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
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.