Almost-divorced Chrysler may have to do some fast talking to resurrect its important partnership with Chery Automobile Co. of China. As you might recall, Chery was scheduled to build low-cost subcompact cars which Chrysler would market in the United States. Important deal for a company that has been surviving on gas-guzzling hemis and trucks under its Daimler ownership. According to some published articles, Chery had some reservations when it was announced that Chrysler would be spun out. Tom LaSorda will remain CEO of Chrysler under Cerberus Capital Management, and announced he wants to expand the relationship with Chery. I think this will work out fine. Daimler had a poor track record in its dealings with Asian partners (Mitsubishi and Hyundai Motor). Chrysler will make it work, because it has to work. Cerberus is a word in Greek mythology for a three-headed dog that guards the gates of Hades. We know that auto manufacturing in Detroit today is modern-day Hades, and we’ll find out soon enough if this dog can hunt.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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