A medical fastener used in a surgical process achieves a tolerance of ±0.0005 in. using the Micro Molding process. “With conventional molding and multiple cavity tooling, cavity-to-cavity and process variability would already push us out of part tolerance,” comments a mold maker at Phillips Plastics, Hudson, WI. “With our Micro Molding technology, we felt comfortable we could hit the tolerances that were required for this part.”
Given the low volumes required for the part and the high cost of materials, Micro Molding offered a low-cost solution. Phillips Plastics’ proprietary process yields a higher percentage of useable parts versus runner compared to conventional molding, tilting economics toward Micro Molding when materials’ prices are high.For that reason, it’s often an ideal candidate for highly demanding medical molding. Another advantage of Micro Molding is that investment in tooling can be substantially less than conventional tooling. In most cases, prototype tooling can also be used for production tooling, assuming there are no design changes. Typical lead-time to sample parts is three to five weeks, depending on part geometry, tolerances and other specials requirements. Minimum sizes for Micro Molding in plastic are 0.002 gram to 0.06 grams and 0.0001 cubic inches to 0.003 cubic inches. In metal, minimum sizes are 0.013 grams to 0.375 grams and 0.0001 cubic inches to 0.003 cubic inches.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Engineers at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have designed biobatteries on commercial tattoo paper, with an anode and cathode screen-printed on and modified to harvest energy from lactate in a person’s sweat.
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