This is an exciting time to be writing about materials as well as using them. The choices of metals, plastics, coatings, and adhesives have never been broader, and new ones are becoming available at a rapid rate. At the same time, some materials that aren't as new to some manufacturing and assembly processes are being adapted to other production methods, such as 3D printing.
Some of this variety is reflected at the Design and Manufacturing Midwest Show in Chicago, September 10-12. Materials on display there include forged and welded metals and alloys, plastics and elastomers, rubber, coatings and finishes, and adhesives. Others are powder metals, magnetics, polymers used in 3D printing, and ultra-hard materials like sapphire, carbides, and ceramics.
Click on the photo below to view a brief photo gallery:
The design of the single-passenger Personal Transport Vehicle - Ground (PTV-G) by Redbud Technology uses an articulated steering geometry: Because the inclined steering pivot is located behind the driver, the car reacts like a two-wheeled motorcycle. (Source: Redbud Technology)
Several different kinds of assembly technologies are also represented at the show, reflecting the wider variety of manufacturing methods available to today's engineers. These include injection and other types of plastics molding, 3D printing, die casting, and metal injection molding. For example, Dynacast International makes small engineered parts using metal injection molding and die cast processes, employing the company's own proprietary methods for both. Applications for these parts include consumer electronics, healthcare, automotive, hardware, and computers and peripherals.
On the plastics side, there's been a gradual increase for some time across many industries in the use of engineering plastics to design structural and semi-structural parts and systems. DM&M Show exhibitor Geist Plastics, for example, makes custom pipes and other round products, such as those used in irrigation, using extrusion. Some of this increase is due to transportation industries like aerospace and automotive pushing for lighter materials that still meet the performance specs. Other factors include an increase in the use of plastics for healthcare. But some of the change is also simply because there are more materials that can do the job.
Some dramatic uses of plastic for structural parts include the plastic bearings made by show exhibitor igus inc., called iglide, and deployed in a concept car designed by students. Different parts and subsystems of the single-passenger car, called the Personal Transport Vehicle - Ground (PTV-G) are being designed by separate groups of students at various community colleges, universities, and high schools, under the guidance of Redbud Technology. The plastic bearings, donated by igus, are being used in the car's independent rear suspension, as well as in its rear wheel lean-and-tilt mechanisms. Unlike metal parts, the plastic bearings don't need lubrication or maintenance and won't corrode.
You're welcome, kenkad41. The main reason I found the car interesting was the fact that it uses plastic bearings, as well as the fact that it's designed completely differently and for a specific function--commuting.
Thank you Ann for the concept car article. As you know, our STEM program has many problems. STEM seriously needs to use our retired technical professionals as mentors. This is simply not happening and I put the blame directly on instructors in our educational system. There is/are solutions. We need publications such as Design News to help promote special initiative projects nationwide. The projects need to address specific societal needs. Urban commuting transportation is just one example that we are trying to interest students in. This is technology that students can see themselves actually using. I would like to see a national contest on this subject, pitting educational institutions against each other and or states competing against each other. We simply need to find better outlets for our younger generations aspirations. Again, thank you for highlighting the concept vehicle initiative.
Although I've written about engineering plastics in extreme environments such as high-temperature under-hood applications, I was still surprised at igus' plastic bearings being strong enough for use in this concept car.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
This month will mark the launch of the SpeedFoiler, a super-fast, ultra-lightweight foiling catamaran that can fly short distances over water faster than other foiling designs, in part because of its carbon composite materials.
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