AMS Spring 2023

ESD-Protected Parts 3D Printed with Ultimaker Technology

6K SmarTech

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Ultimaker, Dutch manufacturer of professional desktop 3D printers, announced that the Hänssler Group is using the Ultimaker S5 and Kimya’s ABS-ESD filament to print low-cost, anti-electrostatic sealant parts.

Hänssler Group itself is an expert in sealing technology and not only are they in the business of mass manufacturing but also specialize in single prototype construction as well as small-to-medium serial production. Hänssler’s client required 300 parts to be integrated with an already existing production line. This meant that the component needed to be easily removed, taken apart, and put back together during the life cycle of the machine on which it would be used.

Additionally, the parts had to provide thermal protection and insulation against electrostatic discharge. This led the Hänssler Group to team up with material manufacturer Kimya. Kimya’s ABS-ESD is Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene combined with an additive that protects against electrostatic discharge.

Hänssler's Ultimaker S5 3D printing ESD-protected parts. Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

Hänssler’s Ultimaker S5 3D printing ESD-protected parts. Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

“Besides the opportunity to create accurate and more complex parts with 3D printing, we also reported a reduction in material waste in the range of -80% and -60% in cost per part versus our traditional milling techniques. The accessibility and reliability of 3D printing and great support of Ultimakers’ ecosystem partner Kimya, made this project just the beginning,” said Adrian Heinrich, Marketing Manager at Hänssler.

The ability to reliably manufacture the component at scale took some research, design and engineering. Any surface defects in the printed design would greatly alter the electrostatic behavior of the material. The responsibility on Hänssler was to maintain the anti-electrostatic and dimensional, as well as the aesthetic and structural properties of the part. Engineers used a high-resolution GOM Atos Core 3D scanner to assess the accuracy and quality of the prints. By creating a pass/no pass filter with a threshold of 0.3mm, Hänssler was able to optimize the ABS-ESD filament printed through the Ultimaker S5.

ESD-protected parts made using Kimya's ESD-ABS on an Ultimaker S5. Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

ESD-protected parts made using Kimya’s ABS-ESD on an Ultimaker S5. Image courtesy of Ultimaker.

The properties of the ABS-ESD filament met these requirements and, when printed with the S5, made the production of this part easy, affordable, and durable, according to Ultimaker. It also reduced dimensional variation, meaning that the parts produced experienced limited defects.

Miguel Calvo, CTO at Ultimaker, said, “Ensuring high dimensional accuracy with 3D printing is key for companies that need to guarantee their customers every batch is identical and ESD safe. It should not matter when, where or who prints the parts. I’m proud of the close collaboration between Kimya and Ultimaker to make this happen for the Hänssler.”

Ultimaker printers up until this point typically have been used by industries as a way to rapidly print prototypes or custom, in-house tooling, both of which could take many weeks or months to produce via conventional manufacturing. This Hänssler Group case study demonstrates that not only can Ultimaker machines be used for end part production, but specifically parts with a given set of specialized properties—in this case, ESD protection.

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