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Lasers, little green bags, and Luddites

"If people don't adopt processes that suck, are they Luddites or smart?"

That somewhat philosophical question comes from a reader of Clare Goldsberry's blog this week on whether moldmakers in general are reluctant adopters or Luddites, handling additive manufacturing (AM) technology like direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) as Luddites of 19th century England dispatched with mechanized looms. In this reader's experience, DMLS can't achieve the resolution needed for precision moldmaking; what's your take?

Clare's blog was sandwiched between a two-part article on DMLS and the opportunities it holds for the direct fabrication of tool inserts, including conformal cooling channels. That story, which highlighted toolmaker Linear Mold & Engineering's work with DMLS featured a slide show displaying that company's pioneering work, which also got some comments, albeit, slightly more positive than the aforementioned reader's succinct question.

"Pretty Sweet," was Karl's take, while Reiner thought:

"This is the future of moldmaking, plus no wasted material."

Readers also enjoyed Clare's report on a handheld molding machine, which runs off a drill press and retails for $595. Maybe you'll find one under your Christmas tree.

aPriori's cost modeling software, which takes a CAD design plus a few data points and spits out a tooling cost esimate, generated strong reader response, as did our look at the Chevy Volt's powertrain, which features engineering materials from BASF and has earned an award, as well as an NHTSA investigation.

Doug Smock chatted up Parmatech, a well known metal injection molder hoping to be even more well known, in the Medical Channel. Tracy MacNeal, corporate director of business development at Parmatech's owner, ATW, told Doug they're hoping to triple sales in 2012.

Karen Laird's Green Matter blog took on the evironmental bane of the moment, plastic bags, packaging that will not look back at 2011 with fond memories. "As 2011 comes to a close, it's time to look back at a year which worldwide might well be styled the year of reckoning for plastic shopping bags." Reservoir Dog fans won't want to miss the embedded video.

Finally...

Take a vacation.

Our survey last week asked whether or not readers would use up all of their allotted vacation time in 2011. Sadly, 60% said they wouldn't, while 40% said they would, you still have a few weeks before year end, flip on that out-of-office on while you still can.  

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