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.
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.
A fun and informative tour you can attend at the upcoming Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis, MD&M Minneapolis, and other events there, is the Materials Innovation Tour on Wednesday afternoon. I'll be leading it.
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.