Investment in design engineering is a sure-fire way for corporations to boost their market share and bottom line. No where is that more evident than at Whirlpool, which has increased its design engineering staff by 25% since 2002 and is reporting steady progress in corporate performance. CEO Jeff Fettig says that innovation is the company’s new growth engine. Whirlpool has $4 billion in its innovation pipeline this year, up from $1.3 billion in 2003. Earnings from continuing operations are up 15% in two years, and that’s despite a North American slowdown in appliance shipments and soaring materials costs (up $400 million this year). Fettig made the comments at the Raymond James investors’ conference last month. The results were very apparent at the Innovations Conference sponsored this month by the Appliance of Plastic Processors in Memphis, TN. Whirlpool walked away with all of the big prizes
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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