It was no surprise that Daimler wanted rid of Chrysler, but what will the move mean from a product development standpoint? It’s just a gut hunch, but I like the move. Ordinarily takeovers by venture capitalists are bad news for product quality. Believe me, I’ve been there. But I don’t think Daimler was helping Chrysler, whose glory days came in the years immediately preceding the takeover by the boys from Stuttgart. Think Viper! That was one of the coolest cars I’ve ever seen. And it was a masterpiece of design and development. Why? Chrysler had no development money and handed the project over to its suppliers (on a tight leash of course). The result was a composite bodied muscle car that zoomed from zero to 60 in 4.5 seconds. The adhesive guys and the glass guys sat down and talked through trade-offs for the first time that accelerated materials development. What a novel idea! The supply chain guru who pioneered the collaboration model, Tom Stallkamp, became president of Chrysler, and then left when Daimler took control. Daimler had a “not-invited-here” syndrome. OK, I liked Dieter’s ads and some of the technology transfer to Detroit. But in the end Chrysler has a better chance to succeed under independent ownership. Bring back Stallkamp!
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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