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.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
The first photos made with a 3D-printed telescope are here and they're not as fuzzy as you might expect. A team from the University of Sheffield beat NASA to the goal. The photos of the Moon were made with a reflecting telescope that cost the research team £100 to make (about $161 US).
A tiny humanoid robot has safely piloted a small plane all the way from cold start to takeoff, landing and coming to a full stop on the plane's designated runway. Yes, it happened in a pilot training simulation -- but the research team isn't far away from doing it in the real world.
Some in the US have welcomed 3D printing for boosting local economies and bringing some offshored manufacturing back onshore. Meanwhile, China is wielding its power of numbers, and its very different relationships between government, education, and industry, to kickstart a homegrown industry.
You can find out practically everything you need to know about engineering plastics as alternatives to other materials at the 2014 IAPD Plastics Expo. Admission is free for engineers, designers, specifiers, and OEMs, as well as students and faculty.
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.