Contract manufacturing is big business—and it's about to get bigger. Technology forecasters estimate that the industry will grow to above $250B by 2004. Latest numbers for 2001 put the figure at $110B. Why the growth spurt? Once known almost exclusively for building boards for customers, many contract manufacturers are now involved in many stages of product development—from prototyping to design, to testing to training. In fact, 73% of the manufacturers surveyed in a recent study by Reed Business say that they see themselves doing more designs for customers in the next two years. Top reasons: Cost efficiency; technical expertise; and fast cycle times.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
Researchers have been developing a number of nano- and micro-scale technologies that can be used for implantable medical technology for the treatment of disease, diagnostics, prevention, and other health-related applications.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
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