PCB007 Magazine

PCB007-Dec2018

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DECEMBER 2018 I PCB007 MAGAZINE 97 ules that may change or need to be replaced frequently due to wear. The ability to tweak and print inserts immediately without having to send the tool back to the tool maker is a game changer. Of course, jigs and inspection tools are as prevalent in plastic manufacturing as sheet metal, but what has added another dimension is the ability to produce fully functional proto- types, proof of design, and small run products. Injection molding tooling can cost anywhere from about $20,000 to well over $500,000 de- pending on size and complexity, which is ex- tremely cost prohibitive for prototypes and very small production runs. Being able to additive- ly manufacture a few parts through 3D print- ing with zero tooling has opened up a whole new market for plastics companies (Figure 5). Aerospace Heat exchangers are used extensively in the aerospace industry for thermal management and come in all shapes, sizes, and complexi- ties. There are two legacy methods of manufac- turing these heat exchangers. First, drill cross channels in a thin structure and use screws to block channels and direct the flow of cool- ant. This process is greatly limited in design flexibility. Second, milling channels in multi- ple parts, as much as six to seven, to create the flow path, and then the parts are brazed together to complete the exchanger. Compa- nies like Fabrisonic have developed a hybrid machine that combines 3D printing, ultrason- ic surface smoothing, and 3-axis machining, which makes it possible to produce deep slots, hollows, lattices, and honeycombs with ultra- smooth channel surfaces (Figure 6). PCB Applications The ability to print custom engineered parts is especially beneficial to industries such as PCB manufacturing where everything is cus- tom and specific to part numbers. Shops have occasionally outsourced custom-machined in- spection guides for a specific part number, but these are usually very high-volume programs Figure 5: 3D-printed inspection gauge. (Source: Prove3D) Figure 6: SonicLayer 3D-printed heat exchanger. (Source: Fabrisonic) Figure 4: 3D-printed injection molding hybrid tool. (Source: Javelin Technologies)

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