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
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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