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.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
The 100-percent solar-powered Solar Impulse plane flies on a piloted, cross-country flight this summer over the US as a prelude to the longer, round-the-world flight by its successor aircraft planned for 2015.
GE Aviation expects to chop off about 25 percent of the total 3D printing time of metallic production components for its LEAP Turbofan engine, using in-process inspection. That's pretty amazing, considering how slow additive manufacturing (AM) build times usually are.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.