Technologies Point to New Possibilities for Automotive…

Technologies Point to New Possibilities for Automotive…

Mar 3, 2017

“Technologies Point to New Possibilities for Automotive Manufacturing” By Design-2-Part Magazine Divergent 3D’s environmentally efficient manufacturing platform and Toyota’s wireless EV charging system receive special recognition at R&D 100 Awards  OXON HILL, Md.—A manufacturing platform that reduces the amount of capital, materials, and energy needed to build vehicles, and a wireless electric vehicle charging system that enables batteries to be charged while driving were among the technologies awarded special recognition at the 2016 R&D 100 Awards, announced in November by R&D magazine. In selecting what are judged to be the “100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace over the past year,” the international awards competition recognizes excellence across a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, optics, materials science, and biotechnology.     Divergent 3D, a Los Angeles-based startup with a radical new approach to automotive manufacturing, took top honors in the Special Recognition: Green Tech category, receiving the Gold Award for its environmentally efficient Divergent Manufacturing Platform™. Meanwhile, Toyota Engineering and Manufacturing North America, headquartered in Erlanger, Kentucky, received the Bronze Award in the Special Recognition: Green Tech category for the Wireless Power Transfer Based Electric and Plug-in Vehicle Charging System. Toyota co-developed the technology with a team of researchers from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and support from Cisco Systems and the International Transportation Innovation Center. Divergent 3D is attempting to greatly reduce the materials and energy used to manufacture vehicles, along with the associated costs and pollution, through a software-hardware platform known as the Divergent Manufacturing Platform. The platform is said to enable people to design and build a strong, very light chassis for vehicles ranging from a two-seat sports car to a pickup truck.  Its key building blocks are 3D-printed metal Node™ connectors, aluminum-alloy joints that connect pieces of aerospace-grade carbon fiber tubing to form the chassis. The Nodes reduce the amount of time, material, and actual 3D printing required to build the chassis, making it much lighter and far less costly and energy-intensive than those used on traditional vehicles. And instead of making expensive changes to hard tooling, manufacturers can use the software to rapidly iterate the hardware design. Divergent 3D is hoping that small entrepreneurial teams will use its manufacturing platform...

$64 Million Digital Factory Is Said to Herald the…

$64 Million Digital Factory Is Said to Herald the…

Feb 20, 2017

“$64 Million Digital Factory Is Said to Herald the Future of Manufacturing” By Design-2-Part Magazine Faurecia’s Columbus, Indiana-based emissions control technologies plant represents company’s digital transformation. AUBURN HILLS, Mich.—The automotive supplier Faurecia recently unveiled a $64 million state-of-the-art, data-driven manufacturing facility in Columbus, Indiana, that  will employ 450 people. Columbus South, a 400,000 square-foot facility, will produce a new, high-tech emissions control product for the commercial vehicle industry. “This facility represents our entry into Industry 4.0, a revolutionary concept incorporating connectivity, automation, data processing, and hardware to advance the manufacturing industry,” said Mike Galarno, plant manager of Columbus South, in a press release. “We are proud to be the first plant to incorporate many of these leading technologies under one roof to create efficient systems and an innovative working experience for employees.” With this facility, Faurecia is driving forward the company’s digital transformation by ushering in technologies that are at the forefront of modern-day manufacturing. “Manufacturing is sometimes stereotyped as dirty and requiring few skills,” said Dave DeGraaf, president of Faurecia Emissions Control Technologies North America, in the release. “Columbus South contributes to the shifting landscape of the industry to one that is modern, clean, and technologically advanced, and aimed at attracting a new generation of employees with different and advanced skillsets.” The Columbus South facility’s digital environment will feature a variety of new technologies, systems, and processes that reflect the improvements of Industry 4.0, including quality through laser scanning and early detection of variation; self-learning autonomous intelligent vehicles (AIVs) to transport component parts to the assembly line; continuous data collection, which enables employees to predict and prevent equipment failures; a completely paperless environment that keeps employees connected and informed with real time information; and an open-concept design and digital screens, laptops, and smartphones to encourage collaboration. In addition to these advancements, Columbus South will also have a combination of collaborative robots, or “cobots,” automated robotic vehicles, and visual communication techniques designed to foster real-time collaboration and communication. Collectively, Columbus South is expected to analyze terabytes of data daily, requiring a full-time, on-site mathematician to continually mine data, cull insights, and forecast an issue before it occurs. “Columbus South isn’t only about the product...

Solar Panels’ Brightest Year

Solar Panels’ Brightest Year

Oct 27, 2016

By Mark Langlois, Design-2-Part Magazine Electricity from the sun—installed photovoltaics—is growing at a pace that may double its size in the U.S. in 2016 alone. The Solar Energy Industries Association said U.S. firms and homeowners installed 1,665 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power in the first quarter of 2016, generating enough power for 5.7 homes. Manufacturers, who frequently have a lot of unused, sunny real estate above their heads, have noticed this trend, and are taking advantage of systems that are more efficient and cost 33 percent less than they did in 2011. “When you know 70 percent of your energy costs are covered by the sun, that’s a feel-good thing,” said Ron Delfini, president of Engineering Specialties Inc., in North Branford, Connecticut. Engineering Specialties installed 494 solar panels in 2014 on the 30,500-square-foot metal stamping and machining facility, enough to generate 123 kilowatts of power. “Manufacturers are looking for as many ways as possible to cut costs. This helps,” Delfini said. Delfini said he expects to recover his investment of $300,000 within five years. He said that ESI used utility incentives, and the solar company he hired, Independence Solar, helped ESI through the funding process. Engineering Specialties owns the $300,000 worth of solar panels on the company roof, and he expects the investment to pay off as promised. “If the payback is five or six years, it makes you think about it,” Delfini said. The panels are warranted to last 25 years. “What happens is the meter starts to run backward.” Companies and most people want to be environmentally sound, said Jerry Leshem, president of Lesro Industries, a Connecticut furniture manufacturer that covered its roof with 3,200 solar panels in 2016. Being environmentally friendly was a costly decision in the old days, Leshem said. “It used to be, ‘I want to go green but I have to sacrifice.’” Times have changed. The Connecticut Green Bank, which helped fund Lesro’s panels, estimates the panels will save Lesro $700,000 over 20 years, or more than $30,000 a year. Lesro said it looks like the $30,000 figure is accurate, but he was interested in something else about the project. “I fixed my electrical costs for the duration...

Silicon Valley Firm Provides Window into US Manufacturing

Silicon Valley Firm Provides Window into US Manufacturing

Aug 31, 2016

Building strong customer relationships is a priority for Advanced Machining Techniques, a company that combines pallet changers with efficient multi-axis machining to get the most out of its machines.

Is Hybrid Manufacturing Right for You?

Is Hybrid Manufacturing Right for You?

Aug 24, 2016

By Mark Langlois, Design-2-Part Magazine A new approach to manufacturing combines the design advantages of 3D printing with the quality and precision of multi-axis CNC machining. Imperial Machine & Tool Co. (www.imperialmachine.com) has its feet firmly planted in CNC machining on American-made Haas equipment, and its future aimed at 3D printing. But company president Chris Joest is the first to say that CNC machining isn’t going anywhere. Discovering the future of manufacturing is at the heart of the family-owned, 73-year-old shop. Joest’s son, Christian, is the fourth generation to work in the family business, and it’s his job to scout out emerging technologies. He’s currently working at the junction of 3D manufacturing and CNC machining, which helps explain why Chris Joest believes that hybrid manufacturing—a combination of CNC machining and 3D printing—will play an important role in the future production of parts and components. “Every single metal structure that comes out of the printer needs to be machined,” said Chris Joest, 57, in an interview at his Columbia, New Jersey plant, near the Pennsylvania border. Although some firms find additive manufacturing disappointing for this reason, Joest said that those “extra” steps are Imperial’s specialty. And because most manufacturers of 3D printed metal parts need a machine shop to finish the job, they represent opportunity. “We’re in the very early stages of 3D manufacturing as a country,” said Joest. “Here at Imperial, we’re looking at 3D printing as one step in the process.” Joest is comfortable with that idea. A machined part goes through numerous steps before completion. In addition to being cut, milled, tapped, and drilled, it is often ground, bored, turned, planed, reamed, and polished. Why shouldn’t a 3D printed part require more work on its journey? Joest argues that early adopters of additive manufacturing are realizing benefits today while other firms aren’t because they didn’t try. He said investing in 3D manufacturing today is costly, and it doesn’t mean profits will immediately follow. He estimates his additive manufacturing investment at nearly $2 million to date. “We’re at the very beginning,” Joest said. 3D Printing with Various Materials Perhaps it’s the end of the beginning, because depending on a customer’s requirements, Imperial already...