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.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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