Two-pole medical forceps are under development in Germany using an exciting new metal to ceramic co-molding process. Two-component plastic injection molding is widely used to mate dissimilar materials, such as polypropylene and thermoplastic elastomer. Co-molding has not worked well for powder materials, such as ceramic and metal, because of widely differing shrinkage rates, particularly in the post-mold sintering process used to remove binders. But researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems (IKTS) in Dresden, Germany have identified compatible feedstocks through simulation studies. They also say that particle density is critical in developing shrink-compatible powder feedstocks. In one of their most interesting projects, they have prototyped conductive forceps in which a metal layer conducts electricity and ceramics provide insulation. Current flows to a human body through one arm and returns through another. In currently used forceps, current flows into the patient’s body, and then back into the forceps. The purpose of the current is to cauterize tissue. The current entering the body is described as minimal. But the new technology would be even safer. The forceps are being tested now by various partners in Germany.
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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