Interested in mechatronics? There are some very cool examples coming out of Germany using a plastics process called “outsert” molding. In outsert molding, plastic pieces are molded into a frame of metal or some other material. Two examples are new infusion pumps made by medical device OEM B. Braun of Germany. The process begins with the creation of a frame for the pump that consists of a chassis, bolt, flap and pump chassis. High-performance plastic parts are molded onto the plate in a one-shot process. The biggest advantages are part reduction (up to two-thirds) and elimination of secondary operations. The Braun parts are made at the TB&C Outsert Center in Herborn, Germany. TB&C’s use of outsert techniques dates to 1985 when its parent, Phillips Metallwaren, was forced by Asian customers to dramatically reduce costs on car auto tape drives. TB&C says reject levels with the process are low at 25 ppm. Electromechanical structures are molded by TB&C for large roof systems, automated teller machines as well as mediacl devices with microtransmission.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.