Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive…

Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive…

May 12, 2017

“Carbon Fiber, Steel, Put New Twist on Automotive Lightweighting” By Charles Murray, Design News Hybrid approach enables engineers to cut weight in high-load, high-volume auto applications. In a new twist on automotive lightweighting, engineers from Eaton Corp. are combining steel with carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics to cut weight in high-load, high-volume powertrain applications, such as differential housings and transmission gear sets.   Eaton engineers say the new approach not only allows them to handle the high torque loads of those components, it enables them to do it in a way that’s economically palatable for automakers. “Typically, when we talk about metal replacement in vehicles, we’re looking at lower-load, thermoplastic parts, like under-hood parts that use nylon,” noted Kelly Williams, research and technology manager for polymers and nanocomposites at Eaton Corporate Research . “But higher-load, harsher-environment applications like this haven’t been done. This is a new approach, as far as we know.” Williams said that the automotive supplier is working with at least two automakers on replacement of cast iron differential housings with hybrid parts made from steel and carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP). The hybrid housing, which is subjected to torques as high as 4,000 lb-ft, uses a steel frame to carry the higher loads and employs the CFRP to carry medium-level loads. Even with its equivalent load-carrying capacity, it weighs about 40% less than the cast iron version, Williams said. “In terms of strength and stiffness, this approach can be comparable to cast iron,” Williams told Design News. “Carbon fiber alone is not as stiff as steel — its modulus is not as high as steel — so that’s why we use both materials.” Carbon fiber composites have a specific modulus of 14 GPa cc/g, versus 25 GPa cc/g for steel, she added. To be sure, CFRP has been used previously in vehicles and in aerospace applications, but generally not for high-load, high-volume parts, largely due to manufacturing cost constraints. Eaton was able to reduce costs, however, by combining the steel frame with the overmolded composite, enabling the creation of a quick, net-shape parts that need little secondary finishing. As a result, cycle times are shorter, making it less costly and more suitable for...

Massive Industrial Robots Vulnerable To Being Hacked

Massive Industrial Robots Vulnerable To Being Hacked

May 11, 2017

By Meagan Parrish, Manufacturing.net Imagine what you could do if you controlled the 220-pound arm of an industrial robot. That’s exactly what researchers set out to do in an experiment that revealed security vulnerabilities in robots that manufacture everything from phones to cars. Conducted by the security firm Trend Micro and Politecnico di Milano, an Italian technical university, the researchers spent over a year finding different ways to hack industrial robots connected to the internet. The robots in the study were made by five of the industry’s biggest manufacturers: ABB, Mitsubishi, Fanuc, Yaskawa and Kawasaki. Ultimately, the researchers found multiple inroads into the robots’ operating systems. In one case they were able to reconfigure a robot’s programming to make it draw a line two millimeters off from the intended target. That change might seem miniscule — unless you consider how it could dramatically alter the safety of a car or an airplane. “If these robots are welding a car chassis together or a wing on an airplane, two millimeters can be catastrophic,” Mark Nunnikhoven, the vice president of cloud research at Trend Micro, said. What’s more, if a hacker was able to physically access the robot or get onto the same local network, they could rewrite the device’s firmware. This would allow the hacker to wield the robot even though it would appear as though the operator was in control. Sound a little frightening? In the study, the hackers imagine a scenario where the robot arm bends backward and destroys itself. An even more gruesome possibility: a compromised robot that appears to be functioning normally could trick an employee into entering its cage and cause physical harm. “The operator thinks it is safe to walk or stand near the robot even if in that very moment, an attacker is controlling its movements,” the report read. After the researchers contacted ABB — the main subject of the study — about the security issues, the company responded by sending out fixes for all of the bugs. “Testing is a critical process to stay ahead of new cyber security threats,” the company said in a statement. “The results [of the Trend Micro tests] emphasize the importance of using...

Sandia’s Solar Glitter Moves Closer to Market with New…

Sandia’s Solar Glitter Moves Closer to Market with New…

Apr 28, 2017

“Sandia’s Solar Glitter Moves Closer to Market with New Licensing Agreement” Featured on Design-2-Part Magazine ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —An Albuquerque company founded by a Sandia National Laboratories scientist-turned-entrepreneur has received a license for a “home-grown” technology that could revolutionize the way solar energy is collected and used. The licensing agreement between mPower Technology Inc. and Sandia was signed Jan. 23. The agreement covers microsystems enabled photovoltaics (MEPV), according to a press release from Sandia. “This is an important milestone,” said Murat Okandan, founder and chief executive officer of mPower, in the press release. “It is an extremely exciting time in the solar industry with the upcoming critical, rapid change in the worldwide energy infrastructure. A lot of things are coming together and we’re excited to be part of it.” MEPV uses micro-design and micro-fabrication techniques to make miniature solar cells, also known as “solar glitter.” Dragon SCALEs are small, lightweight, flexible solar cells that fit into and power devices or sensors of any shape or size, including wearable ones. The high-efficiency cells can be integrated into satellites and drones, biomedical and consumer electronics, and can be folded like paper for easy transport. Dragon SCALEs also make possible new shapes and materials and faster, cheaper installation of solar energy systems on buildings, said Okandan. The product offers higher voltage, greater reliability, and lower energy costs than standard silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells, he added. “The key limitation to silicon is that if you bend and flex it, it will crack and shatter,” Okandan said. “Our technology makes it virtually unbreakable, while keeping all the benefits of high efficiency, high reliability silicon PV. It allows us to integrate PV in ways that weren’t possible before, such as in flexible materials, and deploy it faster in lighter-weight, larger-area modules.” Okandan said standard silicon PV operates with low voltage and high current at the cell and module level, which requires more silver or copper and adds cost. MEPV allows high-voltage and low-current configurations with less metal in the system and meshes well with integrated power electronics. “These are basic benefits that apply fundamentally to large-scale solar deployment,” Okandan said. “And the same technology provides key advantages in satellites, drones, and portable...

Are Autonomous Cars Disrupting the Supply Chain?

Are Autonomous Cars Disrupting the Supply Chain?

Apr 25, 2017

By Charles, Murray, DesignNews In the development of self-driving vehicles, Tier Two suppliers say they’re communicating directly with automakers in ways they hadn’t previously. During a two-week period in early February of this year, Chris Jacobs of Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) criss-crossed the country, visiting the offices of virtually every major automaker to discuss such technologies as radar, Lidar, and microelectromechanical sensors. A decade ago, Jacobs wouldn’t have gotten his foot in the door with the automakers to discuss such subjects. But thanks to the emerging importance of self-driving cars, Jacobs says he and his colleagues have suddenly become very important. “Just in the last year, it’s been insane,” Jacobs, general manager of ADI’s advanced driver assistance systems and automotive safety, recently told Design News. “Now, the OEMs [automakers] want to develop non-disclosure agreements with us. And they want us to develop prototypes for them without a Tier One [supplier], so they can try them out on their test tracks. This would have never happened 10 years ago.” Meet more than 9,100 qualified buyers and decision makers searching for new products, the latest technologies, and state-of-the-art processes across the full spectrum of advanced design and manufacturing at our East Coast Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo. June 13-15, 2017 in NY. Indeed, the time-honored order of the automotive supply chain seems to be changing, and the autonomous car may be behind it. In the past, Tier Two vendors, such as Analog Devices, didn’t communicate with automakers. Rather, they reported almost exclusively to the Tier Ones, such as Delphi Automotive PLC, Robert Bosch GmbH, Visteon Corp. and Continental AG. The Tier Ones, in turn, worked with the automakers to build bigger products, integrating sensors, software, semiconductor chips, and other parts from the Tier Twos. Under such arrangements, Tier Twos were generally discouraged from contacting the OEMs (the automakers) directly. “We would want to talk to them, and they would say, ‘Talk to the Tier One,’” Jacobs said. Now, that’s changing. Today, Tier Two electronics suppliers say they’re connected directly to the automakers on a separate dotted line – at least when it comes to autonomous cars. They’re neither more nor less important than the Tier One....

Robots won’t take your job—they’ll help make room…

Robots won’t take your job—they’ll help make room…

Apr 21, 2017

“Robots won’t take your job—they’ll help make room for meaningful work instead” By TL Andrews, Quartz Unencumbered by the prospect of re-election, outgoing presidents tend to use their final speeches to candidly warn against threats they believe to be metastasizing in society. For example, George Washington spoke of the ills of hyper-partisanship and excessive debt. Dwight Eisenhower denounced the waxing power of the “military industrial complex.” President Barack Obama singled out an economic peril in his otherwise doggedly hopeful final address in Chicago: “The next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas,” he said. “It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good, middle-class jobs obsolete.” Obama articulated a fear felt by many around the world: That all our jobs will eventually be done by robots. Research backs this fear: One study found that automation will threaten at least 47% of jobs in America and up to 85% in the rest of the world. But a number of economists are beginning to argue that this view of automation excludes a lot of the story. Putting automation in context To simply argue that automation is going to gobble up jobs ignores the potential for productivity gains. The Business Harvard Review found that the IT revolution led to 0.6% labor productivity growth and 1% of overall growth in Europe, the US, and Japan between 1995 and 2005. “It all hinges on demand,” says Jim Bessen, professor of economics at Boston University. If the productivity gains are enough to significantly boost demand, then job growth may be the result. This is especially true when new technologies create jobs that simply did not exist before, such as social-media managers. In those cases, any jobs created will make a net contribution to the labor market. Though automation will cost some jobs, it will also create many others. A case in point is the rollout of ATMs in the US. Introduced in the 1970s, the number of ATMs increased from 100,000 to 400,000 between 1995 and 2010. Running an ATM is cheaper than paying a teller’s salary, so as ATMs became more numerous relative to tellers, the overall cost of each bank branch came down. As it became cheaper to operate a...