An electrical connector is an electromechanical device used to create an electrical connection between parts of an electrical circuit, or between different electrical circuits, thereby joining them into a larger circuit. To ensure their efficiency in larger circuits, they need to meet stringent UL regulatory requirements. Meeting such requirements lies in the ability to address challenges related to material performance.
As part of a new project, AM company 3D Systems and expert in connectors and sensors TE Connectivity will work on a solution that implies the use of AM for the production of electrical connectors. To do so, they will use 3D Systems’ Figure 4® Modular, Figure 4 material, 3D Sprint® software, and services.
“Customer-centric innovation is at the core of everything we do,” said Reji Puthenveetil, executive vice president, industrial solutions, 3D Systems. “The collaboration with TE Connectivity provided the understanding and requirements of the unique application being addressed and enabled the development of the solution. Our materials scientists and print process experts worked very closely with the TE team to formulate a material that, when used in conjunction with our Figure 4 technology, delivered on the high quality, high-reliability standards their customers have come to expect. This is yet another example of how 3D Systems is partnering with industry leaders to accelerate innovation and build competitive advantage through additive manufacturing solutions.”
The foundation of the solution is a newly developed photopolymer 3D Systems engineered specifically to meet TE Connectivity’s requirements. In addition to a flammability rating at 0.4mm thickness, the printable photopolymer is part of a UL®1-recognized long-term thermal aging (RTI) study, a press release explains.
Using 3D Systems’ Figure 4 technology, the combination of new material properties, speed, and accuracy allows the production of rugged industrial products, targeted at appliances, cellular and data-center applications.
3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group (AIG) collaborated with TE Connectivity’s team to develop a full production workflow from design to a finished connector. The program included the development and UL certification of a new Figure 4 material. UL regulatory approval has been obtained, including UL94 V0 flame rating at 0.4mm, Glow Wire Ignition (GWI) of 800°C, Comparative Tracking Index (CTI) of 600V (equivalent to a PLC of 0), and Relative Temperature Index (RTI) for long-term electrical and mechanical use of 150°C and 130°C, respectively.
“As 3D printing technology evolves, we’re seeing more opportunities for using it to manufacture products for customers who need a low volume of parts in a short timeframe,” said Philip Gilchrist, VP and segment chief technology officer for Communications Solutions at TE Connectivity. “Our work with 3D Systems enables us to provide our customers with functional parts in just weeks instead of months.”
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