Electronic component suppliers routinely provide free samples of their latest offerings. While that's a great way to build up future business opportunities, let's face it: The bulk of the business is in the tried and true stuff, some of which has been around for years. Recognizing that fact, Texas Instruments Standard Linear and Logic Semiconductor Group is teaming up with DigiKey to offer engineers fast access to free samples (and free shipping) of some 80% of its 15,000 part numbers at: http://www-a.ti.com/apps/sampcert/basket.asp. "We continue to see tremendous demand for many of our mature parts, and most engineers like to get some samples, put them on a board, and try them out in their systems," says Bert Bond, Worldwide Logic Product Manager. One perennial favorite: TI's hex inverter. Possibly the oldest technology in TI Logic's current product line, it just keeps going and going, says Bond. So okay, to be fair, it's not like engineers couldn't get free samples of older parts in the past. But, says Bond, those requests were handled on an exception basis. "It was very cumbersome, and usually took days," says Bond. Now, TI is guaranteeing overnight processing of all sample requests. No exceptions.
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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