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.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
If there's one thing 3D printing's good for, it's customization. New Balance Athletic Shoe Company has begun using 3D printing to make customized spike plates for its running shoes made for members of its Team New Balance runners. They provide better traction and shave off a tiny bit of weight.
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