The US Patent office yesterday granted Apple Computer a patent for a process called double back injection molding used to make electronic housings. The process allows the distinctive glowing border effect in Microsoft's Zune player . The process allows creation of two different color effects as well as improved structural characteristics of the border wall. it avoids expensive and complicated action in tools. Apple uses double shot injection molding for both iPods and iMac desktop computers, which have a clear shell over a black or white layer. “The two shot injection process allows for a thinner walled enclosure that uses less materials and allows for added structural features that would not be possible using traditional molding techniques,” according to the patent summary. It was not clear, but seemed apparent, that Microsoft may have to pay a licensing fee to continue use of the process. One blogger stated, without documentation, that Apple was stealing Microsoft’s idea. Apple was not available for comment.
How 3D printing fits into the digital thread, and the relationship between its uses for prototyping and for manufacturing, was the subject of a talk by Proto Labs' Rich Baker at last week's Design & Manufacturing Minneapolis.
How can automakers, aerospace contractors, and other OEMs get new metal alloys that are stronger, harder, and can survive ever higher temperatures? One way is to redesign their crystalline structures at the nanoscale and microscale.
Although a lot of the excitement about 3D printing and additive manufacturing surrounds its ability to make end-products and functional prototypes, some often ignored applications are the big improvements that can come by using it for tooling, jigs, and fixtures.
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