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.
A new compression molding compound material combines the light weight, strength, and rigidity of carbon fibers with the flexibility and lower cost of glass materials in a composite compatible with automotive production.
Plastic bearings are real and millions of them are in use doing heavy-duty jobs we used to think only metals could do. Some of Germany-based igus's bearings are traveling around the world as functional parts in a car to demonstrate what they can do.
Baxter showed off his 2.0-derived moves at ATX West this year. The big red guy still looks pretty much the same, but has some new abilities, mostly due to software. The research robot version is now being used in corporate R&D departments as a design platform.
End-production using 3D printing, including objects made of multiple materials in one pass, is getting closer to reality as we saw on the exhibit floor at the recent Pacific Design & Manufacturing Show.