Boeing’s recent decision to buy a contractor’s plant in South Carolina is kicking up a lot of dust in the Seattle area. Some mavens see it as a potential “Southern strategy” to avoid balky unions. The result, says one, could turn Seattle into a “Detroit with pine trees”. The issue is a hot one because Boeing is trying to determine where to locate its next Dreamliner factory. Another columnist states: “Boeing risks overplaying its hand. We survived the loss of its headquarters. We’ll survive without the second 787 assembly line and hopefully be prodded to reinvent ourselves for the 21st-century economy.”
The Dreamliner is one of the most exciting materials’ technology stories of the past 100 years. And as for as business stories go, it seems to rival to just about anything I’ve written about since my career began in 1969 at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Everything is news: fastener shortages, composites, engine technologies, supply chain outsourcing, delays, and now the mirage of Southern competition. From a business perspective, it’s become Michael Jackson, Jennifer Aniston and Bono all rolled into one.
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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