Honeywell works with NIST for plan
MINNEAPOLIS — Honeywell Laboratories in Minneapolis is leading a new national program to develop metal injection molding for big, complex parts, working with the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Under MIM, powdered metal is injected into a mold to form a metal part similar to metal parts made by traditional metal-forming methods such as casting, forcing and machining, which are labor-intensive.
"MIM is an important, emerging technology for the U.S.," said Ken MacFadden, director of Honeywell's Materials Laboratory. "We're already commercially supplying small parts made using this technology, but the defect rate on larger, more complex parts — like industrial and automotive components — is far too high. This research is about bridging that size gap."
The effort will study MIM to make automotive transmissions, computer hard drives, rocket nozzles, electric motors, copy machines, surgical instruments and sports equipment, according to NIST in Gaithersburg, Md. NIST provided a $2.8 million grant through its Advanced Technology Program. The total cost of the three-year project is estimated at $5.7 million.
The team will use sensors inside molds, molding presses and the sintered parts themselves to reveal what happens during MIM. That data will be used to develop three-dimensional simulations. Results of the research will be available to other companies over the Internet.
MacFadden pegs the U.S. market for sintered materials at $23 billion a year.
Members of the Honeywell team include experts from Ingersoll Rand Inc. of Huntsville, N.C.; Polymer Technologies Inc. of Clifton, N.J.; CM Furnaces Inc. of Bloomfield, N.J.; Compas Controls Inc. of Indiana, Pa.; and Pennsylvania State University of University Park, Pa.
Maguire gets patent on new resin dryer
ASTON, PA. — Maguire Products Inc. has received a U.S. patent on its Maguire Low Pressure Dryer, Maguire said Dec. 18.
The LPD technology dries resin in just one-sixth of the time of conventional drying equipment, which uses prolonged heat and desiccant materials to dry the resin. The LPD Dryer heats resin quickly, then uses vacuum to pull out the moisture.
According to President Stephen B. Maguire, the patent covers a design that does heating and vacuum-drying simultaneously in separate stations, turning a batch process into a continuous one that keeps pace with the plastics processing equipment. The Aston-based auxiliary maker introduced the LPD at NPE 2000.
Robot suppliers ship $1 billion in robots
ANN ARBOR, MICH. — North American robot suppliers were expected to ship more than $1 billion in robots in 2000 for the fourth straight year — but an automotive slowdown reduced sales from the record year of 1999, a trade group said.
Year-end numbers are not available, but the Robotic Industries Association said that through the first nine months of 2000, North American-based robot companies posted new orders of 11,888 units valued at $959.9 million. Orders were down 11 percent in units and 14 percent in dollars from the same period of 1999, RAI said.
The United States, with 107,000 robots operating in factories, now stands second only to Japan in robot use, according to the association in Ann Arbor.
Investor group buys former ASL business
MERRILLVILLE, IND. — An investor group has purchased the business of the former Analytic Systems Laboratories Inc., which developed a machine that electrostatically cleans hydraulic fluid in injection molding presses.
In a letter to customers, Stephen Enger, former president of Analytic Systems, announced the sale effective Sept. 1, 2000, to the new company, ASL Technologies LLC.
ASL's general manager, David Bickford, said Analytic Systems ceased operations earlier in 2000. Bickford is one of several investors who bought the business, including the Analytic's building in Merrillville.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The investors bought the assets, patents and inventory of Analytic Systems.
Bickford is a former aerospace engineer with Northrop Grumman Corp.
ASL's main product is called the Electrostatic Finite Fluid Purification System. Most of the systems are installed on injection molding machines, where tight-tolerance servo-hydraulic valves require very clean hydraulic fluid.
"It lengthens the life of the oil and takes all contaminants out," Bickford said in a telephone interview.
ASL counts some huge processors as customers. The company says Newell Rubbermaid Inc., Owens-Illinois Inc., Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Corp. use the purification system on their injection molding machines.
Here's how it works: The machine electronically charges the fluid so tiny contaminants have opposite polarities, and they stick together. Contaminants are drawn into a polyolefin foam cell. When the operator back-flushes the system, the particles remain in the foam.