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[Due to the increasing size of the archives, each topic page now contains only the prior 365 days of content. Access to older stories is now solely through the Monthly Archive pages or the site search function.]

BMW Group expands use of additive manufacturing processes in series production; planar technologies

July 13, 2016

The BMW Group has been using components from 3D printers in series production since 2012; more than 10,000 additively-manufactured parts are built into the Rolls-Royce Phantom. The Additive Manufacturing Center at the company’s Research and Innovation Centre (FIZ) has also been using these forming processes to produce parts for the new Rolls-Royce Dawn since the beginning of the year.

The BMW Group is steadily pursuing the evolution and use of advanced additive-manufacturing methods, and says it will continue to expand the application of 3D printing in the future. Planar 3D printing technologies will enable much faster production times and more economical production.

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Volkswagen brand says it has met 2018 Think Blue. Factory. environmental targets; environmental compatibility of car production improved by 25%

July 09, 2016

The Volkswagen brand announced that it has reached the self-defined sustainability target for production set out in Think Blue. Factory. for 2018. (Earlier post.) At the brand’s production facilities throughout the world, vehicles and components are now manufactured in a way which is 25% more environmentally compatible than five years ago.

Taking the average of the five agreed environmental indicators for the Volkswagen brand, environmental impact has been reduced by 25.3%, with energy consumption down by 24.7%; CO2 emissions by 29.1%, waste production by as much as 46.5%; water consumption by 18.2%; and solvent emissions by 8.2% between 2010 and the end of 2015. These figures are determined per vehicle or component produced.

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Porsche opens new plant for eight-cylinder engines; digitalization and data management; V8s for all VW Group brands

July 08, 2016

Porsche has officially dedicated a new engine plant for eight-cylinder engines. The factory at the main site in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen works with state-of-the-art production methods, leveraging digitalization and data management. At full plant utilization produces around 200 eight-cylinder V-engines daily. The sports car manufacturer has invested nearly €80 million in the new production facility.

Porsche’s new engine plant will also contribute towards synergies within the Volkswagen Group. Plans call for producing the eight-cylinder V-engines for all Group brands in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen from this point forward.

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Renault-Nissan Alliance delivers €4.3B synergy target early; autonomous drive and connectivity expected to deliver major savings

July 06, 2016

Renault-Nissan Alliance generated €4.3 billion (US$4.8 billion) in synergies in 2015, one year ahead of schedule and an increase of 13% from 2014. Purchasing, engineering and manufacturing were the main contributors.

The Common Module Family and cross-production continue to reduce costs, while the development of technologies including autonomous drive and vehicle connectivity is expected to generate major savings moving forward. With the convergence, the Alliance expects to generate at least €5.5 billion (US$6.1 billion) in synergies in 2018

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DOE to award up to $70M for Manufacturing Institute focused on reuse, recycling and remanufacturing

June 27, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will award up to $70 million for a new Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute focused on improving technologies and processes to achieve cost parity of recycled and waste materials with primary feedstocks, while improving material efficiency in manufacturing processes.

The new funding opportunity—(DE-FOA-0001594) “Reducing EMbodied energy And Decreasing Emissions (REMADE) in Materials Manufacturing— will support the REMADE in America Institute. The REMADE institute will enable the development and widespread deployment of key industrial platform technologies that will significantly reduce life-cycle energy consumption and carbon emissions associated with industrial-scale materials production and processing by creating new technologies for reuse, recycling, and remanufacturing of materials.

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Lamborghini inaugurates new Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory carbon fiber research center in Seattle

June 21, 2016

Automobili Lamborghini celebrated the grand opening of its new Seattle-based carbon fiber research facility, the Advanced Composite Structures Laboratory (ACSL). Operating as an entity outside of the company's headquarters in Sant’Agata Bolognese, the ACSL is responsible for unlocking new potential in carbon fiber.

Seattle is a strategic location for the ACSL, particularly because of its collaboration with Boeing in working toward carbon fiber innovations that are beneficial in both automotive and aerospace applications. The grand opening of the new ACSL also marks the 30th anniversary of Lamborghini’s use of carbon fiber reinforced polymer in its vehicles.

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LA-based SMLC to lead new DOE Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute; ~$800M for 5 new hub competitions

At an event in Washington, President Obama announced that the Smart Manufacturing Leadership Coalition (SMLC) will lead the new Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, in partnership with the Department of Energy. The winning coalition, headquartered in Los Angeles, California brings together a consortium of nearly 200 partners from across academia, industry, and non-profits to spur advances in smart sensors and digital process controls that can significantly improve the efficiency of US advanced manufacturing.

The Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute is the ninth manufacturing hub awarded by the Obama Administration. The President also announced the launch of five new manufacturing hub competitions, which will invest nearly $800 million in combined federal and non-federal resources to support transformative manufacturing technologies from collaborative robotics to biofabrication of cells and tissues, to revolutionizing the ways materials can be reused and recycled.

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New aluminum-cerium alloys could boost rare earth production; improved energy efficiency of engines

June 03, 2016

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and partners Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Eck Industries have developed aluminum-cerium (Al-Ce) alloys that are both easier to work with and more heat tolerant than existing products.

ORNL scientists Zach Sims, Michael McGuire and Orlando Rios, along with colleagues from Eck, LLNL and Ames Laboratory in Iowa, discuss the technical and economic possibilities for aluminum–cerium alloys in an article in JOM, a publication of the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society. The alloys have the potential to jump-start US production of rare earth elements, the researchers suggested.

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RoMulus project: developing intelligent multi-sensor systems for Industry 4.0

May 29, 2016

The RoMulus (Robust multi-sensor technology for status monitoring in Industry 4.0 applications) research project project sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is focused on simplifying and accelerating the development and use of intelligent multi-sensor systems for Industry 4.0——the digitalization of production processes based on devices autonomously communicating with each other along the value chain. (Earlier post.)

Multi-sensor systems are key components for the success of Industry 4.0 applications. They record, process, and transmit a number of measurement parameters, such as pressure, acceleration, and temperature, all in a highly compact space. Machines are not the only ones to receive such sensors; workpieces are also increasingly being fitted with the intelligent sensor systems so that each product can provide its blueprint and report its manufacturing status. Based on this information, production is largely able to organize and monitor itself.

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NIST, partners create new international standard to improve sustainable manufacturing

May 27, 2016

A public-private team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a new international standard that can “map” the critically important environmental aspects of manufacturing processes, leading to significant improvements in sustainability while keeping a product’s life cycle low cost and efficient.

ASTM member Kevin Lyons, group leader, National Institute of Standards and Technology, notes that the new standard (ASTM E3012-16, Guide for Characterizing Environmental Aspects of Manufacturing Process) provides structure and formalism to ensure consistency in characterizing sustainable manufacturing processes. From there, computers can provide information and analytics on production and performance. Lyons explains that using the standard will help business transition into science-based modeling, decision-making, and production.

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Novelis commissions $120M finishing line for automotive aluminum sheet; importance of the closed-loop recycling program

May 26, 2016

Novelis, the world leader in aluminum rolling and recycling, celebrated the commissioning of its third CASH (Continuous Annealing Solution Heat) treatment finishing line for aluminum automotive sheet in Oswego, NY. Installed to support the production of stronger, lighter and safer vehicles, the $120-million CASH 3 line expands the company’s production to supply aluminum sheet for the body and cargo box of Ford’s 2017 F-150 SuperDuty pickups. The CASH 1 and 2 lines supply aluminum for Ford’s F-150. With the addition of the third CASH line in Oswego, Novelis has furthered its position as the leading automotive aluminum sheet supplier in North America.

The commissioning of the CASH 3 line also marks the expansion of the benchmark closed-loop recycling program—developed by Novelis, Ford and Penske—which processes roughly 25 million pounds of automotive aluminum scrap per month—more than enough to build 30,000 F-150 bodies. (Earlier post.) Recycled aluminum, which requires significantly less energy and water, avoids 95% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with primary aluminum production.

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PSA Group outlines powertrain production strategy: gasoline PHEVs, EVs and next-gen diesel and gasoline engines

May 25, 2016

As part of the energy transition process and in line with the technological offensive spelled out in its Push to Pass strategic plan (earlier post), PSA Group will focus on diversifying its offerings with plug-in hybrid gasoline systems and next-generation electric powertrains. The latter will be used in particular to equip e-CMP, its future electric platform developed in partnership with Dongfeng Motors. (Earlier post.) At the same time, the Group will continue to develop next-generation internal combustion engines, both gasoline and diesel.

For strategic reasons, PSA Group will manufacture the main electric powertrain components in France, signalling its determination to develop high-tech operations in profitable niche markets. The electric powertrain will be produced at the Trémery/Metz centre of excellence, while the gear systems will be manufactured at the Valenciennes plant.

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Amprius demonstrates new tool for roll-to-roll manufacturing of high-energy batteries with Si nanowire anodes

May 24, 2016

Amprius, a manufacturer of high-energy lithium-ion batteries using silicon nanowire anodes (earlier post), has demonstrated a novel tool for high-volume manufacturing. The new tool, a first-of-its-kind system for inline, continuous, and roll-to-roll production of three-dimensional silicon nanowire anodes, will enable Amprius to scale manufacturing and deliver lightweight and long-lasting batteries for unmanned vehicles, wearable technologies, and electric vehicles.

Amprius developed its new tool in partnership with Meyer Burger (Netherlands) B.V., a world leader in high-throughput deposition systems and processes. The tool uses a multi-step, Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process to produce Amprius’ silicon nanowire anodes. Amprius will unveil its new manufacturing tool to a select group of industry partners on 29 June 2016, at a Meyer Burger facility in the Netherlands.

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ORNL team develops laser process for lower cost, more robust joining of carbon fiber and aluminum

May 20, 2016

Researchers led by a team from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have developed a new laser process that could make joining carbon fiber composites and aluminum for lightweight cars and other multi-material high-end products less expensive—as well as making the joints more robust.

The process would replace the practice of preparing the surface of the materials by hand using abrasive pads, grit blasting and environmentally harmful solvents. Using a laser to remove layers of material from surfaces prior to bonding improves the performance of the joints and provides a path toward automation for high-volume use.

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Max Planck, MIT researchers develop new strategy for high-entropy alloys; overcoming the strength/ductility tradeoff

May 19, 2016

Researchers at the Max Planck Institute in Dusseldorf, Germany, and MIT have developed a novel strategy to design nanostructured, bulk high-entropy alloys (HEAs) (earlier post) with multiple compositionally equivalent high-entropy phases. The new approach is described in a paper this week in the journal Nature.

The result, says C. Cem Tasan, the Thomas B. King Career Development Professor of Metallurgy in MIT’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, also challenges the conventional wisdom that improving the strength of a metal alloy is always a tradeoff that results in a loss of ductility.

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Volkswagen takes stake in German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI); autonomous driving and the digital factory

May 14, 2016

Volkswagen is taking a stake in the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the world’s largest non-profit scientific institution specializing in artificial intelligence (AI). By acquiring participating in DFKI, the Volkswagen Group is reinforcing its research activities in the field of future-oriented digital technologies.

In addition to research in artificial intelligence, DFKI specializes in the fields of robotics, Industry 4.0 and driver assistance systems. In a joint project, Volkswagen and DFKI have started further to develop the software framework ROCK (Robotics Construction Kit) to allow direct, close cooperation between human beings and robots. The system was presented in a near-production scenario at the Volkswagen AG IT Symposium 2016.

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ORNL exclusively licenses plasma processing technology for carbon fiber production to RMX Technologies; 75% less energy, 20% lower cost

May 13, 2016

RMX Technologies and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have signed an exclusive licensing agreement for a new technology that significantly reduces the time and energy needed in the production of carbon fiber. Combing these benefits with a low-cost precursor currently in development, the result can be a carbon fiber product that is 40% less expensive to manufacture than current commercial products.

The ORNL/RMX plasma processing technology is a new approach to the oxidation stage of carbon fiber production in which polymer materials are oxidized (or stabilized) before carbonization. During oxidation, the thermoplastic precursor is converted to a thermoset material that can no longer be melted. Oxidation is the most time-consuming phase of the multistep carbon fiber conversion process.

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Hemming of thin-gauge AHSS achieves 30% weight savings

May 12, 2016

The Auto/Steel Partnership (announced that the Hemming of Thin Gauge Advanced High-Strength Steel (AHSS) project achieved a 30% weight savings using thinner gauge AHSS for automotive closure panels.

Hemming is a forming operation which is used in the automotive industry to join two sheet metal panels together. During the process, the flange of the outer panel is bent over the inner one. It is commonly used to assemble the outer parts of a car, such as doors, hoods, trunk leads and fenders. The accuracy of the hemming operation is very important as it affects the surface appearance and thus influences surface quality

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Novelis supplying aluminum for Cadillac CT6 in N America and China

May 10, 2016

Aluminum rolling and recycling leader Novelis announced that its aluminum is used in the new 2016 Cadillac CT6 body. The new mixed material vehicle construction featured in the Cadillac CT6 represents a first of its kind for General Motors (GM) in North America and China. (Earlier post.)

In North America, Novelis’ plant in Kingston, ON will supply GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant in Detroit, Michigan. Novelis’ plant in Changzhou, China will supply GM’s Shanghai plant, which will produce the CT6 manufactured locally in China.

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PARC, ORNL and Ford collaborate on high-energy, high-power battery production for EVs using CoEx printing

April 28, 2016

PARC, a Xerox company, is collaborating with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Ford Motor Company in a DOE-funded project that will use PARC’s novel CoEx printing technology (earlier post) to fabricate thick, higher energy and higher power battery electrodes with the end goal of enabling longer range and low cost electric vehicles.

The goal of the project—“Co-Extrusion (CoEx) for Cost Reduction of Advanced High-Energy-and-Power Battery Electrode Manufacturing”—is to demonstrate pilot-scale, electric vehicle (EV) pouch cells with a 20% improvement in gravimetric energy density (Wh/kg), and a 30% reduction in $/kWh costs.

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Honda introduces new automotive assembly line system: Assembly Revolution Cell Line; first implementation in Thailand

April 21, 2016

Honda Motor Co. has deployed the first mass-production automobile assembly line with a main line that incorporates a flowing cell production system. Honda has named this the Assembly Revolution Cell (ARC) Line and introduced it in Honda’s new Prachinburi Plant in Thailand that became operational in March 2016.

The newly-developed ARC Line differs significantly from a conventional line production system and was developed by incorporating flowing cell production-style production units in the main line. In production on a conventional line—the foundation of automobile production to date—each line worker (production associate) takes charge of a single process and installs parts to vehicle bodies flowing on a conveyor. In cell production, by contrast, one production associate takes charge of a broader range of production processes and installs multiple parts.

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Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg opens competence center for manufacturing technology and innovation for new production technologies

Volkswagen has opened a competence center for technology and innovation and its Wolfsburg plant. Volkswagen employees will develop and test new production technologies on-site in the center’s near-production environment.

The innovation center has six sections: digital way; human-machine interaction (HMI); material flow and material handling; body construction; assembly; and ergonomics. Going forward, experts will be able to test their developments in continuous operation for a three- to six-month period and at the same time train employees on site in how to use the new technologies.

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Ford launches 10-year project to transform Dearborn campus; sustainability in the built environment; Living Building Challenge

April 12, 2016

Ford Motor Company unveiled its plans to transform its Dearborn facilities into a modern, green and high-tech campus to foster innovation and help drive the company’s transition to an auto and a mobility company. The 10-year transformation of the company’s more than 60-year-old Dearborn facilities will colocate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings today into primarily two locations—a product campus and a world headquarters campus. More than 7.5 million square feet of work space will be rebuilt and upgraded into even more technology-enabled and connected facilities.

The transformation will integrate sustainability and innovation throughout the built environment, including a new Sustainability Showcase building on the product campus, which will aim to meet Living Building Challenge standards, the highest level of sustainability certification today. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy. Among the key criteria is that 100% of the building’s energy needs on a net annual basis must be supplied by on-site renewable energy. No combustion is allowed.

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VW reopens Transparent Factory as showcase for electric mobility and digitalization; rebuilding plant for electric and premium models

Volkswagen has reopened its Dresden Transparent Factory (Gläserne Manufaktur) as a new Volkswagen brand showcase for electromobility and digitalization; the site had closed for 10 days to carry out the necessary modifications for around 50 interactive exhibits and vehicles allowing visitors to experience future mobility first-hand.

The new exhibition is just the first step in an extensive rebuild of the Transparent Factory, which opened in 2001 specifically to manufacture the Phaeton. (Volkswagen ceased production of the Phaeton in March.) One of the exhibition highlights is a half-hour test drive with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Volkswagen’s concept four-door Sport Coupé Concept GTE (earlier post) plug-in hybrid sports car is also showcased.

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SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall launch long-term initiative for CO2-free ironmaking for steel production

April 04, 2016

Swedish-Finnish steel company SSAB, mining company LKAB and power company Vattenfall have launched an initiative to develop a steel production process that emits water rather than carbon dioxide.

The aim of the HYBRIT (Hydrogen Breakthrough Ironmaking Technology) project is to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from ironmaking to zero by eliminating the need to use fossil fuel for iron ore reduction. The idea is to replace the blast furnaces with an alternative process, using hydrogen produced from “clean” electricity.

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ORNL seeking US manufacturers to license new carbon fiber process; reduces cost up to 50% and energy up to 60%

March 24, 2016

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated a production method they estimate will reduce the cost of carbon fiber as much as 50% and the energy used in its production by more than 60%. After extensive analysis and successful prototyping by industrial partners, ORNL is making the new process available for licensing.

A detailed analysis of the new process compared to a published baseline for conventional carbon fiber production examined manufacturing cost of nine major process steps, starting with the precursor and pretreatment and finishing with surface treatment, sizing, winding, inspection and shipping. The analysis revealed the new process yields significant reductions in materials, capital and labor costs resulting in an overall manufacturing cost reduction of up to 50%. Details of the cost analysis will be shared with the prospective licensees.

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Saarbrücken engineers developing networked self-analyzing electric motors

March 23, 2016

Engineers from Saarland University are developing intelligent motor systems that function without the need for additional sensors. By essentially transforming the motor itself into a sensor, the team led by Professor Matthias Nienhaus is creating smart motors that can tell whether they are still running smoothly, can communicate and interact with other motors and can be efficiently controlled.

By using data collected from the motor while it is operating, the researchers are able to calculate quantities that in other systems would need to be measured by additional sensors. Further, they are teaching the drive how to make use of this knowledge.

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Series production of next-generation Acura NSX hybrid supercar begins in April at new Performance Manufacturing Center

March 17, 2016

Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center (PMC) will begin series production of the next-generation Acura NSX hybrid supercar (earlier post) in late April, with customer deliveries to commence thereafter.

The PMC is constructing the Acura supercar entirely in-house and, like the NSX itself, is a clean-sheet development—a manufacturing facility designed around the NSX’s unique Multi-Material Body and aluminum-intensive space-frame design and optimized for low-volume production of high-performance specialty vehicles.

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America Makes and ANSI launch additive manufacturing standardization collaborative

March 16, 2016

America Makes, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have launched the America Makes & ANSI Additive Manufacturing Standardization Collaborative (AMSC). The purpose of the AMSC will be to coordinate and accelerate the development of industry-wide additive manufacturing standards and specifications consistent with stakeholder needs and thereby facilitate the growth of the additive manufacturing industry. Participation is open to any interested person.

Established in 2012 as the flagship Institute for the National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) infrastructure, America Makes is the nation’s leading and collaborative partner in additive manufacturing and 3D printing technology research, discovery, creation, and innovation. It is driven by the National Center for Defense Manufacturing and Machining (NCDMM).

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Euro Parliament report analyzes Industry 4.0 potential

March 15, 2016

The European Parliament has release an analysis of the Industry 4.0 Initiative—the digitalization of production processes based on devices autonomously communicating with each other along the value chain. It considers the potential of the initiative and business paradigm changes and impacts of this transformation.

The study assesses the rationale for public intervention and outlines measures that could be adopted to increase the gains and limit the threats from Industry 4.0.

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Audi develops new generation of tools; bionic shapes and composite construction for material, weight and energy savings

March 11, 2016

Audi Toolmaking has developed a new, highly efficient generation of tools that is up to 20% lighter and 10% more stable than the previous generation. This makes the processing of sheet metal in the presses faster and more precise.The new tools are already being used in the press shop in Ingolstadt.

The new tools are up to eight tons lighter than conventional tools, which are made completely of cast iron and weigh up to 45 tons. The lower weight is primarily due to an ideal mix and distribution of the materials cast iron, aluminum and plastics. The composite construction concept is a feature of Audi’s lightweight construction in automobile engineering and is now used also in toolmaking.

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BMW Group developing self-driving robots for supply logistics; recycled BMW i3 batteries for power

March 06, 2016

BMW is developing and testing a self-driving robot at the BMW Group’s Innovation Park in Wackersdorf. This center is the logistics hub for material management and just-in-sequence supply to BMW Group sites in ten different countries. Wackersdorf is also home to the cockpit production for several plants.

The self-driving robot maneuvers underneath roller containers with parts, picks them up and moves them through the logistics hall. Flanked by radio transmitters and equipped with a digital map, it drives independently to the destination of the goods.

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Toho Tenax develops integrated production system for CFRP; projects in automotive

March 02, 2016

Toho Tenax Europe GmbH (TTE), the German subsidiary of Toho Tenax, itself the core company of the Teijin Group’s carbon fibers and composites business, has developed an integrated production system for carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) that enables manufactured composite parts to be optimized for required shapes and properties.

The new production system uses a high-pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) process and TTE’s own one-step carbon fiber to part technology, called Part via Preform (PvP), which it developed in 2014. One European automaker has already adopted this system and other projects are under way in the automotive industry.

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TriboForm Engineering launches tribology simulation software for metal-forming processes; Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Škoda launch customers

February 28, 2016

TriboForm Engineering, a spin-out from the University of Twente in The Netherlands, introduced its TriboForm software at Triboforum 2016, a triennial industry conference. Tribology is a branch of mechanical engineering that describes the contact between materials under different conditions. In metal-forming processes, tribology plays a key role through the relative motion and interaction between the applied sheet material, the lubrication and the tooling.

TriboForm is a software solution for the simulation of friction and lubrication in metal-forming processes. With unique physically-based simulation technology, TriboForm enables its users accurately to simulate friction and lubrication conditions quickly and then directly integrate the results in metal-forming simulations.

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DOE to issue $25M funding opportunity for next generation of electric machines; NGEM II

February 19, 2016

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) intends to issue, on behalf of the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO), a $25-million Funding Opportunity Announcement (DE-FOA-0001467) entitled “Next Generation of Electric Machines: Enabling Technologies.” EERE plans to issue the FOA around March 2016.

Through this FOA, AMO seeks to create future high impact manufacturing opportunities through the Next Generation of Electric Machines (NGEM) vision, which is a targeted development of high power density, high revolutions per minute motors and integrated power electronics. (Earlier post.) Specifically, this FOA targets the development of key technologies that will enable further efficiency enhancements and weight reductions in a cost effective way while addressing the limitations of traditionally used conductive metals and electrical steels.

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New BMW Brilliance engine plant with light metal foundry in China; high-voltage battery production to come

January 22, 2016

BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) opened a new engine plant with a light metal foundry in Shenyang today. The new location will produce the latest generation of the BMW TwinPower Turbo three and four-cylinder gasoline engines and forms part of the BBA production network based in Shenyang in Northeastern China.

In addition to combustion engines, the new engine plant will also produce high-voltage batteries for future Plug-in Hybrid models. As with engine assembly, this project will entail close cooperation between BBA and the BMW Group to ensure knowledge transfer from high-voltage battery production in Germany.

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Audi Brussels to produce exclusively e-tron quattro SUV, battery packs; A1 production moving to Spain

January 20, 2016

As of 2018, Audi Brussels will produce exclusively the commercial version of Audi’s e-tron quattro battery-electric SUV (earlier post). The plant will also produce its own battery packs. The site in Belgium will thus become a key plant for electric mobility at the Volkswagen Group.

Audi will transfer production of the Audi A1 from Brussels to Martorell in Spain; in 2014, Audi Brussels produced 115,378 Audi A1 models. The Audi Q3, currently produced in Spain, will be built in Győr (Hungary) in the future. The model rotation will benefit all the sites of its global production network, Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler said.

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HeidelbergCement and Joule partnering to explore carbon-neutral fuel application in cement manufacturing

December 14, 2015

Joule, a pioneer in the production of liquid fuels from recycled CO2, and HeidelbergCement, a German multinational building material company, are partnering to explore application of Joule’s technology to mitigate carbon emissions in cement manufacturing. Cement manufacturing is highly energy and emissions intensive, currently contributing about 6% of global CO2 (Zhang et al. 2014).

As part of the agreement, emissions (or offtake gas) from various HeidelbergCement factories could provide Joule with the waste CO2 required to feed its advanced Helioculture platform that effectively recycles CO2 back into fuel.

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KIT researchers developing low-pressure carbonitriding process for hardening steel with methylamine; applications in downsized engines

November 23, 2015

A team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is developing a new low-pressure process for hardening steel using methylamine. The new low-pressure carbonitriding (enriching low-alloy steels with carbon and nitrogen) process saves time and process gas. Steels hardened in this way are suited for use in components subjected to high mechanical and thermal loads in downsized, energy-efficient and low-emission engines of the future.

The KIT researchers, along with their colleagues at Bosch, presented the process in a recent paper published in HTM - Journal of Heat Treatment and Materials.

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KAIST researchers develop mechanical nanoscale fasteners for fuel cell membranes; lower cost, higher efficiency, easily manufactured

November 09, 2015

Scientists at KAIST have developed a physical interlocking interface that can tightly bind a sulfonated poly(arylene ether sulfone) (SPAES) membrane and a Nafion catalyst layer in PEM fuel cells, paving the way for lower-cost, higher-efficiency and more easily manufactured proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells. They reported on their work in a recent paper in the journal Advanced Materials.

To generate electricity, PEM fuel cells rely on two chemical compartments separated by a permeable catalyst membrane. This membrane acts as an electrolyte; a negative electrode is bonded to one side of the membrane and a positive electrode is bonded to the other. The electrolyte membrane is often based on a polymer of perfluorosulfonic acid. Due to its high cost, however, a less expensive hydrocarbon-based electrolyte membrane has attracted interest in this technology sector.

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Mazda’s new Aqua-tech Paint System receives Prime Minister’s Award; lower VOCs than Three Layer Wet

Mazda Motor Corporation’s new paint system—the Aqua-tech Paint System—has received the Prime Minister’s Award (Manufacturing and Production Process Category) at the 6th Monodzukuri Nippon Grand Award ceremony. The Aqua-tech Paint System reduces emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to Mazda’s previous oil-based paint systems without increasing energy consumption (and associated CO2 emissions).

Mazda had already achieved world-class low CO2 emission levels with the implementation of the Three Layer Wet Paint System. The company’s follow-on goal was to further reduce volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions to world-class levels.

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Vaporized Foil Actuator Welding technique from OSU uses 80% less energy and delivers bonds 50% stronger; joining dissimilar materials

October 30, 2015

Engineers at The Ohio State University have developed a new welding technique—Vaporized Foil Actuator Welding (VFAW)—that consumes 80% less energy than a common welding technique, yet creates bonds that are 50% stronger. The new technique could have a significant impact on the auto industry, which is poised to offer new cars which combine traditional heavy steel parts with lighter, alternative metals to reduce vehicle weight.

Glenn Daehn, professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State, who helped develop the new technique, explained the new process in a keynote address at the recent Materials Science & Technology 2015 meeting. The Materials Science & Engineering annual meeting is organized by the American Ceramic Society, the Association for Iron & Steel Technology, ASM International, and the Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.

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Audi using Alstom H3 plug-in hybrid shunting locomotive at Ingolstadt

Audi has begun using a new 1,000 horsepower plug-in hybrid shunting locomotive manufactured by Alstom in daily operations at the Audi plant in Ingolstadt, Germany. The new locomotive runs without any emissions inside the plant buildings and can operate for up to two hours at a time in purely electric mode. Its battery is plugged in during breaks for recharging with CO2‑free electricity, or is supported while in motion by a diesel engine.

The three-axle Alstom H3 hybrid locomotive is significantly quieter than its conventional counterparts, and can deliver up to a 50% reduction in diesel fuel use, with a concomitant reduction in CO2emissions. This means that the plug‑in‑hybrid locomotive emits up to 60 tons less CO2 each year. For the Ingolstadt plant, this is another stage on the way to the CO2‑neutral factory.

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Acura provides more technical detail on NSX sports hybrid AWD powertrain, body

October 28, 2015

Acura unveiled the production model of the next-generation NSX at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this past January (earlier post), and now has provided more technical detail on the high-performance hybrid sports car and its new Sport Hybrid-AWD power unit.

At the core of this new hybrid power unit is a bespoke, mid-mounted twin-turbocharged, 75-degree 3.5-liter DOHC V6 engine with dry sump lubrication, mated to an all-new 9-speed dual clutch transmission (9DCT) and Direct-Drive Motor. This is augmented by the front Twin Motor Unit (TMU) driving the front wheels. The NSX Sport Hybrid power unit offers exceptional horsepower and torque with a broad powerband for tremendous throttle response and acceleration. Total system peak output is estimated at 573 horsepower—500 horsepower from the gasoline engine and 73 horsepower from the front TMU.

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Argonne study finds lightweight material substitution increases vehicle-cycle GHGs, but results in total life-cycle benefit

October 12, 2015

A team at Argonne National Laboratory has taken a closer look at vehicle-cycle (all processes related to vehicle manufacturing) and vehicle total life-cycle (vehicle-cycle plus fuel cycle—i.e., the use phase) impacts of substituting lightweight materials into vehicles.

In a study published in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology, they reported that while material substitution can reduce vehicle weight, it often increases vehicle-cycle greenhouse gas emissions GHGs—for example, replacing steel with wrought aluminum, carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CRFP), or magnesium increases the vehicle-cycle GHGs. However, lifetime fuel economy benefits often outweigh the vehicle-cycle, resulting in a net total life-cycle GHG benefit, they found. This is the case for steel replaced by wrought aluminum in all assumed cases, and for CFRP and magnesium except for high substitution ratio and low fuel reduction value.

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GM planning to “own” the customer relationship beyond the vehicle; autonomous Volts, car sharing and fuel cells

October 01, 2015

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and her leadership team outlined the company’s plans to capitalize on the future of personal mobility by owning the customer relationship beyond the vehicle, building upon nearly two decades of connectivity leadership.

GM also said it plans to strengthen its core business through global growth initiatives and an aggressive product launch cadence, while continuing to focus on driving cost efficiencies. As a result, the company expects to increase its earnings per share and generate significant shareholder value. The company shared its plans with investors during a conference at its Milford Proving Ground.

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Honda launches new “Green Path” initiatives for manufacturing and operations; new $210M paint line at Marysville with new 4C2B process

September 25, 2015

Honda has announced several initiatives under its new “Green Path” approach to reducing the total life-cycle environmental impact of its products and operations in North America. Among these is a $210-million investment in a new, more environmentally responsible auto-body painting facility and innovative paint process at its Marysville, Ohio auto plant (MAP), the largest of Honda’s eight auto plants in North America. MAP produces the Honda Accord Sedan and Coupe along with the Acura TLX and ILX for customers in more than 100 countries.

Honda has established a voluntary goal to reduce its total GHG emissions—including customer use-phase—by 50% by the year 2050, compared to 2000 levels; this works out to a reduction of 90% per unit sales—a difficult task, noted Ryan Harty, a former Honda R&D engineer who now manages Honda’s new Environmental Business Development Office.

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DOE announces $70M for Innovation Institute on Smart Manufacturing; advanced sensors, controls, platforms, and modeling for manufacturing

September 18, 2015

The US Department of Energy announced up to $70 million in funding (DE-FOA-0001263) for the next Clean Energy Manufacturing Innovation Institute, which will be focused on smart manufacturing. With this investment, the DOE aims to support research and development advancements that can reduce the cost of deployment for technologies such as advanced sensors, controls, platforms, and modeling for manufacturing by as much as 50%. As part of President Obama’s National Network of Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI) institutes, the institute will also demonstrate these technologies in manufacturing processes with a goal to increase energy efficiency by at least 15% and improve energy productivity by at least 50%.

Energy intensive industries, such as steelmaking, could see a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the cost of production, making products such as solar panels and chemical materials, such as plastics, as well as the cars and other products they go into, more affordable for American consumers,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. The goals of the Smart Manufacturing Institute are to:

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New Mahle piston ring coating for high-output GTDI engines; chromium nitride using high-velocity oxygen fuel process

September 16, 2015

Mahle has developed a new thermal spray coating for modern high-output direct-injection turbocharged gasoline engines (GTDI). Under development since 2011 at Mahle’s thermal spray development labs in Michigan, the new process initially was designed for high-output GTDI engines currently in production by two US domestic automakers. The market for high-output turbocharged engines is expected to achieve a market share of 30% or more by 2020.

The new top ring coating, also referred to as MSC312, uses chromium nitride applied through a high-velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) thermal spray process. MSC312 improves upon the scuff-and-wear capabilities of Mahle’s MSC385 chrome carbide HVOF coating because of the chromium nitride composition.

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BMW Group leveraging digitalization in production plants; Industry 4.0

August 11, 2015

As part of its continuous optimization of production processes at its plants, the BMW Group is leveraging the opportunities arising from digitalization (i.e., “Industry 4.0”, earlier post). For the automotive manufacturer, digitalization opens up new perspectives with regard to the advancement of innovative and people-oriented production systems.

In turn, the freed potential in the production systems allows the company to respond even more individually to customers’ wishes and to step up the flexibility of the production chain.

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Additive manufacturing company Carbon3D named Technology Pioneer by World Economic Forum; work with Ford

August 10, 2015

Additive manufacturing (3D printing) company Carbon3D Inc. was named one of the World Economic Forum’s 49 Technology Pioneers for 2015. Carbon3D joins the Technology Pioneers program as the first additive manufacturing company to be selected. Carbon3D recently emerged from stealth mode to introduce an innovative approach to polymer-based 3D printing that it says will advance the industry beyond basic prototyping to 3D manufacturing.

The new Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology (CLIP) uses a tuneable photochemical process instead of the traditional mechanical approach, eliminating the shortcomings of conventional layer-by-layer 3D printing technology, rapidly to transform 3D models into final parts in a range of engineering-grade materials. Ford has been working with Carbon 3D since December 2014, and has produced elastomer grommets for the Ford Focus Electric and damping bumper parts for the Transit Connect.

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Ford working with OSU on sustainable alternative rubber sources for non-tire vehicle applications

August 06, 2015

While there are a number of efforts underway exploring the use of sustainable, natural rubber alternatives for use in tires (earlier post, earlier post, earlier post), cars use a great deal of rubber for non-tire applications as well; the Ford Fiesta, for example, contains about 3 kg of the material, excluding the tires.

Ford Motor Company is thus investigating alternative sustainable sources of rubber for automotive use in these non-tire applications. The company is working closely with The Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s (OARDC’s) Program of Excellence in Natural Rubber Alternatives (PENRA) on researching the use of latex from guayule and Russian dandelion root in applications such as the car’s interior (cup holders), floormats, suspension bushings, engine mounts and so on, said Janice Tardiff, Elastomer Technical Expert at Ford.

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Purdue team discovery could reduce energy required to machine annealed metals by >50%

July 28, 2015

Researchers at Purdue University have discovered a previously unknown type of metal deformation—sinuous flow—and a potentially simple method to suppress it. The results, reported in a paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could lead to more efficient machining and other manufacturing advances by significantly reducing the force and energy required to process metals by more than 50%.

Annealing is a heat-treatment process used to soften metals for machining. Counterintuitively, however, annealed metals are surprisingly difficult to cut, the Purdue team noted, involving high forces and an unusually thick “chip.” The conventional explanation for this anomaly has used a model of smooth plastic flow with uniform shear to describe material removal by chip formation. In their study, the Purdue team showed that the phenomenon is actually the result of a fundamentally different collective deformation mode: sinuous flow. Using in situ imaging, they found that chip formation occurs via large-amplitude folding, triggered by surface undulations of a characteristic size.

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