Companies such as Delphi and GM have emerged from bankruptcy, but considerable distress remains in the injection molding supply chain for automotive and other industries. A complete plastic injection molding machine operation in Los Fresnos, TX goes on the auction block tomorrow, for example. injection molders in the USA are barely budging 50 percent of capacity - and that’s with a much reduced machine base. Used molding equipment is selling for 50 to 70 percent below 12 months ago.
It’s a two-edged sword for design engineers who specify molded parts. There are bargains galore out there because business remains slow and machine costs have declined. On the other hand, there is a smaller supply base to provide parts when demand improves. Suppliers will be slow to invest in new capacity in the early stages of the recovery.
This is a good time to stick with blue-chip suppliers. Pass on the quick bargains.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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