04-04-2011, 06:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: King of Prussia, PA
What I Drive: 2008 United Gray VW Rabbit
FF Reputation: 9
Buy-Sell-Trade Rating: (0
I don't know about this...
Ford looks to save weight with bubble-infused plastics
Just like every other automaker, Ford is looking into making its cars lighter, and thus more eco-friendly. Thanks to a bubble-infused plastic introduced at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology [MIT] called MuCell, Ford says it can step further toward its goal of lightening all its cars by anywhere from 200 to 750 pounds.
MuCell is made by pumping tiny bubbles of nitrogen or carbon into standard injection-molded plastics. Though the bubbly plastic is slightly weaker than the standard stuff, Ford says the difference will be negligible, since its plastic parts are engineered to be 50 to 100 percent stronger than they should ever need to be.
Though the idea is still in development, Ford says it wants to be running MuCell plastics in all its cars by 2020. Though the technology has been around since 1995, it hasn't made sense for automakers to start buying in until now. With a new focus on green technology in the automotive industry, the move suddenly makes a lot of sense, and Ford will start using the plastic in items like engine covers beginning in the next few years. Check out the official press release after the jump.
Just when we're starting to see upscale interior materials they're thinking about pumping bubbles into them to make them lighter? You know what, I love the fact that it's 50 to 100 percent stronger than it needs to be. Gee I don't know.... that's what makes it feel more upscale?! I'm perfectly willing to trade whatever tiny MPG gains to have that level of quality in my car. And while I understand that the car's underlying chassis takes the brunt of the force in an accident, I'd also like to have some extra peace of mind that my interior won't shatter like an egg shell during a severe collision.
I'm all for weight savings in a car, but there are other methods of achieving that without cheapening the materials used. For starters using fewer parts kills three birds with one stone—reliability, production costs, weight savings. Stuff like engine covers, hood insulation materials, stupid body kits, spoilers, etc. all act as dead weight. Get rid of that crap first! The year 2020 is also thrown around in the article. Given how practically every automotive company has been able to squeeze more and more efficient combustion engines through R&D, I bet we'll easily exceed the 50 mpg mark at the current rate.
I know I'm exaggerating here, but I can't help but feel a major facepalm moment with their thought process in this. It just strikes a nerve when they have the attitude of, "Well we know it'll make it weaker... but hey, it's already way stronger than it needs to be!" It's that backwards thinking which made early econoboxes so CRAPPY to begin with!!! Please, Ford, just don't ruin this moment you're having. Don't turn the slogan "built Ford tough" into a complete joke.