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Lighter Ford Vehicles Using Bubble-Infused Plastic

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People rarely think about it, but going green could also mean going light: you can turn any vehicle in the right direction by simply making their component parts a little less heavy. It doesn’t sound like a bad idea, but the first thought that pops into your head is: I am losing something by doing this?

That same common sense question made the researchers at MIT found a solution: the MuCell technology. In English: bubbles! Not just any bubbles, but small-sized, nitrogen or carbon gas ones that can be used in the injection-molding manufacturing process. The resulting plastic is as much as 10% lighter.

But is it as strong as it should be? Apparently, yes. The explanation resides in the fact that car designers, for example, conceive the parts as if they had to sustain much heavier weights mechanically. But the truth is, they don’t, that is why the MuCell technology is viable.

This has attracted the attention of major car producers, such as Ford Motors and Cadillac. The first, at least, has taken things very seriously, as it plans to use the technology for all its vehicles by 2020, making its cars anywhere from 250 to 270 pounds lighter. Another question then is: why hasn’t anyone thought about this earlier? Actually, they have: the technology has been made available for almost 20 years by MIT. But Trexel is only putting it out there on the market now because sustainability has only recently become an issue.

Trexel’s VP of Engineering Levi Kishbaugh went so far as to affirm that a weight loss of more than 20% is possible using this technique. I say le’s not get ahead of ourselves, even though the technology is still worth insisting upon, for the simple fact that it could mean a reduction in manufacturing material.

[via FastCoDesign]

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