Toyota is changing its engineering practices in an effort to halt a slide in vehicle quality. In one major shift, more engineering work will be done in house. The amount of engineering work contracted to outside firms will drop from about 30 percent to 10 percent, according to an article in this morning’s Wall Street Journal. Toyota will also reduce total engineering effort by eliminating engine options and other design variants. In another change, testing time will be stretched out, and possibly will include use of more physical prototypes.
At least some of Toyota’s recent quality problems have been caused by poor fundamental engineering execution. In a problem disclosed by Design News, Toyota says a poorly selected plastic used as friction levers in accelerator pedal assemblies caused the gas pedal to malfunction in certain weather conditions.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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