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.
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.