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JUL/AUG 2013  

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Materials

Top Features

If there is a common theme echoed by manufacturers of microscale coils, forms and springs—all produced using microwire—it is that customers want more from less. That is, less in terms of size, not capability.

In an era when society is looking for true role models, Dr. Karen Lozano, whose picture is on the cover, would be a great place to start. She’s the inventor of the Forcespinning process, the subject of our July/August cover story.

By using force in the same way as a cotton-candy-making machine, a small U.S. firm has become a force in the world of nanoscale fiber fabrication.

Turn on the TV, pick up a consumer magazine or visit a popular Web news portal these days and you just might get an update on 3-D printing—the hottest topic in manufacturing.

When the rapid-prototyping industry launched in 1987, stereolithography apparatuses (SLAes) were used to build physical parts from pools of laser-cured liquid resin. Since then, the technology has grown, changed and inspired a handful of fundamentally different additive-manufacturing (AM) processes that also create parts by binding successive layers of various raw materials into CAD-designated shapes.

Unlike traditional circuit boards, flexible circuits feature plastic substrates that allow them to bend during use. In certain medical procedures, for example, flex circuits are better able than their rigid counterparts to handle the bending and twisting involved in moving a tiny electronic device to its destination inside the body.

Top Videos

D.R. Templeman, Plainville, Conn., says its can manufacture springs with virtually any spring material, and make wire forms from virtually any metal. The company says it is well equipped to work with wire sizes ranging from 0.004" [0.1mm] to 0.080" [2.0mm].

Deringer-Ney produces custom alloys at its facilities, as well as offers multiple other services to produce ultrasmall micromanufacturing components to tight tolerances using many alloys and manufacturing processes.

Stanford University researchers have developed an all-carbon, thin-film prototype solar cell that they say could reduce the manufacturing costs associated with rigid silicon solar panels.

T-Ink Inc., New York, offers a "thinking ink" technology that reportedly can replace physical switches, wire and sensors with printed components that create circuits without wires, as the company illustrated in a recent video animation of the process used to make an automobile overhead light.

During the 7th International Conference on MicroManufacturing in March, conference co-chairs Jian Cao and Kornel Ehmann, along with a few of their students, provided an overview of their research and work stations at the university's micromanufacturing lab.

Top Products

Motion Dynamics Corp.

Motion Dynamics, Fruitport, MI, (www.motiondc.com) says it works with almost any material available, including exotic and high performance alloys as well as bio-compatible materials.

Shannon MicroCoil

Shannon Microcoil, Limerick, Ireland, uses both round and flat wire in sizes from 0.001” (25 micron) upwards in round and flat wire. Common materials include, stainless steels such as 302, 304 and 316, Precious Metal Alloys such as PtW, PtIr, Pd, and coated materials such as gold coated steels and PTFE coated steels.

MakerBot Industries LLC

Replicator thumbWith the stated aim of democratizing manufacturing, MakerBot Industries LLC, Brooklyn, N.Y., heralds its Replicator personal 3-D printer as just the machine for the job. And at less than $2,000, the printer certainly fits right in with the price range of personal computers.

Matrix Plastic Products

Matrix molding thumbMatrix Plastics Products, Wood Dale, Ill., micromolds plastic parts smaller than a pellet of resin with tolerances of 12.7µm or less for the consumer electronics industry, according to the company's Web site.

Datron Dynamic Inc.’s recently introduced M8 PlasticMill is a high-speed CNC machining center designed specifically for plastic-machining applications that produce chips or dust that must be extracted and collected.