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Local Motors Plans To Launch Highway-Ready 3D-Printed Cars in 2016

By: Heather Caliendo 14. July 2015

The design for the first road-ready 3D-printed car.

 

The little 3D-printed car that could—the Strati—has generated quite the response. Designed by Local Motors (Chandler, Ariz.), the 3D-printed car made its debut at the IMTS 2014. The company printed the car’s chassis and body all in one piece.

 

I’ve seen the Strati in person several times and it’s a really cool feat of technology. And while many people were also impressed by the Strati, one of the biggest questions about it was—will we ever have 3D-printed cars on the road?

 

Well, Local Motors says yes and soon. The company recently unveiled the designs that will serve as inspiration for the world’s first production line of 3D-printed cars. The winning design of Project Redacted is Reload Redacted - Swim/Sport by Kevin Lo whose entry showcases the usage of Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), including the ability to create a completely customizable vehicle. Its design boasts a flexible foundation that can support many different styles and technology options.

 

Local Motors is the first company to utilize DDM in vehicle production, with the goal of decreasing the amount of tooling while increasing speed to market for highway-ready vehicles, the company said in a news release.

 

“At Local Motors, we are hell-bent on revolutionizing manufacturing,” said John B. Rogers, Jr., CEO and co-founder of Local Motors. “Car manufacturers have been stamping parts the same way for more than 100 years. We now have the technology to make the process and products better and faster by linking the online to the offline through DDM. This process will create better and safer products, and we are doing exactly that.”

 

Local Motors launched Project Redacted to challenge the co-creation community to imagine and design the next generation of 3D-printed cars. The winning entry will act as the foundation for the world’s first, and yet-to-be-named, road-ready 3D-printed vehicles. Local Motors plans to design, build and sell a Low Speed Electric Vehicle (LSEV) iteration, with a goal for it to debut in Q1 2016, as well as a fully homologated highway-ready version later that year. NBC News reported the first model will be priced between $18,000 and $30,000.

 

The winning entry was chosen after a voting process that tapped the Local Motors community, as well as a professional judging panel, including former Tonight Show host and car enthusiast Jay Leno, SEMA Vice President of Vehicle Technology John Waraniak and Sabic Senior Manager Geert Jan Schellekens.

 

In addition to that announcement, Local Motors also unveiled a fleet of vehicles it has named ‘LOCO University Vehicles.’ LOCO, short for Local Motors Co-Created University Vehicles, is one of the first steps in the company’s effort to "change the automotive industry forever" by partnering with some of the nation’s top universities and laboratories. The university partnerships will amplify 3D printing and other technologies.

 

The first three universities to participate in the program are the University of Michigan (U of M), Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV).

 

Today U of M takes delivery of a LOCO, with its research efforts focusing on the development of autonomous (self-driving) technology. U of M plans to use the LOCO to develop a fleet of autonomous vehicles that will transport students around the University’s North Campus, while also serving as the nation’s first test bed for on-demand autonomous.

 

“Think Uber, but with low-speed, autonomous cars,” said Ed Olson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sScience at University of Michigan who leads the project. “The goal of this program is for us to begin to understanding the challenges of a transportation-on-demand system built around autonomous cars.”

 

The UNLV LOCO will also focus on autonomous vehicle technology. The partnership with Arizona State University will conduct and gather groundbreaking research on advanced materials. The goal with all the schools is to deliver the latest technology in additive manufacturing to the Local Motors community, who will be hard at work in the coming months co-creating on and bringing Reload Redacted to roads across America.

PE Film Market Analysis: Cheese Packaging

By: James Callari 14. July 2015

 

Cheese packaging is designed to contain three major cheese types including natural cheese, powdered cheese and processed cheese. Natural cheese is manufactured from pasteurized milk with no secondary processing. Natural cheese is aged by manufacturers and continues to age on the shelf. Powdered cheese is natural cheese which is dehydrated and powdered for use as a flavoring in snack foods and other food products. Processed cheese is produced by squeezing natural cheese solids, which are ground and cooked with whey, water, salt, and emulsifiers to enhance shelf life and stability. The cooking process also pasteurizes the product and stops the aging process.

 

In 2014, 232.2 million lb of PE were consumed by processors making cheese packaging. Withan average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 4.4%, the cheese film market is projected to consume 264.3 million lb of PE resin by 2017.

 

These are among the conclusions of the most recent study of the PE Film market conducted by Mastio & Co., St. Joseph, Mo.

 

Natural cheeses require packaging with greater barrier properties than processed cheeses because natural cheeses are highly susceptible to outside aroma transfer and spoilage from exposure to oxygen, Mastio reports. The type of film utilized for natural cheese packaging depends on how long the cheese will be aged. Longhold cheese remains in packaging film for 60 days or longer during aging. Short-hold cheese requires greater gas barriers to help slow the aging process.

 

An exception to this is Swiss cheese, which is very gassy, so the film must allow gas to escape. Excess gas in Swiss cheese packaging will not harm the cheese, but consumers prefer that cheese film fits tightly around the cheese. Natural cheese film ranges in gauge from 2-5.0 mils, with 3 mils being the most typical, according to Mastio’s research.

 

Processed cheeses do not need a gas barrier because they are not aged; however, processed cheeses do require a grease barrier because of the emulsifiers used. Flex-cracking and hermetic seal requirements are less rigorous for processed cheese films than for natural cheese films. Some processed cheeses do not require refrigeration. Processed cheese film ranges from 1-3 mils in thickness, says Mastio.

 

MATERIAL ALTERNATIVES

In the past, polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC) films were sometimes used in the cheese packaging market, but in 2014 there was no reported usage of this material. PVDC films have higher hot fill capabilities than PE films and provide good gas barriers. However, as Mastio points out, PVDC resins are often more costly than PE resins, and do not always process as well as PE resins.

 

Oriented polypropylene (OPP) film is another polyolefin material utilized for this market and is often used for its moisture barrier properties. Additionally, oriented polyester film is substituted for OPP film when gas flushing is not a requirement. Processed cheese slices are often packaged with polyester film.

Foil substrates are also used in this market, and are often laminated to PE films, which add flexibility and strength.

 

During 2014, approximately 84.1% of the PE film for cheese packaging applications were manufactured using the blown film extrusion process, according to Mastio. The remaining 16.9% of PE cheese film was manufactured by the cast film extrusion process.

 

Coextruded film is most common in this market representing 81.1% of resin consumption. The number of coextruded layers can be as high as eleven, however, three-layer and five-layer structures are most typical for cheese film. In coextruded structures nylon and ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH) resins can be used with PE resins because they provide the required oxygen and gas barrier properties necessary. More sophisticated coextruded structures may consist of PE/tielayer/nylon/EVOH/nylon/tie-layer/PE resins. In this market, PE films are typically laminated to other substrates, including oriented polyester, OPP, cellophane and PVDC films.

 

MY TWO CENTS

Among those film processors profiled by Mastio, three of them—Bemis North America; Winpak Ltd. (Winpak Films, Inc. Div.); and Sealed Air Corp. (Cryovac Div.)—collectively held 76.4% of the cheese-film market in 2014. These are considered by many to be among the elite in film processing. This is a fairly small market and, ironically, improved economic conditions can actually adversely impact it. That's because when the economy is good, people tend to eat out more and thus buy less pre-packaged food,

Will Rise of Benzene Prices Impact Those of Nylons, ABS & PC as They Have PS?

By: Lilli Manolis Sherman 13. July 2015

 

July benzene contract prices settled up by a whopping 80ȼ/gal to $3.05/gal, and polystyrene suppliers were quick to issue price hikes of 6-8ȼ/lb on PS resins, effective July 1. This was a reversal from June, when benzene contract prices dropped by 59ȼ/gal., and PS prices dropped by 5ȼ/lb.

 

This latest benzene price trajectory is due to snugger domestic supply which has resulted from a combination of improved downstream demand for benzene and a sharp drop in benzene imports. Mark Kallman, v.p. of client services for engineering resins, PS, and PVC at Resin Technology, Inc. (RTi), Fort Worth, Texas, ventures this supply tightness will last through August. He anticipates some relief from higher benzene prices with the potential return of imports.

 

In the meantime, it would not be surprising to see similar moves emerge on prices of some key commodity engineering resins, as was the case with nylon 6 earlier this week. BASF,  DSM,  and Honeywell  have each issued price increases on their nylon 6 resins. Effective dates, respectively, are: July 15, July 24, July 20--or, as contracts allow, Nylon 6 suppliers had been out with a 5ȼ/lb increase for June, but that attempt lost its legs following the drop in June benzene contracts.

 

So far, there have been no official price nominations for nylon 66. Kallman had projected generally flat pricing to continue for nylon 66 from second quarter into the third; this before the July benzene contract increase.

 

Also, while the domestic nylon 66 supply/demand has been characterized as relatively balanced by Kallman, that balance includes nylon 66 materials imported to the North American market by BASF. As previously reported, BASF declared force majeure at its Seals Sands, UK facility on June 17. The company cited production problems and noted that it was not in a position to predict how long this would last. Affected products includes the company’s Ultramid A and Capron PA 66 resins and compounds.

 

Possible actions could be forthcoming from suppliers of ABS and PC. In the case of ABS, suppliers were out with a 4ȼ/lb increase, effective June 1, but that did not materialize due to the decline of the June benzene contract price.

 

In the case of PC, there were some price increase attempts during second quarter; this following a 2-8% decline through first quarter until benzene prices bottomed out.  Those second quarter attempts ended up falling by the wayside. In June, Kallman explained it to me this way: the domestic market is a well-balanced one (including lower-priced imports due to a global PC overcapacity) with feedstock prices well below 2014. This, of course, did not include the reversal of benzene contract prices now taking place.

 

Want to find or compare materials data for different resins, grades, or suppliers? Check out Plastics Technology’s Plaspec Global materials database.

 

Needs Vs. Wants: A Guide to What Customers Actually 'Need' When They 'Want' Certain Material Properties

By: Tony Deligio 8. July 2015

Over the years, Oliver Franssen, global marketing director of silicone supplier Momentive Performance Materials GmbH, Leverkusen, Germany, has curated a collection of part drawings that highlight the general apathy around choosing a resin for a part. In many cases, materials aren’t an afterthought, they’re a ‘neverthought.’

 

“Materials are often not specified,” Franssen said, “despite the fact that the elastomer parts can be critical to the function of the entire system.” Speaking at the Molding 2015 Conference (June 16-18; Chicago), Franssen noted that even when materials are specified, the right questions about their properties are not always asked.

 

“Functional relevant points frequently are not specified,” Franssen explained, noting a lack of guidance for key parameters including: hardness/modulus, tensile strength, elongation at break, tear strength, working environment and compression set.

 

Such generic requests for a “plastic” fail to acknowledge the breadth and depth of the elastomer catalog. “The silicone world covers a very broad temperature and polarity range,” Franssen said, with different metrics for those materials’ properties depending on the standard used (ASTM, ISO, etc.). “It is difficult to compare materials for use in an application without knowing the details—stuff like compression set, tear resistance, vulcanization, viscosity—it’s hard to do that using data sheets.”

 

Needs vs. Wants
Among Franssen’s slides was one translating customers’ property requests of what they say they want to what they’ll actually need.

 

  • Asks for hardness/Needs modulus
  • Asks for oil content in percent/Needs lubrication, weight loss of oil
  • Asks for FDA approved/Needs FDA compliant
  • Asks for cohesive structural bonding/Needs adhesion
  • Asks for approval by OEM/Needs qualification at tier supplier
  • Asks for a low-cost material/Needs a low system cost
  • Asks for samples/Needs datasheets

 

The answer from Franssen’s view at a material supplier:

 

“There is no ‘best material available on the planet,’” Franssen said. “You have to look at every particular case and find the right material. We have to help the customer get through this jungle. As far as the path forward, instead of just longer specifications, put a clear description on the drawing; put in post curing, molding process, color.”

 

Other steps on the path:

  • Talk to internal experts
  • Share expectations
  • Look for reference applications
  • Don't rely solely on brochures and databases
  • Develop or use existing meaningful tests

 

“Your customer may not be interested in a new material,” Franssen said, in which case you should consider simulation to prove out a potential resin switch. “Test real parts in real applications,” Franssen said. “Know the exact raw material and curing process.”

Momentive Silopren Matrix liquid silicone rubber (LSR)

Adidas Develops Shoes Made From Ocean Waste

By: Heather Caliendo 7. July 2015

The amount of waste in our oceans is staggering. The United Nation Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. But instead of letting the waste simply just remain where it doesn’t belong, many companies are tapping into their innovative muscles to come up with ways to repurpose the waste into something useful. The latest example of this is from adidas. The company has created a world first with a shoe upper made entirely of yarns and filaments reclaimed and recycled from ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets.

 

adidas recently showcased this first innovative footwear concept born from its collaboration with Parley for the Oceans, an organization in which creators, thinkers and leaders come together to raise awareness about the disastrous state of the oceans and to collaborate on promising projects that can protect and conserve them. As founding member, adidas supports Parley for the Oceans in its education and communication efforts and its Ocean Plastic Program that aims to end plastic pollution of the oceans.

 

Parley partner Sea Shepherd retrieved these nets after a 110-day expedition tracking an illegal poaching vessel, which culminated off the coast of West Africa. adidas knitted the shoe in order to avoid any waste in its production.

 

You can’t go out and buy the shoe just yet as the concept shoe is designed to offer a first look at the kind of consumer-ready ocean plastic products that will be revealed later this year.

 

"At Parley for the Oceans, we want to establish the oceans as a fundamental part of the debate around climate change," said Cyrill Gutsch, founder of Parely for the Oceans. "Our objective is to boost public awareness and to inspire new collaborations that can contribute to protect and preserve the oceans. We are extremely proud that adidas is joining us in this mission and is putting its creative force behind this partnership to show that it is possible to turn ocean plastic into something cool."

 

A Fast Company article says as of now, they won't be using the tiny fragments of plastic that swirl in the ocean, but that could change as new technology becomes available.

 

"If you want to take it out of the ocean, you can trawl for days and days and get a tiny spoonful of plastic," Gutsch says. "At this point we didn't see a feasible technology. What we believe now is that you can instead avoid the microplastic that's coming into the system." The bigger aim of the program is not just to recycle plastic into shoes, but to help avoid plastic waste in the first place. Parley for the Oceans is working on new technology both to intercept plastic trash—and to change plastic itself.”

 

The shoe concept is pretty neat and it would be great to see more products made with repurposed waste on the market. Wearing recycled ocean waste on your feet is one trend we can all get behind.




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