Micro AM – 3D Printing
Micro AM Services
We now have powerful micro additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities.
Accumold has invested in micro AM machines. This adds versatility, agility, and flexibility in new product development, and enhances the opportunities that exist for speedy, inexpensive, innovative, and geometrically complex prototypes and small batch production runs.
What is Micro AM?
Micro additive manufacturing refers to the production of small-scale, high-precision components and structures through additive manufacturing (AM) / 3D printing techniques. The process is commonly used for creating microfluidic devices, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and other microscale components in various fields, including medicine, electronics, and aerospace. The process involves curing layers of a photosensitive material to build up the final structure, using sliced data from 3D computer-aided design (CAD) software.
Micro AM processes like the Fabrica 2.0 from Nano Dimension that is used at Accumold can now additively build parts and components only previously possible through the use of micro molding, and can do so in a way that allows manufacturers to completely re-imagine the way that prototype and small batch precision micro parts and components are made, which changes the basic economics of manufacturing. The Fabrica 2.0 can attain 1.9 micron resolution in X and Y, and the technology builds “additively” in 1-5 micron layers. With this breakthrough, the path to the creation of innovative miniaturized parts at amazing speed and reduced cost is open for all industry sectors.
What Materials are available?
New materials are being added all the time Here are the materials currently available. Reach out if you’d like to learn more.
- Precision N-800
- ABS-like (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) – Serving a wide range of engineering applications.
- Strength and Flexibility – An ideal choice for structural applications.
- Performance P-900
- Reinforced Composite – High-temperature-tolerance with upgraded mechanical properties.
- High Wear Resistance – Enhanced performance for demanding applications.
- Durable D-810
- Versatile ABS-like – Durable, rigid material, enabling high structural integrity.
- Transparent T-700
- PMMA-like (polymethyl methacrylate) – Suitable for production of parts requiring translucency such as optical elements, microfluidic chips, and medical devices.
Micro AM and Micro Injection Molding?
Micro AM and micro molding are both processes used to produce small components, but they differ in several ways.
Micro molding is a traditional manufacturing process that involves injecting molten material into a mold to create a specific shape. This process is well-suited for producing large quantities of small, complex parts with tight tolerances and high dimensional accuracy. The molds used in micro molding are typically made of metal and are designed to be durable and long-lasting, making the process suitable for mass production.
Micro AM involves building up a part layer by layer. This process allows for greater design freedom and the ability to produce unique and complex shapes that would be difficult or impossible to achieve using traditional manufacturing methods. Additionally, 3D printing allows for fast and efficient prototyping, making it ideal for small-scale production runs or for producing one-off components.
Micro AM and Prototyping
Micro AM is often used for prototyping because of its ability to quickly produce small, complex components with high precision. The process allows for fast and efficient iteration of design concepts, enabling engineers and designers to test and validate their ideas before moving to full-scale production. Additionally, the use of 3D CAD data and the ability to produce complex geometries make micro AM particularly well-suited for creating prototypes of microscale components and devices, such as microfluidic devices, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), and other small-scale components.
Micro AM and Production
The use of micro AM in production has been increasing in recent years, particularly in niche applications where the ability to produce highly complex and customized parts is critical. For example, micro AM is commonly used in the production of microfluidic devices, dental implants, and aerospace components, among others. In these applications, the advantages of micro AM, such as the ability to produce complex geometries and the use of a wide range of materials, outweigh the disadvantages of slower production speed and higher cost. Micro AM is not always the most cost-effective method for production, but it can be used for producing small quantities of highly complex and customized components, particularly in niche applications.
What does Micro AM mean for me?
Micro AM promotes innovation, and stimulates cost and time-to-market reductions. Success using micro AM is measured in microns and hours. Micron-level detail can be achieved without the need to fabricate tools, and this means that you can have intricate and geometrically complex prototypes in a matter of hours.
With micro AM, the absence of the requirement for a physical tool lifts the lid for design engineers to think out of the box and attain design goals previously unimaginable. This design freedom coupled with the inherent manufacturing agility that is a core characteristic of AM requires a root and branch re-assessment of all aspects of the product development process, a disruption that is a spur to the stimulation of future product successes and enhanced market-share and profitability.
Micro AM also promotes the reduction of iterative process, assembly, and inventory. This means that significant operational cost benefits are now attainable at the micro manufacturing level.
Micro AM and Direct Tooling
Through a combination of design optimisation and improvements in materials, it is now possible to additively manufacture Direct Rapid Soft Tooling (DRST) which we can use to injection mold real parts. This unlocks new business possibilities for mold makers and manufacturers who up until this point have been restricted to the use of long lead time and expensive traditionally manufactured mold tools for the achievement of any volume of molding, from prototype runs all the way through to mass manufacture. The business case for a process chain that includes DRST, with dramatically shorter lead times at reduced cost is obviously compelling.