News reports drone on constantly these days with more and more negative information. I don’t get the same kind of vibe when I talk to design engineers every day for my writing about materials and fastening technology for Design News. Most incredible to me are reports on advances in medical technology by American inventors and engineers. The most recent was an interview I had with Dave Danitz, the vice president of research and development at Novare Surgical Systems In California, which recently developed and brought to market an instrument called RealHand that allows laparoscopic surgery through a single port—and even through natural orifice such as a mouth. The result is a dramatic reduction in the risk of infection.
Invented by Danitz, the RealHand is a fully mechanical instrument up to 45 centimeters in length in which jaws at the distal end move inside the human body in reaction to movements of a surgeon’s hands on a handle. Small articulating links connect the jaws to the shaft and the handle to the shaft, which can vary in length from 24 to 45 centimeters. There are no electronics in the device.
Although introduced just six months ago, a number approaching 100 surgeons use the tool.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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