3D Printing: The Materials Used for 3D Printing

3D printing was developed back in the early 80s but it has seen much growth since the past 10 years. It has now become one of the biggest growth areas in the tech industry and is revolutionising manufacturing covering every industry possible. The 3D printing business is now multi-billion dollar industry and is likely to continue growing at an exponential rate.

3D printing is quite a simple process conceptually, the printers work by printing the chosen material in layers on top of each other, with each layer setting prior to the next pass of the printer.

3D printers have been used to print all sorts of materials from cheap and normal materials to things you would expect to read in a sci-fi book.

For the consumer market, plastics are used exclusively as the materials are cheap to buy, but more importantly, the technology required to print plastic is relatively simple and low cost.

Low-cost 3D printers using plastic tend to use Fused filament fabrication (FFF). This is basically a process where a cord of plastic is heated up to become pliable then fed through the machine layering the plastic. The machines generally use one of the following plastics

PLA (Polylactic Acid) – PLA is probably the easiest material to work with when you first start 3D printing. It is an environmentally friendly material that is very safe to use, as it is a biodegradable thermoplastic that has been derived from renewable resources such as corn starch and sugar canes. This is a similar plastic that is used in compostable bags which safely bio degrade compared to more traditional plastics used in Poly Bags.

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) – ABS is considered to be the second easiest material to work with when you start 3D printing. It’s very safe and strong and widely used for things like car bumpers, and Lego (the kid’s toy).

PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol Plastic) – PVA plastic which is quite different to PVA Glue (please don’t try putting PVA Glue into your 3D Printer, it definitely won’t work). The popular MakerBot Replicator 2 printers use PVA plastic.

Plastics are used extensively on all levels from consumer to businesses prototyping new products. However, in the business market, there is a huge demand for metal 3D printing. Some printers can use powdered material that is then heated to create a solid. This method is typically Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and this particular technique is why we don’t see consumer metal 3D printing. DMLS requires a huge amount of heat and giant expensive printers to sinter the material together, and while 3D printing a metal object might be expensive compared to mass production, it is incredibly cost efficient for complex and expensive projects. A good example of DMLS based 3D printing is GE Aviation using it to produce 35,000 fuel injectors for its LEAP jet engine.

Using boring materials such as metal is almost archaic in the world of 3D printing now; some companies now do 3D bioprinting which is the process of creating cell patterns in a confined space using 3D printing technologies, where cell function and viability are preserved within the printed construct. These 3D bioprinters have the capacity to print skin tissue, heart tissue, and blood vessels among other basic tissues that could be suitable for surgical therapy and transplantation.

5 Ways Dehumidifiers Can Improve Commercial Food Production

Although making food in your kitchen and making food on a commercial scale might seem much the same, the realities are that they are, in fact, almost completely different. Of course, whilst the end result of both endeavours is (hopefully) delicious food, the way those foodstuffs are produced it wildly different.

From industrial mixers to fully automated moulding and baking machines, the commercial food production industry barely resembles what you might do at home.

So, whilst you might not need a dehumidifier in your home kitchen, you certainly need one if you’re operating a commercial food production company. But why? Here’s five big reasons:

#1 – Improved production speed

If drying is part of the manufacturing process for your business, whether you’re stove drying or dry curing meat, you can waste days, weeks and even months waiting for the process to occur naturally in an uncontrolled environment.

By leaving ambient conditions in place, the natural inconsistency of air humidity will deliver an uneven and unpredictable results which can spoil or halt production. Alternatively, by introducing effective humidity control into an environment you can dramatically increase the speed of your drying procedures.

Indeed, one business was able to reduce their stove drying time from 5 days to 1.5 days, more than doubling the output of their existing stoves and delivering a more consistent end product. Increased drying times naturally lead to a higher level of output, which in turn means more profits.

#2 – Unified production rate

Winter conditions might well offer ideal humidity rates for food manufacturing, but the summer months aren’t as kind. High humidity can slow production to a crawl during the warmer months, so installing a commercial humidity control system is essential. It’ll help level out your production rates and equalise output levels.

#3 – Improved product quality

Humidity can cause a number of number of issues in quality control of food and drink manufacturing. Whether it’s causing dried fruit to clump, bread to become misshapen or plastic to bottles to become distorted in production, humidity can be a real nightmare for quality control.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out why quality control is important for your business, so don’t waste time producing inferior products.

#4 – Reduced costs

All machinery is affected by humidity, and by leaving it unchecked you’re opening the door to condensation on equipment, damp electrical panels and more. By operating a humidity controlled area, you can reduce your spending on vital repairs.

#5 – Superior hygiene

One of the major issues with high humidity is regards hygiene, because with high levels of humidity comes an increased risk of condensation. This, in turn, is followed closely by fungus and mould on both packaging and the product. This can spoil entire batches and result in a product which is unsafe to eat – something every food manufacturing business is keen to avoid.

The Perfect Packaging for Every Product

Whether you talk of fresh food items, dry groceries, machine parts, furniture or hardware, every product needs to be well packaged. The type of packaging best suited to a product depends on a number of factors including cost of the product, perceived value, size, fragility, shelf life etc. Thus, there are a number of materials that can be used to package a product such as paper, polythene, corrugated cardboard, cartons, shrink wrap and pallets.

Why do you need Packaging?

The most obvious reason to package a product carefully, is to protect it while it moves from the factory floor to the retail shops and then to the customer’s house. However, this is not the only reason to focus on packaging. Packaging plays an important role in a customer’s decision making process. The way a product is packaged is the first interaction many customers have with the product and hence this plays an important role in creating a first impression. A well packaged product speaks of attention to detail and helps build trust in a brand name.

Packaging is also important from a marketing perspective. This is because whilst the product itself may offer limited space for branding, a carton or sleeve allows a much larger space for branding thus making the brand name more visible. When it comes to wholesale packaging, cartons are usually left plain. However, it is still possible to brand the cartons by using printed carton tape.

How to Choose the Right Packaging Material

The wrong packaging can put a customer off the product. The first step to packing a product is to select the right material. There are many factors that must be considered when picking packaging materials. These include:

Type of Product- While dry groceries need to be packed in such a way so as to be visible to customers and yet protected against natural elements; product visibility does not matter when packing hardware items or machine parts. A few other product characteristics to keep in mind are sensitivity to light and moisture, shelf life and reaction to other materials.

Cost of the Product- The cost of packaging a product should be in direct relation to the cost of the product and should not exceed it. Thus, whilst clear, polythene bags are sufficient packing for disposable plates, bone chine needs to be packed in boxes with cushion packaging.

How the products are to be shipped- To a certain extent wholesale packaging also plays a role in determining the right material for retail packaging. For example, if the products are going to be packed in a larger carton, puncture resistance is not a high priority. However, if the products are going to be stacked on a pallet, this is a factor that will need to be considered.

Common Types of Packaging

Paper Board

Paper is the cheapest and most ecofriendly way to package a product. Paper is often used in the form of boxes to package low cost items such as stationery or in the form of paper bags for fast food and other consumables.

Polythene

Polythene bags are the most preferred form of packaging for products such as dry groceries and liquids. This is because it is transparent thus allowing the consumer to see the product being purchased and protects the food items from natural elements.

Rigid Plastic

Rigid plastic may be used to package both consumables and non-consumables. This is a chosen packaging material when the product needs to be visible to the consumer and yet protected against shocks and being accidentally dropped etc.

Corrugated cardboard

When it comes to large products such as furniture, it is not possible to fit the piece into a carton. Hence, such products are usually wrapped in corrugate sheets to protect them against bumping into other things or being dropped accidentally.

6 Boxes Your New Filtration Media Should Tick

Filtration equipment consists of several components. The machines often have a centrifuge or vacuum chamber, some kind of rotor, a storage sump, and an elimination bin. Certain sections of the equipment are lined with filtration fabrics to separate the recycled material from the disposed of contaminants. As you choose your filtration media, you should start with the fabric blend, to ensure it meets your needs. Here are a few more things to look out for:

Highly absorbent

The primary function of filtration media is to sift air or liquid and prevent contaminants from getting into the clean media sump. For this reason, your media needs to be absorbent enough to hold a large volume of contaminant material before requiring replacement. It also needs to be strong enough to hold all this liquid content without tearing to bits. Sometimes, filtration media is used to absorb spills and soak up leakage. High absorption rates are helpful here as well, especially for soaking up heavy liquids like oil and industrial solvents.

Stays strong when wet

Some materials are strong when dry but they get rather flimsy when they’re exposed to moisture. As you select your filtration media, make sure you spill a little liquid on it as a test. In fact, if your filtration media will be used in a wet set-up, then test it with a lot of liquid. The last thing you want is for your media to disintegrate right in the middle of your cleansing process. Air filters may not need to be as strong since they are not exposed to much moisture. Still, there is often some precipitation and liquid vapour inside air pumps, so make sure the air filters can withstand liquid in case of condensation and humidity.

Easy to cut or subdivide

There are different ways to use filters. Some are placed at the entrance or exit of a machine, while others are laid on mechanical conveyor belts. In addition to varying levels of viscosity, each machine requires a different length and width of filter fabric. Some machines use a layered sump, while others just need a thin film. For convenience and cost-effectiveness, filtration media is usually sold wholesale in massive rolls that can be up to 20 metres long. Make sure your filter is easy to cut into smaller portions. It makes your work easier and prevents wastage. It also helps with storage, because you can divide it into sizes that fit your warehouse shelves.

Capable of trapping particles

Different kinds of filters are used for different filtration functions. Air filters need to have finer gaps than liquid filters. They also need to be lighter in weight, so that they allow efficient air circulation. Liquid filters usually need the capacity to prevent particles of 5 to 150 microns. Air filters need to be finer, trapping contaminants as small as 3 microns. Once you’re done with your filters, you’ll need to dispose of them. Whenever possible, select green filtration media that can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. You’ll find that manufacturing processes generate a lot of used filters, so it helps if they can be disposed of without becoming environmental hazards.

Able to withstand filtration temperatures

Filtration media is used in many applications, including coolant fluid, machining, or hot rolling. The air and liquids that pass through filters are often very hot or very cold. Your media needs to have the capacity to work at these temperatures. Some materials contract when chilled, so if your filtration fibres get tighter, they might restrict materials that are intended to get through the filter. This not only reduces the integrity of your filter, it can also cause clogs that stall manufacturing and damage equipment. Similarly, expanding fibres might let through particles that should be kept out of your filtered residue. Make sure your filter has passed both the hot and cold test.

Fits within your budget

When you’re using filters in industrial settings, you want to get the best quality you possibly can. Unfortunately, the ‘best’ sometimes comes with an unfriendly price tag. The manufacturing process is a large scale operation, so a difference of a single cent can quickly pile up. This is even more crucial with recurring expenses, and filtration media falls under this category. Shop around to see what filter options are available. Test them against each other and get recommendations. Then, get the best grade within your allocated budget. Over-spending might get you a better filter, but that increased value could eat into your profits by raising production costs beyond reason.

Three Huge Reasons Humidity Control Is So Important in Industrial Environments

When it comes to industrial environments, there’s no doubt within the industry that maintaining effective control of humidity is essential. It’s a key part of the operation of countless factories across the globe and can make the difference between success and failure in many areas of industrial production.

But why is that the case? After all, humidity has been a constant for as long as there’s been air and plenty of things have been produced in that time, right?

That may be true, but it doesn’t tell the whole story – a story of increasingly complex manufacturing and industrial processes that benefit greatly from tight humidity control. Here’s three huge reasons why industrial environments now live or die by their humidity control.

Staff health and wellbeing

You only need to spend a day outside on a humid day to know that high levels of RH (relative humidity) can have a debilitating effect on your ability to function properly. However, it’s low RH which industrial businesses are keen to avoid.

Low RH can lead to dry and itchy eyes and cause the respiratory system to dry out, leading to dehydration in staff. Additionally, it causes a dramatically increased spread rate of pathogens like the influenza virus, which survives best in low RH environments.

On top of these issues, low RH has been linked to conditions like Sick Building Syndrome and the intensity of chemical pollution, caused by gases from materials used inside industrial buildings.

Taken together, these issues lead to a poor working environment for staff, and can even violate health and safety guidelines within certain nations.

Building maintenance

When water in the air interacts with cold surfaces, it creates condensation. Within industrial premises, which typically feature large amounts of exposed metalwork and very little by way of traditional insulation, this water can have a devastating effect on the health of your building.

By allowing condensation to develop, you encourage the build-up of both rust and mildew on surfaces which can in turn affect both the structural integrity and air quality of your building.

Product output

Industrial manufacturing businesses survive by what they output. Whether that’s car parts of pre-fab buildings, what a business outputs determines its success.

Humidity plays a crucial role in ensuring that products are manufactured to the highest possible standards by eliminating the role that high RH plays in spoilage. Consider, for a moment, that cardboard remains by far the most common material for packaging products of all kinds.

Cardboard, however, is extremely susceptible to high RH environments, absorbing the moisture in the air freely. That damp cardboard is extremely prone to failure and can develop mildew and become structurally weakened, causing damage and spoilage to products.

Top Tips to Choose the Best Connectors

From smart phones to sophisticated machineries that manufacture them, you can find an electrical connector in many forms. If you are an electrical industrialist or purchase engineer, it is essential to have some key factors in mind before making your final choice.

Here are a few essential aspects to check while choosing a connector:

Power

Power of the connector is a determining factor. The market offers a wide range of connectors with different power-ratings. Identify your requirement and choose the one that meets the purpose.

A low power variant may not give you the expected efficiency and on the other hand, a high power connector can even damage the entire system.

Density

The density of a connector is yet another influential factor in the present day. The higher the connector density, the more compact your machine design will be. This is especially important in case of complex machineries. In order to keep it solid at the same time give exceptional performances, it is essential to choose a high-density connector.

Temperature Resistance

Another important feature that adds to the quality of a connector is its capacity to withstand high temperatures. Most of these connectors are used in intricate machineries and they undergo immense heat exposure during their functioning. High-end connectors are often passed through multiple levels of testing to ensure its temperature resistance.

Speed

The transmission speeds of connectors are quite significant for their overall performance. Many of the latest connectors ensure to meet high transmission speeds. ExaMAX High Speed Backplane Connectors are one of the best you can get in the market these days.

Mating Features

The mating features of any connector play an important role in determining its performance, quality and durability. Before you choose your connector, ensure that you scout through specifications to analyze its mating features. The angle of mating, the number of mating cycles, etc. will be clearly mentioned in the specifications, which help to find the one matching your requirements. Mating cycles are especially important for connectors that are mated and unmated frequently. For a USB connector the mating cycles will be in thousands where as for a board to board connector will have a lesser mating cycle.

The easiest way to decide on a connector is often to choose the best brands. The connectors manufactured by prominent brands will have all major certifications, which makes it trustworthy. In that case, you will not have to compromise in terms of quality and safety.

The Advancement of the Valve Automation Industry

An increasing dependence on the use of digital valve positioners has made numerous changes in the valve automation industry over the past decades of being relatively unchanged.

With the advancement of our technology these days that made the whole world shift enormously to digital platforms, the industry has no excuse to not pay attention to those changes that may surely affect the industry big time. As a result, many plants now have the opportunity to take full advantage of the benefits offered by digital valve automation.

One of the major changes that the technology has influenced in the valve automation industry is the boom of its wireless capabilities. Because of the wireless technology there are a number of plants replacing more traditional methods of wireless valve control. Monitoring applications have been created for enhanced reliability, safety, environmental compliance, maintenance, and even personnel efficiency.

For this, there are two basic types needed for control: open loop and closed loop. In both cases, it becomes possible to reduce the alignment time, minimize worker exposure to chemicals and ladders that pose risks, and prevent human error that can result in lost batches or environmental spills. With wireless valve automation, making valves automated during the project planning phase is much easier.

Valve automation is broken down into a number of categories, each with unique services. These include electric actuators, fluid power actuators, manual actuators, limit switches, positioners, network capabilities, and more. Based on the type of industry and work involved, the appropriate application is used.

Key Benefits

Among the most immediate benefits that customers are able to glean from digital valve automation is the capability for auto-calibration. Additionally, customers have the ability to capture data in a much easier manner by utilizing a microprocessor. Basic data captures includes ambient temperature, valve odometer, operating pressures, and the histogram. While this kind of data was previously available with analog products, transitioning to digital technology has made it possible to benefit from greater positioning feedback.

Numerous options are also provided to the operator interface. Bus systems and local keypads are perfect examples. With all of these options, the operator has the ability to make quick, accurate, and efficient changes to a variety of different parameters such as close time, open time, flow characteristics, and dead band.

Despite the fact that bus system technology is actually more advanced, many customers find that HART technology offers a greater number of benefits. They have a more robust and simple design, as well as device portability that proves to be extremely convenient for a number of industries.

Implementing a New Strategy

If you are giving serious thought to implementing a new valve automation strategy in your facility, it is important to perform a comparison and assess various factors to choose the right type of valve automation for your needs. With this, you will be able to determine what will and will not work within your specific environment. In addition to considering the capabilities needed in the short-term you also want to think about future needs.

By taking this approach, you will not be hit with additional expenses for features used down the line. Remember, while initial price is important, this should not be the primary decision-making factor since there is also the cost of ongoing maintenance to factor in.

Benefits of Buying Used Packaging Equipment

Many kinds of equipment are required for the entire process of packaging. This includes filling machines, capping machines, labeling machines, and complete turnkey packaging systems. Other packaging equipment which is manufactured by many companies is bottle unscramblers, bottle rinsers, liquid fillers, and cappers, labelers, sleeving machines, sealing machines, conveyors, turntables, heat tunnels, sleeves, coders and support packaging machinery.

Whether buying a car for the family or production equipment for a manufacturing facility, looking for the best deal while getting a quality product is usually the number-one objective for most people. Savvy manufacturers will explore all options, including looking at used as well as new equipment and base their decision on what best meets their needs. And in the face of these hard economic times, it is imperative to look at all means necessary to cut costs and increase profits. In the long-run, buying used equipment is a viable option that may not only save money but also decrease downtime and establish relationships with used equipment dealers that will go the extra mile for a natural products manufacturer or raw material supplier.

Why Buy Used?

While buying new equipment may seem the obvious choice, many times, it is just not a practical reality. New equipment is often not readily available and companies in need of machinery may be quoted lead times of six months or more–time that they do not have. Used packaging equipment, on the other hand, is available immediately, with a variety of comparable models from which to choose. Furthermore, a knowledgeable dealer can often locate equipment that is close to a manufacturer’s facility, which may sidestep potential shipping costs.

Perhaps the greatest benefit in buying used is that a manufacturer’s engineers can inspect a pre-owned machine first-hand while it is still installed and running product at its original place of business. This allows the manufacturers to see everything the machine does, what parts it has and its overall condition. New equipment purchases rarely if ever afford this luxury. Depending on the machine, new equipment customers will likely see either drawings or similar models of the machine that has yet to be manufactured, but not the specific machine being bought until it has been delivered.

  • More Productivity

When you choose to buy used machines instead of new machines, the money you save may allow you to buy multiple machines-more than you had initially planned on buying. When you have more hardware within your packaging line, you’ll obviously be able to package more of your product, so your line will work quickly and more efficiently. Over time, you may find that this can increase the amount you’re able to ship to your suppliers, and in turn, you may be able to sell more of your product overall.

  • Better Customer Support

Buying new machines often means you’re simply buying from a retailer looking to make a quick buck. While that isn’t necessarily a problem, buying a used machine means that you’re buying a product from people who have a vested interest in the machine’s efficiency and reliability. For that reason, they will likely be more receptive to any questions you have about your machine, and there’s a better chance they will also have the know-how to advise you should you have any concerns. In the case of buying new machinery for your packaging line, if you have concerns you may just be re-directed to the manufacturer. Sellers who specialize in used equipment often have more knowledge of the products they are selling and will be happy to answer questions for you.

  • Bigger Selection

Choosing to buy used machines opens up a larger array of models to choose from. For example, if you have a set budget and a brand name’s newest model exceeds that budget, you may think you’re out of luck. However, if you buy a used machine, you may be able to get that newer-model machine at a cost that works with your budget. Your packaging line works best when it has great machinery on it, so why wouldn’t you opt to get the better machine.

3 Basic Types of Electrical Connectors

Any electrical equipment will have different types of electrical connectors within. Each connector comes in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Function is another key factor that classifies the connectors.

From connecting a wire to a board to joining key elements on a PCB, connectors play diverse roles and serve many applications. Despite their simple design, they connect and bring power/signals to the system. Key factors that determine the quality of a good connector is its reliability, signal integrity, speed performance, power rating durability, and ease of assembly.

Connector manufacturers offer an extensive array of tried and tested product solutions.

There a few common connectors which are worth the mention:

8P8C Connector

8P8C connector, where 8P8C stands for “eight positions, eight conductors” have eight positions, with corresponding conductors in the mating socket assigned to each. It is basically a modular connector and was primarily used in telephone wire applications. Today, they serve many applications and functions like being used to interface Ethernet jacks.

The 8P8C connectors have a male plug and a corresponding female socket connection. It carries eight contacts and when they get aligned with the corresponding eight conductors within the sockets, electrical signals get transmitted. Apart from Ethernet and telephone wires, they are also used in computer applications and other communication cables.

Generally, most modular connectors are technically named after the number of positions and conductors. They include sizes like -4-,-6-, 8-, and -10-. For instance, a 10P8C will have ten positions with eight conductors.

D-Subminiature Connectors

D-subminiature is much similar to 8P8C, as they are used in computer and play a critical function on modems. Though the name states “subminiature”, these are larger than most modern computer connectors. The connector has a D-shaped metal component that defines its shape and protects it. It also consists of two or more rows of pins with varying numbers in the male connector and a similar set of receiving ends in the female part. The male connector with a pin is called a plug whereas the receiving part that houses the contacts that connect these pins is called a socket. This connection is established to transmit electrical signals. This variant has the capability to provide protection against electromagnetic interference, commonly known as EMI.

USB Connectors

USB or Universal Serial Bus is a very common type of connector. They are small interfaces used to attach multiple devices to a computer. You can see at least two USB ports in any standard laptop that support external USB connectors and cables, while desktops have up to 4 USB ports in general. USB connectors gained much popularity and recognition, as it can be connected and disconnected easily while the device is still working. This contributed to its widespread use in computer applications that constantly require plugging and unplugging external devices, especially for transferring data.

What Is A Micrometer And What Are Its Advantages?

A Micrometer is one of the most important instruments that are used in a number of laboratories to deeply measure even the tiniest components with much precision and accuracy. It is ideal to measure the distance accurately and is a cheaper option than the electron microscope. There are several categories of Micrometers are available for measuring different and almost all the machined surface. It easily measures the thickness as well as the diameter of the object accurately and therefore, it is mainly used for the higher precision measurements such as fine machining and grinding.

It has all the bells and whistles you need for the getting the accurate result of measurements and it is also known as the Micrometer Screw Gauge. In an order to know more about the instrument, take a dive into the some of its advantages mentioned-below.

  • Accurate Measurement: One of the main reasons why you should use a micrometer is that it delivers you quick and accurate results. Thus, it is considered as one of the most accurate measuring devices in all the industries where it is used.
  • Wide Applications: Micrometers are highly demanded in mechanical engineering and machining applications. Also, they are very easy to use and one case easily gets the accurate reading with having bit knowledge of precision measuring tools.
  • Great Potential: Each and every unit of the micrometer is fitted with specialized equipment that is known for serving specific tasks. Some of them even have anvils and spindle tips that allow the more precision measurement as per the need of your application.
  • Different Types Available: In an order to get the accurate measurement of a specific type of a distance, it is important to stick to its right type. This is because the variety of distances can be measured with this instrument and it totally depends on its right type.
  • Highly Durable: The device has a long-serving life and thus, requires investment only in the starting and afterwards you can reap its benefits for longer period. One can use it in more than one application multiple times. Therefore, you get assured that your investment is secure.

All its advantages mentioned above make it an ideal choice in all the industries where they have a high demand. This precision measuring instrument is very much important and best to use as compare to any other similar option out in the market for serving the same purpose. Also, their cost is not so high and can fit into your budget, which means no matter what the size of your organization, you can afford this instrument and take all its benefits.