The technology meets the demand from companies wanting to benefit from the advantages and opportunities that exist through the use of micro-AM, but want parts that have functionality impossible due to limited palette of materials that micro-AM is able to process.

(6th February 2023, Karlsruhe, Germany) Having launched it template-based 3D microfabrication technology at Formnext November 2022, Horizon Microtechnologies GmbH is extremely encouraged by the response to the technology, and is immersed in numerous application-specific discussions with manufacturers across numerous industry sectors. The technology meets the demand from companies wanting to benefit from the advantages and opportunities that exist through the use of micro-AM, but want parts that have functionality impossible due to limited palette of materials that micro-AM is able to process.

Andreas Frölich, CEO at Horizon Microtechnologies says, "We have researched and developed our template-based 3D microfabrication technology over many years, and while this is done in consultation with manufacturers and sensitive to market demands and dynamics, only when you commercially launch can you see and assess the level of real practical interest. For us, since announcing the commercial availability of our technology, we have been somewhat overwhelmed by the highly qualified and application specific nature of the conversations we are now having with customers. The reason for this is to be expected in that our technology largely enhances the functionality of additive manufacturing (AM), specifically micro-AM which has only recently evolved into a repeatable and reliable area of AM for industrial applications. AM has been recognised across industry as affording manufacturers access to an agile, cost-effective, and versatile technology that promotes hitherto impossible geometric complexity while at the same time democratising manufacturing. Our template-based 3D microfabrication technology opens up the power of AM to sectors that were until now unable to exploit it due to restricted material options, which in turn restricted part functionality."

Horizon Microtechnologies has developed a post-build coating technology that builds upon the opportunities afforded through the use of micro-AM produced parts by adding functionality, specifically conductivity and environmental resistance. To introduce conductivity, once the part is produced on a polymer-AM platform, it is either wholly or selectively coated with a conductive layer. Horizon can even coat difficult areas homogeneously such as long narrow channel and undercuts. In addition, microfabricated 3D templates can also be coated with metal-oxides to make parts compatible with aggressive chemical environments and in some cases can notably increase the resistance to high temperatures and mechanical stresses.

Frölich continues, "The ability to add conductivity to all or selected parts of a 3D microfabricated template has obviously provoked enormous interest from manufacturers of electrodes, electrical sensor heads, and ESD-safe components. When focused specifically on electrodes, we are able to design an electrode geometry almost arbitrarily while maintaining manufacturability through the use of micro-AM 3D templates. Using micro-AM as opposed to traditional manufacturing processes allows for more flexibility when it comes to 3-dimensional placement of active electrode areas, stiffness (or lack of stiffness) of the electrodes, and electrical properties of the electrode due to enhanced control over the inductance and capacitance. We also have the ability to make electrodes from different conductive materials to cater for biocompatibility / bioinertness."

While Horizon's coating process is agnostic to part geometry and complexity, if selective coating is required, this needs to be accounted for at the design stage of product development. Because of this, Horizon works with customers to optimize outcomes using design for micro-AM and design for template-based microfabrication expertise.

Horizon Microtechnologies works in a supplier-independent fashion with polymer micro-AM technology innovators and its in-house post-build technological solutions are an integral and important addition to the AM process chain — stimulating innovation and disrupting the manufacture of micro-scale conductive parts and components. The company is now forward booking customer application trials for its template-based 3D fabrication technology, and is inviting engagement from interested parties to book slots for technology assessment. Initial contact can be made HERE.

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