Why is Apple so successful with its new designs? Well, one answer is that it breaks the rules when it comes to injection molding. One of the basic rules taught to new industrial designers is to always leave a draft angle so molded parts can be easily slipped from a mold cavity. Apple’s Designer-in-Chief Steve Jobs said the heck with that, according to an article in the current issue of MIT’s Technology Review. Apple designs computer housings with zero draft. It costs more for special ejection, but Apple achieves a unique box-like look. It also means designers can pack more in the housing and money is saved on packaging and shipping costs. But concept is king at Apple. Apple also makes extensive use of a two-shot molding process it calls “double back”.
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.