By Mark Shortt

Editorial Director

If you want to see some of the most relevant, critical, and leading edge technology development taking place in the U.S. today, you don’t have to look any further than the medical industry. That’s because of the many innovations that are continually improving life-saving and life-enhancing products, from minimally invasive surgical instruments to smart medical devices, implants, and biocompatible materials and coatings, to name just a few.

Two areas of manufacturing technology—printed circuit board (PCB) assembly and 3D printing, or additive manufacturing—stand out as key components of the medical design and manufacturing ecosystem. In both industry segments, collaboration among manufacturers is proving to be crucial to the development of products that are ever more effective and easier to use.

In today’s digital world, PCB assembly services are needed for products too numerous to mention, but they’re especially important to ensuring the reliability of medical devices. Similarly, 3D printing is used widely across industries, but it’s particularly valuable for medical manufacturers who want to make more complex parts or shorten their product design timeframes.

Not surprisingly, the demand for design and manufacturing services is intense in the medical, PCB assembly, and 3D printing sectors, which overlap in some cases. In today’s high-tech product environment, when an OEM seeks medical manufacturing support, it may need the services of a PCB assembly manufacturer and a 3D printing service provider.

But as 3D printing continues to evolve and benefit from new advances in materials, software, and hardware, its applications are increasing not only in the medical industry, but in a wide range of others as well.

Some manufacturers are going the hybrid route, incorporating it into their operations as part of an “all-in-one” system that features the complementary technology of precision CNC machining. It’s making for some interesting sights on manufacturing floors, as these systems combine the advantages of additive manufacturing and CNC machining.

Nikon saw enough potential in hybrid manufacturing to make a recent investment in one of the most prominent players in the field, Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies Global, Inc. (HMT).  According to Nikon Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Next Generation Project Division Yuichi Shibazaki, the investment in HMT is the latest component of Nikon’s Next Generation Project program to “further industrialization of digital manufacturing.”

“As an industry leader with demonstrated collaborative capabilities, HMT and its AMBIT™ portfolio are well-matched with Nikon technologies,” Shibazaki said in a release. “We look forward to working with them as part of our commitment to creating value and advancing society through novel industries like hybrid manufacturing.” More on this collaboration can be found here.

Another company, ProEnergy, is a provider of aeroderivative power services that operates more in the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) sphere than as a contract manufacturer per se. For ProEnergy, the benefits of hybrid manufacturing technology are so compelling that it decided to invest heavily in advanced manufacturing technology. The Sedalia, Missouri-based company is investing $28.8 million to create “a robust supply of critical parts for LM6000 gas turbines, as part of the company’s vertically integrated aeroderivative power services,” the company said in a release.

The centerpiece of that investment is ProEnergy’s acquisition of a 3D hybrid printing machine that reportedly enables manufacturing of “industrial-scale parts of any complexity in a small amount of time.” By integrating additive and subtractive capabilities, the hybrid machine is expected to help the company greatly speed up its parts development and prototyping capabilities. See more on this story here.

Below is a guide with links to D2P articles that describe many of the innovative developments, technologies, and manufacturing services provided by companies operating in the medical device, 3D printing, and PCB assembly sectors:

Medical Device

Medical Device Coating Is Awarded UPTO Patent (Tech Updates)

Electrical Discharge Machining Could Stimulate Demand from Medical Device Manufacturers, Research Firm Says (Tech Updates)

Cervical Plate and Spacer System Is Granted 510K Clearance by FDA (Design & Engineering)

Collaboration Is Reported to Advance Biocompatible 3D Printing for Orthotics and Prosthetics Industry (Design & Engineering Spotlight)

DuPont Opens New Biopharma Tubing Manufacturing Facility in U.S. (Made in America)

New U.S.-Based Manufacturing Division Will Focus on Medical Plastics (Made in America)

Technavio Sees Strong Growth Ahead for 3D-Printed Medical Devices  (Industry News)

Qosina Expands Class VI Tubing Portfolio for Single-Use Medical Device, Bioprocess Applications (Industry News)

3D Printing

Researchers 3D Print Sensors For Satellites (Tech Updates)

U.S. Navy Deploys First Metal 3D Printer at Sea (Tech Updates)

R&D Project Will Assess Feasibility of Wire-Arc Additive Manufacturing for Steel Layup Tooling (Tech Updates)

Multi-Physics Simulation Tool Reported to Quickly Predict, Correct for Shrinkage and Distortion in Part Designs (Software)

Companies Collaborate to Produce Massive 3D-printed Structure Honoring Late NFL Team Owner (Design & Engineering Spotlight)

Collaboration Is Reported to Advance Biocompatible 3D Printing for Orthotics and Prosthetics Industry (Design & Engineering Spotlight)

Carbon Expands Generative Design Software Capabilities with Acquisition of ParaMatters (Design & Engineering Spotlight)

Using Artificial Intelligence to Control Digital Manufacturing (Feature)

New Programmable Materials Can Sense Their Own Movements (Advanced Materials)

Water-Soluble 3D Printing Support Material Offers Alternative To PVA (Advanced Materials)

Technavio Sees Strong Growth Ahead for 3D-Printed Medical Devices  (Industry News)

New Technology Reported to Enable Ultra-Smooth 3D-Printed Rubber Parts (Tech Updates)

Kevton Technologies Acquires Seven 3D Printers from Velo3D (Industry News)

Keselowski Adds Two Large Platform EOS Metal Additive Machines (Industry News)

Nikon Invests in HMT, Aiming to Expand Hybrid Manufacturing (Industry News)

ProEnergy Launches Advanced Manufacturing Initiative (Industry News)

PCB Assembly

A Contract Electronic Manufacturer for the Ages (Feature)

Fulfilling Customer Needs Is Top Priority of Long Island-Based Electronics Manufacturer (Electronics)

Nortech Systems Receives Patent for Flexible Printed Circuit (Electronics)

MicroFab Acquired by Electronics Technology Company Naprotek (Electronics)

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