Essentium, Inc., a Texas-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of additive manufacturing (AM) platforms, announced a recent successful use-case example for the company’s technology by Additive at Scale (AAS), a manufacturing services provider. The latter, also based in Texas, used Essentium’s High Speed Extrusion (HSE) 180 ST printer, along with Essentium’s PCTG-Z filament, to produce 100 asset-tracking pilot units for a chemical manufacturing multinational.
AAS partnered with Blues Wireless, an internet of things (IoT) telecom startup, to print 100 tracking devices for 18-wheeler chassis that transport chemicals. Aside from the low cost and impact strength, AAS selected Essentium’s PCTG-Z material for its electrostatic-discharge (ESD)-safe properties. Materials that are used for cases and housing — like the tracking device housing produced by AAS — are among the consumer goods’ inputs subject to the most stringent ESD-safe requirements.
Using the HSE 180 ST platform, as well as Essentium’s support staff, AAS successfully completed the project in just 60 days. Resultantly, AAS has received official vendor status from the chemical manufacturer involved, and, notably, is already starting scale-up of the enclosures’ production.
Last month, 3DPrint.com’s Joris Peels argued convincingly that the success of 3D printed housings should be receiving more attention. This is especially true, given the slow but steady push to make mass-produced, 3D printed microchips a reality, which currently seems to be going on in the 3D printing sector. In order to accelerate that process, continuing to increase the quantity of 3D printed housings in advance would seem to be a prerequisite.
The main problem that 3D printed chips would be addressing first is the seemingly constant lag of supply in the electronics sector, which affects more or less every other major consumer category. This doesn’t solely have to do with lower semiconductor supplies, however, but also with a scarcer supply of feedstocks for plastics. 3D printing chips, alone, then, wouldn’t solve this problem, since there would still be a lag in the supply of housings for electronics.
Thus, making the case for 3D printed chips will be much easier, if 3D printed housings are already ramped up ahead of time. Whether the two things are in fact already related is irrelevant, since it seems like the number of 3D printed housings will continue increasing, regardless. Assuming that happens, it will mean that much of the infrastructure for 3D printing all electronic components aside from chips will already be in place, once the infrastructure for 3D printing the latter exists.
Images courtesy of Essentium