Can Complex Engineering Processes Be Environmentally Sensitive?
In a word, to answer the question, yes. Let’s dig deeper. Complex engineering and manufacturing processes tend to have a greater responsibility than many other companies, due to the fact of the materials used in many applications. However, when great companies get on board with an environmental program, we see tremendous positive impact in the overall campaign to reduce our overall carbon footprint, and to reduce the waste that often stems from these production processes.
Many engineering companies are steadfastly working to develop more fuel efficient materials that are lighter in weight, while sacrificing little in the way of strength. Think about the broad application of this new ethos, across a wide spectrum of industries: automotive, aerospace and defense, large scale manufacturing, etc. With a little bit of elevated consciousness, the engineering industry can significantly impact the planet for the greater good.
Getting More Eco-Awareness From Big Industry & Manufacturing
Of late, we have seen that great strides have been made in various types of engineering and manufacturing companies, to create materials of a lighter weight that bring all of the same strength to the equation. This means that we are engineering more efficient aircraft and vehicles, the negative impact of which is then reduced, when it comes to the environment.
Let’s look at a complex engineering process like hydroforming, as a specific example. Many companies are working hard to reduce waste, and approaching this effort from not only an environmental standpoint, but from a cost-saving perspective as well. We’ve noted many times in the past that money is often the great motivator. If a company has to use their bottom line as an incentive for eco-awareness, then so be it: in our minds, everybody wins.
So what is hydroforming? When a company needs to manufacture only a few irregularly shaped parts in order to complete production on a short run of anything, or on a few prototypes, they often turn to the process of hydroforming and the engineering companies who specialize in the field. Where typically many small, more regular parts would be machined and then welded together, for example, hydroforming allows for a single irregular part to be created from a mold, thereby reducing the risk of any welds failing over time, and creating a longer-lasting product or part.
The applications that are affected by this are numerous, as many types of metal (and by association, many types of manufactured products) can be cold formed through the process: aluminum, stainless steel, titanium alloys, brass, and copper, to name a few. While in the past, many machined parts would be stamped out of metal in order to create a durable, rigid form, the hydroforming process creates even stronger elements that don’t take on extra weight by virtue of their increased strength.
With this process, waste is often reduced because parts come out of the form with a more aesthetically pleasing finish, perfect for surfaces that need to be shown to the world, as in the case of manufactured parts for the health care industry, for example. With less material to be buffed off, less waste is produced. Combined with more efficient water use, and environmentally sound practices of waste elimination and disposal, a large-scale engineering and manufacturing company with a few other eco-friendly systems in place (ride share, full power shut down when systems are not in use, recycling incentives, digital files over paper use, etc.) can make a serious impact on the planet.
[Photo Via: careers.ox.ac.uk]