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.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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