3D printer maker Airwolf3D recently came out with its HD machines that hold tighter tolerances than the consumer-grade machines it has been producing. Machines like this one at the show handled a print volume of 1,150 cubic inches (12x8x12 in), and were said to hit a layer-to-layer resolution as fine as 0.06 mm (.002 in). Airworlf3D CEO Erick Wolfe also says the HD is fully autonomous, meaning that it needn't be coupled to a computer to print.
Polyone came up with a type of TPE that is optimized for reducing vibrations. The material absorbs the impact of objects somewhat to reduce the amount of bounce. The amount of damping can actually be tuned with material properties. The company demonstrated the material with a swinging pendulum display at the show.
One of the exhibits at MD&M West featured a Bumotec seven-axis machining center able to produce parts like these in one operation, without having to refixture the part a time or two. Medical devices are one of the big markets for this machine which hails from Switzerland.
Poly(lactic acid) or polylactide (PLA) is a thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch
And there was this thing. SynDaver Labs was at the show with its Synthetic Human, made up of what it calls the world's most sophisticated synthetic human tissues and body parts. This synthetic cadaber bleeds, breathes, and employs hundreds of replaceable muscles, bones, organs, and vessels which are made from materials that mimic the mechanical, thermal, and physico-chemical properties of live tissue. This validated technology is used to replace live animals, cadavers, and human patients in medical device studies, clinical training, and surgical simulation. The booth personnel haul this thing to the show every morning in a body bag. If they don't, the tissue material dries out just like real human skin. Medical students use these things to practice suturing and other techniques because the synthetic organs and tissues are more realistic than those of cadavers.
Materials supplier Polyone helps fight conterfeit drugs with containers like these. Polyone puts a special additive in the container polymer that can be read by the garage-door-opener-type gizmo in the image. Aiming the thing at the container allows it to check for the additive, which Polyone won't discuss. If the gizmo detects the additive, it turns on a green light. A red light turns on if there's no additive and the container, as well as what's inside, is counterfeit. The thought is that drug counterfeiters won't go to the trouble of faking the additive in the containers of genuine drugs.
One of the parts 3D printer maker Airwolf3D was showing off was this squishy football section made of TPE. By adusting the internal structure of parts, the printers can produce objects that bounce back when squeezed as is evident in this section of a football.
Merit Sensor was at the show with MEMS-based blood pressure sensors. It turns out that blood pressure readings made with the familiar blood pressure cuffs really aren't particularly accurate. You have to use an invasive blood pressure sensor to get a really accurate reading. Merit's sensor is embedded in a housing that can be part of an IV setup. It reads out blood pressure on a monitor like the one in the image. Also, it handles huge over pressures without breaking. This comes in handy when nurses or other hospital personnel bang on the sensor or IV appuratus to get rid of air bubbles during the course of treatment.
Bell Everman was at the show with its SLS sealed linear stages. When manufacturing debris, particulate or liquid contaminants work their way into a linear stage, they can abrade or gum up the drive mechanism and bearings, degrading precision. The SLS Sealed Linear Stage keeps the crude out of the motion mechanism with a polyurethane seal that can be popped out. The proprietary linear lip seal design integrates with the stage’s anodized aluminum housing. The linear motor configurations of the thing can hit accuracies of ± 4 µm per meter of travel and bi-directional repeatability of ± 2 µm. The ballscrew version shown here can hit accuracies of ± 10 µm per meter of travel and bi-directional repeatability of ± 5 µm. Speeds are 4 m/sec for linear motor drives and 0.4 m/sec for ballscrew drives. The SLS targets applications with harsh operating environments that include laser machining, welding, semiconductor and machining.
This gantry was at the Bell Everman booth but the company wasn't saying much about it. It was originally built for a laser cutting application. It uses position feedback on each of the X and Y axes but no feedback on the motor shafts for either of these axes. Though there is only one position loop for each of the two directions of motion, the stage is said to be capable of super high accuricies. The black area visible in the image is a bellows arrangement built to keep crude off the positioning components.
This is what's called a telepresense robot. The guy visible on the screen was actually in San Diego when this was shot. He can see what is in front of the robot courtesy of a webcam-like video camera on the front of the robot. Orbis Robotics makes the robot for industrial uses such as remotely inspecting appuratus or interacting with factory personnel. Many of the components in the robot were 3D printed.
The Medical Design & Manufacturing exposition kicked off Monday Feb. 10. Here are some of the technologies that were in evidence there.