Size, geometry and cost constraints posed problems for design engineers at Gyrus Medical in Minneapolis MN, when designing the jaws for a single-use bipolar open-forceps surgical instrument that uses RF energy. Tight tolerances over the length of the part (about 4.5 inches) were also an issue. The instrument will only perform properly if the surfaces remain parallel. Gyrus looked at casting and machining before choosing metal-injection molding. "Any time we need that kind of accuracy, we're going to look for a MIM-molded part," says Craig Stowell, director of engineering for Gyrus Medical. Phillips Plastics developed custom ceramic fixtures to support the parts to eliminate sagging during the production process. The parts then went through a calibration process to meet final print specifications.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Microchip recently released the 3D TouchPad, the first USB PC Peripheral device that couples 2D multi-touch input with 3D air gesture technology. The company seeks the help of developers to further enhance the capabilities of the technology.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
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