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Auto Industry Faces Short- and Long-Term Challenges

Sales of cars and light trucks plummeted during the Great Recession and General Motors Co. and Chrysler emerged from government-back bankruptcies in 2009. Since then, total industry deliveries have surged, hitting a record 17.47 million in 2015, according to Autodata Corp.

Tooling and Workholding Systems

“We are developing solutions for power workholding such as hydraulic swing clamps and block clamps, because the real estate on a fixture is so valuable,” says Jason Betz, product specialist for Carr Lane Roemheld (St. Louis). “This pushes the use of smaller workholding components as much as possible because the more parts on the fixture the greater the productivity.”

Metal Parts Follow Tough Plastics Act

When you walk into the Redeye On Demand facility in Eden Prairie, MN, you enter into one version of the factory of the future. There you will see a bank of 100 high-end Fortus fused-deposition modeling (FDM) machines from Stratasys that provide the capacity to build real, functional parts with production-grade thermoplastics directly from CAD data.

Tooling to Match Composite Production

It’s getting harder to imagine any market that isn’t benefiting from the latest developments in parts manufactured from advanced composites. “Advanced composites will arguably dominate consumer and production products, especially in the near future,” says Bert Erdel, industry consultant and executive technology advisor, Morris Group Inc. (Windsor, CT), “as they have begun to gain wide acceptance in solving energy-related issues.”

Solutions for Difficult Machining

The machining challenges for two of the most advanced concepts in cutting tool materials are pretty well known. Cubic boron nitride (CBN) tools of varying designs are being used to cut hardened ferrous metals with or without interrupted cuts, as well as welded and clad metals.

What’s the Connection?

A lot of attention is paid to the “business end” of CNC toolholders–the part that actually holds the tool.

Tooling and Workholding

Overall, there are two overriding customer needs: reducing cycle time and machine downtime. They want higher feed rates and depth of cut for greater metal removal.

Cold Sintering Process Saves Energy, Material

Researchers at Penn State University (University Park, PA) have devised a novel method for sintering, a widely used manufacturing process for powdered materials. The new process, which uses much less time and energy than current approaches, could have global implications on manufacturing and energy savings and pave the way for new discoveries.