Several topics seem to describe the state of the automotive industry at the moment: technology (AI), autonomous, electric and additive manufacturing. Let’s look at what’s happening in each of these areas.
Nucor Corp. acquired certain assets from Century Tube LLC. Based in Madison, Ind., Century Tube supplies carbon steel tubing for automotive and other mechanical and structural applications. The company offers round, square, rectangular, oval and other special welded shapes of mechanical steel tubing. Century Tube, which also supplies induction heat-treated tubes for automotive applications, operates from a 280,000-square-foot facility located on 33 acres.
It is widely known that graphite is used in the automobile and steel industries. Besides the classical markets, there are new and ever-growing markets, such as lithium-ion batteries, being driven by the megatrends of digitalization and the Internet of Things. Of global graphite production, 70% is being accumulated by China.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) plans to invest $4.5 billion in five of its existing Michigan plants and build a new assembly plant in Detroit. The proposed projects would create nearly 6,500 new jobs. The investment will increase capacity to meet growing demand for the company’s Jeep and Ram brands, including production of two new Jeep-branded white-space products as well as electrified models.
Ford Motor Company is investing $1 billion in its Chicago Assembly and Stamping Plants and adding 500 new jobs as it prepares to launch three new SUVs that go on sale later this year. The project, which will begin in March, will expand capacity for the production of the all-new Ford Explorer (including the Explorer ST and Explorer Hybrid), the all-new Police Interceptor Utility and the all-new Lincoln Aviator.
General Motors suspended operations at 13 manufacturing facilities after a request by Consumers Energy in Michigan to allow the utility to manage supply issues brought on by the extreme temperatures and equipment issues. GM operations are suspended at the following Michigan manufacturing locations: Bay City Powertrain, Orion Assembly, Pontiac Stamping, Flint Assembly, Flint Stamping, Flint Engine, Flint Tool & Die, Lansing Delta Township Assembly, Lansing Grand River Assembly, Lansing Regional Stamping, Lansing Grand River Stamping, Saginaw Metal Casting Operations and Warren Transmission.
Wisconsin Oven Corp. shipped a natural-gas-fired, dual-chamber furnace to the automotive industry. The furnace, which will be used for preheating dies, has a maximum operating temperature of 1250°F and work-chamber dimensions of 6 feet wide x 4 feet long x 6 feet high. It has sufficient capability to heat 4,000 pounds of steel from 70-1100°F within four hours when loaded into a preheated furnace.
By adding more components while striving to reduce vehicle weight means that not only are there more parts that have to be heat treated, but the size of the parts being heat treated are reduced. This trend has been coined “dematerialization” and is perfect for induction heating.
This article will review areas where the auto industry is already leveraging 3D-printing technology and the role of metal powders and industrial gases in several AM processes that involve laser metal fusion and laser metal deposition.
The introduction of additive-manufactured (AM) advanced silicon carbide (SiC), including 3D-printed shapes, opens up a new window of opportunity for end-users, designers and manufacturers of high-temperature heating equipment.