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.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
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