One of the themes at the Medical Design and Manufacturing West event being held this week in Anaheim, CA is tiny. Medical devices are becoming smaller. That’s putting a lot of pressure on suppliers to provide precise tolerances. One of the interesting examples of the trend is a display from Kyocera showing its capability to achieve dimensional tolerances of ±0.002-inch on powder molded ceramic parts used in electro surgical devices. Kyocera can also achieve ±0.01-inch minimum wall thickness, says Hideki Ohnishi, manager of fine ceramics marketing at Kyocera. Achievement of the precise dimensions is possible because of custom made powder slurries as well as tweaking of the injection molding process, according to Ohnishi. Particular attention is paid to gate locations and venting. Kyocera operates 15 injection molding machines in Japan for the ceramic process. Ohnishi said that Kyocera will be almost doubling capacity due to strong demand for the products. Press sizes are 30 or 60 tons of clamping force. Typical part sizes are half-inch cubes.
An MIT research team has invented what they see as a solution to the need for biodegradable 3D-printable materials made from something besides petroleum-based sources: a water-based robotic additive extrusion method that makes objects from biodegradable hydrogel composites.
Alcoa has unveiled a new manufacturing and materials technology for making aluminum sheet, aimed especially at automotive, industrial, and packaging applications. If all its claims are true, this is a major breakthrough, and may convince more automotive engineers to use aluminum.
NASA has just installed a giant robot to help in its research on composite aerospace materials, like those used for the Orion spacecraft. The agency wants to shave the time it takes to get composites through design, test, and manufacturing stages.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working with architects Foster + Partners to test the possibility of using lunar regolith, or moon rocks, and 3D printing to make structures for use on the moon. A new video shows some cool animations of a hypothetical lunar mission that carries out this vision.
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