Injection molding of magnesium permitted a new design for a revolutionary miniature bar code scanner and provided additional benefits in protecting sensitive internal electronic components from water and other potential environmental problems.
The MS3 scanner from Microscan Systems “may not be smallest scanner available, but it is the best combination of size and performance,” says Malinda Elien, staff mechanical engineer for Microscan, Renton, WA. “This is the most compact, high-performance mechanical design around.” The chassis had to hold tolerances of ±0.002” in very thin wall sections (0.027”). Molten magnesium can travel longer distances prior to solidification than is possible with conventional die casting. The high pressure of injection molding and careful tool design made the difference. The density of the magnesium molding process (called thixomolding) was also a critical difference. “We were able to achieve thinner wall sections without having to worry about water leaking through random pores in the metal,” said Elien, who had the final call on whether to try thixomolding or stay with die casting. “Initially we were trying to decide between Phillips Plastics and our traditional die-casting vendor,” Elien said. “We never had the question in our mind if Phillips was telling us the truth or if they were telling us what we wanted to hear...Every day I am happy that I made the decision that I did.”
The engineers and inventors of the post WWII period turned their attention to advancements in electronics, communication, and entertainment. Breakthrough inventions range from LEGOs and computer gaming to the integrated circuit and Ethernet -- a range of advancements that have little in common except they changed our lives.
Neil Fromer is the executive director of the Resnick Institute, a program for energy and sustainability at the California Institute of Technology, working to develop new ideas and research technologies related to providing a sustainable future. He spoke to us about the severity of the current drought in California and how solar energy can help prevent such situations in the future.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.