Optical Liquid Silicone Rubber: A New Fixture in Molding

TIPS WITH TONY

Proto Labs offers many manufacturing processes and materials for prototype and production parts. But one process has a material that separates itself from the rest, optical liquid silicone rubber (OLSR). OLSR is an advanced material that has many properties that make it a preferred material choice over polycarbonate (PC) and acrylic (PMMA) for lighting and optical parts. Here are a few of the benefits that OLSR offers:

prototype lenses molded in liquid silicone rubber

Prototype lenses molded in liquid silicone rubber.

Light Transmission
Light transmission is lost as light passes through a material. PC, PMMA, and even glass will have light loss with glass retaining up to 95 percent, PMMA around 93 percent, and PC between 88 to 90 percent. When your product requires a clear PC or PMMA part, you can improve on light transmission using OLSR, which retains up to 94 percent light transmission.

How about the refractive index? OLSR has a low refractive index of 1.42 when compared to PC and PMMA, which are at 1.58 and 1.49 respectively.

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Still another advantage is the non-yellowing factor. Thermoplastics without additives are not UV resistant, which means the parts could yellow and degrade over long exposures to lights and sunlight. OLSR is non-yellowing so it’s great for outdoor fixtures exposed to harsh environments.

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Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Andy MacInnis

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better.

Andy MacInnis is a director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Andy MacInnis is the technical instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He leads the Integrated Design & Management (IDM) track, which takes a hands-on and practical approach to design. Prior to his position at MIT, Andy founded Monster Prototype—a leading go-to model and prototype firm in the Boston area. At Monster Prototype, he consulted companies developing consumer products, medical devices, and footwear.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
Seeing where inventors find the junction of Need and Solution.

Tell us about your background—what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I find the challenge of repairing old things like cars, boats, houses, and bikes rewarding and worthwhile. Continue reading

DESIGN TIP: 9 Ways to Reduce Injection-Molded Part Costs

Multi-cavity and family molds are used for a higher volume of parts, which can save costs. Shown here is an example of a family mold, used to produce the med-device part pictured.

Product designers and engineers love to trim costs on manufactured parts. This month’s design tip offers a number of injection molding considerations to improve part design and stretch your manufacturing dollar.

This month’s tip discusses:

  • Eliminating undercuts
  • Getting rid of unnecessary features
  • Using a core cavity approach
  • Altering cosmetic finish
  • Designing self-mating parts
  • Modifying and reusing molds
  • Leveraging DFM analysis
  • Using a multi-cavity or family mold
  • Considering part size

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Meet the Cool Idea! Award Judges: Chris Boyle

Chris Boyle and his company, SOLOSHOT, won the Cool Idea! Award in 2012.

The Cool Idea! Award judges are technologists, innovators, entrepreneurs, instructors, and some are even past Cool Idea! Award recipients. All of our judges have a story worth sharing, so we sat down with each for a quick Q&A to help you get to know them a bit better. In our first installment, we’re talking with Chris Boyle.

Chris is a biomedical engineer and entrepreneur from Queens, New York. He founded his first company at the age of 22, which led to a license agreement with a Fortune 50 medical device company. Since then, he has launched and funded multiple startups that range from consumer electronics to apparel. His most recent endeavor is SOLOSHOT—an object-tracking camera and recipient of the Cool Idea! Award. Chris’ close ties to the startup community and experience winning the Cool Idea! Award add a unique perspective to our panel of judges.

What are you looking forward to most about being a Cool Idea! Award judge in 2017?
I really enjoy seeing the combination of scientific and entrepreneurial passion. At its core, it’s both about combining problem solving with a passionate work ethic and it’s exciting to see those two things come together very early in the process.

Tell us about your background – what’s something about your professional life that we wouldn’t necessarily know by looking at your LinkedIn profile?
I created and sold a TV show to BermanBraun about Kiteboarding in the Dominican Republic. Continue reading

Automotive Tech Takes the Wheel at CES 2017

EYE ON INNOVATION

Take a stroll through CES 2017 and you might think you accidentally entered an auto show. As cars become venues for the latest tech, they’ve turned into centerpieces at the world’s largest consumer electronics showcase.

This year, auto manufacturers captivated attendees with demos of self-driving cars, high-performance electric vehicles, and even holographic dashboard displays. Here’s what caught our attention at the show.

The HoloActive Touch system uses reflections to produce a holographic interface.

BMW Makes Holographic Displays a Reality
Seeing new tech from BMW has become somewhat of a tradition at CES. This year was no different. Attendees were introduced to the HoloActive Touch system. It’s a free-floating, holographic display not unlike something you’d find in a “Star Wars” film. The user interface enables drivers to control the car’s functions without making physical contact with the vehicle.

A camera installed in the dashboard detects users’ movements and registers the position of their fingertips. When a fingertip makes contact with the virtual surface, a pulse is emitted and the function is activated. BMW has yet to announce a release date for the new dashboard concept, but its current gesture-controlled system will do for now. Continue reading