Both glass-fiber and carbon-fiber composites are being used more often in commercial aircraft and automobiles. Now, members of a German partnership have prototyped a new polyurethane-based glass fiber sandwich material for the enclosure that houses a diesel train's engine. The material saves both weight and cost over its steel and aluminum counterpart.
A diesel train engine's enclosure is located underneath the passenger compartment and must be able to withstand high mechanical loads to support all that weight, as well as to protect the engine from impact. The enclosure material must also provide chemical resistance to prevent oil leaks and is subject to strict fire protection requirements, according to European standard CEN/TS 45545.
A prototype diesel train engine housing made of a new polyurethane-based glass fiber sandwich material saves 35 percent weight and 30 percent cost over its steel and aluminum counterpart. (Source: Bayer MaterialScience)
The partnership's members are top players in train manufacturing, materials, manufacturing processes, and R&D. They include Bombardier, Bayer MaterialScience, DECS GmbH, and KraussMaffei, as well as the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology ICT, the German Aerospace Center (DLR)’s Institute of Vehicle Concepts, the University of Stuttgart, and the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology.
The material's construction is designed as a sandwich for greater stability, based on Bayer MaterialScience's Baypreg polyurethane spray system. Unlike many sandwich
constructions that are based on glass fiber-reinforced structures with a rigid foam core and manufactured in a complex process using epoxy or polyester resins, the new material is made with a honeycomb core and is processed much faster. Parts are manufactured directly in their final, complex, three-dimensional shape using a combined spray and press process.
KraussMaffei is one of the partners of a German team that developed the innovative SpriForm hybrid process that combines injection molding and thermoforming. That process has produced lightweight, crash-resistant automotive components by combining thermoformed parts made of continuous, fiber-reinforced thermoplastic sheets with thermoplastic injection-molded parts. KraussMaffei commercialized that process as its own FiberForm process, with shorter cycle times.
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?
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
The 100-percent solar-powered Solar Impulse plane flies on a piloted, cross-country flight this summer over the US as a prelude to the longer, round-the-world flight by its successor aircraft planned for 2015.
GE Aviation expects to chop off about 25 percent of the total 3D printing time of metallic production components for its LEAP Turbofan engine, using in-process inspection. That's pretty amazing, considering how slow additive manufacturing (AM) build times usually are.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.