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Title:
PLATED POLYMER VEHICLE COMPONENTS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2015/006471
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A vehicle component comprising a polymer substrate formed in a shape of the vehicle component, and a metallic plating layer plated on at least one surface of the vehicle product is described. The vehicular component may be an automotive crumple zone, a vehicle frames, vehicle wheels, bicycle wheels, motorcycle components, bicycle components, exhaust manifolds, all-terrain vehicle components, racecar body components, boat hulls, occupant cabin structures, marine propellers and hovercraft components.

Inventors:
LEVASSEUR GLENN (US)
COOK GRANT (US)
ROACH JAMES T (US)
PARKOS JOSEPH (US)
BEERS RUSSELL (US)
WATSON CHARLES (US)
GALOS CAMELIA (US)
KLING COLIN (US)
SCHLICHTING KEVIN W (US)
TWELVES WENDELL (US)
LOMASNEY GARY M (US)
Application Number:
US2014/045990
Publication Date:
January 15, 2015
Filing Date:
July 09, 2014
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
UNITED TECHNOLOGIES CORP (US)
International Classes:
C23C26/00; B62D21/00; B62D25/00
Foreign References:
US20100304063A12010-12-02
US20080277979A12008-11-13
US20110200816A12011-08-18
US20060228546A12006-10-12
US4241129A1980-12-23
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILLER, Thomas, A. (Mathias & Hull LLPOne North Frnaklin, Suite 235, Chicago IL, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:

1. A plated polymer vehicle component, the component comprising: a polymer substrate formed in the shape of the vehicle component; and a metallic plating layer on at least one surface of the vehicle component.

2. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a crumple zone.

3. The crumple zone of claim 2 wherein the polymer substrate comprises a low-density polymer core positioned between two high-density polymer sheets.

4. The crumple zone of claim 3 wherein the low-density polymer core has a pattern selected from the group consisting of ribs, honeycomb, truss, open-cell foam, closed-cell foam and combinations thereof.

5. The crumple zone of claim 3 further having an internal surface with a metallic plating layer on the internal surface.

6. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a frame.

7. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a cabin structure.

8. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a marine propeller.

9. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a racecar exterior.

10. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a rotating cycling part.

11. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a boat hull.

12. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a non-rotating cycling part.

13. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is an exhaust manifold.

14. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a cycling frame.

15. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a wheel.

16. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a cycling wheel.

17. The vehicle component of claim 1 wherein the vehicle component is a hovercraft part.

18. A vehicle component including a polymer substrate formed in the shape of the vehicle component and a metallic plating layer deposited on at least one surface of the polymer substrate, the vehicle component being fabricated by a method comprising: forming the polymer substrate in the shape of the vehicle component; activating and metallizing the at least one surface of the polymer substrate; and depositing the metallic plating layer on the at least one surface of the polymer substrate to provide the vehicle component.

19. A method for fabricating a vehicle component, comprising: forming the polymer substrate in the shape of the vehicle component; activating and metallizing the at least one surface of the polymer substrate; and depositing the metallic plating layer on the at least one surface of the polymer substrate to provide the vehicle component.

0. The method of claim 19, wherein the method further comprises: forming the polymer substrate in segments; activating and metallizing selected surfaces of the segments; and bonding the activated and metallized surfaces of the segments by transient liquid phase bonding to provide the vehicle component.

Description:
PLATED POLYMER VEHICLE COMPONENTS

Field of Disclosure

[0001] This application claims priority under 35 U.S. C. § 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 61/844, 130 filed on July 9, 2013.

Field of Disclosure

[0002] This disclosure generally relates to structures formed from lightweight and high- strength plated. More specifically, this disclosure relates to the use of plated polymers for the construction of various vehicle components including, but not limited to, automotive crumple zones, vehicle frames, vehicle wheels, bicycle wheels, motorcycle components, bicycle components, exhaust manifolds, all-terrain vehicle components, racecar body components, boat hulls, occupant cabin structures, marine propellers and hovercraft components.

Background

[0003] Many engineers continue to seek high-strength and lightweight parts for various industrial applications such as, but not limited to, construction, automotive, and aerospace applications. Lightweight components may be desirable, for example, in automotive and vehicle applications to provide favorable increases in fuel efficiency. In addition, higher strength components may exhibit enhanced performance characteristics such as stiffness, improved load capability, improved environmental durability, erosion resistance, and impact resistance.

[0004] Polymers may be attractive materials for component fabrication because they are lightweight and moldable into a range of complex shapes by conventional processes.

However, parts formed from polymers may be limited to relatively few structurally loaded applications as they are less structurally capable than metal components of similar geometry. In contrast, parts formed from metal are strong and less prone to structural failure compared to similarly dimensioned polymer parts, but they may be too heavy for many weight-sensitive applications. Clearly, there is a need for parts having both lightweight and high-strength properties for a range of vehicle applications.

[0005] Metal-plated polymer structures consist of a polymer substrate coated with a metal plating. These structures are lightweight and, by virtue of the metal plating, exhibit markedly enhanced structural strengths over the strengths of the polymer substrate alone. These properties have made them attractive materials for component fabrication in many industries such as aerospace, automotive, military equipment, and consumer product industries, where high-strength and lightweight materials are desired. For example, metal -plated polymer structures continue to be explored for use in many consumer products to reduce the overall weight of the products and improve durability and wear resistance. However, the strength and performance characteristics of metal-plated polymers may be dependent upon the integrity of the interfacial bond between the metal plating and the underlying polymer substrate. Even though the surface of the polymer substrate may be etched or abraded to promote the adhesion of metals to the polymer surface and to increase the surface area of contact between the metal layer and the polymer substrate, the interfacial bond strength between the metal plating and the polymer substrate may be the structurally weak point of metal-plated polymer structures. As such, the metal layers may risk becoming disengaged from polymer substrate surfaces and this could lead to part failure in some circumstances.

[0006] The interfacial bond strength between the metal plating and the underlying polymer substrate may be compromised upon exposure to high temperatures, such as those experienced during some high-temperature engine operations. If metal-plated polymers are exposed to temperatures over a critical temperature or a sufficient amount of thermal fatigue (thermal cycling or applied loads at elevated temperatures) during operation, the interfacial bond between the metal plating and the polymer substrate may be at least partially degraded, which may lead to structural break-down of the component and possible in-service failure. In addition, as polymers have a tendency to release gas (outgas) when exposed to high temperatures, such outgassing may be blocked by the metal layer in metal-plated polymers. Blocking of polymer outgassing may cause the polymer substrate to expand, resulting in defects in the metal layer and the structure of the part as a whole. Unfortunately, brief or minor exposures of metal-plated polymer components to structurally compromising temperatures may go largely undetected in many circumstances, as the weakening of the bond between the metal plating and the underlying polymer substrate may be difficult to detect. To provide performance characteristics necessary for the safe use of metal -plated polymer components in gas turbine engines and other applications, enhancements are needed to improve the interfacial bond strengths and the high temperature stability of metal-plated polymers.

[0007] In addition, certain surfaces of metal -plated polymers may be damaged by wear or erosion. Wear-critical surfaces may include surfaces involved in interference fits, mating surfaces, or other surfaces that are installed and uninstalled frequently or surfaces exposed to a fluid (gas or liquid) flow. In addition, certain surfaces may be more susceptible than others to wear by impact and foreign-object damage. Erosion-susceptible surfaces may include edges, corner radii, or curved surfaces, which may experience enhanced impact with particles in a fluid during operation. Current plating methods used in the fabrication of metal-plated polymer components may result in a near uniform thickness of the metal layer across the part, such that all surfaces of the metal layer may have approximately the same resistance against wear or erosion. Accordingly, enhancements are needed to selectively impart enhanced protection to wear-critical and erosion-susceptible regions of metal-plated polymers to further improve the performance characteristics of metal -plated polymer structures.

SUMMARY OF THE DISCLOSURE

[0008] In accordance with one aspect of the present disclosure, a vehicle component is disclosed. The vehicle component may comprise a polymer substrate formed in a shape of the vehicle component, and a metallic plating layer plated on at least one surface of the vehicle component.

[0009] In a refinement, the vehicle component may be a crumple zone.

[0010] In another refinement, the polymer substrate of the crumple zone may comprise a low-density polymer core positioned between two high-density polymer sheets.

[0011] In another refinement, the low-density polymer core may have a pattern selected from the group consisting of ribs, honeycomb, truss, open-cell foam, closed-cell foam and combinations thereof.

[0012] In another refinement, the crumple zone may have an internal surface with a metallic plating layer on the internal surface.

[0013] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a frame.

[0014] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a cabin structure.

[0015] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a marine propeller.

[0016] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a racecar exterior.

[0017] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a rotating cycling part.

[0018] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a boat hull.

[0019] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a non-rotating cycling part. [0020] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be an exhaust manifold.

[0021] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a cycling frame.

[0022] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a wheel.

[0023] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a cycling wheel.

[0024] In another refinement, the vehicle component may be a hovercraft part.

[0025] In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, a vehicle component is disclosed. The vehicle component may include a polymer substrate formed in a shape of the vehicle component, and a metallic plating layer deposited on at least one surface of the polymer substrate. The vehicle component may be fabricated by a method comprising: 1) forming the polymer substrate in the shape of the vehicle component, 2) activating and metallizing the at least one surface of the polymer substrate, and 3) depositing the metallic plating layer on the at least one surface of the polymer substrate to provide the vehicle component.

[0026] In accordance with another aspect of the present disclosure, a method for fabricating a vehicle component is disclosed. The method may comprise: 1) forming a polymer substrate in a shape of the vehicle component, 2) activating and metallizing at least one surface of the polymer substrate, and 3) depositing a metallic plating layer on the at least one surface of the polymer substrate to provide the vehicle component.

[0027] In a refinement, the method may further comprise: 1) forming the polymer substrate in segments, 2) activating and metallizing selected surfaces of the segments, and 3) bonding the activated and metallized surfaces of the segments by transient liquid phase bonding.

[0028] These and other aspects and features of the present disclosure will be more readily understood when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0029] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a vehicle having plated polymer crumple zones, constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27037, 26766).

[0030] FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of a plated polymer crumple zone of FIG. 1 taken along the line 2-2 of FIG. 1, constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27037).

[0031] FIG. 3 is a flowchart illustrating methods for fabricating the plated polymer crumple zone, in accordance with this disclosure (27037).

[0032] FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a plated polymer vehicle frame, constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27064).

[0033] FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view of a rail of the plated polymer vehicle frame taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 4, constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27064).

[0034] FIG. 6 is a flowchart illustrating methods for fabricating the plated polymer vehicle frame, in accordance with this disclosure (27064).

[0035] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a plated polymer vehicle occupant cabin frame integrated with a plated polymer chassis, constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27065).

[0036] FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view of a rail of the plated polymer occupant cabin of FIG. 7 taken along the line 8-8 of FIG. 7, constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27065).

[0037] FIG. 9 is a flowchart illustrating methods for fabricating the integrated plated polymer occupant cabin and chassis, in accordance with this disclosure (27065).

[0038] FIG. 10 is a front view of a plated polymer marine propeller constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27131). [0039] FIG. 11 is a cross-sectional view of a blade of the plated polymer marine propeller of FIG. 10, constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27131).

[0040] FIG. 12 is a flowchart illustrating methods for fabricating the plated polymer marine propeller in accordance with this disclosure (27131).

[0041] FIG. 13 is a front perspective view of a racecar exterior constructed in accordance with this disclosure (26912).

[0042] FIG. 14 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymer racecar exterior, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (26912).

[0043] FIG. 15 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymer racecar exterior, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (26912).

[0044] FIG. 16 is a front view of a rotating cycling component constructed in accordance with this disclosure (26922).

[0045] FIG. 17 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymer rotating cycling component, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (26922).

[0046] FIG. 18 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymer rotating cycling component, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (26922).

[0047] FIG. 19 is a side view of a watercraft hull constructed in accordance with this disclosure (26935).

[0048] FIG. 20 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of a plated polymer watercraft hull, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (26935). [0049] FIG. 21 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymer watercraft hull, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (26935).

[0050] FIG. 22 is a front view of a non-rotating cycling component constructed in accordance with this disclosure (26984).

[0051] FIG. 23 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of plated polymer non-rotating cycling component, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (26984).

[0052] FIG. 24 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymer non-rotating cycling component, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (26984).

[0053] FIG. 25 is a front perspective view of an exhaust manifold constructed in accordance with this disclosure (27000).

[0054] FIG. 26 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating the steps involved in the formation of plated polymer exhaust manifold, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (27000).

[0055] FIG. 27 is a flow-chart diagram, illustrating an alternative series of steps involved in the formation of a plated polymer exhaust manifold, in accordance with a method of this disclosure (27000).

[0056] FIG. 28 is a side plan view of a disclosed bicycle including a frame with at least one component made from a plated polymer (26763, 26868).

[0057] FIG. 29 is a sectional view of a disclosed polymer substrate or polymer composite that is coated with one or more metal layers and one or more optional polymer coatings (26766, 26868, 26873, 26897). [0058] FIG. 30 is schematic illustration of a hovercraft (26897).

[0059] It should be understood that the drawings are not necessarily drawn to scale and that the disclosed embodiments are sometimes illustrated diagrammatically and in partial views. In certain instances, details which are not necessary for an understanding of this disclosure or which render other details difficult to perceive may have been omitted. It should be understood, of course, that this disclosure is not limited to the particular embodiments disclosed herein.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0060] Plated Polymer Light- Weight Automotive Crumple Zone- 27037

[0061] Crash protection for vehicle occupants is a complex problem and requires a number of safety design features such as belt restraint systems, air bag systems, crumple zones, interior features, safety glass, post-crash fire protection features, and a rigid, penetration- resistant passenger cab. Crumple zones may be incorporated into the body of vehicles, such as cars and railcars, to absorb impact during a collision and protect occupants from injury. In particular, crumple zones are specifically designed to absorb energy from impact by controlled deformation. In automobile systems, the crumple zones may be located in the front and in the back of the vehicle, although they may be located in other regions of the vehicle as well. Traditional crumple zone design may include various materials and features such as hydraulic struts, metal structures with defined bending and buckling features, various types of plastic foam, honeycomb materials, friction joints, shear joints, and other metal deformation structures. However, existing crumple zone structures may be heavy and may lower vehicle fuel efficiency. With U.S. government mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations requiring a passenger car mileage average of 53 miles per gallon in 2022 and rising to 61 miles per gallon in 2025, lighter weight structures for automobile components will be an increasingly important element of vehicle design. To meet increasing fuel efficiency demands, there is a need for lighter weight constructions for vehicle structures and crumple zones.

[0062] Referring now to FIG. 1, a vehicle 300 having plated polymer crumple zones 302 is shown. The plated polymer crumple zones 302 may be designed to absorb energy upon impact during a collision and undergo controlled deformation to dampen shock pulses and protect occupants and/or cargo carried by the vehicle 300. The vehicle 300 may include various types of vehicles such as, but not limited to, automobiles, railcars, or other types of vehicle for transporting passengers and/or cargo. As a non-limiting example, the vehicle 300 may be an automobile 303 having a body 305 which may include a passenger cabin 306 and crumple zones 307, as shown. One or both of the crumple zones 307 may be plated polymer crumple zones 302. In addition, the body 305 of the automobile 303 may also have a plated polymer construction (see further details below). Importantly, by virtue of their plated polymer construction, the plated polymer crumple zones 302 may be lighter in weight than similarly dimensioned crumple zones formed from traditional materials. The lightweight construction of the plated polymer crumple zones may lead to weight savings and

advantageous improvements the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

[0063] The plated polymer construction of the crumple zones 302 is best shown in FIG. 2. In particular, FIG. 2 shows the walls of the crumple zones 302 with internal features and the back wall removed for clarity purposes. The crumple zones 302 may consist of a low modulus structure 310 plated on one or more of its surfaces with one or more high modulus metal layers 312. The low modulus structure 310 may be formed in the shape of the desired crumple zone 307. The low modulus structure 310 may consist of a crumple-capable polymer (see further details below), or it may consist of a crumple-capable low modulus metal having a lower modulus than the metal layer(s) 312. As one possibility, the low modulus structure 310 may be plated with one or more metal layers 312 both on its inner surface and on its outer surface, as shown in FIG. 2. As other possibilities, the low modulus structure 310 may have one or more metal layers 312 only on its inner surface or only on its outer surface. Alternatively, one or more metal layers 312 may be deposited on selected regions of either or both of the inner surface and the outer surface of the low modulus structure 310. The higher modulus metal layer(s) 312 may improve the stiffness and strength of the low modulus structure 310.

[0064] If the low modulus structure 310 is formed from a polymer, it may be formed from a thermoplastic material or a thermoset material, either of which may be optionally reinforced with one or more types of reinforcing materials such as, but not limited to, carbon fibers or glass fibers. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to,

polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenylene sulfide, polyester, polyimide, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. If the low modulus structure 310 is formed from a polymer, its thickness may vary depending on the molding process used to form it. For example, its thickness may range from about 0.05 inches (about 1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (about 6.35 mm) with localized areas ranging up to about 0.5 inches (about 12.7 mm) if it is formed by injection molding, whereas its thickness may range from about 0.05 inches (about 1.27 mm) to about two inches (about 50.8 mm) if it is formed by compression molding. [0065] If the low modulus structure 310 is formed from a polymer, it may have a low- density core 314 and one or more higher density sheets 315, as best shown in FIG. 2. In one possible arrangement, the low-density core 312 may be sandwiched between two higher density sheets 315. The low-density core 314 may exhibit various low-density patterns such as, but not limited to, rib patterns, honeycomb patterns, truss patterns, open-cell foam patterns, or closed-cell foam patterns. The higher density sheets 315 may be continuous, dense panels of a polymer. Such an arrangement for the low modulus structure 310 may provide a lightweight crumple zone with energy dissipating crumple performance in the event of a collision. In such an arrangement, the low modulus structure 310 may be formed in two or three parts (i.e., the low-density core 314 and one or more higher density sheets 315) followed by a suitable joining operation to attach them together. However, other

arrangements for the low modulus structure 310 are possible such as, for example, single high-density polymer sheets or single low-density polymer sheets. Other features of the plated polymer crumple zone 302 such as panels, beams, struts, fittings, brackets, or other structures may be constructed of a polymer (such as the thermoplastic materials or thermoset materials described above with optional reinforcement) having reduced-density cores with localized higher-density hard points in desired regions as well as attachment inserts.

[0066] The metal layer(s) 312 may consist of one or more high modulus metals such as, but not limited to, steel or nickel alloys. It may also consist of other metals such as, but not limited to, nickel, lead, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, and combinations thereof. The metal layer 312 may have a thickness in the range of about 0.001 inches (about 0.0254 mm) to about 0.5 inches (about 12.7 mm), but other thicknesses may also be used. Such relatively thin coatings may provide the plated polymer crumple zone 302 with high stiffness and minimum weight. Furthermore, the thickness of the metal layer(s) 312 may be tuned to provide desired levels of stiffness and resistance to bending while enabling crumpling to occur in a controlled fashion.

[0067] It is noted that the plated polymer construction of the crumple zone 302 may exist as a stand-alone energy absorbing crumple-capable structure localized in the crumple zones 307 of the vehicle 300, or the plated polymer construction may be extended to other regions of the vehicle 300 and may form additional body panels of the vehicle and may perform primary load carrying functions. Extending the plated polymer construction to additional regions of the vehicle 300 may further reduce the weight of the vehicle and further improve fuel efficiency.

[0068] Different methods for fabricating the plated polymer crumple zone 302 are shown in FIG. 3. Beginning with a first block 318, the low modulus structure 310 may be formed from selected thermoplastic materials or thermoset materials (with optional reinforcement) in a shape of the desired crumple zone 307. It may be formed in the desired shape using a range of polymer molding processes apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, thermomolding, bulk molding, resin- transfer molding, 3D printing or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, deposition), or composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding). Alternatively, the low modulus structure 310 may be formed from one or more low modulus metals having a lower modulus of rigidity than the metal layer 312. To simplify the mold tooling, additional features such as mounting features (e.g., flanges, bosses, etc.) may be attached to the low modulus structure 310 after the block 318, according to an optional block 319. Such features may be attached by bonding using a suitable adhesive. Following the block 318 (or the optional block 319), inner and/or outer surfaces of the low modulus structure 310 which are selected for plating with the metal layer 312 may be suitably activated and metallized according to a next block 320. Activation and metallization of the selected surfaces of the low modulus structure 310 may be carried out using well-established methods in the industry and may result in metal (conductive) surfaces being formed on the treated surfaces of the low modulus structure, allowing the subsequent deposition of the metal layer(s) 312 thereon. However, if the low modulus structure 310 is formed from a low modulus metal, surface activation and metallization is not required and the block 320 may be bypassed.

[0069] Following the block 320, one or more metal layers 312 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of the low modulus structure according to a next block 322. Deposition of the metal layer(s) 312 may be carried out using metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electroless plating, spraying, electroplating, brush plating, spray powder metal deposition, or other suitable methods selected by a skilled artisan. If desired, masking of selected surfaces of the low modulus structure 310 may be employed to yield different thicknesses of the metal layer 312 or no plating on the selected areas, as will be understood by those skilled in the art. In addition, if desired, a customized metal layer thickness profile on the surfaces of the low modulus structure 310 may be achieved using tailored racking tools (e.g., shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.), as will be understood by those skilled in the art. Customization of the thickness profile of the metal layer(s) 312 by masking and/or by the use of tailored racking tools may allow for optimization of desired properties (e.g., fire resistance, structural support, surface characteristics, etc.) of the crumple zone 302, without adding undue weight to the crumple zone to accommodate each of these properties.

[0070] As an alternative method to fabricate the plated polymer crumple zones 302, the low modulus structure 310 may be formed in two or more segments according to a block 324, as shown. The segments of the low modulus structure 310 may be formed in desired shapes from the thermoplastic or thermoset materials described above (with optional fiber reinforcement) using one or more of the polymer molding processes described above.

Following the block 324, the polymer segments may be joined to form the full-scale low modulus structure 310, according to a next block 326, as shown. Joining of the segments may be achieved using conventional processes such as welding (ultrasonic, laser, friction, friction-stir, traditional, etc.), adhesive bonding, or formation of mitered joints (with or without adhesive), as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Upon completion of the block 326, selected surfaces of the low modulus structure 310 may be suitably activated and metallized (block 320) and one or more metal layers 312 may be deposited on the

activated/metallized surfaces (block 322), as described above.

[0071] As another alternative fabrication method, selected surfaces of each of the segments formed by the block 324 may be activated and metallized (block 320) and one or more metal layers 312 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of each of the segments (block 322). The plated segments may then be bonded together to form the full-scale crumple zone 302 according to the block 328, as shown. Bonding of the plated segments may be achieved using transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding, as will be understood by those skilled in the art.

[0072] Once the plated polymer crumple zone 302 is formed by one of the above-described methods, if desired, it may be further processed according to the optional blocks 330 and/or 332, as shown. For example, additional features (e.g., bosses, inserts, etc.) may be attached to the crumple zone 302 according to the optional block 330. Attachment of such additional features may be achieved using a suitable adhesive, a fastener (e.g., rivets, bolts, etc.), or another bonding process. In addition, selected surfaces of the crumple zone 302 may be coated with a polymer according to the optional block 332. Coating of the crumple zone 302 may be achieved using conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating. In addition, coating of the crumple zone 302 with the polymer may provide a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer-appearing (non-conductive) product.

[0073] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that this disclosure can find industrial applicability in many situations such as, but not limited to, situations requiring lighter weight constructions for vehicle crumple zones. The plated polymer crumple zones as disclosed herein may offer lighter weight alternatives for vehicle crumple zone structures formed from traditional materials and processes and, therefore, may provide marked improvements in vehicle fuel efficiencies. In some cases, the lighter weight constructions for crumple zones may enable vehicles to meet increasing government gas mileage standards. In addition, the structure of the low modulus core and the thickness of metal layers may be specifically tailored to achieve a desired balance of crumple performance and structural stiffness. Even further, complex crumple zone geometries may be accessed by producing the crumple zone in multiple segments and later joining them together according to the methods described herein. The technology as disclosed herein may find wide industrial applicability in a wide range of areas such as automotive, racing, aerospace, marine, sporting goods, and military equipment industries.

[0074] Method for Fabricating Light-weight Vehicle Frames- 27064

[0075] A vehicle frame is the main structure of the vehicle chassis and provides a structural backbone on which the body of a vehicle is mounted. The vehicle body and other components such as the engine, transmission, and suspension may be fastened to the vehicle frame. In general, current vehicle frame constructions rely on heavy gage steel stampings and weldments to form longitudinal rails and cross-members. Other types of vehicle frame designs may use stamped metal shapes, tubes, box beams, and weldments. While such vehicle frame designs may be well suited for forming high-strength structures, they may be limited as to how far weight reduction features may be pursued. With U.S. government mandated Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations requiring a fleet mileage average of 53 miles per gallon (mpg) in 2022 and rising to 61 mpg in 2025, lightweight frames for trucks, large sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and other body-on- frame vehicles will be an increasingly important element of vehicle design. Clearly, to meet increasing fuel efficiency demands, there is a need for lighter weight constructions for vehicle frames.

[0076] Referring now to FIG. 4, a plated polymer vehicle frame 335 is shown. The plated polymer vehicle frame 335 may form a part of a chassis of a vehicle and may provide a backbone structure on which the body of the vehicle is mounted. It may have rails 336 and cross-members 338 connecting the rails 336 and it may be configured to connect to other components of the vehicle such as the engine, transmission, suspension, and vehicle body. In addition, the plated polymer vehicle frame 335 may have other types of vehicle frame structures, which deviate from the exemplary frame structure shown in FIG. 4. The vehicle may be any type of vehicle such as, but not limited to, a car, a truck, a sport utility vehicle (SUV), or any other type of body-on-frame vehicle. Importantly, by virtue of its plated polymer construction, the plated polymer frame 335 may be lighter in weight than similarly dimensioned vehicle frames formed by traditional processes from traditional materials. The lightweight construction of the plated polymer vehicle frame 335 may lead to advantageous improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency.

[0077] The plated polymer construction of the vehicle frame 335 is best shown in FIG. 5. In particular, the vehicle frame 335 may consist of a supporting structure 340 plated on one or more of its surfaces with one or more metal layers 342. The supporting structure 340 may be formed in the shape of the desired vehicle frame (see further details below) and it may consist of a low modulus material such as a polymer or one or more low modulus metals having a lower modulus than the metal(s) forming the metal layer(s) 342. As one possibility, the supporting structure 340 may form a solid structure, which completely fills the internal space of the vehicle frame 335, as shown in FIG. 2. As another possibility, the supporting structure 340 may have one or more hollow voids, thereby further reducing the weight of the vehicle frame 335. The metal layer(s) 342 may improve the stiffness and strength of the supporting structure 340.

[0078] If the supporting structure is formed from a polymer, it may be formed from a thermoplastic material or a thermoset material, either of which may be optionally reinforced with one or more types of reinforcing fibers such as, but not limited to, carbon fibers or glass fibers. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenylene sulfide, polyester, polyimide, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof.

[0079] The metal layer(s) 342 may consist of metals such as, but not limited to, nickel, lead, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, and combinations thereof. The metal layer 342 may have a thickness in the range of about 0.001 inches (about 0.0254 mm) to about 0.5 inches (about 12.7 mm), and the thickness may be tuned according to local loading conditions and other structural requirements. In addition to the metal layer(s) 342, additional layers comprised of various materials may also be applied to the surface of the vehicle frame 335 as needed to improve wear, abrasion, and corrosion resistance of the plated polymer vehicle frame 335.

[0080] Local stiffening features such as fillets, gussets, flanges, and stiffening ribs may be introduced into the plated polymer frame 335 at critical regions such as connection points. Such stiffening features may be introduced by appropriately molding the support structure 340 and/or by adjusting the thickness of the metal layer 342 to create the desired stiffening structures. Furthermore, attachment points to other vehicle structures such as the engine, transmission, suspension, and body may be accommodated as necessary on the plated polymer vehicle frame 335 as bosses, doublers, or other relevant attachment features.

Additionally, raised attachment features such as connection lugs, connection tabs, and flush features such as depressed doublers and bosses may be integrated into the vehicle frame 335 in a manner that may enable load sharing with the body of the vehicle. Thus, through shape optimization, interface feature optimization, and reinforcement of local hard points for vehicle component attachment, a high performance vehicle frame with reduced weight may be realized.

[0081] Different methods for fabricating the plated polymer vehicle frame 335 are shown in FIG. 6. Beginning with a first block 344, the supporting structure 340 may be formed from selected thermoplastic materials or thermoset materials (with optional reinforcement) in a shape of the desired vehicle frame. If the supporting structure is formed from a polymer, it may be formed in the desired shape using a range of polymer molding processes apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, thermomolding, bulk molding, sheet molding compound (SMC) compression molding, 3D printing or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, deposition), casting, high-speed machining, or composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding). Alternatively, the supporting structure 340 may be formed in the desired shape from one or more low modulus metals having a lower modulus of rigidity than the metal layer 342.

Following the block 344, surfaces of the support structure 340 which are selected for plating with the metal layer 342 may be suitably activated and metallized according to a next block 346. Activation and metallization of the selected surfaces of the support structure 340 may be carried out using well-established methods in the industry and may result in metal (conductive) surfaces being formed on the treated surfaces of the support structure, allowing the subsequent deposition of the metal layer(s) 342 thereon. However, if the support structure 340 is formed from a low modulus metal, surface activation and metallization is not required and the block 346 may be bypassed.

[0082] Following the block 346, one or more metal layers 342 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of the support structure according to a next block 348.

Deposition of the metal layer(s) 342 may be carried out using metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, spraying, electroless plating, brush plating, spray powder metal deposition, or other suitable methods selected by a skilled artisan. If desired, masking of selected surfaces of the support structure 340 may be employed to yield different thicknesses of the metal layer 342 or no plating on the selected areas, as will be understood by those skilled in the art. In addition, if desired, a customized metal layer thickness profile on the surfaces of the support structure 340 may be achieved using tailored racking tools (e.g., shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.), as will be understood by those skilled in the art. In any event, completion of the block 348 may provide the plated polymer vehicle frame 335. [0083] As an alternative method to fabricate the plated polymer vehicle frame 335, the support structure 340 may be formed in two or more segments according to a block 350, as shown. The segments of the support structure 340 may be formed in desired shapes from thermoplastic or thermoset materials (with optional fiber reinforcement) using one or more polymer molding processes, as described above. Following the block 350, the segments may be joined to form the full-scale support structure 340, according to a next block 352, as shown. Joining of the segments may be achieved using conventional processes such as welding (ultrasonic, laser, friction, friction- stir, traditional, etc.), adhesive bonding, or formation of mitered joints (with or without adhesive), as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Upon completion of the block 352, selected surfaces of the support structure 340 may be suitably activated and metallized (block 346) and one or more metal layers 342 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of the support structure 340 (block 348), as described above.

[0084] As another alternative fabrication method, selected surfaces of each of the segments formed by the block 350 may be activated and metallized (block 346) and one or more metal layers 342 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of each of the segments (block 348), using the methods described above. The plated segments may then be bonded together to form the full-scale vehicle frame 335 according to the block 354, as shown.

Bonding of the plated segments may be achieved using transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding, as will be understood by those skilled in the art.

[0085] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that this disclosure can find industrial applicability in many situations such as, but not limited to, situations requiring lightweight constructions for vehicle frames. In particular, the plated polymer vehicle frames as disclosed herein may offer lighter weight alternatives for existing vehicle frames and may lead to significant improvements in vehicle fuel efficiency. The lightweight design of the plated polymer vehicle frames may enable some vehicles to meet increasingly stringent gas mileage standards. The technology as disclosed herein may find wide industrial applicability in a wide range of areas such as automotive, commercial truck, and military truck industries.

[0086] Automotive Impact-Resistant Occupant Cabin Structures- 27065

[0087] A vehicle chassis supports the weight of a vehicle body as well as other vehicle components such as the wheels, the engine, and the transmission. In automobiles, the chassis and the occupant cabin frame must have very high impact strengths and toughness for safety reasons in the event of impact or collision. In particular, how the vehicle chassis reacts in terms of crashworthiness is tightly controlled by regulations. Currently, high-strength alloys may be used for the construction of vehicle chassis, but the weight of such alloys generally leads to heavy structures, which may have adverse impacts on vehicle fuel efficiency.

However, alternate materials for constructing the chassis and the occupant cabin frame must be sufficiently strong to protect vehicle occupants from collision events. Simultaneously, such alternate materials must be cost competitive and corrosion-resistant. To improve vehicle fuel efficiency, there is a need for cost-competitive, lightweight, and high-strength constructions for vehicle chassis and occupant cabin frames.

[0088] Referring now to FIG. 7, a plated polymer frame 358 for a vehicle is shown. The plated polymer frame 358 may include a plated polymer occupant cabin frame 360 integrated with a plated polymer chassis 362 to form a single unit, as shown. It may be incorporated into a variety of vehicles such as, but not limited to, unibody or body-on-frame cars, trucks, and buses and it may simultaneously provide the function of primary structural support for other vehicle components as well as the function of occupant protection in the event of impact, collision, or roll-over. In addition, it may be constructed of a plurality of supporting rails 363, which may provide attachment points for other vehicle components such as body panels, seats, the engine, and the transmission. In this regard, it is noted that the structure depicted in FIG. 7 is merely exemplary and the plated polymer frame 358 may have a variety of shapes and sizes according to the type and design of the vehicle that it is intended for. Furthermore, the plated polymer frame 358 may include additional vehicle features, support structures, or machinery, depending on the particular vehicle design.

[0089] Importantly, by virtue of its plated polymer construction, the integrated plated polymer occupant cabin frame 360 and plated polymer chassis 362 may be lighter in weight than similarly dimensioned occupant cabin frames and chassis formed from traditional materials. The lightweight construction of the plated polymer frame 358 may lead to weight savings and advantageous improvements in vehicle efficiency.

[0090] The plated polymer construction of the frame 358 is best shown in FIG. 8. In particular, the plated polymer frame 358 may consist of a polymer substrate 364 plated on one or more of its surfaces with one or more metal layers 366, as shown. As one possibility, the polymer substrate 364 may be plated on all of its outer surfaces with one or more metal layers 366. Alternatively, one or more metal layers 366 may be deposited on selected regions of the polymer substrate 364 according to structural requirements. In any event, the metal layer(s) 366 may impart the polymer substrate 364with increased structural strength and toughness. In some cases, an internal support structure may be introduced into the polymer substrate 364 to further improve impact resistance.

[0091] The polymer substrate 364 may be formed from a thermoplastic material or a thermoset material, either of which may be optionally reinforced with one or more type of reinforcing materials such as, but not limited to, carbon fibers or glass fibers. In particular, such reinforcement materials may improve the load carrying capacity of the frame 358. Suitable thermoplastic materials for the polymer substrate 364 may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenylene sulfide, polyester, polyimide, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. The thickness of the polymer substrate 364 may vary depending on the molding process used to form it. For example, its thickness may range from about 0.05 inches (about 1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (about 6.35 mm) with localized areas ranging up to about 0.5 inches (about 12.7 mm) if it is formed by injection molding, whereas its thickness may range from about 0.05 inches (about 1.27 mm) to about two inches (about 50.8 mm) if it is formed by compression molding.

[0092] The metal layer(s) 366 may consist of metals such as, but not limited to, nickel, lead, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, and combinations thereof. The metal layer(s) 366 may have an average thickness in the range of about 0.005 inches (about 0.127 mm) to about 0.250 inches (about 6.35 mm), with plating thicknesses varying from about 0.005 inches (about 0.127 mm) to about 0.500 inches (about 12.7 mm) locally. However, depending on the frame design requirements, other metal layer thicknesses may also apply. This range of metal layer thicknesses may provide the frame 358 with resistance against erosion, impact, and foreign object damage (FOD), as well as the option to finish the surfaces of the frame 358 more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements. [0093] Various methods for fabricating the plated polymer frame 358 are shown in FIG. 9. Beginning with a first block 368, the polymer substrate 364 may be formed from selected thermoplastic materials or thermoset materials (with optional reinforcement) in a shape of the desired integrated occupant cabin and chassis. It may be formed in the desired shape using a range of polymer molding processes apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, deposition), or composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding). To simplify the mold tooling, additional features such as mounting features (e.g., flanges, bosses, etc.) may be attached to the polymer substrate 364 after the block 368, according to an optional block 369. Such features may be attached by bonding using a suitable adhesive. Following the block 368 (or the optional block 369), surfaces of the polymer substrate 364, which are selected for plating with the metal layer 366 may be suitably activated, and metallized according to a next block 370. Activation and

metallization of the selected surfaces of the polymer substrate 364 may be carried out using well-established methods in the industry and may result in metal (conductive) surfaces being formed on the treated surfaces of the polymer substrate, allowing the subsequent deposition of the metal layer(s) 366 thereon.

[0094] Following the block 370, one or more metal layers 366 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of the polymer substrate 364 according to a next block 372. Deposition of the metal layer(s) 366 may be carried out using metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electroplating, electroless plating, electroforming, or another suitable methods selected by a skilled artisan. If desired, plating may be performed in multiple steps by masking selected surfaces of the polymer substrate 364 to yield different thicknesses of the metal layer 366 or no plating on the selected areas, as will be understood by those skilled in the art. In addition, if desired, a customized metal layer thickness profile on the surfaces of the polymer substrate 364 may be achieved using tailored racking tools (e.g., current shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.), as will be understood by those skilled in the art. Customization of the thickness profile of the metal layer(s) 366 by masking and/or by the use of tailored racking tools may allow for optimization of desired properties (e.g., fire resistance, structural support, surface

characteristics, etc.) of the frame 358, without adding undue weight to the frame to accommodate each of these properties.

[0095] As an alternative method to fabricate the plated polymer frame 358, the polymer substrate 364 may be formed in two or more segments according to a block 374, as shown. The segments of the polymer substrate 364 may be formed in desired shapes from the thermoplastic or thermoset materials described above (with optional reinforcement) using one or more of the polymer molding processes described above. Following the block 374, the polymer segments may be joined to form the full-scale polymer substrate 364, according to a next block 376, as shown. Joining of the segments may be achieved using conventional processes such as welding (ultrasonic, laser, friction, friction-stir, traditional, etc.), adhesive bonding, or formation of mitered joints (with or without adhesive), as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Upon completion of the block 376, selected surfaces of the polymer substrate 364 may be suitably activated and metallized (block 370) and one or more metal layers 366 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces (block 372), according to the above-described methods.

[0096] As another alternative fabrication method, selected surfaces of each of the segments formed by the block 374 may be activated and metallized (block 370) and one or more metal layers 366 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of each of the segments (block 372). The plated segments may then be bonded together to form the full-scale plated polymer frame 358 according to the block 378, as shown. Bonding of the plated segments may be achieved using transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding, as will be understood by those skilled in the art.

[0097] Once the plated polymer frame 358 is formed by one of the above-described methods, it may be further processed, if desired, according to the optional blocks 380 and/or 382, as shown. For example, additional features (e.g., bosses, inserts, etc.) may be attached to the frame 358 according to the optional block 380. Attachment of such additional features may be achieved using a suitable adhesive, a fastener (e.g., rivets, bolts, etc.), or another bonding process. In addition, selected surfaces of the frame 358 may be coated with a polymer according to the optional block 382. Coating of the frame 358 may be achieved using conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating. In addition, coating of the frame 358 with the polymer may provide a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer-appearing (non-conductive) product.

[0098] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that this disclosure can find industrial applicability in many situations such as, but not limited to, situations requiring lightweight and high-strength constructions for vehicle chassis and occupant cabin frames. In particular, the plated polymer frame as disclosed herein may offer lightweight and cost-effective alternatives for vehicle chassis and occupant cabin frames formed by traditional processes from heavier metal and metal alloy materials. The strength of the plated polymer frame may be tuned as needed in selected regions to provide desired levels of strength, toughness, and impact resistance for occupant protected against collision, while the polymer substrate core may provide a lightweight frame overall. As the automotive industry is high volume, such weight reductions may have dramatic effects on vehicle fuel economy. Furthermore, complex chassis and occupant cabin frame geometries may be accessed by producing the frame in segments and later joining them according to the methods disclosed herein. The technology as disclosed herein may find wide industrial applicability in a wide range of areas such as automotive and racing industries.

[0099] Plated Polymer Marine Propeller- 27131

[00100] Marine propellers are fan-like structures that rotate and convert rotational motion into thrust for propelling boats or other maritime vehicles through water. In general, marine propellers should be high strength to resist impact damage, foreign object damage, and corrosion. Currently, many marine propellers are formed from high-strength metal or metal alloy materials. However, lighter weight constructions for marine propellers may lead to improvements in energy conversion efficiencies. Clearly, there is a need for high-strength, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant constructions for marine propellers.

[00101] Referring now to FIG. 10, a plated polymer marine propeller 390 is shown. It may be used to convert rotational motion into thrust for propelling a marine vehicle such as a boat through water. It may have a plurality of blades 392 connected to a hub 394, as shown. The blades 392 and the hub 394 may be separate components or they may be formed as a unitary structure. In this regard, it is noted that the propeller structure shown in FIG. 10 is merely exemplary, and, in practice, the plated polymer marine propeller 390 may have a variety of propeller geometries, which may vary in a number of features such as, but not limited to, size, blade number, blade geometry, and hub geometry. Importantly, by virtue of its plated polymer construction, the propeller 390 may be high- strength but lighter in weight than similarly dimensioned marine propellers formed from traditional materials.

[00102] The plated polymer construction of the marine propeller 390 is best shown in FIG. 11. In particular, the plated polymer marine propeller 390 may consist of a polymer substrate 396 plated on one or more of its surfaces with one or more metal layers 398, as shown. As one possibility, the polymer substrate 396 may be plated on all of its outer surfaces with one or more metal layers 398. Alternatively, one or more metal layers 398 may be deposited on selected regions of the polymer substrate 396 according to structural requirements. In any event, the metal layer(s) 398 may impart the polymer substrate 396with increased structural strength and stiffness. In some cases, the polymer substrate 396 may completely fill the internal space of the propeller 390, as shown in FIG. 11. In other cases, the polymer substrate 396 may have one or more hollow voids, which may lead to additional weight reductions in the plated polymer propeller 390.

[00103] The polymer substrate 396 may be formed from a thermoplastic material or a thermoset material, either of which may be optionally reinforced with one or more types of reinforcing materials such as, but not limited to, carbon fibers or glass fibers. Suitable thermoplastic materials for the polymer substrate 396 may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenylene sulfide, polyester, polyimide, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof.

[00104] The metal layer(s) 398 may consist of metals such as, but not limited to, nickel, lead, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, and combinations thereof. The metal layer(s) 398 may have an average thickness in the range of about 0.003 inches (about 0.076 mm) to about 0.030 inches (about 0.760 mm), with plating thicknesses varying from about 0.001 inches (about 0.025 mm) to about 0.050 inches (about 1.27 mm) locally. However, depending on the propeller design requirements, other metal layer thicknesses may also apply. This range of metal layer thicknesses may provide the propeller 390 with resistance against erosion, impact, and foreign object damage (FOD). In addition, this range of thicknesses may provide the option to finish the surfaces of the propeller 390 more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements.

[00105] Various methods for fabricating the plated polymer marine propeller 390 are shown in FIG. 12. Beginning with a first block 400, the polymer substrate 396 may be formed from selected thermoplastic materials or thermoset materials (with optional reinforcement) in a shape of the desired propeller, either as a unitary structure or as multiple units (i.e., the blades 392 and the hub 394) which may be later appropriately assembled. The polymer substrate 396 may be formed in the desired shape using a range of polymer molding processes apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, deposition), or composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding). To simplify the mold tooling, additional features such as mounting features (e.g., flanges, bosses, etc.) may be attached to the polymer substrate 396 after the block 400, according to an optional block 401. Such features may be attached by bonding using a suitable adhesive. Following the block 400 (or the optional block 401), surfaces of the polymer substrate 396 which are selected for plating with the metal layer 398 may be suitably activated and metallized according to a next block 402. Activation and metallization of the selected surfaces of the polymer substrate 396 may be carried out using well-established methods in the industry and may result in metal (conductive) surfaces being formed on the treated surfaces of the polymer substrate, allowing the subsequent deposition of the metal layer(s) 398 thereon. [00106] Following the block 402, one or more metal layers 398 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of the polymer substrate 396 according to a next block 404. Deposition of the metal layer(s) 398 may be carried out using metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electroplating, electroless plating, electroforming, or another suitable method selected by a skilled artisan. If desired, plating may be performed in multiple steps by masking selected surfaces of the polymer substrate 396 to yield different thicknesses of the metal layer 398 or no plating on the selected areas, as will be understood by those skilled in the art. In addition, if desired, a customized metal layer thickness profile on the surfaces of the polymer substrate 396 may be achieved using tailored racking tools (e.g., shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.), as will be understood by those skilled in the art. Customization of the thickness profile of the metal layer(s) 396 by masking and/or by the use of tailored racking tools may allow for

optimization of desired properties (e.g., structural support, surface characteristics, etc.) of the marine propeller 390, without adding undue weight to the propeller to accommodate each of these properties.

[00107] As an alternative method to fabricate the plated polymer marine propeller 390, the polymer substrate 396 may be formed in two or more segments according to a block 406, as shown. The segments of the polymer substrate 396 may be formed in desired shapes from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials (with optional reinforcement) using one or more of the polymer molding processes described above. Following the block 406, the polymer segments may be joined to form the full-scale polymer substrate 396, according to a next block 408, as shown. Joining of the segments may be achieved using conventional processes such as welding (ultrasonic, laser, friction, friction-stir, traditional, etc.), adhesive bonding, or formation of mitered joints (with or without adhesive), as will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Upon completion of the block 408, selected surfaces of the polymer substrate 396 may be suitably activated and metallized (block 402) and one or more metal layers 396 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces (block 404), according to the methods described above.

[00108] As another alternative fabrication method, selected surfaces of each of the segments formed by the block 406 may be activated and metallized (block 402) and one or more metal layers 398 may be deposited on the activated/metallized surfaces of each of the segments (block 404). The plated segments may then be bonded together to form the full- scale plated polymer marine propeller 390 according to the block 410, as shown. Bonding of the plated segments may be achieved using transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding, as will be understood by those skilled in the art.

[00109] Once the plated polymer marine propeller 390 is formed by one of the above- described methods, it may be further processed, if desired, according to the optional blocks 412 and/or 414, as shown. For example, additional features (e.g., bosses, inserts, etc.) may be attached to the propeller 390 according to the optional block 412. Attachment of such additional features may be achieved using a suitable adhesive, a fastener (e.g., rivets, bolts, etc.), or another bonding process. In addition, selected surfaces of the propeller 390 may be coated with a polymer according to the optional block 414. Coating of the propeller 390 may be achieved using conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating. In addition, coating of the propeller 390 with the polymer may provide a

lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer-appearing (non-conductive) product.

[00110] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that this disclosure can find industrial applicability in many situations such as, but not limited to, situations requiring lightweight and high-strength marine propellers. In particular, the plated polymer marine propeller may offer lightweight and cost-effective alternatives for existing marine propeller constructions. The metal layer may provide structural strength, impact resistance, and corrosion resistance, while the polymer substrate core may provide a lightweight propeller. The technology as disclosed herein may find wide industrial applicability in a wide range of areas such as, but not limited to, recreational and commercial boating industries.

[00111] Racecar Exteriors - 26912

[00112] The aerodynamic shapes of racecars, as well as the exterior surface finish, influence the drag which the racecar experiences when cutting through the air. When the laminar flow is maintained for a longer period over the exterior surface of a racecar, the skin friction drag (a component of parasitic drag) can be reduced. In the highly competitive world of car racing, this advantage, and other advantages such as overall racecar weight, is desirable regardless of how slight. Thus, there is a need for a lightweight wear-resistant racecar exterior that is also highly durable and low-cost.

[00113] Referring now to FIG. 13, a racecar exterior constructed in accordance with this disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 500. It is noted that the racecar exterior 500, as depicted in the form of a sports-car racecar exterior, is only exemplary and other racecar exterior designs and configurations, such as, but not limited to, racecar exteriors for Formula racecars, Touring racecars, and Stock racecars, also fit within the scope of this disclosure. The racecar exterior 500 may include a polymer substrate 502 at its core and one or more metal plating 504 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymer substrate 502. As shown, a portion of metal plating 504 is partially removed to reveal the polymer substrate 502.

[00114] The polymer substrate 502 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEK ), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymer material of the polymer substrate 502 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass or other suitable materials.

[00115] The polymer substrate 502 may be formed into a racecar exterior 500 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymer substrate 502 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm). Selected portions of the racecar exterior 500, such as the walls or other portions, may be compression molded such that the polymer substrate 502 thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 2 inches (50.8 mm).

[00116] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymer substrate 502 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymer substrate 502 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the racecar exterior 500 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymer substrate 502 may be plated with metal plating 504 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer segments comprising the racecar exterior 500.

[00117] The metal plating 504 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metal plating 504 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metal plating thicknesses may also apply. This range of thicknesses may be tailored to meet the structural demands of the racecar exterior 500 as well as allowing a post-plating surface operation to attain the best possible exterior surface finish on the racecar exterior 500. The metal plating 504 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the racecar exterior 500 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metal plating 504 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymer substrate 502 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metal plating 504 may be formed from any platable metal material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00118] Optionally, polymer coatings may also be applied to plated polymer racecar exterior 500 components to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymer coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00119] FIG. 14 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the racecar exterior 500. As illustrated in box 506, the polymer substrate 502 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional

reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 508 and 510, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymer substrate 502 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymer substrate 502 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00120] Following the formation of the polymer substrate 502, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metal plating 504 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 512. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 514, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 502 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 516, at least one metal plating 504 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 502 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 518, after the polymer substrate 502 has been plated with at least one metal plating 504, the metal plating 504 may be supplied with a polymer coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00121] FIG. 15 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the racecar exterior 500. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 14 in that polymer substrate 502 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 520, the polymer substrate 502 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 502 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 522. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 524, the prepared polymer substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 526, at least one metal plating 504 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymer substrate 502 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. [00122] Once polymer substrate 502 segments have been plated with at least one metal plating 504, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymer segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer substrate 502 segments comprising the racecar exterior 500, as illustrated in box 528. Optionally, as shown in box 530, after plated polymer substrate 502 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymer coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00123] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymer racecar exterior can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of this disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymer materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex racecar exterior geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymer segments and joining them together before or after plating. The plated polymer racecar exterior may have a surface finish attained by a polish or super-polish operation that may provide an aerodynamic benefit over traditional technology. Moreover, the plated polymer racecar exterior is lighter-weight than traditional technology while being able to absorb as much or more energy during a crash or impact. Additionally, plated polymer racecar exteriors can be more resistant to impact than traditional construction.

Overall, plated polymer racecar exterior parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymer racecar exterior parts, components, or component assembly.

[00124] Cycling Components (Rotating) - 26922 [00125] Cycling is a very competitive sport. Rotating cycling components such as, but not limited to, pedals, crank arms, and sprockets are required to be extremely light and stiff while also possessing high strength to resist the loads experienced during use. Because these components rotate over very many cycles (thousands to millions of cycles), inertial weight can be a limiting factor. Thus, there is a need for lightweight structurally robust rotating cycling components that are also wear-resistant and low-cost.

[00126] Referring now to FIG. 16, a rotating cycling component constructed in accordance with this disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 532. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the rotating cycling component 532 may be any of a wide variety of different rotating cycling components, having various structures and

configurations. Thus, the rotating cycling component 532 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the rotating cycling component 532 may be any type of pedal, crank arm, or sprocket. The rotating cycling component 532 may include a polymer substrate 534 at its core and one or more metal plating 536 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 534.

[00127] The polymer substrate 534 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymer material of the polymer substrate 534 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass or other suitable materials.

[00128] The polymer substrate 534 may be formed into a rotating cycling component 532 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymer substrate 534 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymer substrate 534 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the rotating cycling component 532 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymer substrate 534 may be plated with metal plating 536 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer segments comprising the rotating cycling component 532.

[00129] The metal plating 536 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metal plating 536 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.100 inches (2.54 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.075 inches (1.905 mm), but other metal plating thicknesses may also apply. The metal plating 536 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions (e.g., thicker metal plating 536 on gear teeth of a sprocket as opposed to the sprocket side walls) to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign-object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the rotating cycling component 532 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metal plating 536 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymer substrate 534 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metal plating 536 may be formed from any platable metal material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00130] Optionally, polymer coatings may also be applied to plated polymer rotating cycling component 532 parts to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymer coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00131] FIG. 17 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the rotating cycling component 532. As illustrated in box 538, the polymer substrate 534 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 540 and 542, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymer substrate 534 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymer substrate 534 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00132] Following the formation of the polymer substrate 534, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metal plating 536 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 544. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 546, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 534 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 548, at least one metal plating 536 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 534 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 550, after the polymer substrate 534 has been plated with at least one metal plating 536, the metal plating 536 may be supplied with a polymer coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00133] FIG. 18 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the rotating cycling component 532. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 17 in that polymer substrate 534 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 552, the polymer substrate 534 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 534 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 554. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 556, the prepared polymer substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 558, at least one metal plating 536 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymer substrate 534 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00134] Once polymer substrate 534 segments have been plated with at least one metal plating 536, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymer segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer substrate 534 segments comprising the rotating cycling component 532, as illustrated in box 560. Optionally, as shown in box 562, after plated polymer substrate 534 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymer coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00135] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymer rotating cycling component can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of this disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymer materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex rotating cycling component geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymer segments and joining them together before or after plating. Additionally, plated polymer rotating cycling components can be more resistant to impact than traditional construction. Overall, plated polymer rotating cycling parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymer rotating cycling parts, components, or component assembly.

[00136] Boat Hull - 26935

[00137] A hull is the watertight body of a watercraft such as a ship, a boat, a jet ski, or other various watercrafts. As the hull provides the general primary structure of a watercraft, it is important for the hull to be stiff and strong so that foreign objects, such as underwater rocks and icebergs, cannot pierce the hull causing water to breach the watercraft. Many watercraft are used in oceans where exposure to the salt water may cause damage to the hull resulting in expensive maintenance and/or repair costs. Thus, there is a need for a structurally robust corrosion-resistant watercraft hull that is durable and low-cost.

[00138] Referring now to FIG. 19, a watercraft hull constructed in accordance with this disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 564. It is noted that the watercraft hull 564, as depicted in the form of a speedboat hull, is only exemplary and other watercraft hull designs and configurations, such as, but not limited to, ship hulls, jet ski hulls, and other watercraft hulls, also fit within the scope of this disclosure. The watercraft hull 564 may include a polymer substrate 566 at its core and one or more metal plating 568 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymer substrate 566. As shown, a portion of metal plating 568 is partially removed to reveal the polymer substrate 566.

[00139] The polymer substrate 566 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEK ), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymer material of the polymer substrate 566 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass or other suitable materials.

[00140] The polymer substrate 566 may be formed into a watercraft hull 564 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). The polymer substrate 566 may be injection molded so that the thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 0.25 inches (6.35 mm), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.50 inches (12.7 mm). Selected portions of the watercraft hull 564, such as the walls or other portions, may be compression molded such that the polymer substrate 566 thickness may be in the range of about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm) to about 2 inches (50.8 mm).

[00141] To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymer substrate 566 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymer substrate 566 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the watercraft hull 564 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymer substrate 566 may be plated with metal plating 568 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer segments comprising the watercraft hull 564.

[00142] The metal plating 568 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metal plating 568 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.200 inches (5.08 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.100 inches (2.54 mm), but other metal plating thicknesses may also apply. The metal plating 568 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign- object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the watercraft hull 564 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metal plating 568 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymer substrate 566 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metal plating 568 may be formed from any platable metal material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof. [00143] Optionally, polymer coatings may also be applied to plated polymer watercraft hull 564 components to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non- conductive) component. This polymer coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00144] FIG. 20 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the watercraft hull 564. As illustrated in box 570, the polymer substrate 566 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional

reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 572 and 574, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymer substrate 566 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymer substrate 566 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00145] Following the formation of the polymer substrate 566, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metal plating 568 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 576. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 578, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 566 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 580, at least one metal plating 568 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 566 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electro less plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 582, after the polymer substrate 566 has been plated with at least one metal plating 568, the metal plating 568 may be supplied with a polymer coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00146] FIG. 21 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the watercraft hull 564. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 20 in that polymer substrate 566 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 584, the polymer substrate 566 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 566 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 586. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 588, the prepared polymer substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 590, at least one metal plating 568 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymer substrate 566 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00147] Once polymer substrate 566 segments have been plated with at least one metal plating 568, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymer segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer substrate 566 segments comprising the watercraft hull 564, as illustrated in box 592. Optionally, as shown in box 594, after plated polymer substrate 566 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymer coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00148] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymer watercraft hull can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of this disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymer materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex watercraft hull geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymer segments and joining them together before or after plating. Additionally, plated polymer watercraft hulls can be more resistant to impact than traditional construction. Overall, plated polymer watercraft hull parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymer watercraft hull parts, components, or component assembly.

[00149] Cycling Components (Non-rotating) - 26984

[00150] Cycling is a very competitive sport. Non-rotating cycling components such as, but not limited to, brake calipers and derailleurs are required to be extremely light and stiff while also possessing high strength to resist the loads experienced during use. Because the function of some of these components involve frictional wear during operation, it is important for these components to be wear-resistant and durable. Thus, there is a need for light-weight wear-resistant rotating cycling components that are also structurally robust, durable and low- cost. [00151] Referring now to FIG. 22, a non-rotating cycling component constructed in accordance with this disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 596. Although depicted as an exemplary box-like structure, the non-rotating cycling component 596 may be any of a wide variety of different non-rotating cycling components, having various structures and configurations. Thus, the non-rotating cycling component 596 may deviate substantially from the exemplary box-like structure as depicted. As non-limiting examples, the non- rotating cycling component 596 may be any type of brake caliper or derailleur. The non- rotating cycling component 596 may include a polymer substrate 598 at its core and one or more metal plating 600 applied to one or more outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 598.

[00152] The polymer substrate 598 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymer material of the polymer substrate 598 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass or other suitable materials.

[00153] The polymer substrate 598 may be formed into a non-rotating cycling component 596 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymer substrate 598 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymer substrate 598 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the non-rotating cycling component 596 using conventional techniques known in the industry. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymer substrate 598 may be plated with metal plating 600 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer segments comprising the non-rotating cycling component 596.

[00154] The metal plating 600 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metal plating 600 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.002 inches (0.0508 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metal plating thicknesses may also apply. The metal plating 600 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign- object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the non-rotating cycling component 596 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metal plating 600 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymer substrate 598 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metal plating 600 may be formed from any platable metal material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00155] Optionally, polymer coatings may also be applied to plated polymer non-rotating cycling component 596 parts to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymer coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00156] FIG. 23 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the non- rotating cycling component 596. As illustrated in box 602, the polymer substrate 598 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 604 and 606, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymer substrate 598 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymer substrate 598 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00157] Following the formation of the polymer substrate 598, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metal plating 600 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 608. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 610, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 598 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 612, at least one metal plating 600 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 598 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electro less plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 614, after the polymer substrate 598 has been plated with at least one metal plating 600, the metal plating 600 may be supplied with a polymer coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00158] FIG. 24 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the non-rotating cycling component 596. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 23 in that polymer substrate 598 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 616, the polymer substrate 598 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 598 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 618. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 620, the prepared polymer substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 622, at least one metal plating 600 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymer substrate 598 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electroforming.

[00159] Once polymer substrate 598 segments have been plated with at least one metal plating 600, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymer segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer substrate 598 segments comprising the non-rotating cycling component 596, as illustrated in box 624. Optionally, as shown in box 626, after plated polymer substrate 598 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymer coating may be applied to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00160] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymer non-rotating cycling component can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of this disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymer materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex non-rotating cycling component geometries can be

accommodated by producing multiple polymer segments and joining them together before or after plating. Additionally, plated polymer non-rotating cycling component can be more resistant to impact than traditional construction. Overall, plated polymer non-rotating cycling parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymer non-rotating cycling parts, components, or component assembly.

[00161] Vehicular Exhaust Manifold - 27000

[00162] An exhaust manifold is a structure that directs all the exhaust gases from an engine to the exhaust system. As such, exhaust manifolds are typically subject to high temperature and vibrations from the engine. In automobiles, conventional cast iron exhaust manifolds may crack due to the temperature extremes which can lead to dangerous exhaust gases leaking into the car cabin. In aquatic engines, corrosion of the exhaust manifold can cause leaking of the cooling water into the oil system resulting in severe engine operation issues. Repair and replacement of exhaust manifolds can be expensive. Thus, there is a need for a structurally robust corrosion-resistant exhaust manifold that is also low-cost and light-weight.

[00163] Referring now to FIG. 25, an exhaust manifold constructed in accordance with this disclosure is generally referred to by reference numeral 628. It is noted that the exhaust manifold 628, as depicted, is only exemplary and other exhaust manifold designs and configurations, such as, but not limited to, exhaust manifolds for automobiles, aquatic vehicles, motorcycles, and other apparatus with engines, also fit within the scope of this disclosure. The exhaust manifold 628 may include a polymer substrate 630 at its core and one or more metal plating 632 applied to one or more outer surface of the polymer substrate 630. As shown, a portion of metal plating 632 is partially removed to reveal the polymer substrate 630.

[00164] The polymer substrate 630 may be formed from a thermoplastic or thermoset material. Suitable thermoplastic materials may include, but are not limited to, polyetherimide (PEI), thermoplastic polyimide, polyether ether ketone (PEEK), polyether ketone ketone (PEKK), polysulfone, polyamide, polyphenyl sulfide, polyester, polyimide, nylon, and combinations thereof. Suitable thermoset materials may include, but are not limited to, condensation polyimides, addition polyimides, epoxy cured with aliphatic and/or aromatic amines and/or anhydrides, cyanate esters, phenolics, polyesters, polybenzoxazine, polyurethanes, polyacrylates, polymethacrylates, silicones (thermoset), and combinations thereof. Optionally, the polymer material of the polymer substrate 630 may be structurally reinforced with reinforcing materials which may include carbon, metal, glass or other suitable materials.

[00165] The polymer substrate 630 may be formed into an exhaust manifold 628 from the selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique such as, but not limited to, injection molding, compression molding, blow molding, composite layup (autoclave, compression, or liquid molding) or additive manufacturing (liquid bed, powder bed, or deposition processes). To simplify the mold tooling, additional mounting features, such as flanges, bosses, or other features, may be bonded on the unplated polymer substrate 630 using any conventional adhesive bonding process. Alternatively, the polymer substrate 630 may be fabricated in multiple segments and joined before plating using any conventional process including, but not limited to, ultrasonic welding, laser welding, friction welding, friction-stir welding, traditional welding, adhesive bonding, formation of mitered joints with or without adhesive, or combinations thereof. After the plating process, additional features such as inserts, flanges, bosses, or other features may be added to the exhaust manifold 628 using

conventional techniques known in the industry. In a similar manner, the exhaust manifold 628 may be a composite of plated polymer components joined to components of other materials. A non-limiting example is a plated polymer tube with a metal flange joined thereto. Furthermore, as another alternative, segments of the polymer substrate 630 may be plated with metal plating 632 before being joined together, and subsequently, may be joined together by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer segments comprising the exhaust manifold 628.

[00166] The metal plating 632 may include one or more layers. The thickness of the metal plating 632 may be in the range of about 0.001 inches (0.0254 mm) to about 0.050 inches (1.27 mm), locally, with an overall average thickness in the range of about 0.004 inches (0.1016 mm) to 0.040 inches (1.016 mm), but other metal plating thicknesses may also apply. The metal plating 632 may not be a uniform thickness, but may be tailored to yield different thicknesses in specific regions to resist certain conditions such as erosion, impact or foreign- object damage (FOD), to provide the option to finish more aggressively to meet tight tolerances or surface finish requirements, and to provide increased structural support or surface characteristics without adding undue weight to the exhaust manifold 628 as a whole. Tailored thicknesses of the metal plating 632 may be achieved by masking certain areas of the polymer substrate 630 during the metal deposition process. Instead of masking, this may also be achieved using tailored racking techniques apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art such as, but not limited to, shields, current thieves, and/or conformal anodes. The metal plating 632 may be formed from any platable metal material such as, but not limited to, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, gold, silver, palladium, rhodium, chromium, zinc, tin, cadmium, and alloys with any of the foregoing elements comprising at least 50 wt.% of the alloy, or combinations thereof.

[00167] Optionally, polymer coatings may also be applied to plated polymer exhaust manifold 628 components to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component. This polymer coating may be applied by conventional processes such as, but not limited to, spray coating or dip coating, and may be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00168] FIG. 26 illustrates a series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the exhaust manifold 628. As illustrated in box 634, the polymer substrate 630 may be formed into a desired shape from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Alternatively, as shown in boxes 636 and 638, respectively, where the desired shape of the polymer substrate 630 cannot be formed using one of these techniques directly, or cannot be formed cost effectively, the polymer substrate 630 may be formed as separate segments by any of these polymer forming techniques and then appropriately joined at a joining interface by any conventional process.

[00169] Following the formation of the polymer substrate 630, the outer surfaces which are selected for plating with a metal plating 632 layer may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 640. The catalyst may be a palladium layer although platinum and gold are also possibilities. The catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale. As illustrated in box 642, the prepared outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 630 may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Subsequent to activation with the catalyst, as shown in box 644, at least one metal plating 632 may be deposited on selected activated outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 630 by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming. Optionally, as shown in box 646, after the polymer substrate 630 has been plated with at least one metal plating 632, the metal plating 632 may be supplied with a polymer coating to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00170] FIG. 27 illustrates an alternative series of steps which may be performed to fabricate the exhaust manifold 628. As described in more detail below, this method differs from the aforementioned method described in FIG. 26 in that polymer substrate 630 segments may be joined together after being plated instead of being joined together before plating. As illustrated in box 648, the polymer substrate 630 may be formed as separate segments from selected thermoplastic or thermoset materials, and optional reinforcement materials, by a conventional polymer forming technique. Subsequently, the outer surfaces of the polymer substrate 630 segments which are selected for plating may be prepared for receiving a plating catalyst in a variety of ways such as, but not limited to, etching, abrasion, reactive ion etching, or ionic activation, as shown in box 650. As in the previous series of steps detailed above, the catalyst may have a thickness on the atomic scale, and may be a layer of palladium, platinum, gold, or other suitable materials. Referring to box 652, the prepared polymer substrate segments may then be suitably activated and metalized using processes well known in the industry. Following activation, as shown in box 654, at least one metal plating 632 may be deposited on selected active outer surfaces of polymer substrate 630 segments by metal deposition methods apparent to those skilled in the art such as, but not limited to, electrolytic plating, electroless plating, and electro forming.

[00171] Once polymer substrate 630 segments have been plated with at least one metal plating 632, a transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding process may be performed to join the plated polymer segments together so as to provide a more robust bond between the plated polymer substrate 630 segments comprising the exhaust manifold 628, as illustrated in box 656. Optionally, as shown in box 658, after plated polymer substrate 630 segments have been TLP bonded, a polymer coating may be applied to produce a light-weight, stiff, and strong polymer appearing (non-conductive) component.

[00172] From the foregoing, it can therefore be seen that the plated polymer exhaust manifold can offer cost and weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The high-throughput molding and plating processes of this disclosure can also provide production schedule savings. Production scheduling savings can also be increased because the plating and polymer materials are readily available and are not single sourced. During production, complex exhaust manifold geometries can be accommodated by producing multiple polymer segments and joining them together before or after plating. Additionally, plated polymer exhaust manifolds can be more resistant to impact than traditional construction. Overall, plated polymer exhaust manifold parts, components, or component assembly durability is significantly improved as compared to traditional polymer exhaust manifold parts, components, or component assembly.

[00173] Cycling Frame Components— 26763

[00174] Bicycle frames are often constructed of polymeric matrix composites (PMCs) to achieve high-strength and lightweight structures. However, cycling can be a dangerous sport, pastime or commuting method as cyclists must deal with a range of hazards such as traffic, potholes, slick roads etc. If a composite bike frame is damaged, it can fail catastrophically. Further, initial damage in a composite frame can be hard to identify until the damage becomes catastrophic. Cycles with composite frames are generally more costly than traditional metal frames. To justify the extra cost, composite frames need to be safer and more durable.

[00175] An exemplary cycle 700 may include a frame 701 that may include the following components that may be fabricated from a plated polymer substrate: a fork 702 that extends downward on either side of the front wheel 708; handlebars 703; a top tube 704; head tube 711; seat stays 705 disposed on either side of the rear wheel 706; chain stays 707 disposed on either side of the rear wheel 706; a seat tube 709; down tube 712; and other components as well.

[00176] Turning to FIG. 29, an exemplary substrate 713 may be injection-molded, compression- molded, blow-molded, additively manufactured or the exemplary substrate may be a composite-layup structure formed of at least one of the following: polyetherimide (PEI); polyimide; polyether ether ketone (PEEK); polyether ketone ketone (PEKK); polysulfone; Nylon; polyphenylsulfide; polyester; and any of the foregoing with fiber reinforcements (e.g., carbon-fibers or glass-fibers). The plated metal layer may include one or more layers. The plated metal layer(s) 714 may be applied by electroless plating, electroplating, or electroforming to a thickness ranging from about 0.0005 to about 0.025 inch (12.7-635 microns), locally. An average plating thickness may range from about 0.001 to about 0.020 inch (25.5-508 microns). These thickness ranges provide resistance to erosion, impact, flying object damage (FOD), etc. Further, these thickness ranges provide the manufacturer with an option to finish the component more aggressively in certain areas to meet tight tolerances, surface finish requirements. For example, a finely polished or smooth surface may help reduce drag. Thinner plating thicknesses may be employed on cycle frame components that include a PMC substrate, while thicker platings may be employed for molded or additive ly manufactured polymer substrates.

[00177] The plating of the metal layer 714may be performed in multiple steps by masking certain areas of the cycling frame components to yield different thicknesses (or no plating) in areas of interest. This customized plating thickness profile can also be achieved by tailored racking (including shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.). Tailored racking permits optimization of properties for the cycling frame components with respect to structural support, surface characteristics, etc. without adding undue weight to the component. Some mounting features (e.g., flanges or bosses) may be bonded on using a suitable adhesive after molding of the substrate but before plating to simplify the mold tooling.

[00178] Cycling frame components may be fabricated in multiple segments that are joined by a conventional process (e.g., ultrasonic, laser, friction, and friction-stir welding processes; traditional welding processes; adhesives; mitered joints with or without adhesive) before plating. Furthermore, cycling frame components can be produced and plated separately and subsequently bonded by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding. In addition, features such as bosses or inserts may be added (using an adhesive, riveting, etc.) to the component after the plating process. One or more polymer coatings 715 may also be applied over the plated metal layer to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing cycling frame components. The polymer coating(s) 715 may be applied by conventional processes, such as spray coating or dip coating, and can be applied to localized regions only, if desired. Similar to the wide range of cycle frame constructions that exist, the cycle frame 701 may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined/bonded/attached to components of other materials (e.g., a plated polymeric seat stay bonded/attached to an aluminum or titanium frame). Also, the entire frame 701 (top tube 704, head tube 711, down tube 712, seat tube709, chain stay 707 and seat stay 705 may be produced as a single plated polymer component or frame701.

[00179] Wheels— 26766

[00180] Achieving weight reductions for rotating components such as a vehicle wheel is important weighs less, and it has less inertia and therefore requires less energy to accelerate and decelerate. Wheels made of lightweight alloys are used to achieve weight reduction, but alloy wheels are expensive and prone to corrosion. Lightweight alloy wheels are also more costly than traditional metal wheels. Therefore, alternative lightweight wheel materials and constructions are needed for cost and performance advantages over modern wheel alloys and production methods.

[00181] An exemplary wheel 720 (FIG. 1) may include a plated polymer substrate 690 as shown in FIG. 29. The plated polymer substrate 690 may include a polymeric substrate 713 and a plated metal layer 714. An exemplary substrate 713 may be injection-molded, compression-molded, blow- molded, additively manufactured or the exemplary substrate may be a composite-layup structure formed of at least one of the following: polyetherimide (PEI); polyimide; polyether ether ketone (PEEK); polyether ketone ketone (PEKK); polysulfone; Nylon; polyphenylsulfide; polyester; and any of the foregoing with fiber reinforcements (e.g., carbon-fibers or glass-fibers). With respect to molding processes, an injection-molded polymer substrate 713 may have a thickness ranging from about 0.050 to 0.25 inch (1270-6350 microns), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.5 inch (12.7 mm). On the other hand, a compression-molded polymer substrate 713 may be formed with a wall thicknesses ranging from about 0.050 to about 2 inches (0.127-50.8 mm).

[00182] The plated metal layer 714 may include one or more layers. The metal layer(s) 714 may be applied by electroless plating, electroplating, or electroforming to a thickness ranging from about 0.001 to about 0.150 inch (25.4-3810 microns), locally. An average plating thickness may range from about 0.005 to about 0.100 inch (127-2540 microns). These thickness ranges provide resistance to erosion, impact, flying object damage (FOD), etc. Further, these thickness ranges provide the manufacturer with an option to finish the component more aggressively in certain areas to meet tight tolerances, surface finish requirements.

[00183] The plating may be performed in multiple steps by masking certain areas of the cycling frame components to yield different thicknesses (or no plating) in areas of interest. This customized plating thickness profile can also be achieved by tailored racking (including shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.). Some mounting features (e.g., flanges or bosses) may be bonded on using a suitable adhesive after molding of the substrate but before plating to simplify the mold tooling.

[00184] The wheel 720 may be fabricated in multiple segments that are joined by a conventional process (e.g., ultrasonic, laser, friction, friction-stir welding processes; traditional welding processes; adhesives; mitered joints with or without adhesive) before plating. Furthermore, disclosed wheels 720 may be produced and plated separately and subsequently bonded by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding. Finally, one or more polymer coatings 715 may be applied to plated polymeric wheel 720 to produce a lightweight, stiff and strong polymeric appearing and non-conductive wheel 720. The polymer coating(s) 715 may be applied by a conventional process, such as spray coating or dip coating and may be applied to discreet sections of the plated polymeric wheel 720.

[00185] Cycling Wheels-26868

[00186] Cycling is a very competitive sport. A cycling wheel needs to be light, stiff and strong enough to resist loads imposed during use. Beyond the traditional spoked design, more recent variants include fewer (three to five) but higher strength and wider spokes. Another design includes a disk to connect the outer tube housing to the rotor. Hence, improved cycling wheels need to be fabricated from lightweight but strong materials.

[00187] An exemplary cycling wheel 706 (FIG. 28) may include a polymeric substrate713 and at least one metal layer 714 as shown in FIG. 29. An exemplary substrate An exemplary substrate 713 may be injection-molded, compression-molded, blow-molded, additive ly manufactured or the exemplary substrate may be a composite-layup structure formed of at least one of the following: polyetherimide (PEI); polyimide; polyether ether ketone (PEEK); polyether ketone ketone (PEKK); polysulfone; Nylon; polyphenylsulfide; polyester; and any of the foregoing with fiber reinforcements (e.g., carbon-fibers or glass-fibers). With respect to molding processes, an injection-molded polymer substrate 713 may have a thickness ranging from about 0.050 to 0.25 inch (1270-6350 microns), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.5 inch (12.7 mm). On the other hand, a compression-molded polymer substrate 713 may be formed with a wall thicknesses ranging from about 0.050 to about 2 inches (0.127-50.8 mm). During extrusion and pultrusion, a thickness of the polymer substrate 713 may range from about 0.001 to about 0.25 inch (25.4-6350 microns).

[00188] The wheel 706 may take at least two different embodiments. In one embodiment, the wheel 706 may include few spokes, from about three to about ten. In this embodiment, the polymer substrate 713 may be fabricated or molded in straight segments, with or without attachment features before the wheel 706 is subsequently plated. The polymer substrate 713 may be fabricated using any of the previously-mentioned methods or may also incorporate extruded or pultruded material. In a second embodiment, the wheel 706 may have a disk shape and may be molded as described above.

[00189] The plated metal layer 714 may include one or more layers. The metal layer(s) 714 may be applied by electroless plating, electroplating, or electroforming to a thickness ranging from about 0.0001 to about 0.050 inch (2.54-1270 microns), locally. An average plating thickness may range from about 0.001 to about 0.025 inch (25.4-635 microns). These thickness ranges provide resistance to erosion, impact, flying object damage (FOD), etc. Further, these thickness ranges provide the manufacturer with an option to finish the component more aggressively in certain areas to meet tight tolerances, surface finish requirements.

[00190] The plating may be performed in multiple steps by masking certain areas of the cycling wheel 706 to yield different thicknesses (or no plating) in areas of interest. This customized plating thickness profile can also be achieved by tailored racking (including shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.). Tailored racking permits optimization of properties for the cycling frame components with respect to structural support, surface characteristics, etc. without adding undue weight to the component. Some mounting features (e.g., bosses) may be bonded to the polymer substrate 713 using a suitable adhesive after molding but before plating to simplify the mold tooling.

[00191] The cycling wheel 706 may be fabricated in multiple segments that are joined by a conventional process (e.g., ultrasonic, laser, friction, friction-stir welding processes; traditional welding processes; adhesives; mitered joints with or without adhesive) before plating. Furthermore, parts of the disclosed wheels 706 may be produced and plated separately and subsequently bonded by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding. Finally, one or more polymer coatings 715 (FIG. 29) may be applied to plated polymeric wheel 706 to produce a lightweight, stiff and strong polymeric appearing and non-conductive wheel 706. The polymer coating(s) 715 may be applied by a conventional process, such as spray coating or dip coating and may be applied to discreet sections of the plated polymeric wheel 720.

[00192] Motorcycle and All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Components— 26873

[00193] Motorcycle and ATV components include frames, engine covers, fairings, wheels, fenders, chains, handle bars, etc. Such motorcycle and ATV components must be high-strength, stiff, durable and light. Disclosed herein are components and methods of manufacturing such components from plated polymer structures.

[00194] Exemplary motorcycle/ATV components may include a polymer substrate 713 and one or more metal layers 714 as shown in FIG. 29. An exemplary substrate 713 may be injection-molded, compression-molded, blow-molded, additively manufactured or the exemplary substrate may be a composite-layup structure formed of at least one of the following: polyetherimide (PEI); polyimide; polyether ether ketone (PEEK); polyether ketone ketone (PEKK); polysulfone; Nylon;

polyphenylsulfide; polyester; and any of the foregoing with fiber reinforcements (e.g., carbon-fibers or glass-fibers).

[00195] The plated metal layer 714 may include one or more layers. The metal layer(s) 714 may be applied by electroless plating, electroplating, or electroforming to a thickness ranging from about 0.001 to about 0.150 inch (25.4-3810 microns), locally. An average plating thickness may range from about 0.004 to about 0.100 inch (101.6-2540 microns). These thickness ranges provide resistance to erosion, impact, flying object damage (FOD), etc. Further, these thickness ranges provide the manufacturer with an option to finish the component more aggressively in certain areas to meet tight tolerances, surface finish requirements.

[00196] The plating may be performed in multiple steps by masking certain areas of the component to yield different thicknesses (or no plating) in areas of interest. This customized plating thickness profile can also be achieved by tailored racking (including shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.). Tailored racking permits optimization of properties for the cycling frame components with respect to structural support, surface characteristics, etc. without adding undue weight to the component. Some mounting features (e.g., bosses) may be bonded to the polymer substrate 713 using a suitable adhesive after molding but before plating to simplify the mold tooling.

[00197] Motorcycle/ATV components may be fabricated in multiple segments that are joined by a conventional process (e.g., ultrasonic, laser, friction, and friction-stir welding processes; traditional welding processes; adhesives; mitered joints with or without adhesive) before plating. Furthermore, motorcycle/ATV components can be produced and plated separately and subsequently bonded by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding. In addition, features such as bosses or inserts may be added (using an adhesive, riveting, etc.) to the component after the plating process. One or more polymer coatings 715 may also be applied over the plated metal layer 714 to produce a lightweight, stiff, and strong polymeric appearing motorcycle/ATV components. The polymer coating(s) 715 may be applied by conventional processes, such as spray coating or dip coating, and can be applied to localized regions only, if desired. Similar to the wide range of motorcycle/ATV components that exist, motorcycle and/or ATV components may be a composite of plated polymeric components joined/bonded/attached to components of other materials (e.g., a plated polymeric shaft with a composite gear or blade attached to it).

[00198] Hovercraft-26897 [00199] Hovercrafts are hybrid vehicles capable of travelling over wide varieties of terrain, because hovercrafts effectively ride on a cushion of air. Because hovercrafts essentially ride on a cushion of air, they must be as light as possible, while maintaining sufficient stiffness and strength to resist dynamic forces during use. Traditionally, hovercraft structures are fabricated from lightweight metallic and composite material systems, both of which are costly.

[00200] An exemplary hovercraft 730 as shown in FIG. 30 may include numerous components that may be fabricated from plated polymers, including, but not limited to propellers 731 , shafts 732, panels or components of the body 733, cabin 734 and bottom platform 735. Such components may be fabricated from a plated polymer substrate 690 as shown in FIG. 29. The exemplary substrate 713 may be injection-molded, compression-molded, blow-molded, additive ly manufactured or the exemplary substrate may be a composite-layup structure formed of at least one of the following: polyetherimide (PEI); polyimide; polyether ether ketone (PEEK); polyether ketone ketone (PEKK); polysulfone; Nylon; polyphenylsulfide; polyester; and any of the foregoing with fiber reinforcements (e.g., carbon-fibers or glass-fibers). With respect to molding processes, an injection-molded polymer substrate 713 may have a thickness ranging from about 0.050 to 0.25 inch (1270-6350 microns), with localized areas ranging up to about 0.5 inch (12.7 mm). On the other hand, a compression-molded polymer substrate 713 may be formed with a wall thicknesses ranging from about 0.050 to about 2 inches (0.127-50.8 mm).

[00201] The plated metal layer 714 may include one or more layers. The metal layer(s) 714 may be applied by electroless plating, electroplating, or electroforming to a thickness ranging from about 0.001 to about 0.200 inch (25.4-5080 microns), locally. An average plating thickness may range from about 0.004 to about 0.100 inch (101.6-2540 microns). These thickness ranges provide resistance to erosion, impact, flying object damage (FOD), etc. Further, these thickness ranges provide the manufacturer with an option to finish the component more aggressively in certain areas to meet tight tolerances, surface finish requirements. [00202] The plating may be performed in multiple steps by masking certain areas of the component to yield different thicknesses (or no plating) in areas of interest. This customized plating thickness profile can also be achieved by tailored racking (including shields, thieves, conformal anodes, etc.). Tailored racking permits optimization of properties for the cycling frame components with respect to structural support, surface characteristics, etc. without adding undue weight to the component. Some mounting features (e.g., bosses) may be bonded to the polymer substrate 713 using a suitable adhesive after molding but before plating to simplify the mold tooling.

[00203] The hovercraft 730 and/or its components may be fabricated in multiple segments that are joined by a conventional process (e.g., ultrasonic, laser, friction, and friction-stir welding processes; traditional welding processes; adhesives; mitered joints with or without adhesive) before plating. Furthermore, hovercraft 730 components can be produced and plated separately and subsequently bonded by transient liquid phase (TLP) bonding. In addition, features such as bosses or inserts may be added (using an adhesive, riveting, etc.) to the components after the plating process. One or more polymer coatings 715 may also be applied over the plated metal layer 714 to produce a lightweight, stiff, non-conductive and strong polymeric appearing hovercraft component. The polymer coating(s) 715 may be applied by conventional processes, such as spray coating or dip coating, and can be applied to localized regions only, if desired.

[00204] A hovercraft 730 utilizing plated polymeric components offers cost and/or weight savings as compared to traditional materials and processes. The weight savings is attractive to this type of vehicle, particularly when it is noted that the material system maintains both stiffness and strength to resist dynamic forces during use. Savings can be realized given the disclosed high throughput molding and plating processes. In addition, the relatively complex geometries required in hovercraft design can be accommodated by either producing multiple polymeric segments and joining them before plating or by plating sub-components and then utilizing transient liquid phase bonding to fabricate a complete structure.