After two weak years, look for some excitement at the North American Auto Show, which opens to the press on Monday in Detroit. Audi’s new 2012 A6 will officially debut this week. From a materials’ perspective, Audi is a big believer in aluminum as a way to cut weight and boost performance. In fact, more than one-fifth of the chassis is made from aluminum, which is also used in the, doors and trunk lid. Another high-end car getting its first public showing is BMW’s 2012 1 Series M Coupe, which also make extensive use of aluminum in its chassis and various structural components.
Emphasis on lighter weight continues with the expected unveiling of Honda’s 2012 Civic concept. Design engineering of the iconic car was held up after an edict from Honda CE Takanobu Ito to make the new Civic smaller, lighter and more efficient than its predecessor. Materials’ details to come. Aluminum, again, likely will be a winner because engineering of new composites’ structures takes a few years to implement. GM, Ford, and Chrysler are working on a new composite underbody, but there likely will be little evidence at the auto show this week.
Ford is expected to show a concept that will point to the future of its SUV brand. General Motors is expected to show the Chevrolet Sonic (shown below), a new compact for the North American market that will go into production this year in Michigan. We’ll hear about the specifics this week.
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.