When the RoHS directive went into effect in 2006, medical devices and industrial control equipment were given a temporary exemption due to a lack of replacements, low usage levels, and their critical importance to specific applications.
But the European Union parliament voted late last year to remove those exemptions. Experts say the bill could become law sometime next year. Most medical devices would be covered by RoHS regulations three years after the effective date of the new law under the terms of the EU bill. There would be a delayed effectiveness date for in-vitro medical devices (five years) and industrial monitoring and control equipment (six years).
Some experts say that China may mirror the EU directive with its own regulations.
There was chatter in the halls of MD&M West in Anaheim, CA, that many medical electronics OEMs are already investigating or launching RoHS compliant products for medical devices. One reason is that product approval and design cycles can be much longer in the medical market than in other areas, particularly telecommunications.
Another is that it’s costly to maintain, lead-free production lines for most applications and lead-containing lines for medical. Even though lead is inexpensive at around $1.20 per pound it may be a better economic route to go with alternatives for supply chain (inventory-related) issues.
A recent report sponsored by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) focuses on emerging gasification technologies for converting waste into energy and fuel on a large scale and saving it from the landfill. Some of that waste includes non-recycled plastic.
Capping a 30-year quest, GE Aviation has broken ground on the first high-volume factory for producing commercial jet engine components from ceramic matrix composites. The plant will produce high-pressure turbine shrouds for the LEAP Turbofan engine.
Seismic shifts in 3D printing materials include an optimization method that reduces the material needed to print an object by 85 percent, research designed to create new, stronger materials, and a new ASTM standard for their mechanical properties.
A recent study finds that 3D printing is both cheaper and greener than traditional factory-based mass manufacturing and distribution. At least, it's true for making consumer plastic products on open-source, low-cost RepRap printers.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.