Manufacturers are always thinking of cutting edge ways to create the next generation of products. Lately, this is more important than ever considering the technological changes in manufacturing equipment. As the trend to use robots and dimensional sensors grow, manufacturers are faced with reconsidering materials of manufacture they’ve used in the past. Another reason for changing materials used in manufacturing today is cost. Depending on the types of materials required, manufacturers are witnessing cost reductions resulting from the use of green and recycled materials.
Changes in Materials Used
The auto industry provides the most evidence of changes in manufacturing materials. Until the 1960s, automobile dashboards were usually built of heavy steel. The auto industry realized this was a hazard and caused injuries to drivers and passengers involved in auto accidents. The ripple effect was that steel manufacturers began to use lighter grades of steel. As David Leone, executive chief engineer for Cadillac, stated, “The use of high-strength steel isn’t about turning passenger cars into invincible tanks but controlling crash energy and minimizing weight.” Steel manufacturers complied with the auto industry demand to change to lightweight aluminum, carbon fiber, and magnesium for auto design and construction.
Other changes in manufacturing materials today include environmentally safe packing composed of fungi. This reduces the need for Styrofoam packing and is a much more eco-friendly way of storing products. Plastic materials have also changed to accommodate the need for biodegradable products and packaging. Plastic suppliers like E-Plas are focused on using more green and recyclable raw materials now that plastic recycling is available.
With the Clean Energy Act of 2015, manufacturers are changing the use of fossil fuels. This reduces pollution and emissions. For example, in the future hybrid vehicles may rely on ultra-thin platinum as fuel for transportation. Coating materials of manufacture are also changing to laser fused alloy powders for manufacturing tools for boring and cutting.
Manufacturing materials for semi-conductors are also changing manufacturing today. Scientists are experimenting with quantum electronic materials that can be useful for batteries, sensors, and screens. Materials used to produce inks are also changing to provide more diverse ink applications. For example, inks with conductivity and inks for medical and surgical purposes that are computer-compatible.
Computer hardware is also experiencing changes in materials of manufacture to make computer devices recyclable and also to create less hazardous waste. The raw materials used to build computer hardware are regulated by the U.S. FDA which provides guidelines for materials.
Manufacturing in many industries continues to change. With new rules, a changing economy, ideals, and safety guidelines, more will continue to adapt. These are just a few examples of what’s being modified.