Like it or not, design engineers need to get prepared for more environmentally oriented requirements. The newest evidence is an executive order from President George W. Bush that ramps by green requirements for the federal government. One of the six parts of the new order requires federal agencies to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 3% annually through the end of fiscal year 2015. President Bush also wants agency acquisitions to reflect sustainable environmental practices, including acquisition of biobased, environmentally preferable, energy-efficient, water-efficient, and recycled-content products, and use of paper of at least 30% post-consumer fiber content. The requirement on bio-based materials is interesting. Design News plans to look intensively at the potential of bio-based polymers for engineering applications in the April 30 issue. Stay tuned.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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