Economist. 6/12/2004, Vol. 371 Issue 8379, special section p8-10. 2p.
RAPID prototyping, ARTIFICIAL joints, and PLASTIC surgery
Rapid-prototyping machines are, in effect, three-dimensional printers. They build up layer upon layer of a plastic, ceramic or metal, either by squirting the material out of a nozzle in a controlled way or by melting successive layers of powders using a laser. Originally developed to help designers and engineers visualize their inventions before going to the trouble of actually building them, the machines have now become so sophisticated that it is possible to print devices with moving parts. Medical and dental specialists were quick to spot an opportunity. Rapid-prototyping machines have, for example, shortened the casting process for facial and cranial plates used in reconstructive surgery, says Robin Richards at the department of medical physics at University College, London. Terry Wohlers, an American rapid-prototyping expert, believes it is only a matter of time before such machines become common fixtures in hospitals, with doctors and surgeons using them almost as routinely as they currently use X-rays. Wilhelm Meiners and his colleagues at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology in Aachen, Germany, are one group working to extend the technology to print reconstructive facial plates and even load-bearing artificial joints, such as hips, which could be customized for each patient. Meanwhile, researchers at Advanced Ceramics Research in Tucson, Arizona, are developing rapid prototyping to create replacement bones, with funding from America's Office of Naval Research.
The article reports that BKV Group, Dutch heavy lift and wind energy specialist has diverted its new Liebherr LTM 1750-9.1 from a job in nothern Germany to clinet Lagenwey Wind erect a new design of wind turbine. The LTM1750 placed the lower tower sections configured with the main telescpic boom. The Lagerwey L100 2.5MW turbine has a rotor diameter of 100 meter.
TECHNOLOGICAL innovations and PROTOTYPE design & construction
Looks at researchers demonstrating linear micromotors at the Max-Planck-Institute fur Biophysikalische Chemie, Germany. How motor is fabricated; Prototyping abilities; Device free of mechanical connections.
The article deals with the use of fused deposition modelling (FDM) in vehicle design prototyping at BMW AG plant in Regensburg, Germany. It notes that the plant's department of jigs and fixtures used FDM to build hand-tools for automobile assembly and testing. Financial advantages of using FDM include cost reductions in engineering documentation, warehousing and manufacturing. It also mentions that the plant uses FDM to enhance the ergonomics of its hand-held assembly devices.