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Metal Casting Technologies : Dec 2009
34 www.metals.rala.com.au Association's Camel Lights series. Amoco Chemical provided financial backing to promote its Torlon plastic resin. The only mishap during half-a-dozen 1984 and 1985 races was the failure of a connecting rod, a part purchased from an outside supplier. In spite of his successes, Mr. Holtzberg roused little attention. "Ford was technically interested," he recalled. "The Popular Science article gave them plenty of free publicity, but they actually contributed nothing to the Polimotor project." Mr. Holtzberg persevered with plastics better suited to mass production. In 1986, he shifted his focus to phenolic resin, the same material Henry Ford used to bond the soybean fibers in his experimental car body. Mr. Holtzberg still holds patents covering polymer formulations and techniques for casting resin reinforced with fiberglass in the type of molds in wide use. He views his composite casting technology as the next logical step in the evolution of the automobile, from wood, iron and steel to aluminum, magnesium and advanced plastics. Huntsman will supply the epoxy resin and aid in engineering and marketing efforts. Mr. Holtzberg said that his materials could trim an aluminum engine's weight by 30 percent to 35 percent, but that's not its sole appeal. "After 25 years of effort, major foundries are finally inquiring about my process," he said. "Witnessing the demise of steel making and iron casting in America, and experiencing the loss of a significant share of their business to Asia and India, they're interested in advanced casting processes that can trim both material and machining costs." Seventeen licensees are using Mr. Holtzberg's approach to manufacture rapid-prototyping components. Ed Graham, engineering manager at ProtoCam in Northampton, Pa., said that his company had used Mr. Holtzberg's technology to make engine parts for three years. "The thermoset phenolic material is strong and has excellent heat resistance," he said. "The process is quick, and the parts go straight into experimental engines and transmissions." James Huntsman, vice president of the advanced materials division at Huntsman Corporation, hopes the success achieved in prototype composite-plastic parts will spur interest in low-volume production applications. "We realize that supplanting proven processes is a long and difficult challenge," he said. "We're convinced that the time is right for a composite engine." Of course, there are skeptics. "While half of the aluminum car wheels now come from China, the foundries supplying major aluminum power train castings are captive," said Richard A. Schultz, a consultant at Ducker Worldwide, using the industry term for operations owned by the automakers. "Energy consumption is not an issue, their aluminum scrap is readily recycled, and the cycle time with plastic would surely be longer." Jay Baron, president and chief executive of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., pointed out that the auto industry is staunchly risk-averse. "They're not about to manufacture thousands of vehicles with engines that could fail in service," he said. "Since plastic engine castings are outside any car company's mainstream business, all the cost, processing and durability issues would have to be resolved in the supply base." Before internal combustion is finally superseded by electric propulsion, there's time left for a few more technological breakthroughs. Mr. Holtzberg and his Huntsman partners are betting that composite-plastic engines make the cut. ■ Extract: New York Times Close focus research Engineers at MAG Industrial Automation Systems, a machine- tool maker in Germany is developing a high-performance fiber-reinforced composite material suitable for structural automotive components at a cost that is palatable to the industry. The new materials do not require autoclave processing. The Company is looking to complete new production machines that will be able to fabricate structural composite car parts as rapidly as stamped-metal assembly lines. A composite plastic engine block developed by Matti Holtzberg. MINI FEATURE
Media Kit 2010