think the dash is the easiest application but the last slide stel in the door panels was replaced. I wonder how lightweight plastics have been/will be used in motorcycle helmets? And, how long do they last? The moving parts are constantly used and safety is the main concern in such a small space.
Interesting slide show, Ann. It's pretty amazing what they can accomplish today via use of bioplastics and innovations in injection molding processes. It seems like a lot of the lightweighting work takes place in the dash system. It strikes me that there should be a lot of other opportunities, particularly in the frame, to take weight out of the vehicle makeup.
Inspired by the hooks a parasitic worm uses to penetrate its host's intestines, the Karp Lab has invented a flexible adhesive patch covered with microneedles that adheres well to wet, soft tissues, but doesn't cause damage when removed.
Researchers at the Missouri University of Science & Technology have designed a new nanoscale material that can transmit light faster than the 186,000 miles per second it usually takes to travel through air.
It has often been said that as California goes, so goes the nation. This spring, the state's wind power is setting energy generation records and solar energy generation is expected to rise sharply during the second half of 2013.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is