Metrigraphics today announced it has launched advanced 3D electroforming services. These services are an ideal solution for OEMs looking to integrate complex multilevel structures manufactured at an almost atomic level of precision — and who also require high repeatability and high yield.
Electroforming is an electroplating process that employs proprietary recipes carried out under carefully monitored conditions by applying a tightly defined set of best manufacturing practices.
The process deposits metal onto a (typically glass) mandrel that has been coated with a very thin metal layer covered with photoresist. The photoresist is photo imaged, meaning that it doesn’t cover the metal everywhere but exposes a pattern of openings through which the underlying metal is exposed. The pattern is created using photolithography by light shining through a mask, or stencil, onto the photoresist. As more and more metal is deposited, a three-dimensional structure rises from the stenciled pattern.
For example, if the photoresist were patterned in the shape of a donut, the resulting structure would have the shape of a cylinder with walls as thick as the donut and a central opening only as wide as the donut hole.
Micro nozzles, or precision-electroformed apertures may be straight-walled or funnel-shaped, with through or blind vias. Metrigraphics can also design and manufacture multi-level micro nozzles with custom-designed capillary trenches or conduit networks between holes. Minimum via diameters are 0.002 mm. Metal foils with precise micro slits as small as 0.002 mm are also possible with thicknesses starting at 0.005 mm. Highly durable embossing molds with highly complex patterns may be electroformed using nickel cobalt, which has extremely fine grain, very low stress, and a hardness in the Vickers 500 range.
For more information, and a list of sample applications and commonly used materials, visit the Electroforming Services page.