When the term “wind turbine” comes to mind, you usually think of hulking goliaths that dominate the landscape. And in fact, as I wrote about last November, there is a dramatic trend toward large wine turbines that generate more electricity. At the same time though, turbines with seven-feet-long blades are popping up on the tops of office and apartment buildings in Michigan, and elsewhere. Tom Huff, an urban developer, put one of the mini turbines on top of a 10-story building he was renovating in Kalamazoo, MI. The turbine needs winds of at least 8 mph to generate electricity, and under optimal conditions, could generate 2,000 kilowatt-hours a year. Huff figure he will recover the cost of the turbine in five years with the help of a significant federal tax credit. The average installed cost of the Swift Turbine is $10,000 to $12,000.
Huff’s turbine was manufactured in nearby Grand Rapids by Cascade Engineering, which invested in a business that developed the turbine called Renewable Devices Swift Turbines Ltd. of Edinburgh, Scotland. Cascade made the investment after discovering it could reduce the cost by injection molding a rotor, which previously had been manufactured with a labor intensive process using expensive carbon fiber. Cascade now makes the rotors and distributes the turbines.
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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