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.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
ABI Research, a firm based in the UK that specializes in analyzing global connectivity and other emerging technologies, estimates there will be 40.9 billion active wirelessly interconnected “things” by 2020. The driving force is the usual suspect: the Internet of Things.
Just in time for Earth Day, chemicals leader Bayer MaterialScience reported from the UTECH Europe 2015 polyurethane show on programs and applications using its materials to help reduce energy usage. The company also gave an update on its CO2-based PU as that eco-friendly material comes closer to production.
Solar and wind energy are becoming more viable as a source of energy on the electric grid. For decades, the major drawback to solar and wind was that they’re temperamental. A cloudy day kills solar and a still day renders the wind turbines useless. Automation tools, however, are providing a path to help these renewables become practical.
In honor of Earth Day, the National Security Agency has launched the STEM Recycling Challenge in Maryland schools to encourage kids to think about where the garbage they throw out every day actually goes. The agency has also introduced “Dunk,” a muscular blue cartoon recycling bin wearing shorts and sneakers.
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.