“Simplify, then add lightness.”
– Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus Cars
1. Additive A-List: Lamborghini
Yeah, I know. I gave Lamborghini some flak last week, but I’ll always have a spot in my heart for the Lam-bros. This article’s title says it all: The bull-obsessed supercar (and tractor) manufacturer printed over 20,000 parts in 2020! This alone is a huge deal, but let’s also celebrate the fact that Lamborghini has been utilizing additive tech as far back as the Diablo in the 1990’s! That’s not all – Lambo also pivoted their production line last year to print PPE and ventilators to fight COVID-19. The best part? Lamborghinis have always been exclusive products made for a select few, and they kept this exclusivity going through the pandemic, doing their best to ensure only heroic healthcare workers were the ones donning the raging bull-branded PPE. Bravo, Lambo! Grazie! Ragazzi! Grazie mille!
2. LiDAR and Robotics
I find this amusing. Typically, the military and defense industry get all of the exotic and fancy specialty tech first, then it trickles down to the manufacturing industry, then to something like high-level auto racing (Formula 1, NASCAR, WRC, WEC, etc.), and then to the consumer. In the strange case of LiDAR, it went: Military tech trickled down to the automotive industry (and, technically, the boating/fishing/hunting industry first – seriously), and then it made its way to the manufacturing industry. Looks like LiDAR is the latest tech to optimize robotic vision systems! Cool beans.
3. Cabbage Beats Concrete
Cabbage isn't the first material that comes to mind when I hear "edible" and "concrete" used in the same sentence. Pork cracklins? Sure. Not cabbage. Well, when additive is used for part production, it’s occasionally referred to as “growing” parts. How cool is it that the “growing” in this case could start as soon as the raw materials finish, well, growing? Note: The article doesn’t mention additive or 3D printing at all. I’m assuming this will be adapted to additive, and frankly, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be.
4. Additive-Optimized Electronics
TL;DR – The four ways AM will optimize electronics are 1) locally grown space antennas; 2) embedded sensors in everyday products for convenience (wearables integrated into normal clothes and accessories); 3) military and defense; and 4) accelerating prototyping faster than regular additive already has.
5. Converting Thermal Energy to Electrical
Back when I was in college, I read that BMW was experimenting with thermoelectric conversion solutions that could be implemented into an automobile’s exhaust system, potentially retiring the conventional alternator the way alternators replaced big, bulky, inefficient generators. This, of course, would greatly increase the thermal efficiency of an internal combustion engine wherein the heat from the exhaust is typically wasted and would greatly reduce the parasitic drag of an alternator. Nothing came of this back in the late 2000s, but new research could always change that!
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