The transformation of global auto engineering continues at a dizzying pace. In the latest spin, Chrysler engineers are making monthly trips to a huge Fiat plant in Tychy, Poland. Small cars come off the assembly line at the plant every 55 seconds, double the production rate 13 years ago. The plant is considered a model of efficiency, and flexibility, and the Chrysler engineers are there to learn. Chrysler engineering is going on a massive diet now that the company is being run by Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat. It was only 18 months or so ago that Chrysler planned to import small car technology from China. It also wasn’t so terribly long ago that Fiat left the USA market as a failure. It wasn’t so long ago that Poland was behind the Iron Curtain-the home of the world’s worst cars. Things change fast. Maybe that can work in the favor of American car OEMs today.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Although plastics make up only about 11% of all US municipal solid waste, many are actually more energy-dense than coal. Converting these non-recycled plastics into energy with existing technologies could reduce US coal consumption, as well as boost domestic energy reserves, says a new study.
This year's Dupont-sponsored WardsAuto survey of automotive designers and other engineers shows lightweighting dominates the discussion. But which materials will help them meet the 2025 CAFE standards are not entirely clear.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
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