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!
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.