A new elastomer technology announced at K 2007 in Düsseldorf will give design engineers new options, particularly for overmolding and applications such as gaskets with demanding compression-set requirements. Dow Chemical announced development of Infusion olefin block copolymers and compounder GLS simultaneously announced plans to extend the technology through customization. Advantages of the new material include better abrasion resistance, improved hardness range, and higher temperature resistance with no sacrifice in elasticity. “Mold designs are becoming increasingly complex,” comments Joseph Kutka, technology launch manager for GLS. “Because of easier flow, this material creates new design opportunities for engineers.”
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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