Additives are an area where design engineers could focus a little more time and attention. When added to plastic resins, these chemicals impart a needed property and they also change the mechanical characteristics of the compound. There are also new technologies emerging that can save time and money. One I saw recently comes from Carolina Color of Salisbury, NC. A new process creates so-called “super concentrates”. “G2 has overcome processing challenges with a proven ability to provide exceptionally effective dispersion and distribution in both large and small parts,” says President Matt Barr. The new G2 product line is claimed to save up to 30 per cent in color cost and allow processing at lower temperatures, which can save up to 10 percent in cycle time. Part thickness can even be reduced because of improved physical properties. That also means reduced cycle time and clamping force. It’s worth a look.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
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.
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