In his 2003 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush, requested $1.2 billion in spending on hydrogen-powered cars. This month, the Obama administration announced that U.S. Energy Department funding for hydrogen-related projects would be cut by 60 percent to $68.2 million next fiscal year. That concurs with what I felt was the overall consensus at a seminar on hydrogen power at last fall’s Society of Manufacturing Engineer’s annual conference. The remaining federal funding will focus on hydrogen power for buildings. ”We’re going to be moving away from hydrogen-fuel cells for vehicles,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said. “We asked ourselves, is it likely in the next 10 or 15, or even 20 years that we will convert to a hydrogen car economy? The answer, we felt, was no.”
Like it or not, the Obama administration is making tough calls, and picking its shots. The federal government will boost funding for biofuels by 8.3 percent to $235 million and for advanced battery-powered and gasoline engine autos by 22 percent to $333.3 million.
Meanwhile, Honda, General Motors and Toyota Motor plan to continue development of hydrogen-powered autos
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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