The next generation of North American-built diesel engines, scheduled for introduction during the 2009 to 2011 timeframe, is a bright spot for an otherwise weak powder metal industry. New PM applications include cam gear drives, idler gears, timing system sprockets, and fuel injector gears. Powder-forged connecting rods and PM bearing caps are currently being tested and the outlook is good. General Motors put $69 million into its DMAX diesel engine plant in Moraine, OH to manufacture a new Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 turbo diesel engine that will meet 2010 emissions standards. DMAX Limited is a joint venture between GM and Isuzu Motors Limited and was established as a diesel engine company in 1998. About half of new cars in Europe feature diesel engines, which are more energy efficient than cars with spark ignition systems.
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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