There was plenty of evidence throughout the halls of National Manufacturing Week held this week in Rosedale, IL that the medical market will become increasingly important to the U.S. economy. Teknor Apex, for example, unveiled 33 Medalist compounds all tested for compliance with ISO 10993-5 cytotoxicty standards and free of animal-derived materials, vinyl, phthalates and latex. Removal of animal-derived materials, such as stearates, derives from fears related to mad-cow disease, says Lisa M. Charno, market manager for the thermoplastic elastomer division at Teknor Apex. Another exhibitor, Elite Mold & Engineering purchased two all-electric injection molding machines to pave the way into the growing medical device market. “We believe this market will eventually account for 75 percent of our business,” says Joseph Mandeville, president of the Michigan molder. An interesting new technology for medical devices has been enhanced by another exhibitor, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. Two-shot molding is now becoming a factor in the medical device market because of new commercial grades of USP Class VI self-bonding silicones. They bond to rigid thermoplastics in the mold, avoiding costly secondary operations.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
A theme that was reflected in several ways at NPE 2015 was the use of 3D printing to assist in, or improve on, injection molding, as well as improvements in 3D printing materials and processes that are making better functional prototypes and end-use parts.
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