Ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, paired with an alloy of cobalt and chromium, has been the material of choice for longer-lasting orthopedic implants--such as joint replacements for hips and knees. But even joints made from this material last only a decade, prompting industry to search for better materials. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (Gaithersburg, MD) along with four companies--Biomet Inc., and Zimmer Inc. (Warsaw, IN), Johnson & Johnson Professional Inc. (Raynham, MA), and Osteonics Corp. (Allendale, NJ)--designed a device to speed up the screening for new material combinations. Presently, it takes about six months for conventional equipment to simulate the natural wear of artificial hips. The new accelerated wear machine completes a screening in about a week. The device evaluates different material combinations, debris production, and changes in surface texture--resembling the wear implants are exposed to in the body. Researchers will now use the device to study how alternative materials hold up under the effects of motion, environment, and a variety of stress-loading cycles that represent the physical routines of different people. If interested in either the consortium or the device, call: (301) 975-6799.
Both traditional automation companies and startups are developing technologies to improve processes on the factory floor, while smart sensors and other IoT-related technologies are improving how products are handled during transport and across the supply chain.
Highly regarded engineer and physicist Ransom Stephens speaks with Design News about his extensive science and engineering background, the serious yet funny study of neuroscience, and how one primes their brain for innovation.
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