Buried in the financial bailout bill that was signed into law last week was the renewal of production tax credits for renewable energy, such as wind power. Under the credit, generators receive a one-year, 30 percent reduction on construction costs, and the Incentive Tax Credit gives users an eight-year, 30 percent rebate on the installation of solar power systems. Even though wind and solar power make imminent sense, they still needs a boost from the U.S. government. It’s hard to tell where the presidential candidates really stand on wind power. They both say they support it.
European producers are already a step ahead on wind power because of significant government assistance. The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation awarded $5.4 million to blade maker LM Glasfiber for the development of an innovative blade technology based on the use of new types of fiber. “The new fibers will revolutionize the blade manufacturing process, and the research program, which aims to ensure that Denmark remains the world leader in wind energy, has been named ‘Blade King’,” stated an announcement.
European Commission Directive 2001/77/EC of the European Parliament sets a target of 21 percent of electricity demand in the EU to be covered by renewable energy sources by 2010. Key aspects of the directive include:
• Streamlining of administrative procedures that precede the installation of a new plant;
• Application of support schemes that compensate renewable electricity for its positive environmental impacts and its contribution to the security of supply;
• Publication of guarantees of origin; and
• Regulation of transparent mechanisms to bear the costs of technical adaptation.
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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