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Bringing Digital Chemistry into Clinical Laboratories

Image of the VITROS XT 7600 courtesy of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics
Image of the VITROS XT 7600 courtesy of Ortho Clinical Diagnostics

Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, a global leader in diagnostic platforms and technologies, recently announced that its new digital chemistry system known as the VITROS XT 7600 has received the CE mark ahead of its launch overseas. The new technology combines Ortho’s proprietary dry slide technology with its new advanced digital imaging capabilities to provide laboratories with the ability to perform two separate lab tests simultaneously.

The new technology aims to introduce digital chemistry into clinical lab management through powerful data intelligence, operational improvements, and a new standard for quality and efficiency that will help clinical laboratories keep up with the ever-changing landscape of global healthcare. Jay Snyder, Ortho’s vice president of business fields in clinical laboratory platforms and solutions, said that digital chemistry is the most promising aspect of the new integrated system.

“While Ortho’s VITROS XT 7600 is an integrated clinical chemistry and immunoassay platform, the real innovation is digital chemistry,” he said. “That’s important because, generally speaking, clinical chemistry tests represent more than 50 percent of the test volume in a typical hospital laboratory. Ortho’s VITROS XT 7600 was designed to improve operational efficiency and result quality in the busiest area of the clinical laboratory.”

Ortho’s exclusive dry slide technology comes with a detection system composed of a high-precision LED illumination source that uses digital imaging capture and analysis capabilities. This combination of high-precision illumination and digital image capture and analysis using microslides could help laboratories ensure precision and accuracy with workflow improvement when processing two tests simultaneously.

“Unique to Ortho and the VITROS family of analyzers is a proven thin-film, dry slide technology that can meet the needs of the core laboratory with solutions that span the volume continuum, from mid-volume laboratories to high-volume laboratories,” Snyder said. “Other clinical chemistry solutions on the market use liquid reagents and reagent probes, reusable cuvettes, and fixed sample probes that all require washing with copious amounts of highly purified water, which generates a large volume of liquid waste. Further, with the development work ongoing with XT microslides and the future ability to perform two tests simultaneously, the workflow and assay quality benefits of VITROS technology may be offered to high-volume laboratories.”

The microslide aspect allows for a full testing environment on a postage stamp-sized piece of film that will enable precise and accurate testing in waterless environments. And with the digital imaging technology, the new system will provide advanced optics that will capture more information from testing than ever before—something that Snyder believes will help improve labs around the world.

“Nothing about the clinical laboratory environment is straightforward,” Snyder said. “Because of the myriad real-world challenges that today’s lab technicians face, they need high-quality, easy-to-use solutions that improve quality workflow. Ortho’s VITROS XT 7600 meets those needs and is backed by our award-winning Ortho Care service and support team. At Ortho, we understand the laboratory ecosystem and are focused on providing solutions that help address our customers’ biggest challenges.”

With its new CE mark, Ortho began shipping instruments to countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia in July. Earlier this month the company also submitted a 510K application with FDA, with hopes to launch the technology in the United States as soon as possible.

Gore Wins 3 Nods for Molding and Occlusion Balloon

Courtesy of W.L. Gore & Associates Gore Wins 3 Nods for Molding and Occlusion Balloon

W.L. Gore & Associates has won approvals and clearances from a wide variety of regulatory bodies for its Molding and Occlusion Balloon. The technology has received FDA clearance; a CE mark; and approval from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare.

The Flagstaff, AZ-based company’s device is a compliant polyurethane balloon catheter. The Molding and Occlusion Balloon was designed in close collaboration with clinicians to assist in the expansion of self-expanding stent grafts or to temporarily occlude large-diameter vessels.

Gore said the new device meets all endovascular aortic repair (EVAR) procedural requirements and is a single balloon that replaces the need for multiple molding and occlusion balloons.

Plans now call for the company to focus on launching the device in multiple markets.

“I think pretty rapidly we’ll be looking at a global launch that will tier out, with the first in-human use likely being in Japan,” Eric Zacharias, Gore Vascular Business Leader, told MD+DI. “Then from there we will work to fill our supply chain and transition our current offering to this design.”

Approvals and clearances of the Molding and Occlusion Balloon are a few months removed from Gore receiving an FDA nod to expand the indication of the Cardioform Septal Occluder to reduce the risk of recurrent ischemic stroke in patients.

FDA's nod allowed Gore’s Cardioform to effectively compete against Abbott Laboratories’’ Amplatzer technology.

The expanded indication was supported by the REDUCE study. Results from REDUCE were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in September 2017 and presented at the European Stroke Organization Conference (ESOC) last May.

6 Questions to Ask Yourself about ISO 11607 Compliance

6 Questions to Ask Yourself about ISO 11607 Compliance

When working in medical device packaging, you should know that ISO 11607-1 and -2 are the recognized guidelines for validating terminally sterilized medical device packaging. The ISO 11607 standards are FDA-recognized consensus standards and European normative standards for CE marking. The ISO 11607 standards are in two parts: ISO 11607-1: Packaging for terminally sterilized medical devices — Part 1: Requirements for materials, sterile barrier systems and packaging systems addressing packaging materials and design, and ISO 11607-2: Packaging for terminally sterilized medical devices — Part 2: Validation requirements for forming, sealing and assembly processes addressing packaging process validations. The primary purposes of these standards are to ensure that medical device packaging allows sterilization, provides physical protection, and maintains sterility to the point of use. These standards are revised and updated every few years and are expected to be amended in late 2018 or early 2019.

Compliance with ISO 11607 is key to safe and successful medical device packaging, so how can your organization make sure your packaged devices are ready? Ask yourself the following questions for more confidence in your packaging system when you ship your devices or when your company faces an impending audit.

Does your medical device packaging system allow sterilization?

Your packaging must provide physical protection and maintain sterility up to the point of use for ISO 11607 compliance. Terminal sterilization refers to sterilizing a device packaged in a sealed barrier system. (Validating product sterilization is a separate process.) The device inside the package is sterile and remains sterile until the packaging fails or is opened. The minimum packaging required to keep an enclosed device sterile is called a “sterile barrier system (SBS).” All packaging around the SBS is called “protective packaging” by the ISO 11607 standards.

There are various sterilization methods, each with pros and cons for packaging materials. Referencing information from AAMI TIR 17 (Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) Technical Information Report TIR17: Compatibility of materials subject to sterilization) or other resources pertaining to SBS material compatibility with particular sterilization methods is critical. Not all packaging materials are suitable for all types of sterilization processes; packaging materials could warp, melt, discolor, become brittle, or exhibit other compatibility problems. Even labeling materials could bleed, smudge, fade, fall off, or change in some way that impacts legibility when the sterilization process is not properly considered.

Protective packaging (often referred to in the United States as secondary and tertiary packaging) material choices also need consideration, as they, too, can be affected by the sterilization method. You do not want a case manufacturer joint failing because the adhesive used could not withstand an ethylene oxide (EO) sterilization temperature or the adhesive becomes brittle with radiation sterilization.

Device sterilization requirements need to match packaging material requirements, package performance, and shelf life expectations. Closely working with your company’s sterilization experts will ensure your packaging system is designed to assist in optimizing the sterilization process.

Does your packaging validation comply with the 115 “shall” statements?

There are more than 115 “shall” statements in the ISO 11607 standards. These shall statements must be met for your packaging to be ISO 11607 compliant. Some packaging aspects that are analyzed for the shall statements include packaging material traceability, validated test methods, sterilization compatibility, labeling compatibility, aging effects on packaging materials, distribution effects on the packaged product, and validated manufacturing processes.

Compliance with such “shall” statements takes a concerted effort as well as collaboration beyond the package engineering department, and it must be documented. Since aspects of both packaging design and packaging processes are included, working with departments such as quality, manufacturing, process engineering, logistics, marketing, sales, and end-users helps ensure all packaging is meets applicable shall statements.

Will you be ready for revisions to requirements that could be issued as soon as 2018?

ISO standards are reviewed at least every five years for potential changes. The ISO 11607 standards were written and published in 2006, with clarification updates in 2014. Standards are normally amended or revised every three to five years; the ISO 11607 standards are expected to be rolled out soon. The new revisions have been reviewed and are being processed for a formal vote this year (FDIS stage 50.00, in ISO speak). This means the final vote is this year with an expected release date at the end of 2018 or early 2019. To guarantee your organization’s readiness for the revised standards, it is best to assign someone to study the changes. This champion can then communicate the changes to the responsible parties in your organization. The biggest change currently expected is the additional requirement for documented human factors testing with packaging; this goes beyond the sterile presentation requirement currently in the document.

Do you know when FDA needs updated information about your medical device packaging?

Any changes to your existing device packaging require review by the regulatory affairs group (RA or it could be another acronym) within your organization. They will assess the impact to previous FDA submissions and approvals. Some potential packaging impacts could result in re-submission efforts, so those packaging changes could be delayed to align with other planned device changes or even be put on hold indefinitely. That is one of the biggest reasons to develop the “right” (optimized) packaging solution during initial development.

Would a checklist help?

To ensure your medical device product packaging is ISO 11607 compliant, your organization should have a thorough checklist aligning with its requirements. This checklist will help with audit readiness and could optimize your packaging during design and development. The process of compliance is multi-pronged and complex, with nuanced details than can change depending on each product’s specific purpose and circumstance. Although ISO 11607 compliance can seem like a daunting process, with attention to detail, inter-departmental cooperation, and experts dedicated to staying current on requirements and changes, your organization can be ready to send top-of-the-line packaged products to your consumers.

Are you ready?

Authorities on medical 3D printing, autonomous vehicles to deliver keynotes at PLASTEC Minneapolis

Authorities on medical 3D printing, autonomous vehicles to deliver keynotes at PLASTEC Minneapolis

Organizers of the Midwest’s largest annual design and manufacturing event, which comprises six co-located shows including Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) and PLASTEC Minneapolis, have announced this year’s keynote speakers: Michael McAlpine and Phil Magney.

Michael McAlpine
Michael McAlpine

Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota, McAlpine’s name will be familiar to anyone who follows developments in medical 3D printing. His most recent project involved a 3D-printed, implantable device that could one day help patients with long-term spinal cord injuries. PlasticsToday reported on this breakthrough research earlier this month. During his keynote at MD&M/PLASTEC Minneapolis, McAlpine will share information about this and other recent research undertaken by his team at the University of Minnesota, and discuss opportunities in applying 3D printing and imaging to the development of a variety of multifunctional devices. McAlpine will speak at 1 PM on Oct. 31 at Engineering HQ (booth 232).

Phil Magney
Phil Magney

On Nov. 1, same time and place, the keynote topic shifts gears to explore the technologies driving autonomous vehicles. During his keynote presentation titled, “The future of automated driving,” Magney will draw on more than 25 years of experience in active safety systems, automated vehicle systems and telematics to paint a picture of mobility solutions that are just down the road. The founder and Principal Advisor of VSI Labs, Magney provides engineering and research consulting on autonomous vehicle technologies. Magney will deliver his keynote address at 1 PM on Nov. 1, also at Engineering HQ (booth 232).

MD&M and PLASTEC Minneapolis, alongside four other co-located events dedicated to embedded systems development, automation, packaging, and design and manufacturing, come to the Minneapolis Convention Center on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, 2018. The event is organized by UBM, which also produces PlasticsToday.

Immersive Technologies in Medical Device Development: Today and Tomorrow

Pixabay Immersive Technologies in Medical Device Development: Today and Tomorrow

Medical device designers have a new research tool in their arsenal that facilitates faster immersion for the development team and provides a communication platform to bring patients and healthcare professionals into the development process. Even with the evolution of 3D printing technology, we still find ourselves attempting to engage in abstract theoretical discussions and thought experiments at various points throughout development. Technologies like augmented and virtual reality replace the abstract with immersive experiences.

On each project, human-centric design researchers must quickly become experts in both device technology and the medical condition being treated. The exploratory phase of the design process often begins with the need to understand an existing product, its use environment, and the impact of the user’s ability to perform tasks successfully and safely. We participate in ethnographic research and design reviews, watch videos, read specifications, speak with experts, hear first person narratives and document observations.

While these research activities can be incredibly informative, the documented results often end up in static reports that, at best, provide images and video links, leaving us limited to some extent by our imaginations, our empathy, and our ability to visualize the abstract. Immersive technology helps to overcome these limitations. Contextual research can serve as the basis for a simulated first-person perspective, allowing developers to become the person living with a challenging disease state and interact with the world the way a patient would – say with impaired vision, shaking hands, and reduced mobility. Meanwhile, a virtual model can allow us to insert ourselves inside a device, or to view component interactions from another perspective, allowing us to quickly understand our starting point and identify options for improvement.

As soon as a concept can be prototyped, the research team often puts physical models in front of patients and health care professionals to get feedback, allowing for informed design iteration throughout the development process. Again, this research activity is incredibly valuable, but even with rapid prototyping the end user sees snapshots of points in development. Immersive technology presents the opportunity to make the process more continuous. End users can interact with virtual prototypes very early on, allowing them to enter the feedback loop earlier and in a more integrated fashion, resulting in quicker evaluation of a larger range of options and features. Likewise, the research team can continue to use first-person simulators to interact with concepts from the end user perspective allowing faster identification of features that must be optimized for use say by a doctor wearing protective equipment or a patient with impaired vision.

The ability to create an immersive experience accessible by all team members throughout the process connects research and development teams with their end users in ways that have never been possible before. It is hard to say which is more enticing: allowing engineers to experience devices from the perspective of end users, or allowing the end user to configure an optimized virtual device in real time. In the immersive environment, we don’t have to choose—these opportunities can happen side-by-side.

Can Tesla’s Model 3 Be Profitable?

A new teardown of Tesla’s Model 3 agrees with others that have suggested that the vehicle is an engineering triumph, but disagrees on whether it can be profitable at its much-publicized $35,000 selling price.

The teardown, performed by an engineering team for UBS Securities LLC, simultaneously praises and criticizes the Model 3, calling it “an engineer’s dream, but an accountant’s nightmare.”

“The teardown engineers were crazy about the powertrain, highlighting next-gen, military-grade tech years ahead of peers,” UBS wrote in the recently released study. “However, the excitement did not translate into large cost savings.”

A new UBS teardown suggests that Tesla will lose $5,900 for every Model 3 that sells at the base price of $35,000. (Image source: Tesla, Inc.) 

The engineering team, working in the UBS Evidence Lab, compared the Model 3 favorably in many respects to two competing vehicles: a 2017 Chevy Bolt and 2014 BMW i3. “Tesla delivered the best powertrain,” the study said. “(Tesla’s) powertrain had the best power, torque, and acceleration.”

The study also noted that Tesla’s battery cost was $178/kWh, versus $205/kWh for the Chevy Bolt. Reasons cited for Tesla’s lower cost included the fact that the Bolt battery’s pouch cells required more metal and polymer enclosures. UBS also said that Tesla integrated its temperature sensing systems more successfully than did the GM Bolt.

Still, the study concluded that a $35,000 version of the car would not deliver a profit to the electric automaker. “We assume the base version at $35,000 would lose about $5,900 per car,” the authors wrote.

Disagreement on Profitability

From an engineering perspective, the UBS study parallels the results of a teardown done by Munro & Associates earlier this year. After that teardown, CEO Sandy Munro said his company’s engineers were amazed by the Model 3’s engineering quality. “When you look at the electronics in this car, the density is out of this world,” Munro said during an interview on “The layouts are wonderful. The fact that they’ve integrated different disparate circuit boards…this is like a symphony of engineering.”

But Munro reached two separate conclusions on the vehicle’s potential profitability. In April, he said the vehicle could not be profitable at its base price, saying that “$36,000 Model 3s will be rare as hen’s teeth.” In July, however, he reversed course, saying that the Model 3 could earn over 30% profit per vehicle. “I have to eat crow,” he told “I didn’t think it was going to happen this way, but the Model 3 is profitable.”

Munro & Associates told Design News this week that it would have more to say on the subject in mid-September.

The UBS conclusion, in contrast, clouds an already-murky picture of the Model 3’s profitability. Numerous media articles have recently suggested that Tesla is struggling financially, in part due to manufacturing snafus on the Model 3. And in May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk added to the confusion when he tweeted that shipping $35,000 versions of the Model 3 at the time would cause Tesla to “lose money & die.” He added that he would need three to six months after reaching production levels of 3,000 to 5,000 cars a week, just for Tesla to stay alive.

Profitability notwithstanding, the key finding of the UBS teardown may have been that the engineering behind the Model 3 may be even better than some thought. The UBS Evidence Lab praised the vehicle for the integration of many of its components, but in particular its inverter, e-motor, gearbox, charging electronics, battery management and more. “The Model 3 appears to have been built with the goal of simplifying the engineering, removing components, and building things as modularly as possible,” the authors wrote.

Senior technical editor Chuck Murray has been writing about technology for 34 years. He joined Design News in 1987, and has covered electronics, automation, fluid power, and auto.

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Plans for 3D-Printed Gun Released Online, Putting Legality Issues Back in Spotlight

The US government made a controversial decision to allow people to 3D-print guns at home using freely available blueprints from a nonprofit firm called Defense Distributed.

In late July, the US State Department settled a case that allowed Defense Distributed to release plans online to 3D print a gun it called “The Liberator”—plans the organization had been trying to make publicly available for some time. Defense Distributed is a private firm “principally engaged in the research, design, development, and manufacture of products and services for the benefit of the American rifleman,” according to its website.

3D Printed Gun
Pictured is a 3D-printed firearm, called “The Liberator,” made nearly entirely of plastic printed parts from a firm called Defense Distributed. That company was recently given the green light from the US government to release a blueprint for printing the guns online—a decision that’s already been legally challenged. (Image source: Defense Distributed)

Single Shot

Founder of Defense Distributed, Cody Wilson, designed The Liberator, which is a pistol that holds a single shot. He first released the plans in 2013 so people could download them, but was legally forced to take them offline not long after—the recent decision reversed by the court. At the time, he claimed that the plans were downloaded more than 100,000 times in the first days of posting.

The Liberator is primarily made from plastic parts that are 3D printed, save a metal nail that acts as a firing pin and a small piece of steel that allows the gun to be identified using a metal detector. This latter part is essential to the plan, due to the fact that the US Undetectable Firearms Act prohibits the legality of weapons that don't set off a metal detector.

Court Challenged

Almost immediately after the decision to allow 3D-printed gun plans to again be available online, they were challenged in court. Eight states filed suit to block the plans and 11 more joined them a few days later. In addition, 20 state attorneys separately sent a letter to the US State Department and the Department of Justice to stop the plans from being shared online.

It’s likely that the political and social debate over whether firearms should be 3D-printed at home will continue, as the situation is currently pending. In the meantime, researchers continue to advance 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology using various materials for personal, commercial, and large-scale manufacturing purposes.

Elizabeth Montalbano is a freelance writer who has written about technology and culture for 20 years. She has lived and worked as a professional journalist in Phoenix, San Francisco, and New York City. In her free time, she enjoys surfing, traveling, music, yoga, and cooking. She currently resides in a village on the southwest coast of Portugal.


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Duke Students Engineer a Record 14,573 Miles Per Gallon From a Fuel-Cell Powered Vehicle

Duke University has set a record for fuel efficiency with a hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicle. The team, from the university’s Pratt School of Engineering, set a record with equivalent energy usage of 14,573 miles per gallon. It bested the previous mark of 12,600 miles per gallon, which was set by a team from ETH Zurich and stood for 13 years. Guinness World Records has confirmed the record by the Duke University team.

Duke Engineering Record Team
Pictured is the Duke University Pratt School of Engineering team that designed and built the fuel-economy record-setting hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. (Image source: Duke University)


“Everything was done by the students," Nico Hotz, assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science department, told Design News. “Five to seven years ago, some students in Duke Engineering decided to participate in the Shell Eco-marathon. Initially, they competed in the category that uses a battery powered vehicle. Because it worked so well, some students within the team decided that they wanted to try something different. This past year, the students decided to compete in two categories—continue with the battery vehicle, but also try to build a vehicle with a fuel cell powered by hydrogen,” said Hotz, who acted as the student’s advisor on the project. He added, “They worked for ten months—I was surprised that they could get it done so quickly!” 

In April of this year in Sonoma, California, the Duke Engineering team won the Shell Eco-marathon competition in the battery vehicle category as well as the category for fuel cell vehicles. “The fuel cell version was so good that the students realized, when calculating the efficiency at miles per gallon equivalent, that it was very close to the world record,” noted Hotz. “After the semester was over, some students stayed here (at Duke) over the summer, worked on the fuel cell vehicle, and improved it. And in test runs, they realized that they were several percent better than the world record (as recognized by Guinness),” said Hotz.

Record Attempt

A record attempt was set up with the necessary observers and run under the required conditions, measuring total hydrogen consumption, total distance traveled, and total time of the run while ensuring the car traveled at a minimum average speed of 15 mph. The efficiency was computed based on the total distance traveled, divided by the total hydrogen consumed. To set the world record, the vehicle traveled eight-and-a-half miles on a racetrack and used a total of less than one gram of hydrogen. “To put that in perspective,” said team member and 2018 electrical engineering graduate, Patrick Grady, in a Duke University news release, “our vehicle is capable of driving to any point on the globe using the energy in one gallon of gas.”

The design of the vehicle, named “Maxwell” in honor of James Clerk Maxwell’s electromagnetism equations from the 1860s, supplemented the hydrogen fuel cell with a bank of supercapacitors that could provide the driver with a short burst of acceleration when needed. This allowed the fuel cell to be much smaller, reducing overall energy consumption.

Bigger Picture

“In engineering, we always have a challenge when we teach students because it takes quite a while until they can actually apply their knowledge to real projects, to real systems, and to machines and devices. You need a lot of physics and chemistry and math, and it takes a couple years to get there,” noted Hotz. “This whole Duke electric vehicle team is an amazing opportunity, where students of any year can work on a real system—hands-on and applied—and make something work. And in this case, they made it work really, really well!” 

Senior Editor Kevin Clemens has been writing about energy, automotive, and transportation topics for more than 30 years. He has masters degrees in Materials Engineering and Environmental Education and a doctorate degree in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in aerodynamics. He has set several world land speed records on electric motorcycles that he built in his workshop.


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Military uses plastic water bottles, milk jugs for 3D printing in the field

Military uses plastic water bottles, milk jugs for 3D printing in the field

Soldiers on the battlefield or at remote bases often have to wait weeks for vital replacement parts. Now scientists report they have found a way to fabricate many of these parts within hours under combat conditions using water bottles, cardboard and other recyclable materials found on base as starting materials for 3D printing. They say this ‘game-changing’ advance could improve operational readiness, reduce dependence on outside supply chains and enhance safety. The researchers presented their work at the 256th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in late August.

“Ideally, soldiers wouldn’t have to wait for the next supply truck to receive vital equipment,” Nicole Zander, Ph.D., says. “Instead, they could basically go into the cafeteria, gather discarded water bottles, milk jugs, cardboard boxes and other recyclable items, then use those materials as feedstocks for 3D printers to make tools, parts and other gadgets.”

With 3D-printers, soldiers could soon use recycled bottles and other waste materials to make vital parts, such as this vehicle radio bracket. Credit: Nicole Zander/U.S. Army Research Laboratory

Supplying combat troops with food, fuel, ammunition and repair parts is a monumental task, requiring thousands of support staff, contractors and manufacturers. In all, the U.S. Department of Defense has an inventory of 5 million items distributed through eight distinct supply chains, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. However, few of these items are stockpiled at front-line locations, meaning that troops in those areas can experience occasional shortages of important materials. Many of these units have 3D printers that can produce spare parts and other equipment, but they rely on conventional feedstocks, such as commercially available plastic filaments, that must be requisitioned, and they can take days, weeks or even months to arrive.

Recently, Zander, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Anthony Molnar and colleagues at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory explored the possibility of using recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic as a starting material for 3D printers. PET plastics, found in water and soda bottles, are common waste materials found around bases, and the researchers realized that this material could be a viable feedstock. They determined that PET filaments, produced by recycling, were just as strong and flexible as commercially available filaments for 3D printers. In tests, the team used recycled PET filaments to print a vehicle radio bracket, a long-lead-time military part. This process required about 10 water bottles and took about two hours to complete. Watch the process in action in a video here.

Initially, the researchers determined that other types of plastic, such as polypropylene (PP), used in yogurt or cottage cheese containers, or polystyrene (PS), used for plastic utensils, were not practical for use in 3D printing. Undeterred, the team sought to strengthen PP by mixing it with cardboard, wood fibers and other cellulose waste materials found on military bases to create new composite filaments. In addition, the very brittle PS was blended with ductile PP to generate a strong and flexible filament.

The researchers used a process called solid-state shear pulverization to generate composite PP/cellulose filaments. In this process, shredded plastic and paper, cardboard or wood flour was pulverized in a twin-screw extruder to generate a fine powder that was then melt-processed into 3D printing filaments. After testing using dynamic mechanical analysis, the scientists concluded that the new composites had improved mechanical properties, and they could be used to make strong 3D-printed materials.

Zander’s team is building a mobile recycling trailer that will enable specially trained soldiers to fabricate 3D-printing filaments from plastic waste. She is also exploring ways to print materials from plastic pellets instead of filaments, which could help soldiers quickly produce larger 3D-printed parts and machinery.

“We still have a lot to learn about how to best process these materials and what kinds of additives will improve their properties,” Zander says. “We’re just scratching the surface of what we can ultimately do with these discarded plastics.”

PPS component solves issue of headlamp haze in autos

PPS component solves issue of headlamp haze in autos

Initz Co., a Korean-based joint venture of SK Chemicals and Japan’s Teijin Ltd., has commercialized its Ecotran polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) in collaboration with Hyundai Mobis, a global auto parts supplier. Ecotran is reportedly the first material that addresses the problem of headlamp haze.

Initz’s PPS addresses the root cause of “lamp haze,” a chronic car headlight problem. The problem occurs because plastic parts inside headlamps begin to generate gas when the internal temperature rises to over 200°C. Upon cooling the gas condenses and solidifies, adheres to the interior of the transparent lamp lens. The resultant film then undermines light projection, thus undermining the safety of both drivers and pedestrians at night. Further, the condition also adversely affects the appearance of the headlamps.

PPS grade minimizes the outgassing and impurities by utilizing solvent-free, chlorine-free production technology resulting in neither residual solvent, nor by-product sodium chloride.

Lamp haze inevitably occurs because plastics generate gas when subjected to high temperatures. Many global auto parts engineers have addressed the problem by focusing on the design of the internal structure of their headlamps as no other solution had emerged to resolve the fundamental problem.

A headlamp holder needs to be highly resistant not only to high heat but also to humidity which is generated due to the temperature gap between the inside and outside of the headlamp. A headlamp holder must also be rigid enough so that internal parts are not loosened by strong vibration.

Working closely with Hyundai Mobis, Initz resolved the lamp haze issue by incorporating glass fiber and using specially formulated resins to produce the new material. The grade is produced with a chlorine-free process and does not contain any residual solvent.

The reliability of Initz’ PPS compounds was confirmed through a methodical harsh environment test in which a headlamp molded of the new material was cycled repeatedly for 70 hours straight using eight test samples over a three-month period. Moving forward, Hyundai Mobis said it would use Initz’s PPS material in all of its headlamps in an effort to completely eliminate lamp haze.

 “We have resolved the troublesome automotive problem of headlamp haze by utilizing our technology and experience we have gained in developing the world’s first chlorine-free PPS,” Initz CEO Hyo-kyung Kim said. “We will now expand our presence in the global auto parts market through continued development of materials technology.”

Initz is expected to secure a competitive advantage in the global race for better automotive materials given that its PPS resin has resolved the haze problem of headlamps, which is one of key parts which determine the exterior appearance of a vehicle.