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.
Many of the new adhesives we're featuring in this slideshow are for use in automotive and other transportation applications. The rest of these new products are for a wide variety of applications including aviation, aerospace, electrical motors, electronics, industrial, and semiconductors.
A Columbia University team working on molecular-scale nano-robots with moving parts has run into wear-and-tear issues. They've become the first team to observe in detail and quantify this process, and are devising coping strategies by observing how living cells prevent aging.
Many of the new materials on display at MD&M West were developed to be strong, tough replacements for metal parts in different kinds of medical equipment: IV poles, connectors for medical devices, medical device trays, and torque-applying instruments for orthopedic surgery. Others are made for close contact with patients.
New sensor technology integrates sensors, traces, and electronics into a smart fabric for wearables that measures more dimensions -- force, location, size, twist, bend, stretch, and motion -- and displays data in 3D maps.
As we saw on the show floor this week at the Pacific Design & Manufacturing and co-located events in Anaheim, Calif., 3D printing is contributing to distributed manufacturing and being reinvented by engineers for their own needs. Meanwhile, new fasteners are appearing for wearable consumer and medical devices and Baxter Robot has another software upgrade.
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