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 in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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