A study by two business school professors makes the case that green manufacturing is not an expense; in fact it’s a money-maker. It took 20 years, but a Subaru plant in Indiana that makes 800 cars a day has reduced by waste 47 percent and makes use of 99.9 percent of the remaining waste. Nothing goes to a landfill, and dumpsters have been converted to recycling bins. One of the biggest problems was a toxic solvent used to flush painting systems. Subaru now distills impurities from used solvent so that it can be re-used. The impurities go to a company that makes coatings for steel industry ladles. There are a thousand examples, but one of the more intriguing (odder?) is to use all cafeteria food waste in a circular composting track. One day’s waste would be placed next to the last day’s in a plan under study. Special worms devour the waste, leaving rich soil behind. Or, I guess, Subaru could just hire workers who clear their plates.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.