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.
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.
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