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
These new 3D-printing technologies and printers include some that are truly boundary-breaking: a sophisticated new sub-$10,000, 10-plus materials bioprinter, the first industrial-strength silicone 3D-printing service, and a clever twist on 3D printing and thermoforming for making high-quality realistic models.
Using simulation to guide the drafting process can speed up the design and production of 3D-printed nanostructures, reduce errors, and even make it possible to scale up the structures. Oak Ridge National Laboratory has developed a model that does this.
Engineers need workhorse materials with beefy mechanical properties for industrial designs made with 3D printing. Very few have been designed from the ground up for additive manufacturing, but that picture is beginning to change.
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