Home Industry Horizon Microtechnologies: Revolution in Micro 3D Printing through Innovative Coating Technology

Horizon Microtechnologies: Revolution in Micro 3D Printing through Innovative Coating Technology

Horizon Microtechnologies has made a significant breakthrough in the world of 3D printing. Their novel post-processing technology for coatings pushes the boundaries of micro 3D printing (micro AM) and opens up new fields of application. This technology, which was recently showcased at the Formnext trade show and highlighted in the Cool Parts Show, is a significant advance for industries that require previously unattainable microstructures.

The basis of this innovation is the precise production of 3D microstructures as templates. These templates, usually from polymer micro AM processes, are provided with functional coatings. This overcomes the functional limitations of the original polymer material.

CEO at Horizon, Andreas Frölich says, “It is very important when the importance of our coating technologies for micro AM parts is recognised, and featuring in the Cool Parts Show is a proud moment for us at Horizon. The part that the film featured was a micro 3D printed electrical testsocket which we produced on our BMF micro AM machine. This part is very small with wall thicknesses down to 0.1 mm in places, tiny mounting holes and several hundred closely spaced vias of only 0.1 mm in diameter. Considering the part geometry alone, it would have been extremely difficult to make via micro machining, and challenging if not impossible to 3D print directly in metal. Micro molding was also not an economical option. However, the most important requirement was that the vias needed to be electrically conducting but isolated from each other. This ruled out any single-material approach to the making of this part since it would then be either entirely isolating or entirely conductive. Instead, we printed the part in a heat resistant isolating material and selectively coated the vias, the whole vias and nothing but the vias with conductive copper.  It is a great example of how the versatility of micro AM when combined with our coating technologies opens up the use of 3D printing in application areas it has not been able to serve until now due to limited material functionality.”

Horizon’s coating technology enables conformal, transparent conductive, environmentally resistant and metallic coatings to be applied to polymer components produced by microscale additive manufacturing. This opens up possibilities for applications such as electrodes, electrical connectors, 3D microfluidic devices and MEMs. Of particular note is the ability to apply selectively conductive coatings, which is critical to ensure electrical isolation between vias.

In addition, these coatings are essential for the longevity and reliability of microdevices in harsh environments. They make the devices more resistant to aggressive chemicals and high temperatures, which extends their service life and makes them suitable for a wide range of applications.

Frölich concludes, “Take a look at the Cool Parts Show, and see just how versatile and accurate our coating process is. Our ability to add coatings wholly or selectively to micro-AM parts is a real game changer. We can even coat difficult areas homogeneously such as long narrow channels with more than 100:1 aspect ratios, bends, branchings and also undercuts. Additionally, the ability to add copper metal coatings to a wide variety of complex-shaped 3D microparts consisting of polymer or ceramics means that for the first time, companies can produce parts with the surface functionalities of copper while also exploiting the bulk material properties, design freedom, precision, and resolution achievable through micro-AM.”

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