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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2009
TECHNOLOGY FEATURE Automobiles NewWorldOF THE Despite structural changes, personal vehicles will remain with us for decades to come. And these changes will bring a payoff: better, safer and cleaner, New car design and safety will evolve. Ever since antilock brakes became widely available in the 1970s, cars have been wresting decisions away from drivers and their comparatively slow reflexes in the interests of safety. Today’s adaptive cruise control, stability- and traction-control systems, self-parking technologies, crash-avoidance mechanisms, blind-spot monitors, and lane-departure warning systems rely variously on lasers, radar, and cameras to monitor and react to dangers the driver has failed to notice. Nissan have developed a safety shield concept that surrounds the vehicle- a side collision prevention system that . . . applies brakes on the opposite side of the vehicle to pull you back into your lane if it detects a car in the lane you’re entering. These technologies will continue to advance. But as with the games and applets built into early cell phones, many safety systems will eventually migrate to the network—in this case, the road itself. Smart highways, in which cars communicate with central computers that monitor sensors placed along the route, have been kicking around in theory and pilot programs since the 1990s. Today it would be possible for smart highways to alert drivers to congestion and suggest alternative routes. In the future, they could automatically slow cars to prevent pileups and other collisions. Even car connectivity itself will outsource greater chores to the network. Despite its soaring popularity, the GPS is heading for obsolescence. Ford and Microsoft have unveiled a new version of Sync, which downloads turn-by- turn directions from a server. “We have a powerful voice engine in the car,” says Doug Vanagens, Ford’s director of connected services. “Then we have an even more powerful voice engine on the network.” Vanagens sees the future of car connectivity in the cell phone. Sync will merely harness its abilities. “Phones are going to continue to evolve, applications are going to continue to evolve. And we’re going to connect those to the vehicle.” Innovative solutions for manufacturing challenges of the 21st century The manufacturing challenges of tomorrow cannot be mastered with yesterday’s technology. More products are being created for smaller niche markets around the world, requiring manufacturers and their suppliers to contend with: ? Smaller volume product runs ? Shorter lead times ? Reduced tooling times ? Higher quality standards ? More competitive pricing. Companies today need to produce higher quality products at lower costs, and in less time in order to succeed in this new and increasingly competitive global market. Companies involved in manufacturing, machining or welding metal components find that their ability to meet these market demands is jeopardized by two persistent obstacles- -distortion and breakage due to residual stress. Failure to effectively overcome these age-old problems results in: ? Increased material and labour costs ? Delays in production ? Products of poor quality ? Ultimately a loss of business. Yesterday’s technology doesn’t work anymore Over the centuries many ways have been devised to treat metalworking problems. People have tried to: heat it; beat it; bury it; drag it; drop it; and even chill it. Each approach has had its drawbacks including: high energy cost; size limits; time requirements; inconsistency; and lack of control. Yesterday’s conventional stress relief techniques are either limited or inconsistent. Heat treating, for example, is limited by both the size of parts that can be put in a furnace and the time it takes to ship, treat and return parts. The old World War II resonant vibration technology, on the other hand, is hit and miss. Sometimes it works but usually it does not, and it offers no way to measure results International. Technology of tomorrow Metal stress can arise from a variety of sources, including initial production of the metal and uneven cooling can cause stresses to build up. Additional internal stress is produced by normal processing, such as, welding, machining, casting, forging or hardening of the metal. This stress will cause either severe distortion or breakage if allowed to remain. Meta-Lax, Bonal’s sub-harmonic stress relief technology provides a solution to this age-old problem. The company has patented this process which has proven as being simple yet highly effective. The process involves firstly measuring the harmonic frequency of the metal part to be stress relieved. Then, you induce vibration energy into the part at a specific frequency below the harmonic frequency, known as the sub-harmonic frequency. Finally, measure the part’s harmonic frequency again to see if it has changed. If there is a shift in the curve that indicates that stress relief has occurred. Further, monitoring of the harmonic frequency documents completion of stress relief. Independent testing of this technology has been verified by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, the Department of Energy, the University of California and Lockheed Missiles and Aerospace. www.bonal.com COMPANIES TODAY NEED TO PRODUCE HIGHER QUALITY PRODUCTS AT LOWER COSTS, AND IN LESS TIME IN ORDER TO SUCCEED... 26 www.metals.rala.com.au 26 www.metals.rala.com.au