3D Systems, TE Connectivity Partner on Printed Electrical Connectors

New workflow will allow production of end-use parts in weeks versus months.

New workflow will allow production of end-use parts in weeks versus months.

3D Systems and connectors/sensors specialist TE Connectivity are jointly developing an additive manufacturing solution to produce electrical connectors meeting stringent UL regulatory requirements. The solution includes 3D Systems’ Figure 4 Modular, Figure 4 material, 3D Sprint software, and services, and was designed to meet TE Connectivity’s unique requirements for material performance and high tolerance, reliable printing.

According to 3D Systems, the foundation of the solution is a newly developed photopolymer the company engineered specifically to meet TE Connectivity’s requirements. In addition to a flammability rating at 0.4mm thickness, the company claims it is the first known printable photopolymer to complete a UL-recognized long-term thermal aging (RTI) study. This material combined with an optimized print process enables the necessary reliability and accuracy required for TE Connectivity’s products. Using 3D Systems’ Figure 4 technology, the combination of new material properties, speed, and accuracy allows the production of rugged industrial products targeted at appliances, cellular and data-center applications. The company says that additive manufacturing will provide TE Connectivity with the freedom of design to create complex geometries that would be difficult to create using injection molding. 

3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group (AIG) collaborated with TE Connectivity’s team to develop a full production workflow from design to a finished connector. The program included the development and UL certification of a new Figure 4 material. UL regulatory approval has been obtained, including UL94 V0 flame rating at 0.4mm, Glow Wire Ignition (GWI) of 800°C, Comparative Tracking Index (CTI) of 600V (equivalent to a PLC of 0), and Relative Temperature Index (RTI) for long-term electrical and mechanical use of 150°C and 130°C, respectively. 

“As 3D printing technology evolves, we’re seeing more opportunities for using it to manufacture products for customers who need a low volume of parts in a short timeframe,” said Philip Gilchrist, VP and segment chief technology officer for Communications Solutions at TE Connectivity. “Our work with 3D Systems enables us to provide our customers with functional parts in just weeks instead of months.”

“Customer-centric innovation is at the core of everything we do,” said Reji Puthenveetil, executive vice president, industrial solutions, 3D Systems. “The collaboration with TE Connectivity provided the understanding and requirements of the unique application being addressed and enabled the development of the solution. Our materials scientists and print process experts worked very closely with the TE team to formulate a material that, when used in conjunction with our Figure 4 technology, delivered on the high quality, high-reliability standards their customers have come to expect. This is yet another example of how 3D Systems is partnering with industry leaders to accelerate innovation and build competitive advantage through additive manufacturing solutions.”

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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