Stronger Structure: Ford's new 500 model is one of many new cars with more content from advanced high-strength steels.
Choosing materials and fastening solutions that mesh with efficient manufacturing will heighten your chances for project success.
That message came through repeatedly from design veterans participating in seven Web-based seminars presented by Design News and industry partners on March 30. Part of a continuing series of online E2E (Engineer to Engineer) seminars archived on www.designnews.com/E2E, the full-day materials event featured advice and anecdotes from many respected names in the field.
Engineers attending the virtual conference got a taste of technical sleuthing, as keynote speaker Ken Russell gave examples of metal failure cases he investigated during his long career as a forensics metallurgist. A professor emeritus at MIT, Russell also chartered the evolution of materials trends in his career.
"We've gone from steel ruling the materials world to a focus on semiconductor materials and ceramics," Russell said. "Now, polymers and especially biomaterials are dominating R&D." Among notable developments, he cited artificial skin for burn victims and new forms of drug delivery, such as polymers impregnated with time-released medications.
Doing the impossible
Other speakers described how engineers and manufacturers can beat the odds through collaboration on design, materials choices, and production methods. Bob Mizek, director of engineering at New Archery Products, told how he teamed with custom molder Phillips Plastics on the revolutionary "QuikSpin" vane. Until this product came along, related Mizek, companies had not been successful in molding large quantity of vanes—the fin-like component on the rear shaft of the arrow.
New Archery engineers worked with Phillips to find a thermoplastic that was durable, colorable, and—for hunting enthusiasts—odorless. The application also needed a multi-shot molding operation. "Everyone thought all this was an impossible challenge—except for Phillips," recalled Mizek, who cited the steps his firm took with the molder to refine the design, develop prototypes, and keep costs in check. The team even brought noted Canadian archery champion Bruce Malmberg into the act—getting his feedback as the design progressed.
On Target: Designer-molder collaboration made the QuikSpin arrow vane an archery champion.
In another session, speakers looked at molding of a different sort—metal injection molding—especially using powder metals for parts in applications ranging from autos to office machines to rifles. The Powder Metal Products Div. of Remington Arms, for example, produces a million such parts a year. Remington engineering supervisor Maryann Wright discussed the economic and design benefits of powder metal, including strength, materials savings, and near-net-shape processing.
Howard Sanderow, a consultant to the Metal Powder Industries Federation, previewed a new online Global Powder Metallurgy database (www.pmdatabase.com), where engineers can view properties of more than 100 materials and download specifications at no charge right into their finite element analysis software.
Design with manufacturing in mind
In "Design Issues in Assembly," sponsored by DIRAK, nationally known expert Nick Dewhurst of Boothroyd Dewhurst gave examples of how steps taken in the design stage can sharply reduce costs and lead to better products. The #1 consideration: parts reduction. "Nothing takes costs out like taking parts out," Dewhurst noted.
Testing the limits
Still other E2E speakers pointed to the payoffs from adopting new materials. In "Pushing the Performance Envelope," Jody Shaw, technical industry manager for US Steel, cited many new automotive applications for advanced high-strength steels. The material offers weight savings while providing the structural integrity needed to comply with tough crash tests and other regulations.
Keith Blakley, CEO of Nanodyamics Inc., looked at new products in the fast-growing world of nanotechnology—everything from batteries to cosmetics to tennis racquets. He also described properties of several nanomaterials, a category that will mushroom to a $400 billion annual market within a decade.
"This isn't hype," cautioned Blakely. "If you haven't thought about these new nanomaterials for your future designs, get going. You may already be far behind."