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.
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.
More and more -- that's what we'll see from plastics and composites in 2015, more types of plastics and more ways they can be used. Two of the fastest-growing uses will be automotive parts, plus medical implants and devices. New types of plastics will include biodegradable materials, plastics that can be easily recycled, and some that do both.
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