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.
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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