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.
Optomec's third America Makes project for metal 3D printing teams the LENS process company with GE Aviation, Lockheed, and other big aerospace names to develop guidelines for repairing high-value flight-critical Air Force components.
A self-propelled robot developed by a team of researchers headed by MIT promises to detect leaks quickly and accurately in gas pipelines, eliminating the likelihood of dangerous explosions. The robot may also be useful in water and petroleum pipe leak detection.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has built and successfully hot-fire tested an entire 3D-printed rocket engine. In other news, NASA's 3D-printed rocket engine injectors survived tests generating a record 20,000 pounds of thrust. Some performed equally well or better than welded parts.
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