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!
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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