Micro 3D printing: Horizon develops post-build coating solution that provides more conductivity and environmental resistance to parts

On the heels of their launch at Formnext, Horizon Microtechnologies GmbH has been working on numerous application-specific discussions with manufacturers across numerous industry sectors. As a reminder, the start-up specializes in the production of conductive micro additive manufacturing (micro-AM) derived parts with micrometer scale precision.

One thing they observed is that manufacturers want parts that have functionality impossible due to limited palette of materials that micro-AM is able to process. To address this solution, the company has developed a post-build coating technology that builds upon the opportunities afforded through the use of micro-AM produced parts by adding functionality, specifically conductivity and environmental resistance.

To introduce conductivity, once the part is produced on a polymer-AM platform, it is either wholly or selectively coated with a conductive layer. Horizon can even coat difficult areas homogeneously such as long narrow channel and undercuts. In addition, microfabricated 3D templates can also be coated with metal-oxides to make parts compatible with aggressive chemical environments and in some cases can notably increase the resistance to high temperatures and mechanical stresses, the company explains.

 “The ability to add conductivity to all or selected parts of a 3D microfabricated template has obviously provoked enormous interest from manufacturers of electrodes, electrical sensor heads, and ESD-safe components. When focused specifically on electrodes, we are able to design an electrode geometry almost arbitrarily while maintaining manufacturability through the use of micro-AM 3D templates. Using micro-AM as opposed to traditional manufacturing processes allows for more flexibility when it comes to 3-dimensional placement of active electrode areas, stiffness (or lack of stiffness) of the electrodes, and electrical properties of the electrode due to enhanced control over the inductance and capacitance. We also have the ability to make electrodes from different conductive materials to cater for biocompatibility / bioinertness”, Andreas Frölich, CEO at Horizon Microtechnologies comments.

While Horizon’s coating process is agnostic to part geometry and complexity, if selective coating is required, this needs to be accounted for at the design stage of product development. Because of this, Horizon works with customers to optimize outcomes using design for micro-AM and design for template-based microfabrication expertise.

Horizon Microtechnologies works in a supplier-independent fashion with polymer micro-AM technology innovators and its in-house post-build technological solutions are an integral and important addition to the AM process chain — stimulating innovation and disrupting the manufacture of micro-scale conductive parts and components. The company is now forward booking customer application trials for its template-based 3D fabrication technology, and is inviting engagement from interested parties to book slots for technology assessment.

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