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.
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.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.