Applications for Micro 3D Printing: Prototyping Electronic Components with PµSL

BY Nita Vaidya-Zannino

As electronics are becoming smaller, today’s electronics manufacturers are facing challenges with producing miniaturized electronic components. If connectors don’t meet the requirements for form, fit, and function, product launches are delayed and money is lost. Additionally, the final electronic connectors need to reliably maintain their thermal and mechanical properties.

Prototypes need to meet well-defined product requirements. To avoid production delays, engineers want prototypes that are as close as possible to production-quality. The final components must also meet requirements for rapid production to support faster manufacturing and efficient assembly.

The Limitations of Micro Injection Molding

Traditionally, manufacturers have relied on micro injection molding to produce electronic components. However, molding requires tooling which can be expensive and has long turn around times. As a result, molding can lead to extended project budgets and timelines. For example, tooling can take as long as 10 – 12 weeks to produce. If there are any design changes, tooling may then need to be discarded and new tooling needs to be ordered and paid for.

The Advantages of Additive Manufacturing

3D printing eliminates the need for tooling, reducing the time and cost between design iterations and test cycles. However, it is important to choose the right 3D printing technology to avoid tradeoffs between production speed, part precision, and surface quality. Projection Micro Stereolithography (PµSL) technology can rapidly print small electronic components with the required precision. Electronics components printed using PµSL technology match the resolution, size, and tolerance of parts produced through injection molding.

PµSL technology relies on photopolymer resins with reliable thermal and mechanical properties. Electronic components printed with these resins are stable when exposed to high temperatures. With the resin’s thermal and mechanical properties, PµSL printed electronic components can connect reliably and support efficient assembly.

Additive Manufacturing’s Support for Miniaturization

With the right additive manufacturing process, electronics designers can achieve the precision of micro injection molding without high cost and long timelines. PµSL technology provides the precision and resolution needed as electronic components become smaller. To learn more about how PµSL can help the electronics industry, visit our electronics application overview page or request a benchmark part.