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!
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
Daihatsu is one of the first carmakers to customize car exteriors using 3D printing's mass customization capabilities. Effect Skins -- small exterior bumper and fender panels in different colors and textures -- can be ordered for its Copen convertible.
Several new products in this group of new adhesives, coatings, and sealants are formulated to protect sensitive electronic components, or to seal components of commercial and military aircraft. Others are designed to operate in tough, messy, dirty oil & gas operations, or for rotary applications and motors.
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