Plastic Fabricated by 3-D Printer Underpins EV

Local Motors unveils what it calls the world’s first 3-D-printed, drivable vehicle, the Strati.

The vehicle was built in three phases during the recent International Technology Manufacturing Show in Chicago. In the first phase the car was 3-D-printed on a Cincinnati Inc. BAAM (Big Area Additive Manufacturing Machine) over 44 hours using new technology called additive manufacturing.

The second phase, known as subtractive manufacturing, included one day of milling on a machine provided by Thermwood. The third and final phase was rapid assembly, in which a team led by Local Motors put the finishing touches on the car.

A team of industry experts contributed to the Strati, including SABIC Innovative Plastics, which provided the carbon-reinforced plastic used to 3-D print some of the first iterations of the car. Renault donated the powertrain from the Twizy electric vehicle, Siemens provided the software for the structural-design elements, Fifteen52 built custom wheels to match the design and Solid Edge helped modify and integrate mechanical component parts into the 3-D portion of the car.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Association For Manufacturing Technology co-developed the vehicle, which was driven around McCormick Place with Local Motors CEO John B. Rogers Jr. at the wheel, accompanied by AMT President Doug Woods.

Lighting in New Lexus CUV Heavy on LEDs

Lexus features extensive LED technology in its lighting design for the new NX 300h CUV.

Depending on model grade, up to 90 LEDs are used in the external lights. All versions have LED low-beam headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights and rear lamp clusters, as well as courtesy lights in the door handles that also serve as puddle lights.

The LED design of the front fog lights on Luxury, F Sport and Premier versions of the NX 300h provides a low-speed cornering function. As the driver operates the turn indicators to negotiate a turn or intersection, two LEDS in the lights automatically adjust to give better illumination in line with the car’s direction of travel.

The LED headlights on the Premier-grade model have an automatic high-beam  function using a camera mounted on the windshield to pick up oncoming vehicles and traffic ahead. When it detects the road ahead is clear, it switches the lights to high beam, dimming them again when necessary to avoid dazzling other road users.

Inside the NX is footwell lighting that centers on the position of the front seats and the use of LEDs for the rear dome light, to give better nighttime visibility. The NX 300h is the first Lexus with touch-controlled switches in the headliner to operate the dome and map lights.

BorgWarner Technology Delivers Smooth DCT Performance for VW

BorgWarner supplies its high-performance wet-friction technology for Volkswagen’s new hybrid DQ 400e dual-clutch transmission, launching in the ’14 Volkswagen Golf and Audi A3 e-tron.

The new transmission for hybrid vehicles with transversely mounted engines employs three clutches (a dual-clutch module plus a disconnecting clutch) to smoothly connect and disconnect the electric engine from the drivetrain.

For all three clutches, BorgWarner’s wet-friction technology significantly improves shift performance and noise, vibration and harshness while improving fuel economy, the supplier says.

BorgWarner’s advanced-friction technology is designed for numerous applications, including wet starting clutches, torque converter lock-up clutches, torque transfer clutches and hybrid disconnecting clutches.

“Today’s global transmission designs require reduced package size, improved shift quality and increased durability,” Robin Kendrick, president and general manager-BorgWarner Transmission Systems, says in a news release. “Our advanced friction materials provide improved heat resistance, high torque capacity and reliable operation over the transmission’s lifetime.”

NXP Helps Delphi Advance V2V, V2I Communication

NXP Semiconductors will supply Delphi Automotive with its RoadLINK chipset for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication. Delphi’s platform will be first to market and is expected to be on the roads in as little as two years.

Using NXP’s technology combined with application software from Cohda Wireless, Delphi’s wireless platform delivers alerts from other cars and surrounding infrastructure, such as traffic lights and signage, to alert drivers to potentially hazardous traffic situations even beyond the line of sight.

The solution avoids cellular or other networks that can be slow or unreliable, instead operating on IEEE 802.11p, a wireless communication standard designed for the needs of the automotive industry, NXP says in a news release. It directly connects surrounding infrastructure and vehicles to each other to achieve immediate transmission and ensure reliable road safety communications.

Bridgestone Looks to Harvest Rubber From Arizona Shrub Farm

Bridgestone Americas opens its Biorubber Process Research Center in Mesa, AZ, a research and innovation facility at the center of the tire maker’s efforts to extract natural rubber from guayule, a shrub native to the Southwestern U.S.

Guayule rubber has qualities almost identical to those of natural rubber harvested from hevea rubber trees, making it a potentially valuable source for tire-grade rubber in commercial applications, Bridgestone says in a news release. Currently, more than 90% of the world’s natural rubber supply comes from hevea rubber trees grown in Southeast Asia.

Bridgestone will supply the Biorubber Process Research Center with biomass for rubber production from guayule grown on its 281-acre (114-ha) Agro Operations Research Farm in nearby Eloy, AZ. Bridgestone employs a team of scientists at the farm who research the genetic improvement of guayule, optimizing agronomic practices for growing the crop.

Guayule rubber produced at the Biorubber Process Research Center will be sent to Bridgestone's technical centers in Akron, OH, and Tokyo. Engineers at those facilities will work to optimize rubber performance within Bridgestone's product line and explore the full potential for next-generation tires.

Bridgestone expects to have preliminary guayule rubber samples produced at the Biorubber Process Research Center within the next month.

Mahle Piston Ring Replaces Cast Iron With High-Tech Steel

Mahle develops a piston ring with new technology that offers engine manufacturers improvements in weight, quality and overall value.

The piston ring uses chrome-silicon steel to replace cast iron traditionally used for the second of three rings found on gasoline-powered spark-ignition engines. Mahle’s thinner, lightweight steel-wire design for the second ring is based on the supplier’s own NanoNapier Steel (NNS) technology for which a patent is pending.

Cast iron for decades has been the material of choice for the second piston ring because of its wear characteristics and compatibility with other engine-design features. The trend to higher-revving, lower-friction engines, however, has resulted in the need to reduce ring size and weight as axial piston heights have dropped.

Benefits of the NNS second-ring include the elimination of foundry-related defects, reduced engine-oil consumption and substantial face- and side-wear resistance, Mahle says. In addition, the new design’s thinner axial height and radial thickness potentially can help make pistons even lighter and engines more capable of operating with less vibration and friction at higher rpm.

“Production of the new ring for a major original equipment customer will begin later this year at a Mahle facility in St. John’s, MI, and we are actively pursuing contracts for more than 20 additional programs with multiple customers as well,” says Scott Ferriman, Mahle vice president-North American sales.

Ford Taps 10 Finalists in App-Development Competition

Ford announces 10 finalists of the Connected Car-Connected City App Pursuit, held earlier this month in conjunction with the Ford Developer Conference at the Connected Car Expo during CTIA Super Mobility Week in Las Vegas.

More than 170 developers from 15 countries, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Brazil, Hong Kong and Japan, attended the Ford Developer Conference to learn how to develop in-vehicle apps using Ford’s SYNC AppLink. The technology enables drivers to access and control more than 60 compatible smartphone apps while in their vehicle through voice commands.

Developers also were provided with information on working with SmartDeviceLink, the open-source version of SYNC AppLink, which Ford made available to the open-source community in early 2013 to enable all automakers to benefit from Ford’s vehicle-smartphone linking technology.

Participants in the Connected Car-Connected City App Pursuit leveraged Ford vehicle data as well as more than 200 data sets recently released by the City of Los Angeles. Ford AppLink and SmartDeviceLink engineers provided on-site support for developers during the Connected Car Expo.

The 10 finalists will have two months to refine their apps by working with the Ford team before presenting at the Connected Car Expo at the Los Angeles auto show on Nov. 18-20, where a winner will be selected.

Continental Plastics Develops Tougher, Lighter Resin for Body Parts

Continental Structural Plastics introduces its Tough Class A (TCA) Ultra Lite, a formulation that allows engineers to design with a lower-specific-gravity material without sacrificing mechanical properties, surface qualities and adhesion requirements.

The 1.2 specific-gravity (SPg) material already is approved by major automotive OEMs and is programmed for a production vehicle beginning in January.

Depending on the body component being developed, design studies have shown CSP Ultra Lite offers a weight savings of up to 21% over the company’s mid-density TCA Lite (1.6 SPg), and 35% over its standard TCA material (1.9 SPg).

Ultra Lite technology uses treated glass bubbles to replace some of the calcium carbonate, allowing the resin to adhere to the matrix and increase the interfacial strength between the bubble and resin, CSP says. This treatment technology results in a more robust resin mix that makes molded parts more resistant to handling damage, and prevents the micro-cracks that cause paint pops, pits and blistering. The treated bubbles also aid paint-adhesion and bonding.

When combined with CSP’s patented vacuum and bonding manufacturing processes, the result is a material with a premium Class-A finish with paint and gloss qualities comparable to metals, including aluminum.

Iteris Joins University of Michigan-Led V2V Research Team

Iteris, a provider of intelligent traffic-management and weather-information solutions, joins 12 other companies as founding partners of the University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center.

The center will initiate and execute multiple research programs to advance the technology and policies related to new methods of transportation relating to smart vehicles and infrastructure. Participating companies represent sectors including auto manufacturing, suppliers, intelligent-transportation systems, insurance, telecommunications, data management and mobility services.

Connected vehicles, commonly known as V2V, have been tested extensively by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safety Pilot Model Deployment in Ann Arbor, MI. Results have been used to support the recent Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Iteris will collaborate with the center and participating companies to guide the selection of specific research programs, analyze results of the research and adapt programs to develop full working automated-vehicle systems and real-world on-street deployments.

Pedestrians Safer Around ’15 Mondeo, Ford Says

Ford says the all-new Ford Mondeo will be its first car globally to offer a new pedestrian- detection technology that could help reduce the severity of accidents or help drivers avoid them altogether.

Ford says its Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection can identify people in the road ahead, or who could cross the vehicle’s path, and automatically apply the brakes if the driver does not respond to warnings.

The system processes information collected from a windshield-mounted camera, and radar located in the bumper, and checks it against a database of “pedestrian shapes” to distinguish people from typical roadside objects.

If a pedestrian is detected in front of the car, and a collision becomes imminent, the driver first will receive an audible and visual warning. Should the driver not respond, the system shortens the time required to brake by reducing the gap between brake pads and discs. If there is still no response from the driver the brakes are applied autonomously and the vehicle speed is reduced.

Pedestrian Detection identifies people and reduces the severity of collisions at speeds of up to 50 mph (80 km/h), Ford says. The system is part of the Mondeo’s Pre-Collision Assist package that also introduces active braking, which can autonomously apply the brakes to help mitigate rear-end collisions, right up to the vehicle’s maximum speed.