3D Systems announced its collaboration with TE Connectivity to develop an additive manufacturing solution to produce electrical connectors meeting stringent UL regulatory requirements. The solution comprising 3D Systems’ Figure 4 Modular, Figure 4 material, 3D Sprint software, and services was designed to meet TE Connectivity’s unique requirements for material performance and high tolerance, reliable printing.
The foundation of the solution is a newly developed photopolymer 3D Systems engineered specifically to meet TE Connectivity’s requirements. In addition to a world-class flammability rating at 0.4-mm thickness, it is the first known printable photopolymer to complete a UL-recognized long-term thermal aging (RTI) study. This material and an optimized print process enable the 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 for the first time, targeted at appliances, cellular, and data-center applications. Additive manufacturing provides TE Connectivity freedom of design to create complex geometries that would be difficult to create using injection molding. It increases flexibility for low volume, quick-turn production runs, and tooling avoidance, allowing TE’s customers to meet demand more efficiently.
3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group (AIG) collaborated with TE Connectivity’s team to develop a 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 0.4 mm, Glow Wire Ignition (GWI) of 800° C, Comparative Tracking Index (CTI) of 600 V (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 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.”
“The collaboration with TE Connectivity provided the understanding and requirements of the unique application being addressed and enabled the development of the solution,” said Reji Puthenveetil, executive vice president of industrial solutions at 3D Systems. “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.”