Design engineering is becoming much less complicated at Ford Motor Co, which is clearly the most successful American auto company in recent years. Under the “One Ford” plan initiated by CEO Alan Mulally, The auto producer is dramatically reducing the number of options available and is reducing the number of nameplate vehicles from 97 a few years ago to 20. One of the goals is to make Ford brands more universal on a global basis; that is, much less local customization. At one point, for example, Ford had three regional versions of the Focus, requiring three different engineering teams.
The Ford approach flies in the face of longtime American automotive conventional wisdom. General Motors, for example, achieved great success by developing a Buick platform in China with Chinese engineers.
The implication of the Ford strategy for materials is clear: there will be an accelerated trend toward common chemicals platforms within car areas. For instance, look for even greater emphasis on polyolefin polymers in auto interiors. The trend had already begun to facilitate recycling.
A recent report sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) focuses on emerging gasification technologies for converting waste into energy and fuel on a large scale and saving it from the landfill. Some of that waste includes non-recycled plastic.
Capping a 30-year quest, GE Aviation has broken ground on the first high-volume factory for producing commercial jet engine components from ceramic matrix composites. The plant will produce high-pressure turbine shrouds for the LEAP Turbofan engine.
Seismic shifts in 3D printing materials include an optimization method that reduces the material needed to print an object by 85 percent, research designed to create new, stronger materials, and a new ASTM standard for their mechanical properties.
A recent study finds that 3D printing is both cheaper and greener than traditional factory-based mass manufacturing and distribution. At least, it's true for making consumer plastic products on open-source, low-cost RepRap printers.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.