Companies continue to invest in micro molding assets as demand for tiny products grows. In a recent move, Spectrum Plastics Group of Minneapolis announced that it has acquired advanced micro molding assets, expanding the company’s full range of injection molding and rapid prototyping services to production of true micro-molded components and devices from highly engineered materials.
The acquisition includes six machines that will be part of Spectrum Plastic Group’s Minneapolis operation. The new machines will enable Spectrum Plastics to deliver parts from 100 thousandths of an inch to 1.25 inches and 1/4 grams to 5 grams. They expect these capabilities to benefit customers in the medical device, aerospace and defense markets.
The 100% solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 is prepping for its upcoming flight, becoming the first plane to fly around the world without using fuel. It's able to do so because of above-average performance by all of the technologies that go into it, especially materials.
As the 3D printing and overall additive manufacturing ecosystem grows, standards and guidelines from standards bodies and government organizations are increasing. Multiple players with multiple needs are also driving the role of 3DP and AM as enabling technologies for distributed manufacturing.
A growing though not-so-obvious role for 3D printing, 4D printing, and overall additive manufacturing is their use in fabricating new materials and enabling new or improved manufacturing and assembly processes. Individual engineers, OEMs, university labs, and others are reinventing the technology to suit their own needs.
For vehicles to meet the 2025 Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, three things must happen: customers must look beyond the data sheet and engage materials supplier earlier, and new integrated multi-materials are needed to make step-change improvements.
3D printing, 4D printing, and various types of additive manufacturing (AM) will get even bigger in 2015. We're not talking about consumer use, which gets most of the attention, but processes and technologies that will affect how design engineers design products and how manufacturing engineers make them. For now, the biggest industries are still aerospace and medical, while automotive and architecture continue to grow.
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