Technology Forecast '95 : Page 5 of 6

materials arena.

But the material manufacturers are not about to rest on their laurels. These innovations will arrive on the scene during 1995:

On the plastics front, expect to see new materials and processes that will enable designers to tailor materials to their specifications. For instance, Dow's Insite single-site technology process, which walked off with two major design awards last year, will continue to turn out new members of the Engage and Affinity polyolefin plastomers and elastomer families. Also high on the list of material introductions are some experimental grades of tough, thin polyethylene film from Dow's Dowlex family based on the Insite process.

Other novel plastics to keep an eye on:

  • Miles Inc.'s Polymers Div. introduction of energy-absorbing foams for automotive side-impact applications; a new technology involving waterblown agents and polyurethanes that eliminates CFCs; an expanded line of softer-grade Texin TPU resins; a polycarbonate resin with improved internal-mold-release performance; and flame-retardant nylon 6, polyamide, and polycarbonate grades.

  • A new glass fiber from Owens-Corning called Miraflex that will compete with synthetic, petroleum-based polymer fibers.

  • A technology partnership between M.A. Hanna Co. and 2nd Story Concepts to market photochromic materials that permit plastics to change color when exposed to sunlight.

  • A new family of 100% water-blown, integral-skin polyurethane foam systems from BASF.

  • From LNP, new glass-reinforced, flame-retardant, and aramid-reinforced versions of Lubriloy lubricating nylon 6/6; a wider range of glass loadings and lubricated grades of Verton UF long-glass-fiber structural composites; and the introduction of Stat-Kon K, a carbon-fiber-renforced acetal.

  • A range of new materials from Polymer Corp. designed specifically for use in semiconductor applications.

In the world of powder metals, engineers can expect to see these events occur in 1995, according to Pete Johnson of the Metal Power Industries Federation:

  • More PM parts used by the Big Three automakers in engines and transmissions, with a particular emphasis placed on connecting rods.

  • Continued growth in nanoscale powders with particles the size of "tobacco smoke."

  • Protracted use of metal injection molding for automotive, biomedical, and business machine components.

On the composites front, keep tabs on these developments:

  • A partnership between DuPont Automotive and Cambridge Industries that will produce "Class A" automotive body panels and structural components from DuPont's XTC thermoplastic composite sheet.

  • The union of The Solectria Corp. and the Charles Stark Draper Lab to build "the world's first" high-volume, all-composite, four-passenger electric vehicle.

  • A process developed by Textron Speciality Materials to produce less expensive carbon-carbon brake discs.

And when your needs lean toward metals, consider these 1995 breakthroughs:

  • Use of National Aerospace Plane materials by Texas Instruments' Metallurgical Materials Div. to design a car engine.

  • Use of a Shape Memory Alloy by Oaktree Automation as actuators to maneuver an aircraft while in flight.

  • Steels from The Timken Co. that deliver the performance of lead steels without their toxic ramifications.

  • Growing commitment by U.S. and foreign car makers for spaceframe constructions that use aluminum castings and extrusions.

  • An environmentally friendly nickel alloy plating technology from Fidelity Chemical Products as a replacement for chrome.

  • Production of steel components with a yield strength of over 1,000 N/mm

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