Here’s a switch on the whole global outsourcing trend: a Canadian custom compounder called JER Envirotech is closing compounding capacity in Malaysia and the Philippines and moving the equipment to Greenville, SC. CEO Ed Trueman told Design News in an interview that development of infrastructure at the Asian sites was difficult, and the company needs a rapid ramp-up in capacity to meet skyrocketing demand for its new wood-plastic biocomposite that is already being molded for application in toys and car trim. One compounding line will open in South Carolina by the end of the year to supplement three lines already operating in Delta, British Columbia. JER expects to add capacity in South Carolina in 2009. One hot new market is biocomposite sheet that is replacing plywood for chicken coops made by a Pennsylvania company. The JER product contains no toxic chemicals (unlike plywood) and may find a huge market in the construction industry. Other types of wood composites are already used for decking and some other building applications. JER uses a new, proprietary formula that started with a material patented by the National Research Council of Canada.
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
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.
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