Steel is an essential part of our everyday life and especially in mechanical engineering an indispensable material. We would not be where we are today without it. Through research the areas of applications are broadening, new types of steel are developed and cover even more areas. It is astonishing how many varieties are available.
In an increasingly complex working world simple processes can be performed by machines, numerous data sources and cross-functional targets such as sustainability and efficiency need to be considered. This leads to increasing demands on employees – a challenge also engineers are facing.
We have previously reported about various elastomeric materials and their properties as well as the applications they can be used for in the field of mechanical engineering. This article is in reference to the raw material natural rubber or caoutchouc. For example, did you know that its natural color is white? Or how many tons are produced and processed every year? Everybody knows caoutchouc, but very few are familiar with its properties and for which applications it can be used. Here are 10 facts about natural rubber you may have not heard about before.
Operators of cement plants worldwide face the challenge to create their systems more efficient and reliable. Even though the production and consumption of this material is quite stable in Europe, there is a continuously growing demand in Africa, North America and Asia. For this reason, production needs to be optimized and therefore all components which are part of the drive to guarantee constant operation, minimal downtimes and low maintenance costs.
Details are important for engineers. The smallest discrepancies may have major consequences in their job. Therefore being precise is essential. This applies for the design activity as well as for communication among colleagues: Describing faulty processes and listening carefully to descriptions are everyday tasks of engineers. For these tasks the dialogue is the most obvious tool – yet its importance is underrated.
Elastomers are polymeric materials which have the property of high elasticity. By virtue of this elasticity in combination with their damping capability, elastomers are the preferred material for use as transmission elements in elastic or highly elastic couplings. 
Topics as varied as Big Data, Industry 4.0, Digital Transformation, Crowdworking, Generation Y , Work 4.0 and 3D-printing have been discussed in 2016, and many of these will have significant influence on the working world over the next few years. This also applies to mechanical engineering. We would like to refer to three terms that have gained importance in 2016.
Especially in narrow spaces, couplings can only be inspected visually, because the coupling is hardly accessible with conventional measuring devices. Atypical operation noise or vibrations are generally the first signals that there is something wrong with the coupling.
Catching you up on market news – Augmented & virtual reality and 3D printing: how to make the inconceivable tangible
3D printing meanwhile offers outrageous possibilities also for mechanical engineering; some highlights have been presented at the formnext 2016. This technology used to be considered as expensive, limited and quite slow, but the rapid development in this field led to innovative and flexible systems for production. Other news we have been really enthusiastic about are further developed augmented or virtual reality systems which can improve processes in manufacturing industries.
One of the distinguishing properties of elastomers is their high elasticity. The main characteristics of elastomers present themselves, in particular when comparing them to steel. Below we would like to elaborate on the main properties of elastomers in more detail. Figure 1 shows the main characteristics of elastomers. They are able to combine spring properties as well as damping ability in one component.