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
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.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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