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.
Norway-based additive manufacturing company Norsk Titanium is building what it says is the first industrial-scale 3D printing plant in the world for making aerospace-grade metal components. The New York state plant will produce 400 metric tons each year of aerospace-grade, structural titanium parts.
Siemens and Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology have achieved a faster production process based on selective laser melting for speeding up the prototyping of big, complex metal parts in gas turbine engines.
BMW has already incorporated more than 10,000 3D-printed parts in the Rolls-Royce Phantom and intends to expand the use of 3D printing in its cars even more in the future. Meanwhile, Daimler has started using additive manufacturing for producing spare parts in Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
SABIC's lightweighting polycarbonate glazing materials have appeared for the first time in a production car: the rear quarter window of Toyota's special edition 86 GRMN sports car, where they're saving 50% of its weight compared to conventional glass.
Design engineers play a big role in selecting both suppliers and materials for their designs. Our most recent Design News Materials Survey says they continue to be highly involved, in some ways even more than the last time we asked to peek inside their cubicles.
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