The 2012 Ford Focus, on sale early next year in North
America and Europe, uses cotton from recycled clothing for carpet backing and
"Ford is continually looking for greener alternatives," says
Carrie Majeske, product sustainability manager. "One of our key goals is to use
more recycled or renewable materials without compromising performance or
durability. Recycled content is a way to divert waste from landfills and reduce
the impact of mining virgin material."
Ford is implementing a strategy to broaden use of sustainable
materials. "One of the key goals of this strategy is to identify and globally
implement materials technologies that improve environmental and social
performance and lower costs," the company says in a report.
Two direct engineering impacts are the development of global
specifications for sustainable materials and standardization of sustainable
One big winner in Ford's new strategy will be increased use
of post-consumer recycled plastics and other materials. Ford says cars already
start with a high content of recycled materials - 20 to 25 percent - because of
the use of steel scrap in mini mills.
This year, Ford specified the use of textile materials using
30 to 40 percent recycled content for rear wheel liners. "These fabric parts
are 50 percent lighter than plastic wheel liners and absorb sound, which will
enable improved noise vibration and harshness performance while potentially
reducing the need for sound-deadening insulators, sprays and foams," Ford says
in its report.
The recycled materials resin strategy saved Ford $4 to $5
million in 2009 and diverted between 25 and 30 million lb of plastic from
landfills. Use of in-house scrap materials is not counted toward Ford's
Ford is also a leading user
of sustainable materials, such as seat foam made from soybeans.
The Beam Store from Suitable Technologies is managed by remote workers from places as diverse as New York and Sydney, Australia. Employees attend to store visitors through Beam Smart Presence Systems (SPSs) from the company. The systems combine mobility and video conferencing and allow people to communicate directly from a remote location via a screen as well as move around as if they are actually in the room.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
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.