Electroforming is additive manufacturing process used in the production of highly precise thin metal parts. A unique and specialized process, electroforming is controlled at a molecular level, "building up" the desired part one atom at a time. The molecular nature of this incredible additive manufacturing technology allows the generation of exceptionally small feature sizes; down to one (1) micron (.000039"); while maintaining tolerances to a fraction of that size.
With electroforming we're able to facilitate rapid product development taking parts from concept to production often in a matter of days. When compared to more traditional
processes that require significant upfront tooling investments and lead times often measured in months, electroforming has the potential to dramatically shift the landscape of your product development and supply chain.
Electroforming opens the door to technological advancement in a vast array of industries and applications on a regular basis. The ability to produce stress and burr-free precision metal parts with micron scale accuracy can benefit many applications that have yet to discover this wonderful technology.
The process of electroforming is where metal is built up or grown through electrodeposition onto a conductive substrate at a molecular level.
A variety of materials can be utilized (nickel, nickel alloy, copper, gold, silver, platinum, palladium, rhodium, engineered plastics) which are deposited onto a conductive, patterned surface. The pattern on the surface is created by “masking” areas and exposing only the areas where we want deposition to take place. Once masking is complete, the substrate is submerged into an electrolytic bath with an anode and cathode. DC current is applied to the bath causing the ions of the deposition material to be plated to the unexposed area of our masked mandrel. Once the desired thickness is reached the plating process is complete and the electroformed portion is removed from the substrate.
Engineers should consider Electroforming
There are many benefits to electroforming but most important is that electroforming can provide solutions to challenges previously thought to be insurmountable. What has traditionally thought to be impossible is no possible. Advantages include, superbly crisp, clean feature detail, burr free edges, incredible levels of precision, short lead times, cost-effective prototyping and large-scale production.
To assist engineers in designing their product in accordance of the parameters of electroforming it is highly recommended to utilize the design tool developed and maintained by Ni-Microsystems. The tool can be found by following this link. Please bookmark the page for easy future access.