The best American injection molders are developing a strong foothold in the medical market. Elite molder Phillips Plastics made a move to medical a long time ago when founder Robert Cervenka realized auto OEMs didn’t believe in collaborative relationships with key suppliers. Nypro put a stake in the medical market, but also flirted with big cell phone OEMs in China–a strategy that petered out. The newest addition is Mack Molding, which announced formation of a medical products group last month. ”We have been aggressively developing the medical manufacturing sector of our business for the past nine years by refining quality and supply management systems, hiring specialized staff, and adding new technology,” says Jeff Somple, president of Mack Molding’s Northern Division. “As a result, the medical market now represents a full 30 percent of our business, including several Class III medical devices, surgical equipment, and disposables for the orthopedic market.” Mack expects medical to represent more than half of its business in the future.
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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