10 YEARS AGO — 2000
New steel quiets autos: “Quiet steel” from MSC Laminates & Composites Inc., Elk Grove Village, Ill., lets engineers design quiet auto interiors, like they did with the 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac dashboard. The steel consists of two metal skins surrounding a 25-µm weldable viscoelastic polymer core. Initial testing shows that while driving at 35 mph, occupants heard 95% of audible speech. (A 100% rating occurs only in a fully insulated sound room.)

Currently, the vehicle’s dashboard consists of a dash insulator, steel dash doubler, mastic deadener, steel panel, and engine-side fiberglass insulator, which requires assembly and weighs 27 lb. The Quiet steel dash requires only a laminated dash panel and fiberglass insulator, reducing assembly time and weight to 20 lb.

30 YEARS AGO — 1980
New CAD/CAM system reduces time needed on host computer: The Distributed Graphics System (DGS) from McDonnell Douglas Automation combines a DEC PDP 11/70 minicomputer with an Evans & Sutherland Picture System II terminal. DGS eliminates the need for a large host computer to refresh the graphics display and perform trivial graphics functions. It distributes the complex design processing between the host computer, minicomputer, and console, which lets users optimize CAD to create completely surfaced 3D models.

50 YEARS AGO — 1960
Nineteen miles of cooling: Three sodium heat exchangers with miles of curved tubing are being built for the Enrico Fermi reactor in Michigan. Stainless-steel tubes, supplied by Allegheny Ludlum Steel Corp., are bent into special compound curves to accommodate differences in thermal expansion. A unique design feature is that each tube bundled can be removed from its shell without cutting. The bundles have a gasketed joint which separates tube-side from shell-side sodium. The seals are held by 10-in. springs.