Machining composites presents unique challenges compared to metals. Reinforcement fibers are abrasive, shortening tool life. The plastic matrix carries away little heat, unlike metal chips, and overheating can melt the matrix.
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A recent effort by the Norton Advanced Applications Engineering Group demonstrates that for difficult-to-machine materials, grinding can be an economical alternative to other machining processes.
Entrepreneurs and existing manufacturers are making 3D printers that automate production of composite parts, and are unique in their design.
The simple proposition that no two automation solutions using robotics are alike because no two manufacturing processes are identical presented a major challenge to Daniel Drennen of Deshazo LLC (Alabaster, AL).
Supplying the 700 level-one trauma centers in the US is an intensively competitive business. Not only must suppliers like Smith & Nephew Orthopedics Inc. (Memphis, TN) produce very fine surface finishes on implantable devices and surgical instruments made from difficult-to-machine materials, but they also must deliver quality products, as surgeons need them.
New coatings are going the boutique route, using multiple layers and new materials to optimize for a particular application
When GE decided that additive manufacturing was the way to go for making metal fuel nozzles for its new LEAP engine, the company touched off interest in other shops to move 3D printers from the design studio to the factory floor. It also stepped up the focus on safety standards for metal AM.
Daimler may be the first vehicle maker to offer 3D-printed replacement parts, but racing enthusiasts and car collectors like Jay Leno have been using additive manufacturing and 3D scanning for many years to replace worn-out parts or to enhance their rides.
Lightweighting is so established it’s now part of marketing for new vehicles. Automakers routinely detail how much less models weigh than their predecessors. General Motors Co., for example, has said a range of its vehicles is anywhere from almost 250 lb (112.5 kg) to 700 lb (315 kg) lighter.
There’s an old saw that if bumblebees were aeronautical engineers they would know they can’t fly. Quite apart from the miracle of their flight, bees also happen to make a lightweight structure of surprising strength, just the sort of thing you’d want if you were building aircraft: honeycomb.