Design engineers surely will feel some heat from the current financial liquidity crisis, even assuming the proposed bailout plan is enacted and has a positive effect. It will be hard, particularly in the short-term, for companies to raise capital. All companies are affected, but the hardest hit will be small, entrepreneurial firms that are burning cash. One area of concern could be the fledgling companies that are attempting to build a bioplastic industry in the United States. The Chief Operating Officer at Cereplast, a bioplastic startup in California, announced a decision to concentrate all manufacturing at a plant n Seymour, IN and focus sales activities on a smaller, targeted group of prospects. The move comes as Cereplast prepares for the second phase of a previously announced joint development agreements with Danone and Peugeot-Citroen. Big companies will also feel at least some pain. GE announced it will take on less debt in the fourth quarter to improve its financial liquidity. Less debt means less spending. Will that mean some slowdown in development of its aggressive wind energy program? We don’t know right now. GM is putting significant financial muscle into Chevy Volt even though its cash position is weak. GM is looking for federal help, possibly in the form of tax benefits, to ease purchasing of the Volt.
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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