I agree, this is a case where R&D for military and space apps is potentially extendable to other areas, such as industrial and commercial aircraft uses. One of the most critical factors in that extension is expanding manufacturing capacity and tailoring it to the needs of high-volume production, which is a very different animal from the production of smaller quantities for military use.
Hopefully the legwork and advances pioneered in the A&D and government sector can translate back to other industry segments. Cross-pollination of research and technology is the key to making some of these new composite innovations more mainstream.
Ann, these are really interesting advances in composite materials. They are driven, of course, by the aerospace and defense industries. There are lots of other industries where these materials could be really useful, but they are generally conservative in their engineering.
A lightweight electric urban concept car designed by several European companies weighs only 992 lb without its battery. It would have weighed 26.7 lb more if its windows were made of glass instead of the specially coated LEXAN polycarbonate resin from SABIC Innovative Plastics.
Skylar Tibbits' team in MIT's Self-Assembly Lab is now 4D printing self-assembling shapes made of programmable carbon composites and custom wood grain. The composites are being used in a sport car airfoil, and the wood grain is beautiful.
The NanoSteel Company has produced high-hardness ferrous metal matrix composite (MMC) parts using a new nanosteel powder in a one-step 3D-printing process. Parts are 99.9% dense, crack-free, and with wear resistance comparable to M2 tool steels.
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.
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