I understand that Plastics Unlimited has been working with Iowa State University PrISUm solar vehicle team for the past few months, could you explain more about the project?

Dylan: PrISUm at Iowa State University is constructing the world's first fully, consumer oriented solar electric vehicle. The team of 120 members ranging from engineers, designers, education, and business are dedicated to changing the ideal of transportation. In the current automotive industry, there is a shift to sustainable and electric solutions. The vehicle will be a four door, practical vehicle that never has to hit the plug in but maintains the efficiency of your standard plug in EV.

Dakota: Plastics Unlimited has been helping out the PrISUm team by cutting foam patterns that will be used to make fiberglass tools. We have also worked on changing the designs so we could cut the patterns and then verify that the molds and parts would be able to release. We had to make sure there were no die locks or parts of the patterns that would be difficult to produce reliable end products. We are able to use our large CNC's to cut patterns up to 10 feet wide by 12 feet long. Cutting very large patterns helped the PrISUm team assemble the SUV in fewer pieces

Plastics Unlimited has also been helping the PrISUm team by Thermoforming parts for them. We have been working with the Iowa State University students to teach them about the thermoforming process including why molds have to have draft, what happens when the tools get too warm, the importance of getting a good seal so the vacuum can form the plastic, and many other tips and tricks.

What is PrISUm's main focus?

Dylan: The main focus of the program is to shift the paradigm of transportation. However, to continue innovation, there needs to be people ready to face the challenge. The program strives to not only innovate and perform advanced material, integrated system, and automotive research, but teach and inspire younger generations through outreach.

This article appeared in the July/Aug 2018 issue of Reinforced Plastics. 

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