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 in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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