Philipp Goetze, Annett Klotzbach, and Maurice Langer
Fraunhofer IWS
Dresden, Germany

Innovative concepts in lightweight engineering for automotive and aerospace applications increasingly incorporate multi-material design. Additionally, metal-plastic combinations are often used in white or brown goods as well as within the furniture industry or in architecture. A special challenge for multi-material designs is the joining process. Existing technologies to join metals to polymers — such as adhesive bonding or mechanical fastening — are ineffective because of process time (adhesive bonding) or because they don't apply the forces optimally into the material (riveting, bolting). Such technologies use supplemental materials like glue or rivets that add weight and cost to the construction.

The HPCI® (HeatPressCool-Integrative) tool looks like a spot resistance welding gun — which is widely used in car body engineering for metal-to-metal joining — but it enables direct metal-to-polymer joining. The system is based on thermal direct joining. A polymer is heated locally at the interface and simultaneously pressed against pretreated sheet metal. After solidifying, the assemblies reach joint strengths above the level of a good adhesive bond, while only requiring a fraction of the time. No additional material is needed and the connections can be stressed immediately. The joints are also media-tight and can be used in sealing applications.

An induction coil serves as a highly efficient heat source. Magnetic flux concentrators further boost the heating efficiency. The mandatory joining pressure is applied via high-performance ceramic ram geometries coupled with an actuator. The technology can be coupled with industrial robots and works with one- or two-sided accessibility to the joining partner. Based on the compact and robust design, it can be put into conventional production lines. Using the joining gun, process times can be cut from several minutes for conventional adhesive bonding processes to a fraction of a second. As opposed to adhesive bonding, surface pretreatment of the polymer is not necessary.

HPCI is highly automated and no potentially harmful adhesives are used. Connections made with HPCI are separable and therefore enable efficient recycling and repair.

For more information, visit here .


Puncture-Healing Engineered Polymer Blends

Keith Gordon, Brian Grimsley, Roberto Cano, Michael Czabag, Emilie Siochi, Dennis Working, and Russell Smith,
NASA Langley Research Center (Hampton, VA);
and Scott Savada and Timothy Scott,
University of Michigan USA

This set of puncture-self-healing materials is comprised of commercially available, self-healing polymer resin and additive blends. The blends were developed by melt-blending self-healing polymers with non-self-healing polymeric materials. The puncture-healing capability of the melt blends improves at higher temperatures and the materials can repeatedly self-heal without foreign inserts or fillers (such as microencapsulated monomer). They can be used for armor, helmets, or prosthetics.

For more information, visit here .

Solid-State Batteries: Better, Faster, Cheaper Using Plastic Injection Molding Technology

Marc Jaker, JAKERTECH,
New Brighton, MN USA

This manufacturing technique can produce finished products in seconds; a completed 2,000-cell pack could be molded in about five minutes. Fusing and blending one layer into the next achieves better physical structure and superior intimate contact performance results. It eliminates metal cases and trays, so it is somewhat similar to lead acid, which also significantly reduces weight.

For more information, visit here .

AweSEM: Increasing Access to High-Resolution Imaging with a Low-Cost Scanning Electron Microscope

Casimir Kuzyk, Gabriel Robinson-Leith, Alex Dimitrakopoulos, David Weekes, Fabian Pease, and Alireza Nojeh,
University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, Canada

AweSEM reimagines the components of a scanning electron microscope to conceivably lower the cost of a single unit by 100x. The system's mode of operation allows for more simplified electron optics. AweSEM can capture 1x1-mm images with a resolution on the order of a few microns.

For more information, visit here .

3D Printing Technology of the Future

Justin Nussbaum,
Ascend Manufacturing,
Knoxville, TN USA

Large Area Projection Sintering (LAPS) creates a single part or hundreds of thousands of parts in a single day. Each part is sliced into individual layers and each layer is created on top of the previous layer to create a 3D part. LAPS utilizes an extremely high-intensity projector that projects images of each layer onto a bed of powdered plastic. Wherever the image strikes the bed, it melts and fuses an entire large area together.

For more information, visit here .

See the rest of this year's winners: