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.
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.
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