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.
Artificially created metamaterials are already appearing in niche applications like electronics, communications, and defense, says a new report from Lux Research. How quickly they become mainstream depends on cost-effective manufacturing methods, which will include additive manufacturing.
SpaceX has 3D printed and successfully hot-fired a SuperDraco engine chamber made of Inconel, a high-performance superalloy, using direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). The company's first 3D-printed rocket engine part, a main oxidizer valve body for the Falcon 9 rocket, launched in January and is now qualified on all Falcon 9 flights.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and MIT have 3D-printed a new class of metamaterials that are both exceptionally light and have exceptional strength and stiffness. The new metamaterials maintain a nearly constant stiffness per unit of mass density, over three orders of magnitude.
Smart composites that let the material's structural health be monitored automatically and continuously are getting closer to reality. R&D partners in an EU-sponsored project have demonstrated what they say is the first complete, miniaturized, fiber-optic sensor system entirely embedded inside a fiber-reinforced composite.
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