While our Fabrica 2.0 micro AM process can cater for volume applications (multiple thousands of small parts and components fitting easily in the machine’s build envelope), the introduction of an AM solution for micro manufacturers also means that OEMs are able to reduce the reliance on economies of scale, as the technology makes full production runs measured in thousands as inexpensive as producing one. Micro AM technology makes low to medium-volume production runs possible that have previously been uneconomical due to the high tooling and set-up costs associated with traditional manufacturing alternatives.
Micro AM is receiving significant interest for optical, semi-conductor, micro electronic, MEMS, microfluidic, and life science applications. Microfluidics provides a good example of how Micro AM can be a competitive alternative to micro molding. Micro molding is relatively expensive in terms of tooling, set-up, and assembly operations, and also significantly limits the freedom of microfluidic design. Micro molding technologies are also unable to manufacture functional substructures which are achievable using micro AM technology without compromising precision or quality.
A main area of interest is the production of direct rapid soft tooling (DRST) with the Fabrica 2.0, which facilitates prototyping and low volume production without the lead times and costs associated with traditionally fabricated tooling. In addition, the Fabrica 2.0 opens up the possibilities of mass customisation and promotes design freedom as AM can manufacture parts with geometric complexity which are impossible when using traditional plastic processing technologies.
Until the development of the Fabrica 2.0, DRST had been regarded as sub-optimal when viewed through the prism of surface finish, precision, accuracy, and repeatability, while the number of materials that could be processed has also been a limiting factor. The Fabrica 2.0 micro AM system addresses these challenges to reach micron-level resolution, produce high surface finish, and reduce the time-consuming and costly need to cut steel.
We are achieving ground-breaking successes fabricating high numbers of parts from a single DRST made using the Fabrica 2.0. We have succeeded in injecting standard thermoplastic materials such as PP, PE, and ABS into a 3D-printed mold that was manufactured with a new proprietary material Nano Dimension developed. Accumold will work with customers to further enhance the DRST process on the Fabrica 2.0, marking a pivotal and strategic opportunity for our customers.