Bridging the Gap Between 3D Plastics and Metals
- March 13, 2017
- Posted by: Chase
- Category: SL Case Study
At RePliForm, we provide an electroplating service which works on most 3D printed plastic materials, and can greatly improve the mechanical and electrical properties of your parts. We work with our customers to develop a coating sequence which is best suited for their needs. The composite which is created after plating, fits well into a critical gap between 3D printed plastics and metals that has just started to be explored.
RePliForm has developed methods to process most 3D printed plastic materials made by almost any of the resin printing technologies currently on the market (i.e. laser or inkjet photopolymer, plastic powder sintering or fusion, filament extrusion, etc.). Additionally, RePliForm has adapted the plating process to work with the increased geometric complexity that the 3D printing world brings.
Electroplated coating can be used to improve a variety of characteristics or purposes:
- Strength & Stiffness (lightweight)
- Electrical & Thermal Conductivity
- EMI Shielding/Reflective surfaces
- Environmental Barrier (UV & Chemical)
- Outgassing prevention
- Abrasion Resistance
- Durability (Impact Strength)
Electroplating is typically thought of as a cosmetic process, but it has been known for decades to reinforce and structurally stabilize plastic parts. By substituting structural electroplated coatings optimized for strength, ductility and low internal stress as opposed to cosmetics, metal clad composites are created that can be 3-5x stronger and 10-15x stiffer than common 3D printed plastic materials and can predicted with the rule of mixtures, constituent properties and their volume fractions.
With a high strength coating, form and fit SLA parts can be used as functional prototypes. Functional prototypes can be made durable and stable enough to be considered for low volume production even in harsh environments. Strong, stable, high resolution parts are obtained from electroplating SLA resins.
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