A Breakthrough for Plastic Cars
The perfection of plastic cars has taken a major leap forward following a dramatic breakthrough by UK scientists.
Conventional metal vehicles could become a thing of the past if they can be replaced by plastic ones without any disadvantages.
An increasing number of body parts are now plastic which are as strong as steel, much lighter and can be totally recycled. Until now, technical difficulties have prevented plastic replacing a larger number of parts.
But now there has been a major breakthrough.
During a two-year research programme, the scientists have cracked the problem of how to use special new plastics that are six times as strong as normal yet are light and totally recyclable.
This opens the door to a range of car, truck and van parts that can be made more simply and cheaply than conventional components.
The ultra-strong and light parts will help lower exhaust emission levels and increase fuel economy. The biggest advantage is that the plastics can be reduced to crumbs very easily and inexpensively and then re-used.
The breakthrough was made by a consortium of engineers and scientists working on RECYCLE, a research programme under the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Foresight Vehicle initiative.
They were looking at new ways of working with self-reinforced polypropylene (SrPP) ( much stronger than normal polymers.
The material is made by stretching and aligning molecules in the plastic by a complex heating and weaving process. Until now, it was difficult to shape, join and paint for mass production.
The engineers have now overcome those problems and perfected techniques allowing car-makers to mass-produce parts using SrPP.
The scientists have produced trial parts for the Lotus Elise sports car that are more than half the weight of conventional parts.
Now the major technical hurdles are overcome, they are working towards full production and several vehicle manufacturers are taking an interest.
Source: The Journal - Newcastle-upon-Tyne
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2005 Lotus Elise, 1993 MR2, 1995 MR2, 125cc Shifter Kart, Toniq (in build), 2018 Origin 7 (waiting), 2018 Origin Noble M (waiting)