In a new process, a metal insert is partially premolded and then overmolded using conventional technology with traditional plastics used for housings. In the premolding ptocess, conductive paths are affixed in place, and are also tightly sealed in one step. Application targets are sophisticated automotive mechatronic parts such as transmission and brake controls, sensors and plug-in connectors. A key new material is a nonreinforced copolyamide that overmolds the electrical conductive paths in electronic components, ensuring there is no contact with moisture or oil. According to a technical expert at BASF, the material’s developer, the polymer adheres very well to either metals or plastics. To compensate, other sealing methods, such a silicon adhesives or hot melts, were used. Some engineers even precoated metals to improve adhesion
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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