Archive for March, 2010

Built Tough with ABS 3D Printing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Few manufacturing techniques can offer companies with boundless opportunities to perfect a product or piece of equipment such that ABS 3D printing provides.

And while industries ranging from medical devices to consumer products have benefitted from advancements in ABS 3D Printing technology, its use in the automotive industry has enhanced innovations in design.

In one such instance, General Motors turned to AMP Research, a tier-one supplier to the automotive industry, to develop concepts for an alloy fuel door for its Hummer H2 sport utility vehicle.

According to a report, due to the design flexibility of ABS 3D Printing, AMP Research engineers could quickly provide GM with a variety of physical models of the fuel door that were easily produced with the aid of ABS 3D printing. Getting prototypes in front of GM faster for review and approval allowed AMP to move through the design process of the fuel door for testing and evaluation much faster.

Wonder how 3D ABS printing helped?

By creating an ABS prototype, engineers could refine designs and cut time from development schedule as it now how the time to test form, fit and functions, while also exploring as many design options as they needed to meet performance specifications. The benefit is that they could readily detect flaws and take corrective steps to deliver excellence to their customer before a costly error was made. So ABS 3D Printing helped to keep the project ahead of schedule and improved the overall product development process.


Tubing so cool it can take the heat

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The mechanical characteristics of thin wall tubing make it an ideal choice for various applications—from its ability to withstand extreme temperature conditions to it providing material strength, excellent insulation and protection from abrasion.

First off, one of the primary benefits of thin wall tubing being able to withstand extreme temperature conditions is in use in sensitive electronic devices where excessive exposure to heat could cause damage and equipment failure.

Why does this happen?

As technology advances, electronic devices, such as integrated circuit boards become more complex. In doing so, the circuit density causes an increase in thermal properties—in other words, it turns up the heat generated inside of equipment.

Thin wall tubing in this particular application helps to cool electronic devices by acting as a conduit to pass airflow to lower the temperature, and as a result keeps the device functioning properly.

Another benefit of thin wall tube concerns its tensile properties. Its relative strength provides necessary assurance to the end user of surgical equipment, for example. During medical procedures, thin wall tubing must deliver superior performance to ensure the safety of a patient. While heat may not be a contributing factor to thin wall tubes failure, it is critical that the tensile strength of the thin wall tube be able can withstand continuous friction and maintain enough gripping strength.

Another common use of thin wall tubing is in packaging protection. In this case, thin wall tubes cut to size may be used as a band around products to aid in tamper detection.
From these varied examples, it’s evident that thin wall tubing offers a wide breadth of performance characteristics to be selected for use in a number of applications.


Rapid prototype models can eliminate psychological stress

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

From medical devices such as stints to custom-made human implants used in reconstructive surgery, the use of rapid prototype models is rapidly growing in popularity among designers and engineers, due to new and innovative technology—and the reasons are evident.

Looking at anatomical parts as one example:

Rapid prototype models allows for an accurate fabrication of a patient’s implant—whether it’s for bone replacement or prosthesis. Because it’s customized to fit the patient, the benefits of utilizing rapid prototype models allow for the surgeon to conduct preoperative planning and practice in advance of the actual surgery. The surgery thereby becomes less invasive for the patient, reduces reconstruction time, and provides better esthetic results.

Due to this proactive approach facilitated by rapid prototyping, it has also been found to alleviate a patient’s pre-surgery psychological stress, as they have more confidence that the surgical complications will be minimized if not eliminated.

But the benefits of rapid prototyping don’t end there, as it also aids in eliminating risk of product failure. And for engineers and designers who are working to improve product performance, rapid prototyping facilitates faster manufacturing and produces higher quality end products.

After a rapid prototype model is developed, it can be evaluated as to its shape, size and general feel. The level of quality control that rapid prototype models provide allows the design team to answer questions such as: Is this providing the feel we want? Will the prosthesis attach easily? Is there anything obstructive about its design? Will it deliver maximum performance?

Given the design flexibility of rapid prototype models, these questions can be quickly answered and products can be improved more cost-effectively and rapidly.


Got Air? Then you must have a custom medical tube.

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Custom Medical Tubing may not be the first thing people think about when it comes to the transfer of air, oxygen air and fluids—but if you work in the medical device industry, it’s likely on the top on your list.

And the reasons are clear—to help keep patients alive and well.
Manufacturing custom medical tubing must be executed following the strictest ISO compliant processes. Custom tubing manufacturers, who develop medical tubes which are generally used in diagnostic and interventional medical products, are required to perform its production in a Class 100,000 clean room. This ensures that the conditions under which the custom medical tube is made is adhering to those standards to result in a disposable end-product that is of the highest quality.

However, regardless of the material from which the custom medical tubing is made, these small diameter custom medical tubes can be extruded into a variety of shapes—circular, square, and oval. And while they can be more costly than other more conventional medical tubes, the expense is justifiable. After all, manufacturing custom medical tubing can be complex and need to be manufactured using the tightest tolerances specified to best suit the application.

In mission-critical procedures, the custom medical tube may be used as a nasal oxygen tube used on a post-operative patient. Medical tubes may also be involved in transferring fluids during transfusions or dialysis.

Research shows that PVC may be the leading polymer used for custom medical tubing, but most custom medical tubing manufacturing facilities can produce the custom medical tubes in a variety of thermoplastics.


Riddled with Medical Tubing Supplier Questions?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

If a person is only as good as their word; then it would stand to reason that a medical tubing supplier is only as good as their…tubes, right?

Medical tubing suppliers around the country offer their customers a wide range of services in manufacturing custom tubing. However, what makes one medical tubing supplier stand out for the competition? After all, not all Medical Tubing Suppliers are created equal.

It’s not a trick question, but a real one that design engineers should consider when they are shopping around for the best medical tubing supplier to meet their custom tubing needs.

One such defining competency is a medical tubing suppliers expertise in a particular configuration of tubing, for instance, do they specialize in small diameter custom tubing?

Why this is important may not be immediately evident, but if you consider that while technology keeps advancing, the components installed in the equipment are designed to more exacting specifications—i.e., precision small diameter tubing.

OK-what does that translate into for the design engineers and the medical tubing suppliers?
Well, take thin wall tubing for example used in a sensitive piece of medical equipment—chances are its tolerances need to be tighter but it still needs to retain its mechanical characteristics of being flexible, durable, etc.; but the thermoplastic initially selected may be challenged in being extruded for this new small diameter custom tubing’s specifications.

But who would have the expertise to make that discernment for their customers? One would venture a guess and state that it would take the design and manufacturing insight of an experienced medical tubing supplier who specializes in small diameter tubing.
Wouldn’t it?


The ABC(D)’s of PVC clear tubing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

The benefits of PVC clear tubing are evident if you ever used it—but if not, and you’re looking for a clear choice, no pun intended, when selecting the appropriate tubing for the job, PVC clear tubing should be on the top of your list.

Some key reasons why people choose PVC clear tubing:
(A) Suitable for multitude of applications due to its ease of use and installation such as for medical devices, air lines, and pools and spas, to name a few.

(B) Provides for a versatile and inexpensive choice to replace many other plastic piping applications, especially when it is necessary in circumstances where visual monitoring is necessary, as in potable water systems.  And when the necessity for “glass-like” clarity such as that found in clear PVC tubing is critical—such as for chemical companies.

(C) PVC clear tubing is resistant to corrosion. This makes clear plastic tubing an ideal choice for medical and hospital use.

(D) PVC tubing provides outstanding flow characteristics which assists in the prevention of bacteria and sediment buildup in the clear tubes, which makes it a top choice for food processing facilities.

And another simple fact, and often times a driving factor as to why companies select PVC clear tubing concerns new EPA regulations. For many industries, such as the automotive and industrial sectors, complying with new standards for safety and energy efficiency require that they replace older tubing or pipes that transport hazardous materials—and PVC tubing is the suitable choice.

The reasons are simple and the list numerous other than these few key attributes of clear PVC tubing listed here.  But if you need more information, contact a reliable PVC clear custom tubing manufacturer.


Polycarbonate tubing…it’s for the birds

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Polycarbonate tubing may have a tough exterior, but you can see right through it for all the durable characteristics clear polycarbonate tubing offers, even from your living room window.

Now the birds may not thank you, but you can be assured that next time you notice one of them safely feasting off the seed contained in your birdfeeder, it’s was all because of the polycarbonate tubing.

Recognized for its “chew-proof” qualities is only one of the reasons why polycarbonate tubes are chosen for use in bird feeders. This durable clear polycarbonate tube is designed to keep seed safe from squirrels, cats or other predators. Better yet—clear polycarbonate is eco-friendly and safe to use; and given the growing number of consumers who are opting for eco-friendly products, it would seem reasonable that the market demand for polycarbonate tubing would increase.

Of course, polycarbonate tubes are not only applicable for use in birdfeeders by environmentally-conscious consumers.

In many other applications that require that the tubing be unbreakable, multiwall polycarbonate is an ideal choice due to its dielectric strength and ability to withstand high temperatures. As such, polycarbonate tubing is ideal for use in electronic appliances were its components may be subjected to conditions that could compromise its function.

But whether you’re an a distributor of bird-feeder supplies, like polycarbonate rod or are looking to custom manufacture your companies own line of polycarbonate tubing for a variety of other industries, you can be assured that the polycarbonate tube will provide your customers with a lifetime of use.


3D Printing is an automatic “Hole-in-One”

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

What does 3D printing and golf have in common?

If you’re TaylorMade and pro golfer Mark O’Meara you can equate it with success — affecting both game performance and sales performance.

When TaylorMade was looking to produce a new set of irons, they turned to O’Meara and 3D printing. While the story is not recent, it is relevant as to the beneficial use of 3D printing.

O’Meara was getting ready for the 1998 Skins Game and asked TaylorMade to have the irons ready in time for him to use during the tournament. TaylorMade had limited time to test and develop its new set of clubs, but because of the availability and expediency of 3D printing, they were able to create 50 wax patterns on a 3D printer, which were then sent to a foundry for casting and finishing.

The end result: The prototype of the Firesole Tour Irons were developed on time using 3D printing, which also provided for tremendous cost-savings—and of course, O’Meara won the Skins Game.

While not every manufacturer has a pro golfer at their disposal to test new products, it does have access to 3D printing technology that can assist its design engineers throughout the product development process.

3D Printing has provided innovative solutions to companies like TaylorMade, but also has been utilized for manufacturers who develop medical equipment for people with disabilities, and 3D printing has also assisted EOIR technologies with the development of a camera mount for the M1 tank and Bradley fighting vehicle.

From the frontline to the golf course, 3D printing technology takes the guesswork out of prototype development to ensure a product’s performance under all “stressful” conditions.


Which Poly Tubing is right for you?

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Poly tubing means different things to different users because it covers such a wide breadth of products.

Do you require an extrusion with radiopaque materials? Then single lumen tubing is an ideal poly tubing selection.

Perhaps you need limitless options in manufacturing poly tubing because your application is complex and requires multiple channels—then multi-lumen clear tubing may work best.

The ability for customer tubing manufacturers to make poly tubing from a variety of thermoplastic materials adds to it being adaptable for a number of other uses. For example:

  • Polycarbonate is chosen when customers need toughness, clarity and high-heat tolerance are need from the poly tubing. This thermoplastic is often selected for poly tubing used in conduits or appliances.
  • Polyethylene is specified when small diameter poly clear tubing needs to be flexible and withstand repeated flexing with marginal negative impact. It has excellent chemical and gas resistance which makes it perfect for those in the medical industry.
  • Polypropylene tubing is quite versatile with a high heat tolerance and therefore is a perfect material for fiber spinning, laminating, injection molding, etc.
  • And when the poly tubing is going to be exposed to potential harsh conditions, polyurethane is select as it is abrasion and tear-resistant.

One of the key benefits of custom manufacturing poly tubing is its relatively low costs, and its compliance with FDA, USDA, NSF, and UL regulations. This makes it an ideal choice for leading industries when they need high performance and quality from their poly tubing.


No sun block necessary for thermoplastic tubing

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Typically speaking, U.V. light and ozone have been known to cause health damage to humans, but what are its effects on thermoplastic tubing?

Depending on the length of time thermo plastic tubing is utilized in certain applications—whether it’s exposed to ozone or to UV light—will determine which polymer is used to manufacture the thermoplastic extruded tubing. Taking material selection into consideration, and then adding a UV stabilizer, for example, lowers the risk that excessive exposure to potentially harmful environmental conditions cause that may compromise the performance characteristics of the thermoplastic tube. Several thermoplastic extrusion materials include polycarbonate, polyurethane, polypropylene, as well as custom compounds.

The importance of thermoplastic extruded tubing being able to withstand UV damage means different things to different people depending on the industry.

For those in the medical industry, some active agents in certain drugs will degrade when exposed to UV light. Therefore, it’s critical that the thermoplastic rod be UV resistant, such as that of thermoplastic polycarbonate that will block harmful rays from damaging the effectiveness of medications.

If the thermoplastic tubing will be subjected to outdoor applications, then custom tubing manufacturers may recommend the use of either thermoplastic polyethylene tubing or thermoplastic polypropylene tubing. As this type of exposure accelerates the deterioration rate of certain chemical properties that thermoplastic tubing is comprised of. Both will deliver reliable performance against environment stress cracking, which could cause leakage of fuels and oils.

As demonstrated, damage caused to thermoplastic tubing by long exposure of either the ozone or UV light has negative effects to be avoided. So before you select your thermoplastic tubing, consult with your custom tubing manufacturer.