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.
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.
We've found an amazing variety of robot hands & arms in medicine, space, and service robots, as well as R&D and assembly. Some are based on industrial designs modified for speed or dexterity, while others more closely emulate human movements, as well as human size and shape.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.