Ann, thanks for this article. This is a cool process! I can see why simulation of the molded part properties was an important part of the project, since the size, distribution, and orientation of the fibers will be different in the thermoformed areas as compared to the injection molded areas. One slight drawback is that the most reinforcement ends up in the areas which are geometrically easiest to thermoform, not necessarily the areas where the most reinforcement is needed. But still, this is a promising new process. With regard to a discussion going on in another thread, it's interesting to note that the German government supported this development.
By uniting injection molding and thermoforming into one processes, I assume the big benefit to manufacturers is reduced cost. Are there other benefits to producing complex automotive components in this manner?
Siemens and Georgia Institute of Technology are partnering to address limitations in the current additive manufacturing design-to-production chain in an applied research project as part of the federally backed America Makes program.
Most of the new 3D printers and 3D printing technologies in this crop are breaking some boundaries, whether it's build volume-per-dollar ratios, multimaterials printing techniques, or new materials types.
Independent science safety company Underwriters Laboratories is providing new guidance for manufacturers about how to follow the latest IEC standards for implementing safety features in programmable logic controllers.
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