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 self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
Researchers at MIT's d'Arbeloff Laboratory are developing shoulder- and hip-mounted robotic arms to help workers in aircraft manufacturing perform difficult or complex assembly tasks that would normally require two people.
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