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JUL/AUG 2013  

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Norman NobleMedical Device OEM’s that have applied Highland Heights, Ohio-based Norman Noble Inc.’s Design for Manufacturability services have realized substantial benefits, the company says. Costs and time-to-market are often cut in half with significant improvements in quality and delivery. These services are most effective when applied to projects that involve tight tolerances and exotic materials, including NiTinol.


Many articles have been written about additive manufacturing, also known as 3-D printing. Most of these stories have discussed exciting possibilities for the technology, such as printing weapons, buildings and even human organs.


Among the reasons manufacturers perform surface-texture operations is to change a part’s appearance, change how it feels, lower its reflectivity and/or decrease friction. Textures can be applied by sandblasting, waterjet cutting, mechanical imprinting, chemical etching, EDMing and lasing.


The use of fiber lasers for microwelding is increasing. They are particularly well-suited for microwelding medical and electronic components, such as hypodermic tube assemblies and disk-drive armatures.


A revolution is happening at the micro- and nano-scales—the ability to “program” physical and biological materials to change their shape and properties without human intervention. Called self-assembly, it is the spontaneous formation of ordered structures from smaller parts, taking advantage of the natural motion of molecules when energy is applied to them, and the tendency of those molecules to stick together via intermolecular attraction.


Just as not all cheese from Switzerland has holes in it, not all Swiss-style machines produce parts from rotating bar stock. The escomatic Swiss-style machines from Esco SA run cutting tools mounted on a tool head rotating at up to 12,000 rpm around a nonrotating workpiece.


When shopping for a micromilling machine, one of the first things you’ll need to consider is spindle speed—how fast is fast enough? The answer depends on a number of factors, including cutter diameter, workpiece material, required feed rate and the money in your bank account.


If you have a few million tiny holes to drill, you could order up a tractor-trailer’s worth of circuit board drills and get to work. You might be done by Christmas. Or you could find one of a handful of shops that owns an electron beam driller and get those holes drilled before lunchtime.


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.


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.