Plastics News senior reporter Bill Bregar reported the following items during National Manufacturing Week, held March 3-6 in Chicago. The event is host to six shows.
Stratasys upgrades FDM Titan machine
Rapid prototyping's march to direct manufacturing - a move beyond simply turning out models - continued during National Manufacturing Week, as Stratasys Inc. announced two upgrades to its FDM Titan machine.
FDM Titan builds parts from polycarbonate and ABS. The machine can make durable ABS parts with smoother surfaces and finer details.
Stratasys machines use a process called fused deposition modeling to build solid models, layer by layer, directly from three-dimensional CAD files. Previously, Titan FDM machines built each layer in a thickness of 0.007 of an inch. The new thickness is just 0.005 inch.
Another upgrade is the addition of the company's WaterWorks process, which uses water-soluble material to support the model. Normally, the supporting pedestal is broken off to remove the part. In this system the support simply is dissolved.
The company in Eden Prairie, Minn., continues to work on new direct-manufacturing materials, including an ABS/polycarbonate blend and polyphenylsulfone.
In other news, Stratasys said it passed the 2,000th-installation landmark last year. Toro Inc.'s irrigation products division in Riverside, Calif., bought an FDM Titan machine. Toro already had an FDM 3000 system.
Rivscrew targeted at new applications
Textron Fastening Systems said its new fastener for joining plastic parts, called Rivscrew PL, offers the speed of a permanent rivet, yet can be removed like a thread-forming fastener.
Textron originally developed the Rivscrew PL for a high-tech application - fastening Intel computer chips, according to Steve Wirrig, director of product marketing and strategic planning.
Made from low carbon steel with zinc plating, Rivscrew fasteners have a hexagon-shaped mandrel that expands into the plastic material, forming a thread. A hex key can remove and reinsert the fastener up to five times, with no reduction in performance, according to Textron Fastening Systems.
The company in Troy, Mich., makes a hand-held fastening gun. For higher volumes, Rivscrew works with the AutoLoad Mark III Speed Fastening system, which uses two guns that can deliver one fastener a second. When fasteners in one device are spent, the system automatically inserts a fully loaded replacement, a process that takes just six seconds.
Textron is targeting consumer electronics and automotive assembly. Because they can be removed, Rivscrews allow the end product to be disassembled for recycling.
ImpactXoft touting IX Speed updates
ImpactXoft Corp., which supplies software for designing plastic parts, demonstrated new features for its IX Speed product for global collaboration on product design, using digital modeling.
One improvement is the addition of functional surfacing, based on the company's IX Functional Modeling technology. Under functional surfaces, rules are built into the software that govern how surfaces should react as a design evolves. The software automatically generates new surface geometry.
IX Speed also has an improved assembly modeling, which integrates multiple designs into a full assembly or subassembly.
ImpactXoft is based in San Jose, Calif.
Firms form alliance to integrate systems
Four big names - ABB Group, Accenture Ltd., Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. - announced they are teaming up to help manufacturers bridge the gap between plant floor operations and companywide information-technology systems.
The alliance will develop, design and integrate systems for manufacturers.
Accenture, a consulting firm, built an integration layer that connects ABB's Industrial IT system for manufacturing operations with the Microsoft BizTalk Server.
Intel brings high-level microprocessor technology and computer platforms.
Fluoro-Seal unveils its latest products
Houston-based Fluoro-Seal Ltd., which surface-modifies plastics on a toll basis, has started selling the Inhanced family of modified polymer particles and fibers that improve the abrasion resistance of molded plastic products.
The Inhanced line consists of surface-modified particles based on ultrahigh-molecular-weight polyethylene, high density PE and titanium carbide polymer alloys, and surface-modified fibers based on aramid and HDPE. Using a proprietary process, Fluoro-Seal said the particles and fibers are dispersed, creating adhesion.
Fluoro-Seal also has introduced a family of surface-modified UHMW PE film that is used as a protective coating on other parts. One of the first commercial applications is a floor coating for concrete areas where acids are used.
Founded in 1983, Fluoro-Seal began by treating HDPE containers to enhance their barrier properties. Today it fluorinates more than 100 million plastic containers a year at 11 U.S. plants. Fluoro-Seal has diversified into treating a range of products, including geomembranes and polypropylene fibers.