Kenji Uchino is a professor of engineering at Penn State who developed a small ultrasonic piezoelectric motor that measures less than 2 mm in diameter and is approximately 4 mm long—about the size of a grain of rice. And unlike piezoelectric motors made with tubes of piezoelectric materials, Uchino's motor is made from aluminum, stainless steel, plastic, and brass tubes. Applications for the motor include medical instruments that are disposable and other devices that have small diameters. Because the motor is non-magnetic, its applications include surgical procedures performed with magnetic resonance imaging. Potential non-medical applications include appliances, computers, and wristwatches. "The inside of a wristwatch is filled with gears because tiny electromagnetic motors spin too fast to directly operate a watch," says Uchino. His motor rotates slower, so watches enabled by his motor could be mechanically simpler, he claims. For more information, send e-mail to email@example.com.
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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