Assembly technology is one of the hugely overlooked areas of component design. It’s often a last-minute thought, adding additional complexity and expense to a design. Consider assembly strategy early in the design process. You’d be amazed at the new technology, and amount of engineering, that is taking place in mechanical fastening. One example is in the hinge area. Applications have expanded to include many devices that provide tilt and swivel action, movable mounting arms for things like lights, cameras, and displays, as well as a lot of high tech mechanisms that would be a stretch to call hinges. I picked that up from a blog written by. Jim Ford, Southco’s Product Manager for Hinges and Positioning Technology, who has worked on “hinge” solutions for nearly two decades. Check out his blog. It’s a good read.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
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.
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